Q&A: Kim Petras

The pop songstress has advice for anyone who feels uninspired.

It was just over a year ago when 26-year-old Kim Petras dropped her debut single, the instant earworm “I Don’t Want It All.” Since then, she’s unleashed an array of addictive tracks. An icon for the LGBTQ community (at 16, she was one of the youngest people in the world to receive gender reassignment surgery), Petras is currently celebrating the release of her latest hit, “All the Time.” Ahead of an upcoming nationwide tour alongside fellow singer Troye Sivan, Petras spoke to Furthermore about how she stays in shape, the music that keeps her energized, and how she maintains a positive outlook.

How do you go about staying grounded in the music industry?

Number one, I think about how it’s only music. It’s not rocket science; we’re just supposed to make people happy. It’s why I make music in the first place—for people to forget their problems for three minutes. I always remind myself of that. I also try to have a positive attitude about everything in life and stay close to my friends, check on them, and have conversations. But at the end of the day, it’s just music. If I’m not having fun, I’m asking myself why.

You’re a role model for so many. Who and what inspires you?

I look up to Madonna for sure. She broke down so many barriers and opened so many doors for pop. I’m obsessed with her. I also love watching interviews with designers like Karl Lagerfeld; I think they have really interesting outlooks on life. I’m inspired by my mom and I try to surround myself with people who inspire me, so I’m inspired by my friends. I’m inspired by the stories my fans tell me. And I’m inspired by most transgender women in general.

How do you stay in shape on the road?

I feel like I’m getting a workout on stage every single time, but I also try to run and do sit-ups. I dance a lot. I try to eat healthy, even though it can be hard because I love chicken parm so much.

What do you listen to when you want to get energized?

I pull up songs like “Fresh off the Runaway” by Rihanna, Kanye West’s “Stronger,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle,” and some Beyoncé. I feel like she inspires the whole world to go hard in everything.

Your own songs are very fun and light. Is your music fictitious or do you add in a lot of yourself?

All of it is me, but I do dream up some stuff. “I Don’t Want It All,” for example, I wrote while I was sleeping on a futon. My life wasn’t fancy. I went to private school and all my first boyfriends were kind of rich and kind of assholes, so when I moved to LA and saw all the rich boys living in the hills, the song became (my single) “Hillside Boys.” I’m kind of writing what inspires me and what I love. It’s all me, even though I add some drama to it. It’d be boring without it.

What’s been a highlight of your career so far?

It’s amazing it’s only been a year. My life has completely changed and for me the first real milestone was having every person sing my songs back to me at shows, and then being able to fill clubs and festivals. Before, I used to perform a bunch in gay clubs for 10 people, so it’s amazing that there’s an audience out there who listen to me. Overall, my biggest milestone is that I feel understood now. There’s a group of people out there who love my point of view and understand me because they love my songs.

What advice would you give someone who feels dejected or uninspired?

I would say that we have the power to change the future. I get that way sometimes and I feel down about stuff too. Thinking about the future makes you really anxious, but I think that things do get better. This next generation is going to know more and care more; it’s our responsibility to do that. The number one thing anyone can do is to be nice and inspire other people. Working on yourself and having a positive attitude is not easy, especially if you’re dealing with depression. Sometimes it seems really impossible, but you have to believe and think about the things in life that makes you happy. I’ll put on a movie I like, like First Wives Club, just because Goldie Hawn makes me happy.