In a Gaga-run world, it only makes sense that more variations of interesting, moody pop has finally begun to get its due. At the head of the pack is Natalia Kills, who has already reached some success with "Mirrors," her Akon-produced single that peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Dance Songs charts.
Having spent a bulk of the year touring with such genre-bending artists as Swedish electro-queen Robyn, Kills has just begun prepping the public for her debut album, "Perfectionist," out August 16 via will.i.am/Cherrytree/Interscope.
Her first step? A light, dancey track titled "Free," featuring the singer/songwriter's label head, will.i.am. "'Free' is one of my favorite songs off the album -- I wrote it when I was still a waitress," says Kills, a London native who recently made the move to L.A. "I was selling my stuff on eBay just to pay the rent, but I felt just as great as I do now."
The accompanying video for "Free" features eye-catching images that are meant to mock the money-obsessed and fashion-concerned: Natalia sets her hair on fire, sits in a pile of cash and dons designer threads while singing lyrics like "I could look fresh in a potato sack." Kills created the treatment for the clip herself.
Video: "Free," Natalia Kills Feat. will.i.am
"It's quite silly, I think -- fashion and luxury," she tells Billboard.com of the video's parody-tinged message. "I mean, it changes every 3 months."
Natalia's dramatic look and sound may stem from her former career; she actually got her start as an actress, starring in the popular U.K. series "All About Me," but found herself wanting to take on a more creative role. "I always wanted to write the lines myself, wear my own clothes, and I realized I just wanted to be myself all the time," Kills says. "So I just started writing my own songs."
Kills began to post tracks online, catching the attention of blogger Perez Hilton, who posted the tracks to his website. Kills saw the positive responses and high view counts as a sign. "I went out to L.A. and I met all these producers and record labels, and I met Will [will.i.am]. We had a really good creative chemistry, and he signed me."
Nowadays, Natalia is an international type, recently performing at Austria's massive Life Ball, where she kept incredibly good company. "It was me, Janet Jackson, Brooke Shields and Vivienne Westwood all around this table." Kills also caught the attention of another star of sorts: Former President Bill Clinton. "He was kinda staring at me. I was sorta ignoring it, thinking he was staring at Brooke Shields because she's so beautiful," she says. "But he walks over and says, 'Nice to meet you. I'm Bill.' And I was like, 'Yes, I know, my name's Natalia,' and he said, 'I know. You're Kills.' I guess he'd been asking everyone all night, 'Who is this eccentric, exquisite-looking girl?' Then he asked to take a picture with me. It was a wonderful night -- one of the best nights ever, actually!"
As Kills' fan base continues to grow (adding members like Mr. Clinton to its roster), the 24-year-old up-and-comer can't help but be enthusiastic about the release of her first album. "I'm so excited for people to hear it," she says of "Perfectionist." "It's not a dance album; it's not a house or a club album at all. It's pop with an opinion -- it's 'fuck you pop,' basically."