Paris Hilton is in love, and wants the whole world to know it. To celebrate her recent engagement to actor Chris Zylka, the famed heiress has teamed up with him to shoot the video for “I Need You,” a doo-wop-inspired tune that existed online as a demo for some years but is finally getting a full service treatment. “It’s definitely like nothing I’ve ever done before,” Hilton tells Billboard. “It’s the perfect time in my life to release a song like this because I’ve never felt like this in my life.”
It’s been a busy year for Hilton, who celebrated her 5-year DJ residency in Ibiza in 2017 and closed out the year with her engagement. In the midst of working on new tracks for what she thought would be a full-length follow up to 2006’s debut Paris but instead will likely be a series of single releases, she’s balancing the launch of a skincare line with her 26th fragrance, all while prepping for a summer wedding. Hilton explains why she worked with Zylka on the video, as well as what she’s got in store for when she ties the knot.
“I Need You” definitely a change for you, musically. What kind of led you in this direction?
I’ve always been very inspired by Marilyn Monroe. She’s an icon. I was really inspired by her singing the song “I Want To Be Loved By You” on stage and in film. That’s how the music video’s inspired, and a little bit of Jessica Rabbit. She kind of has those kind of vibes. And I just wanted to release a song that everyone can relate to and a song that’s about love and how it makes you feel and, like, a timeless and perfect song for weddings or anniversaries or Valentine’s Day or holidays.
What’s notable about the song and particularly the video is you worked with Chris in a more professional capacity. Tell me about the decision to have him direct the video and have him involved in that way.
Chris is such a talented not only actor but artist, director, writer, producer. He’s just amazing to work with. We do photo shoots all the time. We’re together 24/7 so we’re constantly being creative together, which I love. It’s amazing when you have a partner that loves to be creative and make art, so I knew he would be the perfect one to direct this music video. We just love always being together, and I love his work, so of course he was the perfect choice for director. Plus, I got to stare at him all day while we did the shoot. Every shot I’m smiling. I’m very happy because he’s on set with me.
Tell me about the creation of the song in particular. When did you write this? Who produced the record?
I was with Michael Green, and he is a producer I’ve worked with for many years. He’s very talented. He came up with the, like, 1950s, that kind of sound. I always work with a lot of producers and a lot of people wanna send me tracks. They’re always very high-energy, EDM, dance music, pop. So this was the first time I had someone send me a song that I immediately was like, I could write to this right away. It only took a few hours to write. Then we recorded it that night, and I actually re-recorded it again a few weeks ago because I wanted to put more into it, and I’m just so happy with how it turned out.
What was Chris’ reaction when you first played him the song?
He cried, he loved it so much. He’s such a romantic sweetheart, and he was just so touched by it. He listens to it all the time. I was really, really proud when I played it for him the first time, and saw his reaction. It was really special, a memory I’ll never forget.
You’d mentioned that there was an album coming. What can you tell me about that, and is it going to be in the same musical vein as “I Need You?”
This is a very unique and special song. I think, when I DJ and when I’m performing, I mostly, right now, am in the studio making dance music. Electronic things I could play in Ibiza. The new album, I feel this is the only song on there like this. The rest of them are very dance-related. I would love to do more songs like this. I’m moving on to the next step in my life, and it definitely reflects everything about me right now.
With the album in particular, is it in a shape that’s nearing completion? When can people expect it?
I’ve literally been recording this album for so long now. I’ve recorded probably over 50 different tracks, or even more. Music changes all the time, so all the stuff I’ve recorded in the past couple years, music is going so fast that I don’t even know if I wanna put them on the album. So I’m continually having to record new music, but I’m traveling so much. And just right now, with everything online and how the industry is working, I see most people are just releasing singles every two months. So I think I may just do it that way. I think that’s how the future is right now with the music industry.
Just recently, the new Birdman video for “Lil One” came out and you were in it, which obviously leads me to believe that your relationship with Cash Money is ongoing and all good. Is that how you’re going to be putting out new singles in the future, through Cash Money?
This is for Heiress Records. I did all this. But yeah, we’re friends. I shot that video a few years ago and I think they just released it last week.
Are you still on Cash Money or are you independent now?
I have my own record label, so when I do projects with them I can have their people and their team come in, but this I did all on my own.
You’re planning your wedding. Have you picked bridesmaids yet?
Yes, I have. Of course my sister is my maid of honor, my best friend. The best friend a girl could ask for. And definitely all my cousins, and now I’m just deciding between all my girlfriends. I have so many friends, it’s hard to choose.
Did you guys set a date yet?
We’re trying to figure out a date right now with our schedules and Chris’ new film is coming out during the Cannes Film Festival, so we’re trying to plan probably for after that. Because there’s going to be a lot of work he has to do after as well. We definitely wanna do it this summer though.
Have you given any thought to the music that’s gonna be there? Are you gonna hop on the decks and handle that?
Maybe. I don’t know. Probably. But I’m gonna be the bride so I’m gonna have to walk around and socialize with everyone.
You were in the news because you were in the Yeezy campaign. Tell me a little about how that came together because you and Kim have a relationship that goes back.
My team got a call and they said that Kanye and his team called and requested if I’d be interested in being one of the models in the campaign. I was actually traveling at that point, so then we actually scheduled it. I didn’t know the concept or anything. So they came over and they got me ready and then all of a sudden I looked in the mirror and I had the wig on and everything and I went, “Oh my god! I literally look like Kim’s twin.” Then they explained to me that everyone was doing that. So I was like, “OK, great. That’s actually a genius idea.” It was really cool how she got all of her girlfriends together and everyone was doing the same pose and rocking the new line, which is sick. Kim and I were talking about it the other day, and all the fans really loved it. It was a lot of fun to do. And that wig was so dope. I love that color.
How did it feel to be referred to as the “O.G.”?
Me? I love it. I think back when I moved to New York when I was a teenager and the heavy social life, no one really liked me and I was really before my time. So it’s cool now just to see how many people are inspired and seeing this new generation of all these girls and I love that they all refer to me as the O.G. and it makes me so proud that I’ve created a brand, a persona, an empire that inspires other women. I think that’s so important nowadays and I love what’s happening now just with women’s empowerment, everyone’s just coming together and really speaking out and stopping a lot of what’s been happening in the industry for so long that’s not right. It’s just really changing the world. It’s the year of the woman and I love it. I’m really proud of it. I love all these girl bosses and women entrepreneurs and I think it’s amazing what everyone’s doing right now.