When German pop singer Kim Petras wrote her debut full-length project, “Clarity,” she wanted to ensure it was relatable.
At the time, she’d recently wrapped a tour and gone through a breakup. So, she says, she wanted her fans to understand her feelings.
“I needed to write songs that were just about that and just about me inside and what I was going through,” she explains. “I just wanted to strip everything back and make songs that people can relate to.”
Following a prolific multiyear run of dropping songs—some nonalbum, some of which made it on to “Clarity”—Petras finally released a full-length collection in June.
She says its lyrics admit to her weaknesses and flaws.
“‘Clarity’ was really just like flipping it back and being like, ‘I’m not always confident. I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, too,’” she adds.
“I just made it for my fans who are going through stuff, because my fans were a huge part of me getting over it and being like, ‘Making music is my destiny,’ and, ‘(expletive) it,’ and, ‘I’m just going to keep going and stop being really emo and being sad.’”
Though “Clarity” is her full-length debut, Petras had already established herself and built up a sizable fanbase over the past several years. She views her discography in “eras,” as her goals and direction are ever-changing.
Era 1 included nonalbum singles such as “Heart to Break” and collaborations with the likes of Lil Aaron and Sophie.
When writing those formative songs, she says, her goal was to make anthems and classics for gay clubs. She cites early records from the likes of Madonna, Culture Club and Cyndi Lauper as influential on her direction.
But “Clarity” marks a change in eras.
“I definitely think reinvention is a really big part of me just working and creating,” Petras explains, noting that she’s always looking to do something new.
For Petras, this includes a two-phase themed project. Though Christmas could be considered the popular choice, Petras found herself drawn to a different holiday: Halloween.
“We were just like, ‘Why are there no Halloween albums and stuff out there? There’s so many Christmas ones,’” she explains.
So, she released “Turn Off the Light” in October. It completes an EP—billed as “Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1”—that she released last year. This full project includes that EP and nine new tracks.
She says the project’s creation started the song “Close Your Eyes,” which inspired her to try her hand at “dark synth-pop.”
“It evolved and I started making Halloween music,” she says. “It kind of just naturally happened as the progression from my last sound.”
While developing that new sound, she found herself looking to soundtracks for movies like “It Follows” and “Drive,” as well as Michael Jackson’s ’80s records “Thriller” and “Bad.” The idea was to put horror movie soundtracks through a pop filter.
“I feel like the ’80s were just an amazing time for horror movies and horror movie soundtracks. I feel like you know exactly what that kind of horror movie sounds like,” she says. “I’ve always really loved the ’80s.”
She calls “Turn Off the Light” dance-y.
“It’s EDM-inspired, but hard, industrial EDM,” she continues. “And then we need to have the pop sensibilities when writing always because I’m just a big fan of pop music.”
Perhaps being an independent artist has allowed Petras to take such creative risks and release as much music as she has. Though she admits there can be challenges and it’s a lot of work, she says she has a supportive team and she’s driven.
“I feel like it’s been really cool that I get to release as much music as I want and do it on my own terms,” she says.
While Halloween has passed and the winter months are underway, Petras isn’t kicking the songs that to her define fall, which she calls the “spooky season.”
Now in the midst of a U.S. headlining tour, which comes to the Observatory North Park on Sunday, December 8, Petras says fans should still expect to hear plenty of cuts from “Turn Off the Light,” as well as others from “Clarity.”
Having toured the world, from headlining her own shows to opening for the likes of Troye Sivan and performing at festivals, she says she appreciates the fan-artist connections she builds. She feels she’s also given more control and freedom in her performances.
“My own shows are by far my favorite things to do,” she says. “I mean I love a great festival for sure, but my own shows are really special because those are people that I’m looking forward to seeing.”
Kim Petras w/Alex Chapman
8 p.m. Sunday, December 8
The Observatory North Park, 2891 University Avenue, North Park