Estonian fairytale in USA – Interview with Kerli
Born in the small population of Elva (Estonia) in 1987, Kerli is a singer not afraid of big challenges. Young, talented, intelligent and beautiful, she decided to pursue her musical dream at a very tender age moving out of her native country to USA. Many put in doubt that she would ever achieve anything important, but the time and the effort seems to be paying off after the good success of her album Love is Dead. Although very busy, Kerli had some free time to answer the questions of FREE! Magazine about her past, present and future:
When you moved to USA, you were just 18. Was it difficult for you to leave friends, family, etc behind?
I actually moved to Sweden first, when I was 17 and to Los Angeles on my 20th birthday. I was sitting in my hotel room with two suitcases. One of them had a blanket in them and the other one had candleholders and some clothes. I sat there like this for a month and cried every day. It was really difficult at first but I never doubted that it was the right thing to do. I guess I sort of always knew that many sacrifices had to be made for me to become the best that I could be. I always felt like I was on some kind of a mission to make beautiful things and inspire people.
What were the most shocking things to discover in those first years abroad?
I never thought it was going to be easy but I never expected it to be this difficult, either. It was shocking to discover that a lot of people in high positions actually have no clue what they’re doing, so an artist has to do it all on their own. Los Angeles in itself is kind of shocking. I guess it’s the most weird that you will ever find. It can almost be scary how many broken dreams this city contains. And then there’s of course the fact that everything is BIG in America. It used to freak me out but now every time I travel to Europe, I get pissed about the small coffee cups. Hahaha. I got into many bad habits and was around many sad people but I wrote some good music.
Can you say that the feeling of loneliness shocked you?
I felt lonely but I’ve always felt so misunderstood that loneliness wasn’t much of a new thing.
How did you overcome it?
I didn’t. I escaped… meaning I got into many bad habits and was around many sad people until I realized my time on earth is too short to waste it on anything that doesn’t make me the best that I can be.
What else did you discover about yourself?
This isn’t even so much about me as it is about human nature I guess. I was standing outside a restaurant and had just broken up with my boyfriend. I didn’t know anyone and I had nowhere to go. I was so scared that it felt almost beautiful. Being scared of things and then overcoming them is one of the best things that can happen. It makes u push the limits and do things that you didn’t even know u were capable of.
Do you visit Estonia often?
About once or twice a year.
I happen to know your town Elva. Do you ever miss the contact with nature there? What is the best and the worst feature of the place, from your point of view?
I do miss the nature. The older I get the more I start appreciating the green forests. It's funny you start seeing things so different when you grow up. I think I'm a fairy, so I'm supposed to live in a forest.
And actually it seems that Elva is a great source for successful Estonian female singers in the recent years. Is there something in the water there that make girls be more interested in music?
Repression and pain is what makes u seek beauty I guess. And there's nothing more beautiful than art, in whatever form. I walked by a painter on the street today and he was surrounded with such great energy it instantly made my day.
Can you imagine yourself to live in a forest all the time?
Not all the time. I love the internet too much :). But if I could disappear for a couple of months with my recording gear, I’m pretty sure something beautiful could happen. I’m thinking of going to Siberia sometimes soon. Or Amazon..
What do you do to fulfill your wish to live in a forest? Or is it just an idea?
I want to make some great records that would touch many more people than just the ones I would meet in the forest, so I’ll stick around the big cities for awhile and make that happen. One day when I’m old, I will build a little hut inside a hill and decorate it with sparkling things and old charming furniture. I will write books and make tea to pilgrims who will travel to my house to get some insight and learn a few secrets about life.
You have commented in past interviews that in Estonia you were feeling a bit “in a box”, not free to show creativity. Do you still keep that feeling when you visit back, or do you notice changes in the mentality of the people?
Nothing ever changes there, that's why I can't live there. I really believe in constant change and growth. If I'm not better today than I was yesterday than my day is wasted. But I have started to realize how great my friends and family are here. They’re just such solid people.
Could you please explain in what sense do you mean ‘great’ and ‘solid’?
Solid as of real. They do what they say and when they say they love you it will stay that way. When I go home it’s just about the simple things. At the end of the day the only thing that is going to matter is how much you love and were loved.
Are you aware of what happens in Estonian music scene nowadays? If you would have to recommend any Estonian band or musician to a foreign listener, would you have some to choose?
We have so many talented musicians. Their shows and styling is getting better all the time. The world is so easy to access now; therefore u can't really ignore what's being done by the best artists in the world. So there's like a constant push to grow, which is really cool.I really like our rapper Chalice. He's the shizz. And our classical musicians of course.
“I really don´t know how to chill out at all”
In the artwork of your CDs and promotional pictures, you have a bit that image of “blonde femme fatale”. How is the real Kerli, when not working? Would people find you easier in a trendy club at night, or having a coffee with friends in the bar around the corner?
They would find me in my room writing music or working on something else. I really don't know how to chill out at all.
In your MySpace page I can see that you say that “it is not important the place where I am from”, but at the same time you have there pictures of your hometown. So… how is your real feeling when you think back of your home? Are you proud of being Estonian (or having been raised in Estonia influenced the way you are nowadays?), or do you prefer more to be considered more like a “citizen of the world”?
I think Estonians have some qualities I really admire. Like when they love you, they REALLY love you. They are good people. And I think that coming from nowhere and hopefully becoming a true citizen of the world is so much more challenging than growing up with all the great things. And I'm always up for a good challenge.
What could be your next challenge?
I want my next record to be bigger than the last one.
If somebody asks you when being abroad to teach them a word or a sentence in Estonian, which one do you choose?
Whichever one they ask about. They usually want to know the dirty ones.
Being still quite young, you have a lot of experience behind your back. Do you see yourself in the future living still in USA, or have you ever thought you would like to come back to your native country at some point of your life?
Not Estonia. Maybe I'm going to change my mind some day but right now it's just too small for me. I love living in the US and being from some weird fantasy place next to Russia and just doing my thing in a place where everyone wants to become larger than life. It forces u to grow so much, so fast.
Do you think that for new young Estonian artists, are there chances to get their dreams staying in Estonia, or the music industry is so small there that there is no other way than emigrating?
I don't know. So much is online now. I don't think territory has anything to do with anything very soon. love wins. good music wins.
I heard that you were supposed to tour with the Finnish band The Rasmus this year, but it was finally cancelled. Can you explain a bit more about it?
Yeah, I would also like to apologize to all my fans who wanted to make it to the show. I was just about to leave to the airport when my label called and said they need me in the studio as soon as possible to work on my second album. I had all the outfits made and all… boooo!
What are your plans for the rest of 2009?
I'm working on the new album and hopefully can release it soon.
Anything else you want to add for the readers?
When love is your intention, nothing else matters.
“Q&A with Kerli
Favourite song ever?
Alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks?
If a man wants to make you a nice present, what is better, flowers or candles?
Both, please! But flowers always work.
What is your most pleasant memory of your musical career so far?
Listening to my first album being mastered.
And any embarrassing moment?
My dress almost slipped down during a show. I had to hold it up the whole time to make sure my boobs weren’t showing.
How many languages can you speak?
2 and music.
For more information about Kerli, you can visit her official site:
I love her, she is a huge inspriation to me as an artist, designing clothes and to writing. But mostly to Love myself and to embrace all the struggles that life gives you