If 2012 was the year electronic music went mainstream, 2013 will be the year songwriting infused with the spirit of ‘EDM’ grabs hold of the globe. Few other artists working today are better positioned to ride the wave of European inspired dance anthems lighting up radio charts and iTunes worldwide than Estonian-born, Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Kerli.
Well before electronic dance music features graced the pages of mainstream magazines in 2012, the 25-year old fashion forward singer was riding a wave of popularity in the U.S. with her #1 Billboard Dance Club Songs chart smash, “Army Of Love,” in late 2010 and early 2011. The visually rich video for the track, shot in her native country, has racked up nearly 3.5 million views so far on You Tube and laid the blueprint for a synth-soaked sound that has concurrently swept America recently (and has brought Kerli a new fervent fan base grafted on top of her existent fans).
The song proved a fitting bridge for a truly visionary presence on the trendsetting side of pop between Kerli’s 2008 debut album for Island Def Jam, Love Is Dead, and her new set for the label, 2013’s Utopia.
The much anticipated Island Def Jam offering, Utopia, showcases Kerli’s gift for sincere songwriting, which fans of Demi Lovato know well (the artist, born Kerli Kõiv, co-wrote Lovato’s platinum-selling “Skyscraper,” which won an MTV VMA in September of 2012 for ‘Best Video With A Message’).
“The only goal I have in life is to make other people happy so I really wanted to make an album that captured ‘love energy,’” the songwriter and performing artist says of her forthcoming full-length. “Since my last record I’ve gone through such a huge transition spiritually,” noting she “got out” a lot of the “depressing” lyrical themes off her chest via her debut American release.
Yet it’s just that complexity and vacillation between darker and lighter lyrical themes that piqued that interest of Warner/Chappell, who signed the lyricist/songwriter to a multi-year publishing deal in the fall of 2012. Her ability as a writer with a gift for crafting haunting, melodic pop hooks that resonate with music fans has not gone unnoticed in the dance world, either. Expect a number of new features coming soon on notable DJ/producer tracks (such as a cut with hot Australian Beatport favorite, tyDi).
Her own tracks on the songwriter’s forthcoming full-length crackle with an electric, emotional confidence rarely seen in the dance/pop world…from the record’s up-tempo yet heartfelt lead single, “Lucky Ones,” which boasts a remix package featuring Morgan Page, fellow Estonian Syn Cole (looked after by Avicii’s manager) and tyDi to the anthemic, hook-laden “Can’t Control The Kids,” Kerli takes listeners on a powerful, rolling, percussive journey to the nexus of where dance and pop intersect throughout the 13-song set.
“I just want to bring joy and positivity into the world,” the blonde beauty said fresh off 2012’s IDentity Festival, where she shared the stage alongside names such as Hardwell, Porter Robinson, Arty and Eric Prydz.
“I love performing live,” she said of her time on the roaming Live Nation booked EDM tour. “I gained a lot of new fans and the crowds gave me back so much energy.”
On the trek, she shared newer songs such as “Zero Gravity” with festival goers, adding that her new sound is Kerli’s “love letter” to the scene.
And a more eloquent metaphorical letter will be hard to find for fans of dance music and pop, for Utopia hits the sweet spot where the two genres interconnect with a graceful touch seldom seen in either genre.
Much of the new record draws inspiration from both pop and dance genres, and was recorded with up and coming Swedish production duo SevetyEight, whom Kerli swoons are her “songwriting soul mates.”
“We just clicked,” she said of the recording sessions which took places throughout 2012 both in Los Angeles (Westlake Studios) and in Stockholm. “They’re perfectionists and I’ve never felt more comfortable [writing],” the fan of Sweden said, adding that collectively they conjured “magic” for the new release.
“When we were in the studio together the energy was full of electricity….we were hugging and jumping around.”
Songs such as the chill-inducing, piano-driven offerings “Love Me Or Leave Me” and “Chemical,” to the pure pop of “Supergirl” (the entire album was overseen by former Katy Perry A&R man Chris Anokute at Island Def Jam), offer proof of Kerli’s comment on the new material, which is sure to thrill her loyal fan base--now nearing the 300,000 “likes” threshold on Facebook in addition to the blog she posts on weekly for Buzznet.com, which nets around 2.5 million views a month.
Her actively engaged fan base is legion online for the 14 to 25 set, and now spans the globe from Brazil to Japan (she refers to her adoring masses as ‘Moonchildren’). A few older high profile boosters include longtime supporter Tim Burton, who included her music in his ‘Alice In Wonderland’ and ‘Frankenweenie’ films, and Perez Hilton, who chose Kerli’s 2012 underground anthem “Zero Gravity” to kick off his ‘Perez Hilton Pop Up Compilation #1’ CD.
Her ‘Moonchildren’ hang on Kerli’s every word, and anxiously await the artist’s forthcoming fashion line (Kerli calls her unique style ‘Bubble Goth’ and she is known as a trendsetting icon who makes her own outfits, which are often outlandish and always original).
In 2013, expect a wider range of fans to enter a world clued-in Kerli fanatics have been raving about for years; thanks to a cosmic confluence of dance and pop trends dovetailing straight into a diverse, stellar group of songs on Utopia set to take music fans deep into an idyllic pop/dance paradise. Filled with light and love and infectious buzzing energy that is informing the EDM scene, Utopia is closer than ever for forward thinking pop fans.