Prior to submitting “Spirit Animal” to Eesti Laul 2017, she spent nine months living in the woods in an attempt to disconnect from the world.
And looking back on it now, purveyor of dream pop Kerli says living an ascetic lifestyle helped restore her spiritually and artistically.
Speaking to wiwibloggs on Skype earlier this week, she said the purity of the Estonian wilderness helped counter the lingering negativity that she had built up while living in Los Angeles.
“I had a time a few years ago where I just got really sick of the music business and closed every door and gave up my apartment and I left L.A. to go and live in the forest by myself for nine months in Estonia,” she says.
“I lived like a real hermit, an ascetic — no bathroom, I carried my own water, chopped my own wood to heat the sauna — full on country life. I totally cut myself off from the media to be a monk and find myself, to peel back layers, to start working on my third album, to become myself, remember who I was without the noise.”
The City of Angels, which has a reputation for the shallow and superficial, just wasn’t sitting with her at the time.
“It felt like the city was starting to catch up with me a little bit. I would lose myself a little bit and people would disrespect me…As I got closer to myself, I kind of changed. I went back to L.A. and now I’m only having really amazing experiences. It’s a city of 13 million people and there really is everything there. I think that the most important thing is not to worry so much about what is outside yourself, but what is in yourself. If you’re real as f*ck, people will come along that are the same way.”
Despite her high-energy performance during the first semi-final, Kerli was actually suffering from a cold that left her worried she wouldn’t be able to sing.
“I completely lost my voice a few days before, so I had this amazing miracle worker vocal coach work me on muscle relaxation exercises,” she says. “Before going on stage I wasn’t sure if any voice was going to come out. It worked out.”
Kerli — no doubt one of Estonia’s biggest pop exports — has had several hits in the United States. Her singles “Army of Love”, “Zero Gravity” and “The Lucky Ones” all cracked the Top 10 on Billboard’s club songs chart — and two of them even hit #1. So why has she waited so long to compete at Eesti Laul?
“I had just finished this crazy forest period in Estonia and I just happened to be in the forest working on this song ‘Spirit Animal'”, she says. “The producer wrote me. They’ve actually written to me for many years and I’ve always been like no. I thought it was cool to be in America. I had different ideas. And then this year they wrote me and I just happened to work on a song. I was like, ‘I’m here in a smoke sauna and I’m writing this thing and in my head I’m really capturing the spirit of this land I think so highly of and it’s uptempo and something people can sing along to. My art lately has been getting really deep, and I wanted to showcase a more playful side — the shaman girl. I felt why not?…I’m patriotic.”
What is the song about?
“There are different little messages in this song. It’s the first song I can’t exactly put my finger on what it’s about because it’s about so many things. When you listen to the verses there are all of these animal totems. It’s the wolf, it’s the snakes, it’s the white tiger — it’s all of this. I wanted to create a world. It’s more like a journey. You enter this journey and you start walking and all these animals appear and these colours and shapes. The twin flames are like finding your true soulmate. And also ‘you are the child of the moon’ is for my moon children — my community is called the moon children. I wanted to put them in the song.”
Was Kerli smoking something when she was writing this?
“You know what — actually I was not. There are plenty of times where I have definitely smoked something while writing music, but I’m actually much more into sobriety in the latter years and I take very good care of my body and I pamper and I spoil myself and I eat all organic and I work out.”
Her high-energy stage show is proof of that. But how did she get the idea to create the other-worldly scene?
“The stage show is like an Arctic shamanic journey. I had a vision that it had to be very dream-like — the wind and the snow and the shaman drums. And then I was lucky enough to get on board this amazing choreographer, who also writes books, and he channels information. He was like, ‘Wait girl. I am going to go to the forest and channel some information about our stage show.”
Are you loving Kerli’s personality and pizzaz? Do you want her to sing for Estonia at Eurovision 2017? Let us know in the comments box below.