The LGBTQ+ pop music icon Kim Petras shares a new documentary with Amazon Music’s The Lead Up. The 25-minute feature gives a behind-the-scenes look at Petras’s 2022 Coachella set while revealing her childhood and come-up to fame. Also, the star opens up about being transgender in the music business, plus how that affected record deals and musical themes.
Lat month, Kim Petras released the Amazon Original cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.”
Amazon Music: The Lead Up with Kim Petras
“I still struggle with how to say this. But I don’t want to be invited to the table because I’m transgender. I want to be invited to the table because I put my whole heart into my music.” Those are the first words uttered by Petras; no introductory credits, just honesty. This message frames the entire documentary to legitimize her music without stamping her gender identity across it. What better way to see that than a full behind-the-scenes look at her “Slut Pop” Coachella set.
Petras has put in the work since 2010, posting covers and songs on YouTube. However, there was some “darkness” surrounding her childhood in Uckerath, Germany, according to the singer-songwriter.
But also there was a little bit of darkness around when I was a kid just because of my gender identity, all that stuff. And I feel like people didn’t understand me. I was just kind of like the weird kid everywhere I went. My story was a big topic there, because I changed the law by transitioning early. And that was a very public thing that a lot of people had a lot against me. And it was just highly publicized. And I was just anywhere I would go in Germany, I would just be a transgender girl.
Petras’s career started as a songwriter after self-discovering that a pop star wasn’t a reachable dream (yet). After some success with jingles, she got signed as a songwriter to Universal Music, then flew to LA at a later point.
Kim Petras Career Struggles
Petras was an independent artist for most of her career as labels didn’t give her an offer “that was respectable or good.” However, this was not a defeat to the singer, “I feel grateful that I got to grow, and I got to really grow my career organically.” And after the pandemic swiped her chances of performing on stage in 2020, she was excited to perform again in 2022.
Slut Pop EP by Kim Petras
Although Petras’s recent project was a major success amongst her fans, it received no acclaim from outside sources and outlets. The project was so heavily scrutinized on social media that Petras had to fall back for some time to let the drama pass. Here, she speaks about the project’s origins and message.
My new album, “Slut Pop,” came out of fun, out of love for that genre of music. I don’t want anyone to feel like sex is something to be embarrassed of or something to not talk about. It just doesn’t get talked about in the mainstream world. And it just is so taboo. My friends had to resort to sex work in order to transition. And I don’t want them to feel ashamed of that. It’s work, and the world needs it. And I think I don’t want anyone to feel like sex is something to be embarrassed of.
Kim Petras’s Coachella Set
For the most part, the documentary focuses on the preparation for her Coachella performance: from styling and make-up to choreography. Petras’s management, Shabnam, talks her through different events she needs outfits for and finalizes her performance attire. Kim Petras says she “makes different characters” for her clothing choices, which is clear in how she takes charge in how she wants the final look to be altered.
In her make-up test for Coachella, she plays around with a bold yellow neon look. She talks to Eli, her creative director, and Gilbert, her make-up artist, to make sure they understand her vision. She emphasizes that she didn’t want it to be too “pretty” as it went against the aesthetic of the whole set. This attention to detail seems habitual to Petras.
Miguel, her choreographer, takes Petras through an physically intense set involving a neon whip. As days count down, the singer and dancer solidify their choreography and make sure it is in sync. Miguel gives the dancers encouragement and thanks the singer for letting him take charge. Throughout the documentary, there are montages of high-energy dance and water breaks. Miguel says, “I think right now, maybe the only thing Kim might be nervous about is the stamina. It’s a big show; and it’s a big physical show for her. And she’s determined to do what the dancers do, because she wants to do it.”
The documentary ends in clips of her infamous car wash, Coachella glam, and her running up to perform at Pride Island after a successful desert performance. While her fans (AKA the “bunheads”) gush about her impact in their lives throughout the documentary, their messages become even stronger in its end: Kim is a true popstar.