“I think most people expected me to come out with a metal album. And I love metal, but my voice doesn’t sound anything like Arch Enemy,” says Kat Von D, laughing. Last year the tattoo artist, author, reality TV star, and beauty entrepreneur released her first album, Love Made Me Do It. And while Kat had come to be most associated with the genre of hard rock, her own music falls well into the realm of post-punk, goth, and synth-pop. “Post-punk is definitely my favorite genre,” she tells me during a recent phone chat, citing Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, and Depeche Mode as some of her biggest influences.
Despite hitting shelves last year, Kat Von D had been working on the songs of Love Made Me Do It since 2014. Although now happily married (with a son) to artist and musician Rafael Reyes of Prayers (who coined the phrase “Cholo goth”), at the time she was writing the music she was in a much different headspace: “I wrote it when I was in an unrequited love relationship. Part of me is a little bit sad that anyone has gone through what I’ve gone through… but this album brought me closer to my fans.” The album has garnered critical acclaim from the likes of Loudwire, Revolver, and Billboard, although Kat admits to me that that’s not something she necessarily expected: “To be honest, I’ve actually been quite surprised and honored by how people have been responding to the album. I expected a lot more negative criticism of it.”
Love Made Me Do It features a plethora of collaborations from beyond-noteworthy musicians, including Dave Grohl, Linda Perry, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio), Danny Lohner, Ladyhawke and, perhaps most impressively, the “Godfather of Goth,” Bauhaus vocalist, and inspiration behind The Sandman and The Crow, Peter Murphy. Murphy appears on “Protected,” a track that easily could’ve been found amidst his own solo catalogue. And although Kat has likely surpassed the mainstream stardom of Murphy, she tells me that working with the legend was as amazing as anyone raised on goth could imagine.
“I’m a huge Bauhaus fan and a huge Peter Murphy solo fan as well. That’s one of the few songs on the album I didn’t write; he wrote all of the lyrics. I met him through Danny Lohner… He gave me one of the biggest compliments. He said, ‘I love her voice,’ and I don’t even think he knew who I was [laughs]. That was like the biggest compliment. That’s probably one of the only songs that you’ll never hear live, though, unless he happens to be there.”
Last year Kat Von D did a short run of live dates on the West Coast and later this month she kicks off a 21-date US tour, including a March 2nd stop at Brooklyn Bowl Philadelphia, followed by a European tour. Kat will be joined by her official band, which includes synth players Gregg Foreman AKA Mr. Pharmacist (known for his work with The Gossip and Cat Power) and Sammi Doll (of IAMX, with whom Kat has collaborated), along with contortionist Brynn Route, of whom Kat says, “She’s a pure athlete. She’s like the Marilyn Munster of the group.” Additionally, helping to bring the show to life will be Linda Strawberry, Smashing Pumpkins’ Creative Director and director of Kat’s recent music video for “I Am Nothing.” “She’s really amazing at capturing beauty and the macabre… We shot vignettes for each song that are going to play during the show,” Kat tells me, going on to explain that the quality of her live show is of the utmost importance to her: “We definitely put a lot of hours and energy into our live shows. One of my biggest pet peeves is going to see a band and they’re just staring at the mic and I’m like, ‘Why didn’t I just stay home and listen to the record?’” She also tells me that the reception she and her band got on their West Coast dates were some of her biggest highlights of recent years: “There’s no greater feeling than going onstage and seeing your fans singing along to your songs.”
Handling support duties on Kat’s upcoming US tour will be her husband’s band, Prayers. And in addition to their upcoming tour-based travel plans, their first extended period on the road since the birth of their child (“I haven’t traveled in forever, obviously,” Kat tells me.), Kat and Rafael are currently relocating their homelife. At the time of our interview the couple were in the midst of showing their LA home in preparation of moving to Indiana, somewhere where they actually don’t have any roots. “We literally don’t know anyone,” Kat tells me, laughing. The reason for their move, she explains, actually has to do with her love of a particular aesthetic: “I love Victorian architecture. I mean, I spent six years restoring my house in LA, and there’s a house out in Indiana I always had my eye on, but it was a bed and breakfast. But it just went up on the market and my husband was like, ‘Let’s just fly out and see it.’” Well, they wound up buying it, and Kat’s been restoring the house — which sits on 14 acres on the Ohio River – for a while now and, in addition to being her literal dream house, she and Rafael are looking for a change of scenery: “I mean, we have a child now. It was just time for us to just change course… We’ve been hungering for it, leaving the city life.”
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