By Ashley Uzer
When you were in middle school, you probably remember adding the lyrics to Tokio Hotel’s “Monsoon” to your AIM profile. What you probably didn’t know is that Tokio Hotel had been making music since 2001, and their American hits like “Monsoon” were originally written in German.
Today, Tokio Hotel is alive and well, with a lead singer whose hair is changing faster than the band’s busy schedule. While in between albums, Billy Kaulitz has decided to give his fans, or “aliens,” a treat with a solo project that will be released on May 20th. The first single, “Love Don’t Break Me,” was released this past week, and it’s safe to say that the rest of the EP is going to be just as emotional and sexy. We talked to Billy about his new solo project, being a hopeless romantic, and secret Coachella parties.
You’ve said that your solo project, BILLY, is about experimenting with your own sound. Why was this a perfect time to do a solo album for you?
I am not sure if this is the “perfect” time. I’ve been working on this for quite a while and I never had a real plan for actually putting it out. I was touring the entire year last year and we are kind of in between albums with the band, so I had time to really concentrate on this, I guess. Things just came together and it felt right to do it. I feel ready for it. The energy is right.
You rocked some killer outfits for Coachella, where do you get your style inspo from? Where are your favorite places to shop?
I get inspired from everywhere, mostly traveling. We toured all around the globe and seeing all these different cultures, cities, and people is the most inspiring. New York is always going to be my number one fashion city, though. I love just walking around and absorbing. The architecture, the parties, the people. It’s that certain spirit New York has. I always feel like I become a different person when I am there. Movies are always going to inspire me the most, I think. I have a million screenshots on my laptop from Mad Max to Dangerous Liaisons, to A Single Man, to Labyrinth, HER, etc. The list goes on.
But, it’s also just life in general. When I walk into my closet I let it inspire me every morning. I dress how I want the day to go. It always comes down to my mood and I never plan much in advance. Everything happens very spontaneously. Fashion is a sense of life. It’s how it makes me feel. If I want to feel confident when I walk into a serious business meeting, I’d grab my favorite J.Mendel high waisted pants paired with a white Karl Lagerfeld shirt and wear my favorite Saint Laurent shoes with a vintage long leather coat thrown over my shoulders. When I am feeling tired as shit and I am hungover, I wear all white the next day to light up my day. That’s how I function. Coachella is so much fun! It’s probably my favorite time of the year and I love to dress up for that. But again, I arrive with 3 giant suitcases and decide the days of the festival what I am gonna wear. It’ all about the feeling and being comfortable with yourself.
What was the best Coachella party you attended?
The best parties are the ones that are not listed and don’t have a commercial flyer. The best one this year was probably the one The Weeknd was throwing at this crazy beautiful house until 8 a.m. The only official parties I go to every year are the Neon Carnival party and the day hang Revolve thing, at the location that used to be the Lacoste party. Those are always fun.
You Instagrammed a pic of the Tinder LED light at Coachella, what are your thoughts on the app?
I think Tinder is what our world has become and I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. See, I would love people to meet the old school way, run into each other at a party or at a nice restaurant. I guess all our lives became too busy and there are so many people out there that we don’t want to waste much time flirting with the wrong one, and I get that! Finding the right one is a fucking challenge and Tinder at least gives you some help sorting out the best candidates. I am a hopeless romantic, as cheesy as it sounds. I still hope to run into someone somewhere while buying groceries and have a magical love at first sight moment and be together forever, but who fucking knows if that’s gonna happen. I haven’t been very lucky so far, so being drunk at the Neon Carnival, even Tinder seemed appealing to me.
As a hopeless romantic, do you think our generation has become too cynical when it comes to finding love?
I think so! But I don’t blame anyone. I think deep down we are all looking for the same thing, but we might not all be aware of that. There is a time for everything. If you are in a phase where you feel like cheating and fooling around, fucking everyone with a hole, then that’s what it is. If you think there is no such thing as true love because you just got your heart broken, then embrace it. I am one million percent sure that we are all just here because we wanna be loved, truly loved, whether it’s going to happen for us or not. Love has so many forms. It’s not only romantic or physical. In the end we are all human. It’s in our genes to give and receive love.
What’s the craziest place you’ve ever had sex?
A public hotel pool. Am I boring?
How have you changed as an artist since the formation of Tokio Hotel in 2001?
I guess I have just evolved and learned like everyone else. Back in 2001 I didn’t know shit about anything. I was a little innocent boy that dreamt about being on stage and getting out of school as soon as possible. When my first record came out I was 15 years old. That feels like a different life. I guess everyone can relate to that. Whoever is reading this right now, do you still identify with your 15-year-old self? I don’t think so. The difference is that all the mistakes and all the things you don’t want people to see, you can look up about me. I grew up in the public eye. I feel like am different today but also the same. I learned a lot about the industry, maybe too much, not enough about love. Still trying to figure that out but I’d say I am better than I ever was before artistically. I am happy with what I am making and I know how to channel my creativity and how to handle it. That wasn’t always the case when I was a kid.
Back in 2014, you wrote about loving who loves you back and gender not being a factor, do you think our society has become more accepting of this idea today? Or do we still have a long way to go?
We still have a long way to go but we’ve also come a long way. I think it’s very trendy to be accepting about the ”gender doesn’t matter thing.” It’s hip to be cool with it and be modern, but to actually mean it is a whole different thing. I know a girl that once was my friend. She comes from a very religious family and she always pretended she is so open and loving and has no problem with same sex relationships and is all for it. That was only true until she found out that a guy she liked was into guys. She couldn’t deal with the fact that a guy she liked sexually was also into guys, she completely lost it and freaked out. She showed her true colors and got very insulting and said very disappointing and horrible things. The funny thing is today I see her posting pro-gay and same sex relationship things and liking gay posts of others which is fucking sad cause she doesn’t mean it. She finds it ”gross” but she likes the image of supporting it.
How is love viewed differently in Germany than it is in the US?
I don’t think it is, not that I know. I think love is the same everywhere. It makes us all the same. It unites. That’s what’s so beautiful about it.
How have you gotten over your biggest heartbreak?
I am still trying every day.
You grew up with music, and are said to have started writing songs with your step father at age 7, could you ever see yourself dating someone who didn’t share the same passion for music?
I think so. I mean it would be important to feel supported by my partner and that they love what I do, but if they are not so much into music that’s totally fine. I am always attracted to contrasts. I like if someone can show me a whole different world and get me out of my head. I could never date another controlling psychopath musician that travels the world and worries about everything like me. Make me laugh! That’s most important.
What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever said or done for you?
There is this one woman that has portraits of me tattooed all over her body. Literally with every hairstyle I had… and I had a lot. I think that was pretty intense.
Tokio Hotel fans call themselves aliens. If you were an alien, what planet would you live on and why?
Probably one that we haven’t even discovered yet. There is so much out there we don’t know about. I am sure there is another planet that is just like our earth or even better. Talking about this makes me so excited. If we think about the fact that we have discovered less than five percent of our ocean, it tells you how little we know in general. We don’t even have an idea what’s really going on with our planet. I am convinced that aliens live on earth. They are here with us. It’s very possible that they live down there in the 95% we haven’t discovered yet. I want to be here when we make contact. That’s one of my biggest dreams.
LA PAZ, BOLIVIA - 03/19