Kat Von D is a legend in her own right, a jack of all trades if there ever was one. You may recognize her as one of the most influential, sought-after tattoo artists, the star of TLC reality series LA Ink, or maybe a boss lady and entrepreneur in the fashion world with her own vegan shoe line Von D Shoes. Regardless, one thing remains true: anything she does is met with greatness.
Now, she’s stepping into the limelight as a recording artist, unveiling an exciting new chapter in her already blossoming career. What fans may not know is that she’s a classically trained pianist, with music being her first true love. While she’s been able to dive into multiple art forms, there’s nothing that hits home like when she’s creating music.
With the release of her debut single, “Exorcism,” Kat takes listeners on a reflective journey which chronicles the rollercoasters of love and loss, rebirths and passings, and the hardships women face on a daily basis. The track embodies all the emotions from joy to pain to ultimately, hope.
The new record holds fans over until the release of Kat’s forthcoming debut album titled Love Made Me Do It, arriving on August 27th. Flaunt caught up with Kat via Zoom, who was posted in her living room inside her Victorian home in Los Angeles. Read below as we discuss her roots in Mexico, moving to Los Angeles, her musical roots, new single and visual “Exorcism,” naming her album Love Made Me Do It, forthcoming single “I Am Nothing,” her vegan shoe line Von D Shoes, motherhood, goals, and more!
Growing up in Montemorelos, Mexico, what was a young Kat Von D like?
We had a really modest upbringing, I thank my family for that because that’s a really big part of what keeps you grounded the bigger you get. I was born in Mexico and came to America when I was 6 years old in the 80’s. Been the Southern California girl ever since. [laughs]
How did LA influence you?
I love LA. LA’s such an influential place for a lot of things, especially on the creative forefront. A lot of my tattooing aesthetics and styles come from the cultures and subcultures of Southern California, and music as well. That’s one thing I love about LA, you have so many people from all over the world here. There’s a diversity that really plays into everything you do.
You’re a classically trained pianist, when did your love for music come about?
I started playing classical music when I was 5 years old. Myself and my two siblings, but I was the only one that really stuck with it. I still play piano every day. I’m a big Beethoven nerd. [laughs] I love the romantic era of music. When I started even writing my own album, it felt like the next right outlet for me because I’ve been playing music for so long. A lot of people don’t know that, they assume I’m just a tattoo artist.
People will be pleasantly surprised that the album isn’t a celebrity slapping their name on something that somebody else wrote and autotune, all that bullshit. That’s important for me when writing the album: to make sure like anything else that I create, that it’s made with quality. Regardless of whether you like me or not as a person, the music itself would stand alone. I’m really excited about finally releasing it.
“Exorcism” is out now, what are you most excited for?
It’s a love song. Everybody can relate to being in a relationship with somebody that feels like they’ve possessed you in your entire sense of being, whether it’s good or bad. In this case, it’s bad. That song was really inspired by, I watched a ton of exorcism movies, everything from the Exorcist to modern day exorcism themed movies. I liked the concept of tying a love story to the idea of losing control of yourself, and losing yourself within that process. It’d be hard for us to find somebody who couldn’t relate to it.
What were you going through recording the record?
I wrote the majority of the songs 10 years ago. I was sitting on his album for the whole time, but it feels like it’s the right time to release it now. At the time, I was in love with somebody who lived across the ocean. It was this very unrequited sense of love in a relationship. Obviously within the last 10 years, I’m happily married now. I have a kid, so I’ve already processed these feelings. To me, the sentiment still rings true in a lot of ways. It could be inspiring to a lot of people who listen to it.
What was your vision with the music video?
This is our first single so to me, it was important to introduce my bandmates. I love my bandmates. We’ve created this music together so it’s important they’re on the frontline as much as I am. They’re all superheroes in their own right. I wrote and directed the treatment for that music video: my bandmates and I on a mission in the desert to find my secret love that’s sitting in a castle on top of a mountain. It’s really dramatic. [laughs] It was exciting to do because we had to get an entire stunt crew. I figure everybody in my band is such a badass, we don’t need stunt doubles. We can do our stunts ourselves. It was cool, they were able to fly for a day.
What’re you most excited for with your album, Love Made Me Do It, arriving August 27th?
I’m so excited to finally release this album. My fans have been waiting for so long so there’s an anticipation there. Originally we were really excited about going on tour right away. Obviously because the times have changed, we’re going to be doing some livestreaming, then hopefully tour in the fall. These songs are so great to play live. I have a contortionist in my band, her body is her instrument and that’s going to play a lot into the live shows. Like everything else I do, music is more than sounds. There’s another element to presenting and storytelling when it comes to music. I’m all about visuals and being able to design a stage show that will match and reflect the sentiment of the album. I’m excited.
What’s the significance in the title?
Love Made Me Do It, this is an album full of anthems for the hopeless romantic. When you are a hopeless romantic, love is your driving force in everything you do. It’s also a scapegoat, you can blame it for all the fuck up and mistakes you make along the way.
What can we expect from your second single, “I Am Nothing”?
I love that song. To me, it’s one of the more melancholy, slow jams on the record. I’ve teased out a few little clips on my Instagram, a lot of fans can’t wait for that one to come out. “Exorcism” is a lot more upbeat. I wouldn’t say aggressive, but it’s more upbeat in nature—whereas “I Am Nothing,” this is the song that you’ll either cry writing love letters or make out with your loved one.
You worked with a ton of great collaborators for the project: Linda Perry, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio), Dave Grohl, Peter Murphy (Bauhaus), Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails), Ladyhawke and Charo. How was that experience?
Even though I’m a classically trained pianist, I can get by on guitar. A few songs I’ve written on guitar, I wouldn’t call myself a guitar player by any means. Most of the songs are written on a piano. I wrote a good amount of them with Linda Perry years ago, that was a great experience. I had the pleasure of having so many talented friends in my life. For me, I love collaborations and being able to invite these talented people into my world.
At the time, I was working with Danny Lohner from Nine Inch Nails, Dave Grohl played live drums on some of the tracks. After we had finished all the demos, I flew out to London and recorded it with Adam Noble who did Placebo and a bunch of other bands that I love. It’s all my favorite influences into one, I get to work with all these people. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s one of the best parts of making music, to be able to do it with your friends.
You launched a vegan shoe line called Von D Shoes on November 1, 2019. What’s the reality of starting your own brand?
Von D Shoes is taking off so crazy this last year, surprisingly amidst all the chaos. There’s a huge demand for people who want to purchase things that are cruelty-free and vegan. Shoes are one of the most challenging things for vegans to find, as far as a luxe line of shoes. You find a lot of cheap stuff that’s made in China but for me, it was really important to create something and make it easy for people to live a cruelty free, compassionate life. It’s exciting. I feature one of our best-selling shoes in the music video for “Exorcism,” they’re called the Coven buckle shoes. That style of shoe sold out already 3 times.
That’s amazing! How does that make you feel?
It’s amazing, I love it! I love bringing joy into people’s lives in whatever capacity that may be.
I saw you launched your Roxy flats as well.
Yeah, those are killing it.
What is an average day in the life of Kat Von D? Because you do so much.
Well I have a 2-year-old son so he keeps me on my toes, then balancing all my work life. I’m not a stranger to being productive. I love being busy. I don’t know what it’s like to be bored, whatever keeps me going. Right now, I’m really focused mainly on the music and the shoes.
How’s motherhood treating you?
I love it! I never thought I was going to have a kid. I never planned on it, then I met my husband and things changed. My son Leafar is two and a half now. It’s amazing to watch him grow. Every cliche that every parent ever says are true. I’m grateful to be on that journey with him. The best thing I could ever do is be the best version of myself for my son. It’s funny because when we’re editing the music video for “Exorcism,” he was sitting on my lap for part of it. He recognizes his mom on the screen. I thought about how proud I was that I don’t have anything in my past that would come out and haunt his childhood in any way. That’s something to be proud of in a world where it’s so chaotic and dysfunctional out there. I know I look crazy on the outside, but I’m pretty mellow on the inside. I can’t wait until he grows up, hopefully he loves music as much as his parents do. We can make music together one day too.
What’s your most meaningful tattoo?
What’s interesting is I’m getting a lot of blackout work done, where I’m blacking out my arms. I’ve been sober, it’s going to be 14 years sober in July. When I initially posted about my tattoos getting covered, people really lost their mind. I hadn’t gotten a reaction to a tattoo like that in a long time. People were confused as to why you would do that yourself? To me there’s these landmarks in time, some of them are positive and some of them are negative. When I look back and see a lot of the drunken tattoos I got when I was a mess: now I’m happily married and I’m a mother, I don’t want to look at that every day. I personally love the aesthetic of the simplicity and the cleanness of having it all blacked out. I’m going to keep going with it regardless of what people say. [laughs]
Goals at this point in your career?
We’re getting ready to write another album so I’m excited about that. Maybe by the time we’re done with that one the whole world will open up and we can do an international tour. For now, I’m trying to focus on how to release this album in a very meaningful way. Having come from a classical music background, I want to release sheet music of all my songs to see if there’s any classical junkies out there that will cover them. That’s pretty interesting to me. I know most people want to dance on TikTok, but I don’t really give a fuck about that. [laughs]