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Teddy sinclair for Entertainment Weekly

Natalia Kills

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is Cruel Youth a reaction to the sound you’d experimented with earlier in your career as Natalia Kills? You were doing pop songs with stars like will.i.am.
TEDDY SINCLAIR: I love [my 2013 solo album Trouble], I really do, but there are a few songs on that album that are familiar, in ways, to Cruel Youth, like “Outta Time” and “Boys Don’t Cry,” that have a sort of doo-wop, ’60s, jingly tambourine feeling. There’s lots of surf guitar, lots of ringing, and lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” as pad melodies. Then, I think of Perfectionist’s songs like, “Zombie,” with hip hop drums and urban sounds executed in that typical Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie, electronic way.

When I think of all of those things, that’s the hybrid of what Cruel Youth started from and has developed way beyond. I feel like I am now, in the project and with our band, who I’ve always been. Because there isn’t a record label or anyone saying, “Oh, yeah, take those hip hop drums out. Don’t make it so trap. You can’t say ‘f—’ so many times,” or asking, “What’s all this ’60s s—? Stop with the ‘oohs’ and the ‘ahhs.’ There are tambourines all over the place; it’s a tambourine s— show.” No one’s saying those things to us. It’s just Willy and I making great records, just the two of us in our studio with no interference with no feedback or advice until well after we finish the songs.

Do you think this is the music that’s truest to you, after this long career you’ve had?
There’s absolutely no filter. It’s gone. Before, working with different producers and having quite a large team of yeses, nos, and even more nos coming at me before I made an idea, perhaps things might have gotten changed by the time they got to the listener. In my lyrics, my contributions have always been from me. I think when you listen back to my other records, the lyricism, stories, personal torment and the experiences I’ve had of not really giving a f—, they’ve always been there. Now, the whole thing connects to the music as well. It’s the purest dose of me you can get.

But because you’ve taken on several identities, whether it’s as Natalia Kills, as Teddy Sinclair, or on tracks for Madonna and Rihanna, do you find yourself writing from different perspectives or is it coming from the same place?
It’s all coming from the same place,

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