She’s very possibly the most famous tattoo artist alive today. Her perfect alabaster complexion and impeccable, jet-black eyeliner have adorned a thousand makeup counters. She’s been a reality TV star, a beauty brand business mogul, a model, an author. But for Kat Von D, it’s always been all about the music.
“A lot of people know me from the tattoo world and from makeup and all this stuff, but the truth is that music has always been the biggest inspirational force throughout my life,” she explains, speaking to The Big Issue from her home in California. “I love music so much. It’s the most consistent thing in my life. More than my family, more than friends. I just can’t imagine a life without it.”
Von D finally releases her first album, Love Made Me Do It, in August. It’s a dark, synth-laden affair featuring rock’n’roll collaborations from the likes of Dave Grohl, Linda Perry, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio), Ladyhawke, Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails), and Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy. She took us through the path that got her here in The Music That Made Me.
Kat Von D: The Music That Made Me
Playing piano instead of video games
We were really poor growing up. So it’s not like we had video games or any luxurious toys. We had a piano and, to me, that was like a video game. I remember my first sonata. Sonata in G major is not a big hit for Beethoven. It was one of his B-sides, I guess. But it was a 12-page song that I could play front to back. I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I got to the ending. I won.’ It felt so good. I got high off of that.
My parents were pretty disciplinary, so we had a lot of structure in the house. I’m super grateful for that now, because I think that’s how I am able to get so much done. A lot of people lack structure, and they don’t see things through to the end. Getting trained in classical music from such an early age instilled that in me from the very beginning. It’s a big part of who I am now. And I loved the music. I think the reason I loved Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin – the Romantic era of music – is that it’s very melancholy and dramatic. There’s anger, there’s emotion.