License to Kill // Natalia Kills

“Hi, I’m Kills,” says the petite brunette with the Bettie Page bob and giant shades.

We’re at the storied East Village boutique Trash and Vaudeville, an institution for rockers and people who want to dress like them for the last 35 years. We knew there’d be fireworks when we brought Natalia Kills to T&V. The 24-year-old singer/songwriter has been making waves ever since being discovered by and signed to Interscope/Cherry Tree Records. But don’t assume that Kills, whose debut album Perfectionist drops next month, is just another pretty face on the scene. A remarkably self-assured artist, she writes and produces her own material and directs her own videos. Edgy, dark and sexy, her clips add to a self-created mythology of the girl who grew up in Northern England dreaming of one day leading her own motorcycle gang.

Shopping proved to be a welcome return to norm after spending the past few months on a tour bus. Kills has been dotting the country as she opens for Robyn’s North American tour, and has hardly had a moment to breathe, let alone visit the local haunts. Guided by T&V’s legendary manager Jimmy Webb, who regaled us with tales of everyone from Slash to Angelina Jolie stopping by the shop over the decades, Kills tried on an eclectic mix of gear. Designer Prince Peter, a friend, even stopped by before it was time to pack up and head to Radio City for the night’s performance.

It’s just another night in the life of an artist poised on the brink. Outside Radio City’s backstage entrance, Natalia stopped to give hugs to a pair of fans who waited in the rain for a glimpse of her. We were stunned by how open and giving the singer is one-on-one, in spite of her badass stage presence. Natalia certainly kills, but she also has a lot of heart.

—Angela Cravens