Love is a many-splendored thing. And sometimes it’s not. Kat Von D knows it all too well, exploring the maddening fix, and breaks, of amour on “Exorcism,” off her upcoming debut Love Made Me Do It, out Aug. 27.
“The whole album is a compilation of hopeless romantic songs,” says Von D. “A lot of times, you listen to songs that you think are about drugs or death, and they’re really about love. I’ve always been a fan of the genre of Exorcist movies, and just the idea of possession and being outside of your control, and love leaving you worse off than when they found you. It’s a love song, but it’s not a pretty love song.”
“Exorcism” is a sonic expulsion of the destructive nature of love, a recurring theme throughout Love Made Me Do It. Pulling in Dave Grohl, Peter Murphy (Bauhaus), Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails), Charo, Linda Perry, Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio, and Ladyhawke, Von D wrote the album a decade ago, at a time when she had an unrequited love.
“He had written an album for me and mailed it to my house with a letter that said, ‘these are things that are easier sung than said,’ and I just remember listening to the album and not knowing what better way to respond other than with another album,” she says. “I should’ve released this album many years ago, but things happen the way they’re supposed to happen. Now, I’m happily married, and I have a son, and my husband and I joke that all these songs are about my cat now.”
Written entirely by Von D, with the exception of one track, penned by Murphy and Lohner, Love Made Me Do It was initially tracked in 2014 with Adam Noble (Placebo) in London, as Von D refined her style and transitioned more into synth, she revisited the songs with her band. “After experiencing the process of remixing this album with my band,” she says, “I’m excited to start fresh on the new stuff, instead of working with existing songs.”
Love Made Me Do It is a narrative of another time that Von D is fine reflecting on now. “When I think back then I was extremely dysfunctional,” shares Von D, who was also newly sober and trying to ground herself in different ways when she wrote the album. “I think water seeks its own level, and when you’re dysfunctional, you’re gonna seek out other dysfunctional people unconsciously,” she says. “That makes a recipe for messy, beautiful love, that usually ends up the same way.”
Von D adds, “It’s being able to dip into those feelings of codependency or craziness but not actually live in it. Although most of the songs were written during a time of depression, that’s definitely not where I want to live, but there’s a beauty and vulnerability and a strength to that as well. I’m not ashamed of writing out my faults. I’m so full of them.”
Already writing her next album, Von D is also working on a cover of 1940s Spanish classic song with Charo. Love Made Me Do It is a close of one chapter, another love, for Von D, one she’s proud she responded to in an album.
“I have a pretty nostalgic sentimental attachment to things,” says Von D. “There are definitely lyrics that are pertaining to specific moments in time… and it’s the same thing with tattooing. You can look back at them in disgust or you can just accept that as part of the process. When I think about the person I wrote most of these songs about, it was just one of those things that didn’t work out.”
She adds, “The beautiful thing about songwriting is that you’re processing your experience and your feelings at the time that it’s happening. Sometimes it feels weird to sing those songs later, when you know where they’re rooted, but I still think a beautiful song is a beautiful song.”