The Internet is always looking for a new person or moment to stan. When the underbelly of stan Twitter, Instagram obsessives, nostalgia, and rich pop culture references collide, it has the ability, to quite literally, Break the Internet.
Needless to say, people lost their damn minds when Heidi Montag — best known for her Important Cultural Imprints of starring on MTV's The Hills and her underrated 2010 pop masterpiece Superficial — posted an Instagram story of herself working out to Internet pop upstart Slayyyter's latest single, "Mine," a lovelorn house track released this year on Valentine's Day.
Slayyyter is a 22-year-old St. Louis pop icon in the making, fashioned in the vocal and rhythmic vein of Britney Spears and aesthetically informed by the salacious late-aughts tabloid celebrity of Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith, Lindsay Lohan, and countless others. She once told PAPER that Heidi, whose very public tale of plastic surgery, reality TV infamy, and pop star aspirations, was among her biggest influences.
Sometimes in life, we get to meet our idols, and PAPER loves to play match-maker (see: Kim Petras and Paris Hilton). So we orchestrated a call between Slayyyter and Heidi, who was busy picking up her son Gunner from art class. "Don't worry, I'm not at a concert," Heidi cheerfully notes amid Gunner's excited yelps, to which a starstruck Slayyyter gushes, "Awww."
And as it turns out, the two, having never met, have a lot to talk about, from forging their own paths as independent artists to the state of the music industry, and why pop choreography deserves a renaissance.
PAPER: Slayyyter, we told Heidi you're a huge fan and that you count her as one of your main inspirations. You also mentioned in our first interview that you'd love to someday write music for her. How did Heidi become such a major influence on you?
Slayyyter: Oh my gosh, I think I was in middle school. My sister is a really big fan of The Hills, and I obviously knew who you were from that and I've been such a huge fan. Superficial is one of my all-time favorite albums — an underrated, golden gem. There's a whole Soundcloud circuit of artists that are just like me that worship that album and take our influence from there. It's not even just me. I was influenced by and fascinated with the whole pop culture era from 2007 to 2009. I feel like you're literally a genius; you and your husband Spencer [Pratt] are geniuses.
Heidi: I love that! I can't thank you enough for saying that. I'm like, Okay this is unbelievable! I really spent so much energy thinking about Superficial, and I feel like it went under-the-radar. But I loved the music and I was so passionate about it; I worked with Cathy Dennis who wrote "Toxic" for Britney, LP wrote for Rihanna, and Stacy Barthe [who wrote for Miley Cyrus], so I felt like all the people were there with the music, who are among the best in the industry. And, Slayyyter, I feel like you have such an original, great style. Your songs are so catchy and you're right in your pocket, and I feel like you're gonna be very successful at what you do and your niche. The way you're releasing singles and touring, it just seems so smart and strategic. I don't know if you have a whole team behind you, or if you're just doing it, but it's brilliant.
Slayyyter: Oh, thank you so much! I really only have a manager at this point, but I remember seeing in an interview you said that you pretty much funded that whole album by yourself, which is something that I like. I literally fund all my projects with my own money; I worked as a receptionist at a hair salon, and my savings from that have gone into my music. A woman making music that she wants to make because she wants to make it... I just love that.
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Heidi: Yeah, and that's exactly what I did. I spent all my money on that because I didn't want anyone telling me who I was as an artist or what would be successful. This is what I love and this is my passion, so that's really great that you do that. I'd love to get in the studio with you. I know that you're busy but whenever you're in town, I'd love to collab or do a remix to one of your songs or whatever would be the easiest.
Slayyyter: I would love that. I would die, and you have such a cult following in the music scene, that if we collaborated, it would go crazy. People would literally go nuts, I feel.
Heidi: That would be so fun. We should do like a one-off performance night.
Slayyyter: I would die!
Heidi: Well, we want you to live! Congratulations on being independent and doing it yourself. I feel like you're gonna win.
PAPER: Slayyyter, which Heidi song would you cover if you could?
Slayyyter: Dance is my favorite kind of music, and that's what I've been writing the most of lately, but if I were to cover a song, I'd have to do "Superficial," just because that's my all-time favorite from that album. The title track is so good but that chorus... I literally blew that song for years every time I got ready to go out. I feel like it'll be cool to do a Kylie Minogue-inspired dance track, or like something that's in the realm of "Mine."
Heidi: It's so funny that "Superficial" is your favorite because I was wondering which one you liked most.
Slayyyter: Honestly, it's so relatable and unapologetic. I think what's really what I love so much about it.
Heidi: It's important to be unapologetic about who you are in this world.
PAPER: Heidi, I'm wondering if you ever imagined at any point when you were making Superficial that you'd be at any point of influence.
Heidi: It's such a blessing. It's a dream come true for me because I've put in so much work, and definitely at one point, I thought that I was gonna be a huge pop star and it just didn't really pan out, especially considering what happened with my surgery, starting a family, and everything else going on. I had too many things going on to fully concentrate on it. I do have one new song coming out soon, but other than that I haven't done music in so long. It's definitely a dream come true for me.
Can you tell us what direction you'll be going in musically?
Heidi: I'm calling it "positive pop" — pop music, but there's a Christian message. It's just one song, but I want to do something good and send out a positive message to the world. I'm in such a different place right now, so you'll see. I'm open to all music. I don't want to corner myself into one thing, because I really love all types of music.
"I do have one new song coming out soon [...] I'm calling it 'positive pop' — pop music, but there's a Christian message." – Heidi Montag
PAPER: When might we expect that?
Heidi: Well, it's gonna be on the new season of The Hills.
Slayyyter: Ahh, yes! We just all collectively screamed. So exciting.
Heidi: It's actually perfect timing. Now with Slayyyter being around channeling what she is, things feel full circle at this point.
Slayyyter: Oh my gosh I'm literally so excited for this reboot, you have no idea.
Heidi: Get ready!
PAPER: Heidi, how are you feeling about re-entering The Hills after being away from it for so long?
Heidi: At first, I was hesitant because I'm a mom. That's my number one priority now, and I don't want to compromise time with my son. So I definitely try to balance. It's different this time around, though. There's a different production company involved, and I think MTV is in an exciting new place. So it's gonna be a similar Hills that everyone loved, but a different show; we're all wiser now.
PAPER: That's so exciting! Shifting back to music, what do you make of the current landscape for women in music?
Slayyyter: I feel like there was a point in culture where everything was very misogynistic, with women not being taken seriously. I feel like that's the reason why you said, Heidi, how your album didn't do what you thought it would do. It's because people don't take women as seriously in music as they do men, but I feel like that's changing because female artists are so unapologetically themselves now. Music right now is so good because of women, and we're taking over. Look at artists ranging from Lizzo to Charli XCX — now is the time for girls to do their thing. I feel like you can be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want and not be criticized for seeming superficial. Which, Heidi, that is such a good title for a debut album, because everyone sees pop music and women who make it as superficial, but there's a lot more that goes into it than what meets the eye.
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Heidi: And I think with the Internet, it's a much bigger platform. If my album came out nowadays, it would've done a lot better, when you think of how the Internet has transformed the music industry. Knowing what I know now about how fans online have taken to Superficial over the years. Slayyyter, you are doing such a great job at marketing yourself and being out there since you have your own platform. I think that's one of the best ways to create opportunities for yourself. You can really reach people who want to find music they relate to, and not be told what to do or how to sound. Listeners can find the music they love themselves, and I think that's been such a big turn from before, where you'd listen to the same five songs over and over again on the radio because of a record label push. I often think about how someone like Cardi B transitioned from reality TV and kind of did what I was originally trying to do with all of that, and is now taken seriously as an artist. So I think she has really been a trailblazer, as well.
Slayyyter: Absolutely! Also, I feel like pop is cool again. I feel like culture shied away from pop music for a while. I watch all your interviews religiously, and I think you said in one interview that pop music was dying right when you were coming out with this super-pop album. I feel like all that early 2000s pop and celebrity culture is making a resurgence and everyone is obsessed with it again. For my music, I'm a big believer in releasing multiple singles. I love singles rather than full projects, and I feel like everyone should be popping out singles. I've been so excited for all the music that's about to come out this year, and I cannot wait for your song, oh my god!
Heidi: You're so right. That's such a brilliant statement, and that's definitely what happened with pop culture. Nobody wanted it anymore, and it was shunned all of a sudden. I've always loved pop, and that's what I always wanted to be. I grew up with Britney and all these pure pop princesses that I aspired to be, so it was really challenging timing but I think you're right. It's cool again and really accepted; I've even noticed its international reach online. Back then, it felt so unique to America, but now the world wants pop culture the way we had it then. And I agree about making singles: I started off before the album, doing lots of promo singles ["Higher," "Body Language," "Overdosin," "Blackout"], and dropping them well before Superficial came out to build anticipation. Now you can either have an album full of singles and just drop them one or more at a time. It used to be that you can have a pop album that includes five filler songs and you only need three good singles. That's just not the way the industry is anymore.
Slayyyter: Music is so saturated right now. Everyone is putting out full surprise projects and all this stuff, so I feel like with singles you can focus on those as a way to "feed the children," as the kids say on Twitter. These days, you have to feed people constant content almost so that they don't forget about you. To drop a full project right off the bat for me wasn't wise.
Heidi: Yeah, and I don't think you even need to do an album [if you don't want to]. I think that's kind of for some people in the past, and you just need to keep doing the singles. I think that's how you're gonna win. People want what's relevant. Even if you do an album then that album is old in two weeks, so it doesn't really matter.
Slayyyter: People I see on stan Twitter — all the little fans of every artist — someone will drop a full project and fans will so quickly be wondering where the new music is. They can't get enough!
PAPER: It sounds like Slayyyter is strategic now in the way that Heidi was back in the day.
Heidi: Honestly, I just want everyone to learn from the mistakes that I made, because I genuinely want success for everyone. Thank you for having me be such an inspiration to you.
"Music right now is so good because of women, and we're taking over." – Slayyyter
Slayyyter: Oh my god, thank you for being iconic. I feel like the biggest thing I've learned from you also in music is that girls don't dance, really. I just was talking about this in an interview I did, people think choreography is cheesy. But you were like the full package in music. You danced and everything, it was just so iconic and I was obsessed. Now I want to dance, sing, and do the full bit. I was so excited to start making music because of you, so thank you for making that album and being the queen of Hollywood. I'm seriously obsessed with you!
Heidi: Wow! Thank you so much. I love choreography. I feel like that's part of the pop formula. I feel like that's part of the the superstardom that's so fun. In my new song I have full choreography too because I love it, and although I only had like two days to perform on my other ["Body Language" on Miss Universe] live performance, I was like okay whatever, I need to get some kind of choreography in.
Slayyyter: Heidi, what are you listening to right now? What are your favorite artists right now? What do you like to listen to on the daily basis?
Heidi: Well, obviously, Slayyyter... but funny enough, I really listen to mostly Christian music and classical. I try to keep it really positive around the house since Spencer listens to mostly trap music. When I'm listening to pop, I always go back to classics. I go back to Britney and I go back to Jessica Simpson and those are kind of my favorites, but in general I try to listen to really positive, upbeat stuff because I only have time to listen to one song here and there.
Slayyyter: Thank you so much for listening to me. Such an honor!
Heidi: Of course! Keep up the good work and I feel like you're gonna win. I look forward to seeing you and collabing with you in the very near future. I have a crying baby on my hands, so I'm actually gonna have to go, but, Slayyyter, I will talk to you soon.
Slayyyter's recently announced mini-tour has new tour dates added in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. See below, and buy tickets, here.
June 25, 2019 - Brooklyn, NY - Elsewhere Hall - SOLD OUT
June 26, 2019 - Chicago, IL - Schuba's Tavern - SOLD OUT
June 27, 2019 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop
June 29, 2019 - Los Angeles, CA - The Echo - SOLD OUT
July 26, 2019 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre
Photos via Instagram