Many people may place her on a high pedestal along side other jaw dropping female artists with her hit singles, "Ur So Gay" and "I Kissed A Girl", but the outspoken Katy Perry
took a path many wouldn't have been able to survive. In a one-on-one interview with Starpulse, Katy talks about her struggle to make a dream come true and her new found and well deserved success.
You grew up listening to gospel music and singing in churches but you credit Queen for opening up a new genre to you. Can you tell me a little about your past and how much has Queen made an influence on your music today?
So I grew up with the parents of traveling ministers and the only music around my house was all four verses of "Amazing Grace" and "Oh Happy Day". I sang in church all my life and sang "Oh Happy Day" till I was blue in the face. That gospel, soulful thing still sticks with me till this day but it's true, I wasn't allowed to listen to any real music outside of that until I was 14 or 15. One time, I remember vividly, I was over my friend's house and we were trying on all her clothes and it was like a scene in a movie. She put on a CD and it was "Killer Queen" and everything just flowed. We stopped dancing and trying on clothes and sat on the edge of the bed listen to the lyrics of the song and thinking "Oh my gosh…" Till this day Queen is a big inspiration to me because of all the beautiful lyrics and the stories that are told. With a Queen song you can turn it on and close your eyes and you have this imagery that flows in your head and I just thought that was so cool. But sometimes that's missing in music- that story being told, especially in Pop music. There's a full fledge group of singer/songwriters that are on the up and coming list most definitely but as far as Pop music goes, I miss the stories and I hope I can bring them back eventually.
At 16-years-old, you spent sometime in Nashville. Were you looking into pursuing Country music or just looking to enhance your writing?
I was looking to going into the country music business. I actually recorded a couple gospel songs in Nashville. Then my parents started realizing that this was my past and their connections was just straight to Nashville and being as young as I was, there were no ifs, ands, or buts about it at all. So I'd go to Nashville and I'd be around all these veteran music writers and they would show me how to carve a song. I saw how important that was and it just gave me a format. There doesn't have to be a strict format to writing anything but with a movie as well, you need to have an arch in the middle of it .That's how songwriting is. You want to have your verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, and then chorus. I didn't know that and it can be so many different ways and you don't even have to have rules to writing a song.
You've actually had the opportunity to work with Glen Ballard who has worked with many popular artists including some of the top female artists like Alanis Morissette and Gwen Stefani. You're sort of seen as the next big female artist to start something new and different just like them. What's that like?
Aww, why Thank you! Everyone I've worked with has been amazing and that's why I work with them. I've kind of been a bit of a brat. It's like if I walk into a situation and there isn't the same mutual respect for each other then I'm wasting my time because I have an idea and I know what I want to do. I have a vision and I am who I am. I'm not the next so and so. I'm just going be the next Katy Perry. And working with all these people has been a mind blowing experience. I've been in this industry for five years and have been making this record for five years. Every time I mention that, people's jaws just drop. I'm really one of the most fortunate, lucky girls in the music industry although I really had to stick with it. A lot of people would have quit after being on several different labels and being dropped. Even when I was broke as a joke and writing checks that wouldn't go through and my parents calling me saying "What are you doing? Come home!", and I would say, "Just wait! Just wait! Give me another month!" So it's finally turning out and now my parents are like "Okay, we get it."
Were there ever times when you came close to quitting and wanted to do something new?
Oh for sure. When I couldn't pay my bills. When I had already been through being on a big label and them telling me "You're going to have a record out," and they would tell me that month after month and then finally there would be complete silence and that ultimately meant that it wasn't happening after all the hard work I had put into it. It's really hard. It's like completing your debut movie and it's never being able to come out, it's all you worked on in life. I think that's my one advice to anyone trying to pursue the music industry-don't give up. Never give up. I know so many people thought so many different things about me and I didn't give up.
What I really enjoy about you is that you're easy to relate to. Besides Queen, who are some artists or bands that you felt a connection with?
The Jagged Little Pill
record from Alanis Morissette was a big influence on me. Everybody listened to that record and there was a song, if not all of them, that related to everyone. It was a soundtrack to life. That's kind of what I'd like to do. My dream would to be the soundtrack to everyone's upcoming summer. It would be so amazing. I remembered that there were records that were important to me. There would be one record that I would listen to for the summer over and over. For me, that was "Jagged Little Pill" for quite a while.
With edgy songs like "Ur So Gay" and "I Kissed A Girl" where the message is literally out there and not overly hidden with metaphors, how do you come up with the concept to be so blunt and honest?
I've always had a big mouth and I've always said what I thought. Everybody knows that about me and sometimes that will get me in trouble, other times people will respect me, and enough of the time people will be like, "I like the song, I really like what she has to say." It's just the way my head operates and my semi-retarded, sarcastic, dry sense of humor.
Well I'm glad it's out there. Honestly it's nice to see a female who has enough balls to put something like that out there.
Yeah. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Unless some changes me and I don't think anything drastic will happen to change me, I wear my heart on my sleeve and that's where I like it.
The album you've been working hard on for so long, One of the Boys is coming out on June 17th. You've struggled for so long just to put out one record. How does it feel to finally have it come out and to know that it's finally been completed?
It's a life long dream come true. There's been so much blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into this record. I'm glad that I didn't put out the record I was supposed to when I was 17-18. I'm glad that I'm putting it out there now that I'm 23 and that I've had time to mature and grow. When I thought I was 17-18, I thought I knew everything. Everything! Now that I'm just starting to get into my 20s, there's so much. I'm becoming an adult now and its scary and there's still so much to learn that I don't know. I'm glad I took that time to mature outside of the spotlight and make mistakes or try different things artistically outside of that spotlight rather than making a quick records and having to grow in the public eye, which is scary.
So you're set to be on the Warped Tour, one of the biggest tours that take place during the summer. How excited are you?
I am so excited. I heard that there's not much of a shower situation which is difficult for me to grasp because I'm a girl and I gotta have my showers. I need to smell like flowers. But, I'm so excited to be around all these awesome musicians and be in a place where anybody can come see me. It's just so cool. I've known about the Warped Tour forever and have been to the Warped Tour and all those music festivals. Now finally I'm starting to play them all. I just feel so happy and lucky that I'm making music that people think is cool.
Who are you looking forward to seeing at Warped Tour?
I'm excited to see Paramore
. I really like Haley Williams, she always brings it. My boyfriend's(Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes
) on Warped Tour. A couple of my other friends, a band called Shwayze
, are going on tour. The DJ in that band is one of my best friends. It's cool. It's going to be like a traveling slumber party.
You mentioned you loved Paramore. Are there any artists you'd like to collaborate with?
I want to collaborate with Madonna
and maybe Kanye
. Maybe some smaller pop artists. Anybody really; I'm up for working with a lot of people. I write for other artists as well. I wrote with Dan Keys from Young Love
. I love to write and I never stop. I'm sure I'll be writing with a lot of people on Warped Tour just because there's lots of down time and maybe get the opportunity with someone and say "Hey, let's go write something together."
Now some celebrities, whether they like it or not, are kind of thrown into a role model position. Obviously there are going to be young girls who are going to look up to you. Is it a difficult thing to deal with taking on a role like that?
I remember growing up seeing people like Shirley Manson
, Gwen Stefani
, and Fiona Apple
and their music was so influential and they were amazing in their stage presence. Still to this day I look up to all three of those artists and the thing for me is that I'm not here to be a role model as far as being the poster child for what you should or shouldn't do in your life, but as far as Rock and Roll goes, I'm a Rock and Roll role model for sure. I'm not perfect, I'm not a nun and sometimes that we forget that the essence of Rock and Roll is that its "bad" and sometimes that will be the case. But I'm a good girl at heart.
Katy Perry's debut CD 'One of the Boys' hits stores June 17.
Interview by Angelica Castillo
Starpulse contributing writer