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Interview with Lady GagaEdit

By DJ Ron Slomowicz published on June 10, 2008
2-12-08 Warwick Saint 126-final

©2008 Warwick Saint

Lady Gaga is the next rock/pop/electro superstar – or maybe she is the first. Mix one part Blondie with one part Madonna, swirl it in a bath of the Scissor Sisters and Junior Senior, throw in some glitch and sprinkle with glitter and you come close the recipe. Winter Music Conference was her launching pad and the industry took note of her. Working with Akon and RedOne, the Lady Gaga has crafted a debut CD full of beats and melodies set for release later this summer. Until then, watch for her music video "Just Dance" and live performances as she tours the US.
Listening to your music, I don't want to do a traditional Q&A interview. I'm going to say a bunch of names and you tell me what impact they've had on your life. Let's start with the Pussycat Dolls.
Well you know, I love a girl in her underwear, first of all. Secondly, I've been writing for them, so Nicole Scherzinger has been in my head for probably the past three months. There's something that's very humbling about being able to write for a powerhouse group like that. Probably the biggest influence that they've had on me is making me want to be a better writer for them.
That's awesome. How about Akon?
Akon is a very talented songwriter to work with. His melodies, they're just insane. It's funny, I think about him a lot when I'm doing my melodies because he's so simple, and he's just been great. He keeps me on my feet, very grounded, but he also puts me on a silver platter, which is always very nice. So it's been an incredible influence. It's like every time you work with somebody that's better that you are, you become greater.
Really cool. How about the Scissor Sisters?
Oh, I love them, I can't breathe. I remember the first time I heard them, it was on the radio, and I was like, 'who the heck is that?' They are a big influence. I love the disco, their outfits, and they really care about their performance. Conceptually I just think they're very smart in their approach. I'm also a big Elton John fan, and you can hear the influence on every record, so I love them. They were big – I really thought about them when I did "Dirty Rich."
You can definitely hear that. How about Red One?
RedOne is like the heart and soul of my universe. I met him and he completely, one hundred and fifty thousand percent wrapped his arms around my talent, and it was like we needed to work together. He has been a pioneer for the House of Gaga and his influence on me has been tremendous. I really couldn't have done it without him. He taught me in this own way – even though he's not a writer, he's a producer – he taught me how to be a better writer, because I started to think about melodies in a different way.
So where does the name Lady Gaga come from?
Queen's song "Radio Ga-Ga."
You are coining all kinds of great words. Tell us about retrosexual.
Retrosexual – I came out with that a long time ago. Me and my buddy Tom were hanging out one day in the studio and we were talking about metrosexuals, because he had bought a pair of boots and I said 'Those are very metrosexual.' And he was like 'I don't know, I think they're kind of retro.' And I said 'So you're retrosexual.' It was kind of a joke. The more I thought about it – I'm so obsessed with all things retro, the 70s and 80s. I don't know, that word just kind of flew out of my mouth one day, and it stuck with me. I often do that – if I coin terms, they'll become like the centerfold of my entire project or an entire record.
Very cool. What was it like filming the video for "Just Dance?"
Oh it was so fun, it was amazing. For me it was like being on a Martin Scorsese set. I've been so low budget for so long, and to have this incredibly amazing video was really very humbling. It was really fun, but you'll see if you ever come to a video shoot of mine one day – I'm very private about those things, I don't really talk to everybody. I'm not like the party girl running around. I might even seem to be a bit of a diva. I'm sort of with myself, in my work head space worrying about costumes, and if extras look right, and placement. I don't just show up for things, you know. That video was a vision of mine. It was Molina the director who wanted to do something, to have a performance art aspect that was so pop but it was still commercial, but that felt like lifestyle. It was all those things, I love it.
I heard you say this quote I loved, and I'd love for you to explain it – you 'make music for the dress.'
Yes, absolutely. I mean I don't write records and then decide what the video will look like. I instantaneously write things at the same time so it's a complete vision, the song and the visual, the way that I would perform it on the stage. It's something that all comes to me at once. So when I say I make the music for the dress, the dress is a bit of a metaphor for 'I make the music for everything,' for the entire performance vision.
What's the story behind the song "Paparazzi," because there's been a few interpretations of it?
Well I'm so glad there are a few different interpretations, that was the idea. The song is about a few different things – it's about my struggles, do I want fame or do I want love? It's also about wooing the paparazzi to fall in love with me. It's about the media whoring, if you will, watching ersatzes make fools of themselves to their station. It's a love song for the cameras, but it's also a love song about fame or love – can you have both, or can you only have one?
I read somewhere that you went to school with the Hilton sisters?
I did.
Did they have any affect on you?
They're very pretty, and very clean. Very, very clean. You know, I never saw Paris, she was older than me, and it's funny that the press always write that I went to school with the Hilton sisters, but I actually only went with Nicky. Paris, I believe, left and went to Dwight. But, you know, it's impressive to be that perfect all the time, these girls. I was always a weird girl in school, who did theatre and came to school with lots of red lipstick on or my hair perfectly curled, or whatever I was doing to get attention. It's funny as it's almost like they were there to make me aware, because so much of what I do now is that I try to twist my world into the commercial community. So I guess they've been quite an influence on me. Not them in particular, but the idea of the self-proclaimed artist.
You're making dance music, but you're signed to a more hip-hop artist program. There's often been a lot of conflict between hip-hop and dance.
How are you bridging the two?
Oh, I actually wouldn't consider myself a dance artist. I think I'm bridging the gap in a few different ways, and it's mostly from a music conceptual standpoint, mixing the dance beats one second. Mixing retro dance beats with more urban melodies, and a certainly pop chorus. It's really about, in a very methodic way, almost choosing exactly what pieces of what I want to have in the record, and then watching it cross over, with my fingers crossed.

Lady Gaga Rocking the DanceMusic.About.Com Button at Winter Music Conference.

What's the story behind "Dirty Rich?" I love that song.
I was doing a lot of drugs when I wrote "Dirty Rich." It was about two years ago, and it was about a few different things. First and foremost the record is about – whoever you are or where you live – you can self-proclaim this inner fame based on your personal style, and your opinions about art and the world, despite being conscious of it. But it's also about how on the Lower East side, there was a lot of rich kids who did drugs and said that they were poor artists, so it's also a knock at that. 'Daddy I'm so sorry, I'm so, so sorry, yes, we just like to party.' I used to hear my friends on the phone with their parents, asking for money before they would go buy drugs. So, that was an interesting time for me, but it's funny that what came out of that record – because it's about many different things – but ultimately what I want people to take from it is "Bang-bang." No matter who you are and where you come from, you can feel beautiful and dirty rich.
I saw some performances online of you at Lollapalooza. What was it like playing there?
It was a blast. I mean, it was a bit nerve-wracking; we had tremendous technical difficulties on the stage. That was not a performance that I choose to really remember so fondly. But if anything, what I loved the most about it was that the sea of hippies and so forth that were there were not expecting what they saw and I loved the shock art aspect of it. Actually I'm hoping to incorporate some pretty interesting things into the show that capture their reactions and stuff. You'll see more of that in the future.
OK. Lady Gaga, what would you like to say to all of your new fans out there?
I would just want to say thank you, I love you, I appreciate so much the support that you all give me. You listeners, the ones who found me first are, I believe, the future of great art thinkers. Because anyone that's found me now I really think is grabbing on to the ideas that I have, more than anything. It's about the music but it's also about the story. So thank you guys for loving and reading the story and being as into it and as passionate as I am.

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