“I WANT TO INVENT THE FUTURE”
Before the release of her album ARTPOP, the diva granted us an exclusive interview in which she evokes her flaws, her come-back, her fans and her haters. A crazy and sincere moment. Just like her.
Buckle up: after a nine months absence (pretty much an eternity in the world of pop music), Lady Gaga is back! A new single, Applause, a video signed by star photographers Inez & Vinoodh, a collaboration with modern art guru Marina Abramovic, a memorable feud with Perez Hilton, whom she accuses of harassment, and a third album, ArtPop, announced for November 11th as a total artistic experience. Along with, as usual, the return of the fashion rollercoaster dear to Gaga: from the Margiela hood to the bubble dress and oversized wigs. And, cherry on the cake, an exclusive interview offered on a golden plate to Grazia.
AN XXL-SIZED SHOW
Sunday September 1st, D-day for the 27 year-old oversized diva who decided, for her big official come-back onstage, to open the iTunes Festival held at Roundhouse and broadcasted online live all around the world. An intimate London venue (3000 people tops), renowned for its exceptional acoustic quality and its circular architecture. 8 pm: that’s when one approaches the trendy district of Camden that one realizes Gaga is indeed in London. One crosses not-so-young men with hot pink devil horns, post-teens that could come out of a Skins episode with pig snouts (Gaga’s latest trend), girls with Pierrot-like makeup on the face, just like the singer on her new single cover. After facing the mile-long queue with dizziness, we finally enter the crowded and heated venue where we cross Adele, Niall Horan (from One Direction) or Neil Tennant (from Pet Shop Boys), among other celebrities. 9:30 pm: half-an-hour late, with the audience screaming deafening “Gaga! Gaga! Gaga!”s for the last 15 minutes, the pop star appears and lands out of nowhere inside a masochistic cage made of steel. Here we go for an hour-long XXL-sized show: wigs come and go, dancers disguised as pigs fly over the audience. Gaga, her face masked with a scarf, holds a huge knife on which is traced in bloody letters the word “Hollywood”. She multiplies spins, throws herself and her dancers into choreographies that would make Beyoncé jealous, talks to her public, changes live onstage and ends up alone on the piano after a long monologue where she repeats to her fans how much she needs their love with I Wanna Be With You, a teary ballad that would give goose bumps to the toughest listeners.
12 INCHES-HIGH STILETTOS COVERED WITH MIRRORS
But it’s the following day that things get serious. Forget about shopping, even though we’re a few feet away from Oxford Street: it is about being available between 3 and 7 pm, waiting for a mail, a text or a carrier pigeon and running to the palace, hopefully located near the hotel where we’ve been accommodated. With my throat swollen, I am finally ready to live my 15 minutes of fame with the biggest star of the past five years. 5 pm: I’ve been walking in circles for a while in my Starck-designed hotel room, when the long-awaited signal finally arrives! I’m waiting 30 more minutes in the lobby of a huge London palace, after getting my way through a tight crowd of 200 fans. I’m waiting for one of the numerous Gaga staff assistants (they’re at least 30) to come and lead me to the room where she’ll receive me. Because the pop star has the elegance of changing her outfit, wig and hotel room for each interview! Half-an-hour later, I’m hearing whispers, I recognize her voice and God… um, Gaga I mean, finally arrives! Perched on 12 inches-high stilettos covered with mirrors, she wears kind of elaborate pleated and purple baggy trousers, a black tank, a wig with a very 80s inspired lock and tiny black round glasses that she’ll keep during the whole interview. She says a joyful “hey!”, shakes my hand, sits very straight on the armchair appointed to her, covers up her little belly that comes out of her tank, holds the Grazias that I brought her: “Oh, I love this magazine. Four different covers, it’s great!”. It’s official: the show must go on!
For your come-back onstage, it’s as if you’ve given everything…
You liked it? (she simpers like a little girl) I am so happy, I’ve had quite an incredible moment, it was crazy, everything happened like I wanted it to. At last, I’ve felt free and relieved to be able to show onstage, to my fans, the songs I’ve borne in myself for months.
The bonus is that you’ve only played tracks from your upcoming album ArtPop…
Thank you, thank you. (she still simpers) I’ve been very clear with my label: it was that or no show. I’ve been absent from the media for a long time and it was out of the question to play my old hits. I have only one wish at the moment: to talk about the future, and not rely on what I’ve already done. It’s about moving forward. I’m happy that you liked it, that the audience was on top of its glory.
ARTPOP is announced as a different record, a multimedia experience – what can we expect exactly?
I would rather ask you what you expect from this record, what you wanna find, hear in it. (she hesitates) ArtPop is a journey inside my head throughout my various inspirations. It’s a list of all the things that excite me, a notebook in which I talk about everything I’ve been into lately, everything that influences me, where I write my craziest ideas. For ArtPop, in a symbolic way, I’ve put myself in front of a mirror, I’ve taken off my clothes, then the makeup, then the wigs, I’ve dressed myself with a black jumpsuit and I’ve told myself: “Now, you have to prove you can be brilliant without all that”. This album required a lot of efforts, it was about going very deep inside my soul.
So it is a “work in progress”?
Yes. I very often change my look, I’m wearing different wigs, I’m working with many designers. Constant change is an important part of my personality. I’m not trying to take refuge into the past, I want to invent the future, be constantly a different person, put myself into the skin of a whole bunch of new identities and kill the ones I’ve embodied before. It’s very easy for me to get into the skin of another person, it’s the very essence of who I am.
Is it a way of hiding your identity, escaping or protecting yourself?
No, it’s just a way of being stronger! I’m not trying to hide myself or anything, I’d rather transform myself to become a super-heroine, a girl with wings… Like an actress, I am able to embody pretty much anyone. I’m not trying to hide myself, I have no problem with my personality, I know who I am: I’m my daddy’s daughter! The real question is what I can be and who I wanna be. I can be every diva, every icon, and not just one, you know what I mean? All these facets are me, like parts of a whole. I’m a performer in the theatrical sense.
Your numerous look changes translate a certain sense of excess: is it what characterizes best pop music?
To be honest with you, I admit that at the moment, I still don’t know exactly what pop music is.
But you must have an idea of what excess represents?
Yes, of course: ostentation, luxury, extravagance, the rich and the famous… I don’t really associate this notion with pop culture, but rather with the concept of fame. I’m not a celebrity, I’m an artist, and the photographers who take pictures of me don’t do it for the same reasons than when they shoot a socialite. Careful, I’m not saying artists are better than socialites, I’m just saying that I don’t belong to this category, it’s as simple as that. Sometimes, I have the feeling we put this luxury notion on my back, while I’m not addicted to luxury at all, but to fashion. One day, I can be wearing couture from head to toes, and show up the following day in a ****ty t-shirt, or a totally crazy bubble dress. I don’t care that people think I’m rich, I’m not trying to look rich and it’s really the last of my concerns.
But luxury isn’t just a question of money and wealthiness, it’s also having the freedom to do whatever you want…
It’s exactly how I would define it. Since my beginnings, deep inside of me, I’ve always wanted to become an artist, the ambition of being part of History. No matter how many people are watching me or are behind me. Hopefully, I am lucky my art appeals to many people.
You have many fans, but also a lot of haters. How do you deal with this constant hatred some seem to hold against you?
You know, many artists have had to deal with hatred: David Bowie, Andy Warhol, John Lennon also had a lot of haters. I’ve understood pretty quickly that my status as a pop star had to go with the one of a warrior and that I would be confronted to many obstacles before people would finally understand my approach. But let’s be clear: I have no problem with the fact people may enjoy or not my music or the things I do in general. I just have the feeling that haters are a generational issue: many people feel the need to express their disagreement, they feel like they asboluterly need to tell you how much they hate you. I imagine they may be feeling lonely, angry, vulnerable. And the anonymous dimension of the internet makes this kind of behavior easy. Yes, I have haters, but I’d rather focus on the people who love me. It’s much more productive, don’t you think?
Is it hard to give that much for your fans?
Yes, it requires me to hide in order to protect my superstar image. For my fans, I always have to be on top of myself and of my creativity. It drives me crazy sometimes, but I just can’t go out like that, each and every one of my public appearances requires a lot of efforts. Disappointing my fans by showing up like a normal person is out of the question. As a result, my appearances have been very brief the past few years. The occasions when I had to walk the most were when I had to go from my car to the airport tarmac.
When you live in such a surreal world, the pleasure according to Lady Gaga is…?
Oh, I love taking bubble baths while smoking a cigarette and listening to Edith Piaf.
You’re quite a simple girl, actually!
(For the first time of the interview, she takes off her glasses and gives me one of those smiles. With her little girl voice, she concludes the interview with a “thank you, thank you” and disappears as fast as she came in).