Lady Gaga has been named Billboard’s Woman Of The Year 2015, following Taylor Swift’s coronation last year. It’s been seen as a surprise vote, but Gaga’s achieved more this year than you might first think. She started strong in February with a critically acclaimed Sound Of Music medley at the Oscars, followed it with a tour of her 2014 jazz album with Tony Bennett, released a video spreading awareness of campus rape in America, and finally starred in American Horror Story’s ‘Hotel’ series. To celebrate the award she gave a wide-ranging, insightful, and quite eccentric interview to Billboard. Here are the best bits.
1. Until 2015 she was doing “what I thought everyone else wanted from me”
“It speaks volumes to me that I’m being recognized as Woman of the Year in 2015. This is the year I did what I wanted instead of trying to keep up with what I thought everyone else wanted from me.” That must include the meat dress, ‘Poker Face’, ‘Bad Romance’ AND the Britney Spears song she wrote, ‘Quicksand’.
2. She’s sick of the industry’s ageism
Now approaching 30, Gaga isn’t going to quiet down and hand over the crown to younger people. “I’m really excited about showing girls, and even men, what it can mean to be a woman in her 30s. Why is it that we’re disposing of people once they pass that mark? It’s suddenly, ‘You’re an old woman.’ I’m not f—ing old. I’m more sexual and powerful and intelligent and on my shit than I’ve ever been. I’ve come a long way through a lot of heartache and pain, but none of it made me damaged goods. It made me a fighter… Women in music, they feel like they need to f—ing sell everything to be a star. It’s so sad. I want to explode as I go into my 30s.”
3. Her huge Academy Awards Sound Of Music medley was a last ditch effort
“The truth is you can either nail a performance like that or butcher some of the most classic songs sung by an all-time great. I took the gamble because everyone had written me off.” Worth it? Yeah, probably worth it.
4. Peace and love between artists is at the top of the agenda – but just if you’re talented
“I call on every artist to be kind to one another, and compassionate. Let us purify this industry again and put our finger in the face of every executive and say, ‘If you are spending money, is it on someone who can really sing? Is it on someone who has a perspective?’”
5. Even Gaga needs support sometimes
“[Tony Bennett] taught me to stay true to who I am, to not let anybody exploit me. He is responsible in so many ways for making me happy, and I can say the same for Elton [John]. When the whole industry turned their back on me during ‘Artpop’, they were the ones who said, ‘Hey, this is a blip. It’s going to go away.’”
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6. She has some strange ideas about determinism
“I am an Italian-American girl from New York who won state jazz competitions in high school for my abilities. I was born to sing with Tony and for him to be like, ‘Yes, you were.’” Ok, pal!
7. Seriously, she’s well into her destiny stuff
“I’m not the type of girl who fits most moulds. That’s why working on American Horror Story with Ryan [Murphy] is a destiny.”
Horror “somehow numbs me from the pain I experience in my own life. You are watching something worse than whatever you think you’re going through. The terror of that suspends you, and you are able to forget about your own pain for a moment. It’s like a safe, psychological form of masochism.”
8. If you think she’s attention-seeking, you’re like, misunderstanding her, man
“Ryan and I have both experienced the same sort of criticism over the intention of our work. My whole career has been built on this perception that I’m trying to evoke attention because of the things I’m interested in, when it’s not that way at all. If you don’t like to be disturbed, [American Horror Story] probably isn’t for you. If you don’t like absurdity, I’m probably not for you. I hung upside down for 45 minutes for Robert Wilson and drained all the blood in my body, and I’ve stood in a freezing cold river naked for two hours with magnets on my head for Marina Abramovic. I’m a hard-core chick. I go there. I can put all my rage into that dark art, and then the rest of my life can be spent clearheaded, doing the things I know to be right, like philanthropy and sticking to my guns musically.”
9. She’s still a bit hazy on ‘Artpop’
It’s not really clear what she thinks about it. Was it a good decision? A bad one?
“People think, ‘You can just sit down at a piano whenever you want and write,’ but I couldn’t write for two f—ing years. For ‘Artpop’, I was doing beats instead. I didn’t want to be near that damn [piano]. It was too emotional. I would start to play and sing, and my mind would go, ‘You are way too talented for this shit. F—, your voice sounds good. F—, that’s a beautiful chord. F—, that’s an amazing lyric. Why are you letting these people run you into the ground? When did you become the fashionable robot?’ Can’t being an artist be enough? Is talent ever the thing? I think for Adele it is. I think for Bruno Mars it is. But that’s what I learned from working with Tony: If talent isn’t the thing, then you are way off-base.”
10. Drug-fuelled polyamory stops you noticing epiphanies
“We can’t create without epiphanies. You could have one and not even know it because you’re so high or there are seven models sucking your dick or you’re so intoxicated by the lifestyle.” We’ll take her word for it.
11. There’s really no way to describe this one. Just read it. Please. Go on
“We can blame the digital era forever, but music is a natural right of humankind. We’ve been singing in caves since the beginning and learning about reverb because of our voices echoing off mountainsides. That’s the thing that scares people the most about me — of all of my contemporaries, I’m probably just the most romantic. Especially in a world where music education is not the biggest thing.
“Kids become depressed when they are born with a creative instinct but are not taught how to express it. Can you imagine having to come and someone says, ‘I’m so sorry, but you can never ejaculate in this life’? If you don’t teach someone how to release that energy, it gets blocked up, and it’s painful. Kids need to learn how to express who they are and seek value in it.”
Just let the kids ejaculate, guys!