Pop superstar Kesha talked with Natalia Barr about her new album High Road, collaborations with the legendary Beach Boy Brian Wilson and country star Sturgill Simpson, her friendship with actor Nicolas Cage, and much more.
Read WSJ. Magazine‘s interview with Kesha below:
On her friendship with Nicolas Cage:
I utilize some ridiculous parts of being in the public eye and one of them is you get to meet your idols sometimes. I did the same thing with Dana Carvey, because I was so obsessed with Wayne’s World. Nicolas Cage, I just had this wild fascination with. He’s been in so many movies, he’s so talented and he seems like he and I would have a lot of fun together. And I was really right. We have a lot in common, and he is just a pure, magnetic, strange, talented artist in the truest form. I am very attracted to people like that. I love when I meet people that are genuinely as unique and truly original as they seem to be.
On therapy (Kesha quotes her therapist in a song on the album):
Therapy is a huge tool that I am a massive proponent of for anyone in the entire world, because it really helps you sort out your thoughts in a safe place. I am a love addict, basically. That’s it. I have come to terms with the fact that I’m addicted to the most beautiful emotion, the most magical thing in the world, which is love. How could you not be?
On collaborating with the legendary Beach Boy Brian Wilson:
I have a list of dream collaborators, and he’s always been at the top of that list. I figured, if you never ask, you never know, so I should just ask if he’d want to collaborate, fully expecting to never hear from him, ever. And then he wrote back. Just knowing that we had shared something so intimate as a song together, to me, is still kind of unbelievable. His music, his harmonies, lyrics, the orchestration of how he produced live instruments in the studio and mixing—all of those things have shaped the kind of artist I’ve always wanted to be.
On getting country star Sturgill Simpson to work with her:
I kidnapped Sturgill Simpson in my car. That’s how I got him on the album. We just jumped in my car, threw the guitar in the car. Then we went to this extremely gory movie in the middle of the day and then from there we went to the studio. He was just a dream. His voice is so reminiscent of why I love good, old-school country music. He is a really deep thinker and so interesting and funny, and also a man of few words, so if you get a laugh out of him, you feel like you’re the king of the world.
On the significance of her new album’s title:
When I went in to write that song [“High Road”], I thought it would be the perfect follow-up to “Praying,” because on first glance, you would think it’s a song about always taking the high road. When someone throws a punch, you turn the other cheek and you just try to be as good a person as humanly possible. But really, it is a double meaning, because I do try to make conscious decisions to be as good a person as I can possibly be.
At the same time, there are certain things in life that I realized just don’t matter, and I was giving them way too much power emotionally over me. I can’t control other people being incredibly hurtful, but what I can control is how I react to it. I can take the high road, and some days, I do, genuinely. Some days, I just smoke a little weed and laugh about it and throw my phone across the living room and decide to not give a s—.
On what this new album means to her:
I think it’s about reclaiming my happiness and my voice and all aspects of my life, and not living in the tragedy of what everyone knows I’ve been through. Kind of a defiance against being stuck and pigeonholed in one place forever, because of one situation. I want High Road to be my defiant statement that I can still make happy music, I can still make pop music, and I can still be happy,”
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