Selena Gomez "I want my side of the story to be heard."
Doll-faced, curvaceous, long-legged, and blessed with a voice that carries authority well beyond her 23 years, Selena Gomez should have no reason to fall victim to any attempt at body shaming. Yet the pop star recently made headlines by confessing to an L.A. radio station that harsh Internet comments about a minor weight gain last year were “really hurtful ... but I’m not gonna give a f*ck about what people say. I’m not gonna let them get to me.” That’s the kind of attitude that prompted her to pose nearly naked, however discreetly, for the cover of her new album, Revival, which marks a new chapter in both her music and approach to life. “I was afraid of revealing too much about myself in the past,” Selena explains. “Now I want to be able to say, ‘this is who I am.’ This album is about me waking up, and figuring out who I am and what I want. The songs are a true reflection of what I’ve gone through and how I’ve evolved. This is a new beginning for me.”
Revival is Selena’s first album since signing with Interscope after her seven-year contract with Disneyowned Hollywood Records came to an end. As a sign of her wanting to be more in control of her music and image, she executive-produced the CD herself, before firing her momager in 2015. It cements the transition from her pop princess persona to a more sultry, seductive performer. As the lyrics from her opening track signal, “No more hiding ... it’s my time to butterfly.”
Selena, how would you describe the personal evolution you’ve undergone over the past few years?
It’s taken me two years of struggle, with a lot of ups and downs, to finally get to this place. I feel much more in control, and more comfortable in who I am and what I want to do. This album is more a statement of my real thoughts and feelings than anything I’ve done before.
What have been some of the greatest challenges?
I needed to stop worrying about things I can’t control and not let myself be affected by some of the negative things that have been written about me. I looked at other artists like Taylor (Swift) and Beyoncé who are so much in command of everything they do. I’m so inspired by women who are confident enough to be themselves. That’s what I’m trying to do now.
Is Taylor helping you out in that department?
Taylor is the most loyal friend anyone could ever have. She was one of the first people to see my “Good for You” video, and told me how amazing it was and how excited she was for me. There’s always some doubt in the back
of your mind about whether you’re moving in the right direction musically, and Taylor is so smart and has very good instincts about music.
Apparently you’ve also become good friends with Jennifer Aniston?
I met Jen through my management – we’re represented by the same people – and she’s been so wonderful. She’s made me pizza! We’ve talked a lot about dealing with all the media attention, and having our lives so exposed. I know I can always call her for advice, and that’s a nice feeling.
Do you consider that as the downside of celebrity?
Absolutely. I want to be open with my fans. The trouble is that almost anything I say often gets attacked and twisted around.
Let’s talk about your new album, Revival. What kind of work went into it, and what message will it send to anyone who listens to it?
I spent a year in the studio recording, working with amazing people like A$AP Rocky and Charli XCX. It’s been an important transition on so many levels. I’m also happy with how Interscope has gotten behind me, and wanted to collaborate rather than mould me into something I’m not.
I think people will see that this album has so much more relevance to who I am as a young woman making her way in life like so many other women in their early twenties.
Why did you pose almost nude for the cover?
It’s a way of showing that I want to reveal myself, and be as open as I can. I want my side of the story to be heard.
Your new tracks reflect a deeper vocal expression …
It was a matter of finding my voice and tone as a way of expressing the emotions I was feeling; it took me a year. In my previous albums I was using my voice in a different way because I had a lot of insecurities about my lower register. Now I don’t feel the need to push myself to sing at a higher register because the main goal is to express my emotions, and you use that tone which allows you to do that in the best way possible.
Was “The Heart Wants What It Wants” a stepping-stone for you to get to this more mature and self-aware place?
Yes. That song is so important to me because I thought the public perception of me was wrong, and that so much that was being said about me was unfair and painful. I wanted to set the record straight, and managed to do just that with that one song.
Has it been hard for your mom to see you grow up so fast over the years?
She’s still adapting to the situation! Often she keeps repeating the same things: “Are you sure?”, “Spend more time at home” ... But I’m so grateful to have a really together and loving mother. Thanks to her, I’ve managed to stay reasonably sane in this business!
So how are things going for you these days?
I’m a lot happier and more relaxed. I took some time off for myself last year and that’s helped me a lot. I’m appreciative that I have some really good friends and also a lot of fans who want me to be happy and healthy. There are always going to be a lot of people who want to take me down ... maybe I’m too sensitive to those things but these are also the qualities that I think adds something [meaningful] to my music, which draws people to me. I want my fans to see that I’m not 16 anymore, and that I’m evolving in a way that I feel good about, and I would like people to feel the same way.
Is this the dawn of a new era for Selena Gomez?
( Laughs) I hope so! I’m finding my way as a stronger and more enlightened young woman with better perspective on things, and more insight into herself and relationships with others. These are the kinds of life lessons that I’ve tried to talk about in my new album. I want my fans to be proud, and see a lot of positive things in this evolution.
Do you have any personal advice you would like to offer to your fans?
One thing I believe which is very important is to always be true to yourself. You also have to think very hard about who you are and who you want to be. We all deal with these hard questions everyday, but it’s better to face up to them than let yourself keep making mistakes and becoming disillusioned. I believe that we’re happiest when we feel confident and comfortable with who we are.