Katy Perry

ON TOUR, ON FIRE

Glamour (South Africa) - - Front Page -

She’s on a global tour and guid­ing pop hope­fuls to fame as a judge on the new Amer­i­can Idol. But her most am­bi­tious project yet? Dis­man­tling Katy Perry.

This last year has re­ally been about killing my ego,” Katy says. “I no longer have a choice.”

A few years ago I took my mom to see a Katy Perry con­cert. She was in awe of the sound, the pro­duc­tion and the cos­tumes, but she was par­tic­u­larly mes­merised by Katy her­self. Af­ter the show, my mom asked me, “What is it like to be friends with her?” I had never re­ally thought about it. In one sense, the Katy I’ve known since 2011 is not that dif­fer­ent from the pop icon you see on stage. Katy is in­sanely funny, un­apolo­get­i­cally hon­est, out­ra­geously cre­ative and a lit­tle mis­chievous (the woman loves a prac­ti­cal joke and a prank gift). But to know her in­ti­mately is to also know a qui­eter side of her. It is to know her mys­tic in­tu­ition (it is al­most an­noy­ing – Katy can hug you and know in­stantly that you’re go­ing through some­thing). And it’s to know Kath­eryn Hud­son, the girl from Santa Bar­bara, US, whose idea of a per­fect night is to throw on a track­suit, grab her dog, Nugget, and snug­gle up on the couch with friends to talk about ev­ery­thing and noth­ing.

There is a lot to ad­mire about Katy Perry. She’s the first fe­male artist to have five num­ber-one Bill­board Hot 100 tracks from a sin­gle al­bum. She is the most-fol­lowed per­son on Twit­ter in the world. And in the last 10 years, she has sold more than 40 mil­lion al­bums. But what I ad­mire most about Katy is her brav­ery. She’s not afraid to be wrong. In fact, she of­ten says that it’s vi­tally im­por­tant for her to speak about her mis­takes so that other peo­ple can learn from them as well.

Katy has more than a ca­reer – she has a life. She’s real. She might seem like a su­per god­dess while do­ing the splits on stage or dol­ing out cri­tiques in a fierce look on Amer­i­can Idol, but she’s also a 33-year-old with fears to con­quer, dreams to achieve and as­pects of her­self she is still try­ing to fig­ure out. Like all of us, she is a work in progress. As I’ve watched this soul sis­ter of mine leave her 20s be­hind, I have seen her make small but in­te­gral shifts, learn dif­fi­cult lessons and use her ex­pe­ri­ences to evolve as an artist, a woman and a ci­ti­zen. That’s the Katy Perry I want you all to meet.

You re­cently wrote on In­sta­gram that 2017 “re­de­fined what win­ning means to me. And the def­i­ni­tion of win­ning for me this year was sim­ply hap­pi­ness and grat­i­tude.” How did you ar­rive at that mo­ment?

I’ve come to learn, af­ter 10 years of suc­cess in the spot­light, that be­ing happy is some­thing you have to work for ev­ery sin­gle day. Even if you have money or houses or sta­tus or fame – and all of that stuff is great for a mo­ment – if you don’t have hap­pi­ness charg­ing the train, you’re go­ing to de­rail. A lot of my early 20s were re­ally in­tense, re­ally ex­treme and some­what un­con­scious. It was all ca­reer fo­cused, which was great, but once you touch the ceil­ing so many times, it’s like, “Oh yeah, I did that. I touched the ceil­ing.” Now I want to touch the stars, which has to do with the heart.

What ad­vice would you give to that in­tense, ex­treme, some­what un­con­scious 20-some­thing Katy?

I’d say, “You’re do­ing great, sweetie.” No, it would prob­a­bly be a cou­ple things. Per­tain­ing to re­la­tion­ships, I would tell my­self, “There re­ally, truly are so many fish in the sea. There’s some whales. There’s some sharks. There’s some blow­fish. And there’s some cut­tle­fish. And you want to end up with the ‘cud­dle’ fish.” I’m just kid­ding. But I’d also say [much like the fa­mous Maya An­gelou quote], “Peo­ple may not re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing about meet­ing you, but they will al­ways re­mem­ber the way you made them feel.” When I was first get­ting to Hol­ly­wood and meet­ing my he­roes like Gwen Ste­fani and a cou­ple oth­ers, one was amaz­ing – she in­tro­duced her­self and asked my name – but one just brushed me off. I’ll never for­get how that made me feel.

What are some of the parts of the mu­sic busi­ness you’re ex­cited to see change, and what are some parts you’re sad to see fade away?

I don’t think there is as much of a rad­i­cal so­cial change go­ing on in mu­sic as there has been in TV and film, though I’m sure it will bleed over soon. I’d say that I’m glad there aren’t so many gate­keep­ers – peo­ple who have the keys to other peo­ple’s suc­cess or stand in their way.

Things feel more demo­cratic now?

Yes, and I re­ally like it. I miss some of the struc­ture. Be­cause with the open­ing of the dam, we lost a lit­tle of that. There’s so much choice as far as what mu­sic is be­ing put out there. The mar­ket is crowded. These days you can’t get to know a song as much any­more. It’s al­ways on to the next thing.

“If I want to have that true bal­ance, I have to step into be­ing Kath­eryn Hud­son.”

Does that change af­fect how you ap­proach your job on

Amer­i­can Idol? When Amer­i­can Idol was born, it was one of the only ways to shoot to star­dom or get your mu­sic out there. Now you can do it on your own, but there are so many op­tions out there that you need an even big­ger plat­form – you need the In­ter­net and be­yond – to cut through to make an ac­tual im­pres­sion. I think that Amer­i­can Idol is fi­nally com­ing full cir­cle: I think it will once again be an amaz­ing launch­ing pad for who­ever wins.

As you’re judg­ing the young tal­ent, is it hard to bal­ance hon­esty with hold­ing some­one’s dreams in your hand?

It’s not easy for me. I was say­ing the other day that Si­mon Cow­ell was my favourite judge be­cause he’s very straightto-the-point. Most peo­ple who are at home watch­ing Amer­i­can Idol – you know, eat­ing food and go­ing about their lives – are think­ing ei­ther, ‘This per­son can sing’ or ‘This per­son can’t.’ And Si­mon was that kind of judge. Si­mon could be mean, be­cause he’s an ex­ec­u­tive and a man. But you re­verse the role, and all of a sud­den you’re the wicked witch. So I’m cau­tious. Peo­ple also come in with their sto­ries. And be­fore they even sing one note, they’ll say some­thing like, “I’m home­less,” and that will im­pact the way you per­ceive them. But if they re­ally can’t sing, the per­sonal story has to come sec­ond. I hope that I don’t get turned into ‘The Witch’ be­cause of that, but I also know that the mu­sic in­dus­try does not need just an­other singer.

What does the mu­sic in­dus­try need?

I think we need some­one who has a voice that you can feel. For me, when some­one sings and all the hair on my arms stands up, I’m im­me­di­ately in­vested.

By the time this ar­ti­cle comes out, you will have com­pleted over 50 con­certs over the course of five months (with three com­ing up in Joburg on 18, 20 and 21 July). How do you pre­pare your­self men­tally, phys­i­cally and spir­i­tu­ally to be on the road?

Well, I love rou­tine. I feel very out of sorts with­out rou­tine, and the devil is sort of my play­ground when I don’t have it. Each day is just a prepa­ra­tion for the show. Sleep is re­ally im­por­tant to me. I’m a big sleeper. I get eight to nine hours ev­ery night. Nine to 10 hours, ac­tu­ally. I eat about four meals – or four and a half meals – a day. I’m con­stantly eat­ing. Luck­ily, I have this re­ally amaz­ing chef who does a no-sugar and no-dairy diet for me, and I stick to that pretty well. Maybe once a week I’m cheat­ing. When I wake up, I go straight into yoga for an hour, and I usu­ally do 30 min­utes on the el­lip­ti­cal to get the blood flow­ing. I’ll try to put in a med­i­ta­tion around 4.30pm or 5pm. Tran­scen­den­tal med­i­ta­tion has been a game changer for me. We’re all so ‘con­nected’ to our de­vices, which, I think, is dis­con­nect­ing us from re­al­ity.

Too much URL and not enough IRL (In Real Life).

Ex­actly! So, you know, my New Year’s res­o­lu­tion was to turn my phone off one day a week. It’s re­ally about rest­ing, eat­ing and ex­er­cis­ing. In my 20s I used to be able to do shows hung-over af­ter eat­ing greasy take aways. I can’t do that any­more.

When you’ve doubted your­self or felt like giv­ing up, what is the one thought that kept you go­ing?

I’ve had a lot of those thoughts, and I’ve writ­ten a lot of songs be­cause of those thoughts. I would say that all of my best songs or what I think are some of my bet­ter songs – ‘By the Grace of God’, ‘Roar’, ‘Fire­work’ – are ba­si­cally mo­ti­va­tional pep talks to my­self. They’re my soul speak­ing to me, say­ing, “Come on. We can do this. One foot in front of the other.” I also take the time to con­nect with the peo­ple who lis­ten to my mu­sic. I read their let­ters or I’ll meet some­one who will say some­thing like, “I stopped cut­ting my­self two years ago be­cause of this song,” and I’ll think, ‘Oh, right! That’s why I wrote that song. I wrote that song so that it could bring a bit of joy back into peo­ple’s lives.’

When was the last time you were scared to do some­thing, but did it any­way?

I mean, I guess I do it all the time. I’m pre­par­ing to do a big soul over­haul very soon that I’m nervous about. I want to emo­tion­ally el­e­vate my­self. I don’t want to hold on to child­hood trauma any­more. I want to grow into be­com­ing an adult. I’m pre­par­ing my­self for hav­ing a fam­ily of my own in the near fu­ture. And that’s the thing: I want to do a lit­tle bit more soul surgery be­fore I have a fam­ily of my own so that I don’t trans­fer any of those lin­ger­ing feel­ings. I’m about to go heavy into that emo­tional process, and I’m nervous, but I don’t think I have a choice any­more. This last year has been about killing my ego, which has been re­ally nec­es­sary for my ca­reer. But for my per­sonal life, it doesn’t work that way. If I want to have that true bal­ance, I have to step into be­ing Kath­eryn Hud­son.

What parts of that jour­ney have sur­prised you?

You know, I had a lot of ex­pec­ta­tions at the end of 2015 and 2016 that weren’t met. That was the first time, in a long time, that I didn’t get my way. I think it was the uni­verse’s way of test­ing me, of say­ing, “We’re go­ing to see if you re­ally do love your­self.” That was chal­leng­ing for me, be­cause I didn’t re­alise how much I re­lied on the out­side val­i­da­tion. I thought that I didn’t, but once you get kicked down the moun­tain a lit­tle bit, you re­alise that the weather re­ally is bet­ter at the top. It’s been re­ally nec­es­sary for me to go through that. [And I’ve learnt that] peo­ple don’t re­late to some­one who is per­fect or al­ways win­ning any­way. You can’t al­ways be sit­ting perched on top of the moun­tain.

“I’ve come to learn, af­ter 10 years of suc­cess in the spot­light, that be­ing happy is some­thing you have to work for ev­ery sin­gle day.”

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