© The Financial Times Ltd 2016 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
May 27, 2011 10:12 pm
Stephen Fry takes tea with Lady Gaga (and her publicist Adrian Read). Here is the full transcript.
Stephen Fry: I know people talk to you about all the same things but one of the things I just wanted to talk to you about, because it’s so obvious coming here, is the thing I think that you always say is most important to you, which is the fans, and they’re all outside and I gather you took them out some hot chocolate?
Lady Gaga: Actually, well, I sent them hot chocolate yesterday and macaroons, and then today I had press all day and I felt bad because I usually would leave the hotel and I would go to say “hi” but I knew that I wouldn’t have time and they’d be waiting all day, so I just went down and I brought them some fresh cookies and flowers.
SF: Ooooh! And do you find there’s a difference between your fans in different countries or is there a sort of similarity: is there a kind of Gaga fan who has a commonality?
LG: Yes, there is. The little monsters are a community and it’s kind of nice that everywhere I go they create a little home for me.
SF: Both those who, I suppose, describe themselves as your critics and those who adore you, as I do I’m unashamed to say, would concentrate on the fact that you are quite happy to be self consciously a spokesman for the dispossessed, the marginal, the freakish, the outsider, the sexually different, the ugly, the fat, the one who doesn’t fit in, the one who feels outside the tribe, if you like.
LG: Yes, it could be anybody.
SF: Which, in fact, is most of us. None of us really feels we belong, just some of us are better at hiding it than others.
LG: I think so. Some of us wear the mask prouder than others.
SF: Yes. Exactly. And the title of this album is the one that most directly addresses that, I suppose, Born This Way and the title song of it.
LG: Yes. The album is about being able to be reborn over and over again throughout your life.
SF: Oh, so it’s not just that God made me gay or God made me lesbian or God made me bi, and that’s who I am?
SF: It’s about being reborn, is it?
LG: In fact, sexuality is just one very small part of it and I think it’s so interesting to see the way people latch on to words. You say the word gay in a song and suddenly all the other words float away and the focus goes in just on one word. I’m happy that everyone focused on that word, though. It’s an important word to liberate. But the album is about rebirth in every sense. It’s about being able to be reborn over and over again until you find the identity inside of yourself that defines you best for who you are, that makes you feel the most like a champion of life.
SF: Yes, and I was lucky enough to hear some of the ones that haven’t yet been released. They took an iPod out of the safe and popped it on my ears and so I’ve heard “Hair”, which I think is coming out on Monday?
LG: On Monday.
SF: And that’s both a funny and rather moving scenario that everyone will recognise as a child or as a parent.
LG: Thank you.
SF: That of the “you’re not going out looking like that kind of . . . ”
LG: Oh yeah! Every day of my life, when I was little, my mother was like: “go brush your hair, you silly little girl!”
SF: And cut it while you were asleep, as it were.
LG: She did!
SF: Literally? Like Delilah?
LG: Yes, because I would have split ends. I would never want to cut my hair; it was so long. So when I was asleep she’d cut my hair at night. The lyric is true.
SF: You of course are, to someone like me, remarkably young, so you can still be a spokesman for teenagers without seeming like you’re patronising them, but in 10 years’ time you might have a child of your own. Do you think that will alter your perspective or are you just prepared to wait and see what happens?
LG: I don’t know. I suppose I’ll wait and see and perhaps it is patronising to some people. Some people don’t feel the need to be liberated and that’s OK. I just have a message and will fight to the death for it. I suppose, after all of the success and being so blessed with all the wonderful fans I have and being able to tour the world and make music that I love, I made a vow to myself that I would stand for something and not just lolly in the materialism of fame, but rather use my position to change the world if I could.
SF: Yes, and from the very get go, as you say in America, fame has been your subject . . . your first album had fame in the title and your second album has fame in the title, and I suppose there’s a tradition out of which you might be seen to spring of people who . . . it may sound wrong if I say, hide themselves behind . . . who adopt an alter ego which allows them to absorb and to radiate the fame or the message . . .
LG: Show business.
SF: Yes, indeed. It can be a character. Famously, when I was young, it was David Bowie who did it. One would look forward to his new emergence, who he was going to be. Was he going to be Ziggy? Was he going to be Aladdin Sane? Who was he going to be? And it was one of the most exciting things imaginable growing up with an artist like that, who I think is someone you admire as well?
LG: Oh my gosh!
SF: How could one not?
LG: How I love David Bowie.
SF: Yes. He’s not been very well lately. But he’s an extraordinary man and I remember also the business of people at school having hair like his being sent back home . . .
LG: Having Ziggy hair?
SF: Yes. Having Ziggy hair. So it’s not as if you’re trying or pretending to be original. After all, this tradition goes further back than David Bowie. It goes back to French cabaret artists and I daresay probably back to Roman and Greek theatrical performers, and “the boite” the French night club, which I’m glad to see has come back to some extent thanks to Mr Hammerstein and The Box. What these things always seem to have in common is they are playful about gender, which is a thing that Bowie was years before the gender bender idea became as acceptable as it now is. People speculated . . .
LG: You think it’s acceptable now?
SF: Well, no, I wish it were more so, but at least it’s considered a whole genre to itself, if you like. You could argue that Bowie paved the way for people like Boy George or others.
LG: Oh, certainly. But I think that it is also what makes him very different is I actually don’t identify myself as two separate people and I don’t view Lady Gaga, me, as the protector of Stefani.
SF: So, Stefani Germanotta and Gaga are congruent?
SF: They are? That’s very exciting. That’s different. You don’t put on the armour of Gaga?
LG: No. But I do see myself to be in an endless transformative state in the way that those performers you’ve mentioned were. I just am committed wholeheartedly to theatre with no intermission.
SF: Right. Right! And yet there are moments, and I’m not ashamed to say there were tears coming down my eyes even though I wasn’t an American, when you spoke about the American Military’s policy on gay soldiers. It was an extraordinarily direct, completely from the heart and immensely articulate piece of political oratory.
LG: Prime rib of America.
SF: It really was impressive, and what was so impressive was there weren’t any Democrats, there weren’t any professional politicians out there who had a 10th of the passion, articulacy or directness that you managed to convey, and that’s something that obviously means a great deal to you, but it also enrages a lot of people who think that musicians and artists should stay in their boxes.
LG: I don’t care what other people think about my box.
SF: No. No. Is that actually hard? I mean, I hate raising it because it just made me so angry. I used to admire her, but Camille Paglia, I don’t know if you know that she wrote some preposterous article about you. I hope . . . you probably didn’t know.
LG: It’s all right. You can tell me about her.
SF: It’s annoying to tell you, but you know who she is obviously, Paglia? She’s a feminist and she could have gone either way it seems to me and she just chose to diss you. I mean, I hate to . . .
LG: In relation to my political activism?
SF: Well, yes, in that she chose to see everything as . . .
SF: As artifice and essentially as commercial greed, and I find that astonishing as if . . . I mean, if she were a pure Marxist to whom everybody who tried to sell a single or an album was the enemy of the people, then you would say, fine, but why distinguish between one kind of person who sells . . . ?
LG: Well, I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you the reason. There’s a few different reasons. One of them relates directly to this mission statement of the album in that I was born this way and perhaps, yes, you all have an opinion about pop singers or public figures, that somehow we are part of this giant disingenuine [sic] bubble, doesn’t give a fuck about the public and we only care about ourselves, and how could it be possible that a woman like me who loves theatre and loves fantasy and loves magic, how could it be possible that I could really mean what I’m saying? Now, if I could respond, not to her, but just to the idea of what you’re talking about, I would say that’s quite anti-feminism, isn’t it, to say that a woman based on the way that she wears her hair and her shoes would not be sincere. I’m more, however, concerned but excited to liberate the idea that I am more criticised for the authenticity of my political activism as based on a scale of one to 10 how queer I am.
SF: Right, yes.
LG: I think it’s also very interesting. I believe that the boundaries of love and acceptance can be pushed by anyone or anything that has revolutionary potential and I don’t give a God damn what you think about me or my box, I will do what I like with it.
SF: And that extends . . .
LG: You’re so sweet! I love him, Adrian.
SF: Oh bless you! That extends towards your honesty about your work process and your living process, the fact that you use Twitter . . . obviously the staggering numbers you command allows you to short circuit a lot of press, which is one of the glories of Twitter, I think, that if some magazine comes begging, you can say . . .
LG: But, you know, I don’t do that.
SF: I know you don’t, but what you can do is you can honestly show your followers that you might have had a bit of a night with whisky that night and you might be slightly drunk and that you’re not this pristine artist who works in the studio just on songs incredibly hard, then has meetings with Haus of Gaga about this design, then has meetings about when this record is going to be produced: you’re a human being who might occasionally get off her face and . . .
LG: Oh, all the time.
SF: Discipline herself, and that is a very rare openness I think.
LG: I love imperfections.
LG: And people are imperfect in a perfect way. I always find it’s so interesting to have conversations about my work because in the past 10 minutes you’ve pointed out to me that some people find me to be artificial while others find me to be quite real with the world. Isn’t that interesting?
SF: Precisely. It’s very, very interesting and this is, I think, the thing that shuttles both ways with the nature of fame and the nature of an apparent persona that you’ve adopted, is that it . . . some people think it is protecting you and that you’re hiding, and others are outraged that you should be so open and they don’t see . . .
LG: No. I said that to Adrian the other day. Remember, Adrian? I said something like I most of the time think that it’s not what I’m saying that pisses people off, but that I have anything to say at all!
SF: Yes. Well, the greatest hero, I think, of anyone who’s interested in matters of style, Oscar Wilde . . .
LG: Oh yes!
SF: He, I think, understood more than most people the profundity of the surface and it’s a great paradox, but the surface we present to the world . . . he wrote a wonderful essay called “The Truth of Masks” in which he said essentially that the masks are the truth.
SF: The sort of bourgeois idea, as he called it, that you peel off this mask and that mask, that we’re all compartmentalised – there’s a mask of me that’s a father, there’s a mask of me that’s a businessman, there’s a mask of me that’s a son, there’s a mask of me that’s this . . . and underneath is the real me. It’s nonsense.
LG: I hate that. It is absolute nonsense.
SF: It is destructive to the self, isn’t it?
LG: It’s absolute nonsense. What are you looking for? I’m sitting right here, I’ve got my legs spread with my feet up on the couch, what is it more than you want to see? It’s an interesting fight, the performance of my life, every day reminding people that the curtain has not closed and that if they don’t want to sit in the audience, that’s fine.
SF: You embolden others, not just, as I’m sure you hope you do, you embolden the kid in the playground who feels lonely and disconnected from the rest of the world.
LG: I just want him to know that if he wants to wear his mask, he can wear it proudly.
SF: I think you’ve emboldened even, great artist as he is, Michael Bolton. I don’t think Michael Bolton would have done that astonishing video. You’ve seen it, The Lonely Island boys video, where he dresses . . . have you seen he dresses up as a woman and he dresses up . . . have you not seen it? It’s recent and it’s stunning. He’s just remarkable.
SF: He’s in drag, he dresses up as film stars, he sings with . . . they’re a great outfit and I know you’ve written with him and worked with him . . .
LG: “Murder my Heart”.
SF: That’s right, and I kind of thought, I bet you’ve just shown him because he’s always been a voice of astounding . . .
LG: I don’t know. His voice is incredible. He’s a legend. I don’t know about . . .
SF: Well, I don’t know if he’s ever been quite such a performer as he is in this video and I think that’s a great thing to see.
LG: Thank you. That’s very nice.
SF: Look it up on YouTube because it will blow you away.
Adrian Read: That was the first time you came to the UK, wasn’t it? Because I remember you . . .
LG: I think so. I don’t remember exactly when.
AR: You played at this gay club night in the Astoria and I was in the crowd . . .
AR: I was in the crowd with your mother. I was chaperoning your mum . . .
LG: My mummy.
AR: And then you were whisked off afterwards and you said “I’m off to meet Michael Bolton”, and I suddenly thought, I had not expected that.
SF: Yes, it isn’t the most natural connection until you realise the obvious thing about him, which is he does have a voice of the most extraordinary warmth.
LG: Unbelievable. I also sing about artifice and the surreal and magic. That’s exactly what my new album is trying to combat and liberate at the same time, is the idea that I live halfway between reality and fantasy at all times because I choose to, and anyone can choose that, and I believe everybody has something so magical about themselves and why, as a society, are we so afraid of magic? Why is magic synonymous with artifice? Why is the fantastic synonymous with a lie? If art is a lie, then I will tell that lie every day until it’s fucking true.
SF: And this seems to me to be a thread that runs through 20th century art right up through what we in Britain call the YBAs. I know you know Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, (LG: I love Damien Hirst) and artists like that, who I think have been fantastically important and, indeed, there’s been a reciprocity between them and, I hate to bring up his name because I know it will make you sad, but Alexander McQueen, for example, and other great designers who have taken things so much further. Vivienne Westwood, I think, was an early . . .
LG: Pushing the boundaries, so unafraid and fearless and brave.
SF: Unafraid to be laughed at and unafraid to be funny in their design. Unafraid of wit.
LG: And humorous.
LG: Alexander McQueen wanted to burst the bubble of fashion.
SF: Yes, and he did an extraordinary job. One of the saddest things I saw was the day he died, I couldn’t think what else to do so I just . . . I was in West Hollywood and so I went down to Melrose and drove past his store. Did you see all the flowers piled up there? It was really . . .
LG: I was on my way to London to see him.
SF: Oh were you? It’s a very, very sad thing.
LG: What I was going to say to you, though, on a happier note, was when you were mentioning Oscar Wilde and talking about the mask and how it is a disservice to identity to say that we are compartmentalised as different masks as opposed to one ultimate and complex being, I would say that if I could describe myself as an artist in terms of theatrical philosophy, I would say that I am Brechtian.
SF: Right. That’s very interesting.
LG: Because there is an element of fantasy, there is an element of theatre but you can see right through it.
SF: There is the Verfremdungseffekt, as I believe he called it.
LG: Yes. You can see right through it. You can see what’s going on.
SF: Yes. I enjoyed “Scheisse” by the way. It’s a good track!
LG: But for whatever reason, although you can see all the players behind the curtain, you can see them all changing, you can see them all coming out to do the play. It doesn’t ruin the integrity or the fantasy of the theatre and, in fact, it is an overarching statement about the corruption of the government and the need for transparency in government and society. So if you were to tell the world anything, tell them she is the Bertolt Brecht of pop music.
SF: I like that. Interesting, because another hero of yours, I know, is Rilke the poet, (LG: I have a tattoo on my arm) and you have a tattoo . . . I forget one of his phrases, which is it?
LG: It’s, “in the deepest hour of the night, ask yourself if you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Look deep into your heart where the answer spreads its roots and ask yourself, muss ich schreiben, must I write?
SF: Must I write.
LG: That’s a very big tattoo.
SF: I was going to say, is that your big one? I’ve always loved Thomas Mann’s definition of a writer and I think it applies to all artists. He says a writer is just an ordinary person who finds writing more difficult than other people do, and I think that is a very profound remark. And one of the things I was going to say is that in the actual . . . the ease and the comfort with which you manage to possess this empire, the Haus of Gaga, the shows, the tours, the albums, the releases on YouTube, the extraordinary following that you have, there are inside it an enormous number of disciplines which are themselves ones which would take many people a lifetime to master, which is to say dance, and you have exhibited yourself to be an extraordinary dancer actually. I think your videos are really remarkable.
SF: And singer. And I said this, and I don’t mean this to be flattery, but after seeing you at the Annabel’s thing, I was thinking if I had never seen a video or heard a record of yours, I would have said that woman is one of the best cabaret artists I’ve ever seen, just as an acoustic performer. No, truly, it is a marvel . . .
LG: Oh, that’s so nice
SF: Remind me, was that a Richard Rodgers song at the beginning you sang?
LG: It was a Nat King Cole.
SF: Was it Nat King Cole? I knew it was a standard. It was so beautiful, and I loved your pianist with his fantastic fetishistic teeth.
LG: He’ll bite your head off!
SF: Wow, amazing. So all I mean is that there must be a lot of work in there.
LG: Of course there is.
SF: There’s a huge amount of concentration . . .
LG: Every night.
SF: And perfection, and presumably the very nature of your venture is that you are all over the details of everything, across the piece as they say.
LG: It is the details, but it is also . . . well, I’m quite disciplined in piano rehearsal, voice rehearsal, dance rehearsal, putting the show together, but then there’s this other element which is what you experienced, which not many people get to experience unless you’ve been to the Monster Ball with me, and that is that I am my best when I’m unafraid to be imperfect, and that is what Annabel’s was completely unrehearsed. I decided what I was going to play eight minutes before I went on stage and I just did it completely off the cuff with absolutely no rehearsal . . .
SF: A couple of shout outs to Kate [Moss], which is very sweet.
LG: Yes, she’s so cute. A perfect little face and a little body in the front row, singing “Born This Way”.
SF: Well, that’s very interesting but of course behind it all is that discipline . . . it’s that Malcolm Gladwell book that came out that claimed that everybody is good at everything who has had a certain number of hours of practice.
LG: Practice makes permanent!
SF: Or as they say übung macht den meister – practice makes the master.
LG: Oh, I like that better.
SF: It’s very good, isn’t it?
LG: You should have been the voice [overtalking].
SF: That’s actually quite Germanic and I happen to be rather a worshipper of Wagner, which is a very unfashionable thing to do.
SF: It’s a bit Viking, it’s a bit Wagnerian as well, isn’t it? Fantastic headpiece. Who made that?
LG: I don’t know. A young designer.
SF: I was going to say, that’s the other thing that you must have knocking at your door; people who have just graduated from Parsons and all the different colleges.
LG: They don’t need to knock. I’m knocking down their doors.
SF: So you’re looking for talent, in the way that Charles Saatchi might be looking for a new artist you look for new designers?
LG: I love designers that have been around for a long time, but . . .
SF: Thierry Mugler, he’s one of your favourites, isn’t he?
LG: I love Nicola Formichetti in the Haus of Gaga. He became the creative director and actually I won’t say who, but we’re resurrecting some archives that have been locked away in safes for like 20 years for the next video, which I’m very excited about.
SF: Oh really? I was going to say would you persuade my friend Hamish Bowles to let you at some of his collection, Balenciaga frocks, that he has.
LG: I love Balenciaga. I love old Versace . . .
SF: He has, as you probably know, the biggest collection.
LG: I mean, I could go on and on but I really love to cultivate other people’s talents the way that they cultivate mine. I feel that my fans have cultivated my talent and they continue to nurture me. I mean, after Graham Norton, for example, which was yesterday . . .
SF: Two nights ago. It was Thursday night.
LG: I’m sorry, two nights ago. So after Graham Norton I went to Annabel’s and I performed and then I went home and I watched the Graham Norton performance yesterday when it aired, and I watched it over and over and over and over and over . . . and I looked at all the parts that I liked and all the parts that I didn’t like and I said “OK, well this part maybe if your breath control is different. Here maybe you should try this . . . I study everything that I do to become better all the time at my craft. The beauty for me about being an artist is that the dream will never die because I’m not obsessed with material things and don’t care about the money and don’t care about the attention of the public but only the love of my fans. For me it’s about keeping the dream alive of how much more devoted, how much more honest, how much better of an artist can I become? That’s the only fear that I ever have, that the dream will die.
SF: That would include sitting on a sofa with, say, Gwyneth Paltrow and a couple of others, how you are with them? You think, ah, I shouldn’t have interrupted there or I should have engaged more in that general conversation? Do you think that’s part of the business?
LG: Interviewing’s a bit more different for me. I don’t view interviewing as much of a performance. I mean, my whole life is in essence a performance but singing and dancing for television is an entirely different thing.
SF: And I’m assuming that that wonderful thing of being in the glass tank where you were giving a visual representation of how we are all exactly in the same slime, we come out of the slime together . . .
LG: The metaphor. Is it afterbirth or semen, question mark?
SF: Well, quite! You do that once and then that’s forgotten and you never do that again?
LG: I think so. Well, we did it in the music video similarly but with different colourings, but I always wanted to do it on TV and I thought Graham Norton was the perfect place to do it and it was beautiful. And it also gives me a chance to sing my pants off. If I’m in a fish tank it’s a lot easier than if I’m doing Laurieann Gibson’s fucking modern Alvin Ailey choreography.
SF: And these rumours that . . . you said you don’t care about the money, and it’s pretty clear to people because you plough it back into the show and you will actually change the show as it’s going around, so the last one, Monster Ball, as it went round the world, it was changing . . .
LG: It went from a theatre tour to an arena tour. The only big things I’ve purchased are my dad’s heart valve and a Rolls Royce for my parents, for their anniversary. And that was only because my dad had a Lady Gaga licence plate on our old car and it was making me crazy because he was getting followed everywhere, so I bought him a new car. Other than that, I put everything in the show and I actually went bankrupt after the first extension of the Monster Ball.
SF: Yes, I read that, and that really was true.
LG: And it was funny because I didn’t know and I remember I called everybody and I said, “well, why is everybody saying that I have no money? This is ridiculous! I had five number one singles, the Monster Ball’s doing great,” and they said, “you’re $3m in debt”. So I got really lucky because I had a good show and Live Nation loved it so much and they said “we want to put you in arenas and we want to support you”, and then the fairytale of where we are now became the HBO special and the whole world got to see the Monster Ball.
SF: And that did make an enormous difference, I think? And I suppose you now . . . you have become a fact on the landscape in a way that is just unavoidable, that people like my parents have heard of you. My parents are in their 80s . . .
SF: Yes. They won’t have heard of Gwen Stefani or Cristina Aguilera. They really won’t. If I said those names, they wouldn’t mean anything, but with Lady Gaga, it’s, oh yes! She wears those . . . extraordinary. Didn’t she once wear something made out of pork or something? I mean, they’ll get it slightly wrong.
LG: The meat dress. You saw the prime rib of America speech so you knew it was about equality but nobody else knew that . . .
SF: Yes, it had a meaning.
LG: Everyone just saw pork. It wasn’t pork! It was prime rib and plain steak.
SF: I suppose . . . I don’t know, it probably annoys you as a comparison, but people are bound to make it that before you there was a young female also an Italiano Catholic performer . . .
SF: By the name of Madonna and that she played with iconic images from the Catholic church . . .
LG: In fact, you know, it does not annoy me at all. Do you know what does annoy me? When journalists try to make it look like it annoys me.
SF: Oh good, I’m glad it doesn’t.
LG: Isn’t that right, Adrian?
LG: Because I genuinely love her so much. I think she is so amazing. She could never be replicated and, yes, I’m Italian, I’m from New York, and not for nothing, it’s not my fault that I kind of look like her, right? So, look, if anything it’s more annoying to me that people would insinuate that I don’t like to be compared to her.
SF: When, in fact, you would actually be proud to be connected . . . ?
LG: Yes, because she’s wonderful and inspiring and liberating, and she’s certainly inspired my album, as did David Bowie, as did Prince, as did Michael Jackson, as did Grace Jones, and I would never take that away. So there’s my mission statement, is if anything, thank you from the bottom of my heart for comparing me to these legendary people.
SF: It’s very good, and would it be a conceivable thing that you might do an album of standards of Cole Porter . . . you know, the great American songbook.
LG: I really want to. I’ve actually spoken to my manager about doing it for Christmas time. I thought that would be really sweet to do a Christmas release of Gaga, Gaga and the jazz standards.
SF: Maybe you could be one of the many guests on the old Rufus Wainwright Christmas Show.
LG: Ooooh! I love that
SF: Lou Reed always turns up on that, doesn’t he, with . . . that’s always a good thing . . . with Laurie Anderson. Don’t you think you’d love that? She’s one of my heroines, an extraordinary woman. Have you met her?
SF: I haven’t either. I think she’s just . . . it always upsets me how few people have heard of her in this country.
LG: Oh, she’s a genius.
SF: Incredible woman. But, anyway, we could talk for ever and I know how busy you are, so I’ll round it off for you, to say, A, that I really do love the album. I think it’s fantastic and I think it’s going to be released a week on Monday, is that right? Yes. [Overtalking]. And so it obviously means a huge amount to you as well, that’s the other thing.
LG: Oh you have no idea. Well, here’s what I will say. I’m quite pleased with the way that it’s all panned out because I knew that the first single would benefit from whatever hype, the excitement of the album coming out, and I said to myself, “well, let’s not waste all that hype with some dingy shallow message. Let’s put something really special, really powerful and beautiful, something about equality, something about freedom, something about being proud of who you are,” and what’s been so nice is not only to watch “Born This Way” be like . . . it was the fastest selling digital song in history, but to see it linger. It sort of like goes up and down the charts like a seesaw and it just won’t go away. It’s so sweet.
SF: It won’t go away. And “Edge of Glory”, which you almost put out as an afterthought, that went straight up.
LG: Yes. It was meant to not be an afterthought, but to be a . . . here’s a taste of the album, buy the record, and by accident it just went straight to number one all over the world on iTunes and now it’s just doing so well and . . .
SF: And the style is so interesting. I mean, I love the Americano, I love the Latino style of Americano, and I love the idea of this little love story. It’s in Los Feliz or somewhere like that and I can picture where it takes place. So you have these different styles and there’s even a bit where you can hear Eastern strains and in “Edge of Glory” I’m thinking, gosh, it’s almost I won’t say Meatloaf or Jon Bon Jovi, but maybe a bit of Michael Bolton. There’s a sort of rocky [overtalking] which is really, really great . . .
LG: Absolutely. A major power of rock.
SF: Yes. So you must enjoy being able to just practice all those different . . .
LG: Well, that is part of also what the album was about. It’s marrying all of these genres and eclectic styles in a way that I am saying quite emphatically, “I am a woman of theatre, I’m a librarian of theatre and I love all different kinds of music and all different kinds of expressions”, and the album is epic in that way that it takes you on this journey through all different kinds of expressionism in music.
SF: So a lot of them are very suited to the dance floor, a lot of them are very suited to someone sitting alone as well, sitting alone listening?
LG: They function as both. I wanted to make sure that the album wasn’t “here’s the balance, here’s the up tempos”. I wanted it to feel much more like I experienced music when I was young; when you listen to a Pink Floyd song and even though it’s slow, you’re dancing.
SF: And is it my imagination because I love it the way you do it with Judas, Judas, Juda-gaga, that you manage to get Gaga in a lot? Do you get Gaga into the phrase Government Hooker? Do you say Gagament Hooker? Or is that just me imagining it?
LG: No. There is Gaga in there but it’s not Gagament Hooker but it is in there.
SF: It is in there somewhere, is it?
LG: It’s also in “Bloody Mary”. Yes, there’s Gregorian monks chanting Gaga.
SF: It’s a bit like Hitchcock having his own personal appearance in his movies.
LG: That’s exactly what it . . . it’s a little bit like that. It’s also a bit like Iron Maiden having a song called “Iron Maiden” or Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath”. It’s very metal.
SF: Yes. Well, this has been such a treat. And I know how exhausted you are.
LG: It’s been wonderful.
SF: I feel I should let you go. I can’t tell you how grateful I am.
LG: Thank you! I’ve had such a good time. This is my favourite interview today.
SF: Oh, you’re sweet to say so! Thank you. And I hope we meet again, maybe in LA. Oh, and Stevie, my partner, he introduced me to you a year ago and Stevie and I we . . . this was the time the ra ra ra thing came out, I was singing the tune in the car and I turned to Stevie and I said, “you know, this should be our song”, and he looked at me and said, “it’s called ‘Bad Romance’.” And I thought, “damn! You can have our song called Bad Romance but it still is our song anyway”.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.