Not much is off-limits to Kesha, one of the biggest breakthrough pop stars of the past year whose debut album, Animal, debuted at number one and has sold nearly one million copies in the U.S. alone. The 23-year-old has sung about everything from throwing up in Paris Hilton's closet, to getting hit on by old men, to getting her heartbroken and being rejected by a guy.
But one thing she refuses to comment on: the leaked picture of her naked and covered in semen, which recently popped up on www.perezhilton.com. When asked about the picture in question, she says, "We're not discussing that, thank you."
Some things she did discuss in an interview with Up on the Sun: her love of glitter, her most proud moment from the past year and why despite her sometimes party girl lyrics, she's really one of the hardest working women in show business. Read on for more about Kesha, who is currently on tour with Rihanna but comes to Marquee Theatre this Thursday, July 22 for a headlining show with Mickey Avalon.
New Times: How is the tour going so far?
Kesha: It's amazing. This is my first big tour, and I'm learning a lot from Rihanna, and she's such an amazing performer. She's so sweet and so supportive. I just really like it when women can support each other. It's really inspiring.
NT: You're playing without Rihanna at your own headlining show in Tempe. What will the set be like?
Kesha: It's going to be a dance party not to be missed. We're all just ironic rowdy party kids. This album is just a really youthful, free-spirited irreverent record, so the live show for the most part matches that sentiment. There are different parts of my personality that haven't been showcased on the singles.
NT: Will you be doing anything special on-stage?
Kesha: I have some screens that I might be bringing, and I have some pretty bad-ass lights, and I play some instruments during the show. My live performance is really different from a lot of pop singers out there right now. It's really fun and free, and you never know what's going to happen.
NT: What instruments do you play?
Kesha: I play guitar and drums and synth, and I dance, and sometimes I do cartwheels.
NT: You've achieved so much success in the past year. What has been your most memorable moment?
Kesha: Opening night of this tour was pretty incredible, to look at and see how many people I was playing to. I hope my name on the bill had something to do with them being there. And I think Saturday Night Live was pretty epic and doing glow-in-the dark body paint and convincing Lorne Michaels that it was a good idea.
NT: Even though you've been commercially successful, you've also said you want to be taken more seriously. Why do you think some people don't take you seriously, and how do you deal with criticism?
Kesha: I don't really care about being taken seriously as a human being. I just think some people overlook the fact I wrote my entire record. It's important for people to know that I take my artistry seriously; it just so happens that my job is to make people dance their pants off.
NT: What are your plans writing-wise for the next album?
Kesha: It's going to be a reflection of whatever I'm going through. It's not like I'm super-serious and never hang out anymore, but I definitely work hard. I've matured decades in the past 8 months.
NT: How do you think you've matured?
Kesha: I'm just working everyday all day long and playing massive arena shows and really orchestrating a vision and trying to project a specific vision and energy into the universe. I'm constantly thinking about ways to make the shows better and becoming better at different instruments to play. Now I have a chance to put this whole image out into the universe.
NT: Part of what got you noticed early on was that you broke into Prince's house to show off your demo. Would you encourage this tactic for others, and if someone did that to you, how would you react?
Kesha: I just really wanted people to listen to me. Especially in the music business, before you have anything on the radio, all you hear is "no". I thought I'd take my demo directly to the person I wanted to work with. I live on my bus. Every once in awhile (people give me their stuff), and I've got to say, do it. You never know who it's going to get to, you never know who's going to listen to it. Don't take no for an answer. I didn't. I think it's important to know you have to keep on trying.
NT: You're releasing "Take It Off" as your next single. When do you plan on starting work on a new album?
Kesha: I am already working on my next record. I'm always constantly working on songs anyway. I'm not sure if this is the last single. I hope to release a few more songs off this record.
NT: Why "Take It Off"? What are your plans for the video?
Kesha: I love that song. It's one of the last songs I wrote on the record, and it's inspired by going to a tranny bar. (The video is) about me and all my hot vampire babe friends breaking into a hotel on another planet, and at the end we all turn into this beautiful stardust. Once you take it all off, all your inhibitions, your clothes, we're all made up of the same thing.
NT: On your next record, will you continue rapping as well as singing?
Kesha: I think so. It just kind of started off as an ironic joke, the audacity of a silly little white girl with freckles rapping. I grew up being inspired a lot by the Beastie Boys, and I'm inspired by the success of (single) "Tik Tok" to keep rapping. I'm a trained singer, though, so I definitely can sing and will continue to sing.
NT: You're very outspoken and honest in your lyrics. Is there anything that you wouldn't sing about or prefer to keep private?
Kesha: I think I've learned from this record that I've been maybe too honest at times, but that's just the way I am. It's just an honest record. Is there anything that's off the table? I don't think so. I think that's what makes my music, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to continue to be honest.
NT: You have worn some very unique outfits the past year. What is the craziest one you have worn?
Kesha: I have these things I call my glittery diapers, and they're just like these glittery underwear I wear sometimes.
NT: It has been reported you requested glitter on your rider before. Is that true?
Kesha: Yeah, I don't really wear make-up, so instead I slather glitter on my body. Hot dogs (on my rider) are not true, though. In attempting to prevail on this quest as a vegetarian, it wouldn't be very smart.
NT: Why did you decide to become a vegetarian?
Kesha: I just love animals, and I'm an advocate for animals rights, and my family has rescued dogs from all over the world. I don't believe in animal testing. If you see me in fur, it's always fake. Sometimes you see me wearing skulls, but those are all from roadkill.
NT: Why should people come to your show?
Kesha: You're going to miss the dance party of the year if you don't come, and it's just a very unapologetically, irreverent night not to be missed. I'm really really excited to have the opportunity to play my own headlining tour.