Friday, September 18, 2009

my katy perry interview

i interviewed katy perry nearly three weeks ago. i was really not into her music until after the interview and i saw her perform live in concert.

her songs are simplistic and as pop as pop can be but they are never boring. she laces her lyrics with frank and undisguised sexuality and that makes her a unique artist...

here is my interview as it appears in the philippine star today:

(btw, she's the one pictured with me in my profile pic)

***

Face to face with the girl who kissed another girl By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent
(The Philippine Star)
Updated September 19, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - She sings of kissing a girl and actually liking it but did you know that Katy Perry used to be Katy Hudson, and that she used to sing gospel songs?

“I started as a gospel singer,” Katy tells this writer over a quick chat inside her backstage dressing room just before her concert at the packed Hollywood Palladium in Sunset Boulevard two weeks ago. “That was like my first open door into the music industry.”

The pretty singer also disclosed that she chose to leave high school to get a different form of diploma. “I was 15 and I knew what I wanted to do, and I had some connections in the gospel music industry.”

The interview was arranged by the lovely Myra Castillo whose company, Music Management International, is bringing the now-internationally famous singer to a concert in Manila on Oct. 3. Katy, who became popular for the sexual undertones of some of her hit songs and her suggestive use of lipsticks, bananas and strawberries in her concerts, will perform at the SM Mall of Asia concert grounds.

Just hours before show time, this writer was surprised to find the singer not dressed in her stylized skimpy outfits. She was wearing a long dotted black dress and bright sparkles around her eyes while doing the round of interviews. I was scheduled for a 6 p.m. interview but was pushed back more than an hour due to production delays. Returning MTV VJ KC Montero was with our group and he also waited patiently.

I was still waiting for my turn when the first group of “Katy Kats,” as her die-hard fans are called, started trickling into the venue. They were dressed as bananas, strawberries, and all sorts of fruity outfits. It was very interesting to see how the singer wields such immense influence in today’s pop culture when just three years ago she was still an unknown, struggling gospel singer trying to break into the mainstream music industry.

“It was great! I was so happy to be doing it,” she would tell this writer later when asked about her early singing days. “It didn’t become a successful venue; it wasn’t something I could do anything with because the label went bankrupt but it was a great experience.”

Things turned better for the singer beginning 2007 when she changed her name to Katy Perry. During this time, she also started wearing bright pastel colors and dropped gospel music altogether; she brought sex into her act and completely reinvented herself.

“There wasn’t really much of a transitioning. I am pretty much the same person. I just didn’t want to be asked if Kate Hudson was my sister — how silly would that be if you named both your daughters Kate!” she broke into a brief laughter. “The transition of myself came naturally — just the evolution of growing up.”

She’s only 24 and yet Katy has seen herself transform several times already in just under 10 years.

The day after our interview Katy was to perform in her hometown of Santa Barbara for a homecoming show that was canceled earlier this year due to a forest fire. “It’s going to be amazing.” She talked excitedly about going home and doing the show in front of people she saw when she was a teenager singing at the local Farmers Market.

“I was 12, 13, 15 — this was one way of making money as a young kid,” she recalled. “It was fun because people would buy their fruits and vegetables and there was a violinist in one corner, there’s a kid doing some kind of drum interpretation and then there was me at 13 in my own little corner singing my own silly songs.”

“It was a great experience; it was great to be in front of people when you want to be in the music industry because it gives you a good read.”

She did it for a couple of years until someone spotted her perform and offered her to record in Nashville where she would spend the next seven years trying to score a hit song.
All her hard work paid off in 2008 when her hit single I Kissed a Girl exploded and rocketed to the top of the charts and became the summer’s No. 1 song.

What did she feel when she finally broke through?

“It feels intense, there’s no feeling that will ever compare to it because once you are there you worry if it’s going to happen again and or you can only go down,” she shared. “I was always preparing myself for my lucky break; for that shooting star — to catch it, to grab on.”

“I really didn’t know what a No. 1 hit mean. I didn’t really know when I had it but now I guess I know by looking back at this whole year and a half realizing that it is f—ng hard to do!”
It also helped that the song talked openly about a subject still considered taboo even in this politically correct times: Homosexuality.

The first single released off her break-out album was Ur so Gay, which received equal condemnation from both sides of the debate. Some said it was anti-gay while others contend it was actually promoting homosexuality. Katy wisely kept her distance from the controversy and quietly released another single, and this time she wasn’t being coy. She was proud she kissed a girl! It was an instant hit.

“It’s a fun pop song. I don’t know if it is necessarily controversial,” Katy argued. “I think some people think it’s silly, some people think it’s an eye-opening great thing for them — to each his own interpretation, you know. I lace my song with tongue-in-cheek and a great sense of humor and you can hear that. And also the topic of sexuality is evolving. Gay Marriage Rights was on the tip of everybody’s tongue and so, I think, me kind of coming out and saying it in a lighthearted way, it might have given it a more mainstream appeal.”

When I saw the singer perform later, I saw how she makes magic with her songs — sexual or otherwise. She is Katy Perry, after all — and fans love her!

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