Answers: Kelly Clarkson (obviously)
Popjustice hearts Kelly Clarkson so much that she’d have to take out a restraining order were one not already in place following that unfortunate incident with our apparently ‘mentally scarring’ ‘Since U Been Gone’ Ustream performance.
Here’s an interview with her.
So you’re doing a day of enjoyable interviews with the media?
We just flew in from Berlin to the UK this morning and got ready and now I’m doing interviews, yes!
Do you enjoy doing interviews? Most people don’t. And don’t feel that you need to be polite.
Well the thing is I love TALKING. More than the average human being. So no, I don’t mind interviews AT ALL!
What about talking about yourself all day?
Actually THAT gets a bit narcissistic after a while but usually the interview has to do with stuff that’s more than just me. So….
…there is an elem…
…it’s just the…
I’m just talking over you now aren’t I. Like a typical, ill-mannered gentleman of the British press. Oh dear. Carry on.
Oh no you go on! But it’s just that there IS an element of narcissism and ego in this sort of environment, yes! But that’s kind of my joke with interviews. But people ask about other stuff, so it’s not too much.
So I haven’t officially heard your new album yes, except I sort of unofficially have because loads of it leaked, so…
Well not all of the album was in with them, and they were just demo versions, we don’t know how they came out – the publishers, or whatever, we don’t know – but they’re just the demos.
As a fan it’s quite nice to hear demo versions. For you it might be like going out undressed. But it is good to hear stuff before it’s finished, so you can listen to the differences in the final songs then get a little hint of what the creative process might have been.
Oh that doesn’t even bother me actually, my demos aren’t like HORRIBLE so that didn’t bother me, but it was like 75 songs that I’d written with people and it was more that a lot of the songs weren’t meant for me. I was writing with other writers for other artists and it caused a lot of confusion because people were like, ‘oh you’re going in a completely different direction with ‘Cleopatra’” and I was like, ‘that song’s not for me’. So it caused a lot of confusion about what my next record was going to be like and also, they were songs that I would NEVER sing, because it’s not really my vibe. But as far as my album stuff coming out? Well, it’s going to come out sooner or later anyway and if people are gonna buy it they’ll buy it, and if they’re gonna illegally download it they’ll illegally download it. So that doesn’t really bother me.
Boring question alert.
What does the finished album sound like?
That’s not a dumb question! [Note that she does not address whether or not it’s a boring question] The single is a pretty good representation – this album is more soulful pop/rock, you know, moreso than the previous four albums. The single’s very mid-tempo but it’s still quite driving – I like to call those songs cardio songs. Well I don’t do cardio to them but somebody might! (Laughs) It’s very much a cardio album. But like my other albums, if you’ve heard them, they’re very eclectic pop, but there’s also something very theatrical which I’ve never done, there’s also some singer/songwriter stuff, and there’s also some dance/pop/rock/urban stuff. There’s all that but it’s a very cohesive album too, I tie it together vocally so it’s not all over the map.
So this ‘dancey stuff’, Kelly. Have you worked with any or all of the following: David Guetta, Pitbull, will.i.am.
No, we didn’t work together.
(Roars with laughter)
You know what I mean though, right?
That is so awesome! That was great. Yes I know exactly what you mean.
In the whole ‘Wash, Rinse, Repeat’ world that’s washing so much that their hair’s falling out, right?
That’s why I’m laughing dude, I get it. (Laughs)
Did you pretty much pick yourself who you worked with or did you take someone else’s lead?
Actually my A&R guy for this record is my favourite person that’s ever worked at my label. We worked really well together – he’s like early-60s or whatever and he’s just a really big fan of music. We had a couple of dinners together and really got to know each other and I wanted to work with Greg Kurstin real bad so he put me with Greg, he wanted me to work with Toby Gad and I clicked with him, and we just worked really well together. It just WORKED. Greg Kurstin was kind of my favourite on this project just because I’d never really worked with him before and I’ve been wanting to for the last three records.
He’s quite a songy person isn’t he, Greg Kurstin. Like some people just make tracks that sound great but Greg Kurstin makes songs.
I totally get what you’re saying, and with Greg he’s got this jazz background so you don’t expect it to come from him but… Well if you listen to the second single, ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’, and then there’s another one which is probably a single called ‘Dark Side’, he also did a song called ‘Honestly’ on the album, and those are three very different songs from each other. Especially ‘Honestly’. That’s probably the most different on the album, and I was so pleased that he wanted to go there with that. What I like about him is that he’s not afraid to not be formulaic. Sometimes we’ll do a fun pop song together, like ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’, but sometimes we’ll do a more theatrical thing like with ‘Honesty’.
Do you think people who smile too much are a bit weird?
I’m probably that weird person. I smile a lot. I smile when I’m nervous, when I’m happy, when I’m sad, I’m a very expressive person. I’m going to have lots of wrinkles.
Well you’re getting on a bit aren’t you. How old are you now?
You’re 30, let’s be honest.
And it doesn’t bother me!
Everyone says that 40 is the time to start panicking.
(Laughs) You’re such a dude right now! Guys are much more scared of being 40! Women are like, ‘oh, whatever’.
Your hair’s not going to fall out, is it?
I wouldn’t care if it did! I’d just buy a wig. There’s always a plan b.
Sometimes in photographs you look sad. Are you okay?
Did you just say I look sad? (Roars with laughter)
Well yes I might WRITE a load of depressing shit but I’m a very happy person. ANNOYINGLY SO. I let it out in songs. Writing is very therapeutic. But I’m an annoyingly happy person. So no, I’m fine.
‘Depressing shit’ is usually the best music.
Exactly, I love it. Obviously a lot of people like that because it’s the most popular music. I mean I like a lot of different things, but only for listening to. As for me singing, if I’m ever going to sing stuff it’s going to be pop, or maybe country because I grew up singing country.
There’s a bit of a Tammy-esque twang in the verses of ‘Mr Know It All’…
Oh, well maybe that’s because it’s a very soulful song and when I sing with attitude I tend to sound very Texan, and it’s probably down to that.
Now, From Justin To Kelly was cruelly overlooked at the Oscars and I’m wondering if that still causes you pain.
OH MY GOSH. You can’t even mention that! You can ask Simon Fuller! I was LEGALLY OBLIGATED to be in that! I tried to get a lawyer to get out of it! Yes!
I don’t want you to think that I’m exactly waiting for something to go wrong with this campaign but I do like the fact that you’re quite vocal after a campaign, or even during it, when things go tits up.
Well I’m a very honest person…
And nothing’s gone wrong yet with this album apart from it ?
No, it’s actually funny I was just talking to my manager about that. Everyone’s agreed on everything, everything’s going real smooth, I’m just waiting for that big kick in the butt.
You know when people say, ‘God help us if there’s a war’ when they’re looking at younger generations with stupid useless jobs like singing and writing about singers? What would you do if there was a war?
I think I’d make a great nurse. Honestly. I’m really into stuff like that and blood doesn’t bother me.
I’m not keen on blood as a rule.
NEITHER IS MY BROTHER! You’re like one and the same. He, like, faints. I’ve had like twelve tattoos and I’m pretty good with that whole environment. And I tend to do better under pressure in all areas of life so I’ll do well in a war.
What’s your next tattoo going to be?
I don’t know! Usually I get one with a new record or something but I don’t have an idea yet, and I won’t get one until I have a plan.
How about a bit tattoo of one of your horses, right across your back?
I think I might regret that one…
Is there anywhere you wouldn’t have a tattoo? Sometimes you’ll see someone with a cobweb across their face and you’ll think, ‘do you know what, that’s not a great look’.
No, I wouldn’t be into that. Isn’t that usually people from prison?
What’s the one you’re given in prison if you’re a paedophile? Is it a teardrop?
Isn’t a teardrop like for how many people you’ve killed or something? (Gets quite animated) I think the spiderweb, if you have… I forget what it is. It means something. It’s something gang related. Isn’t that all silly? Doesn’t it make you want to laugh? Like (adopts stupid voice) ‘oh you’re in a GANG, okay’ (Laughs) I just think it sounds so silly! Or even to be like, ‘hey, we’re West Side’ and I’m like, ‘oh my GOD, do you HEAR yourself?’. It’s embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for you. It just sounds like a silly 10-year-old going ‘oh girls aren’t allowed’, it’s like…
Do you not have a a gang of your own?
How about the girlband you’ve formed?
Oh you mean Already Famous? Oh no people blew that up, that was just a funny Twitter thing…
Nothing on Twitter is just for fun, Kelly.
Apparently! So, man, I’m telling you what, people take it all wrong! So we just wrote a bunch of songs and went into the studio because we had time off! I’d finished the record, I wasn’t doing anything, I was bored out of my head, so we went and just cut a record. We weren’t even going to release anything…
Just put it on iTunes as an EP.
We weren’t even thinking of doing that! We just wanted to have some fun, do some fun random appearances. It’s not like we’re going to be Destiny’s Child! (Laughs)
Well who’s to say?
I’M to say! (Laughs) It’s not our goal, it’s just something fun to do. I don’t know, it wasn’t meant to be a big deal. I learned a lesson there!
Are the songs any good?
Yes! They’re great! I mean they’re not Kelly Clarkson songs… Are you familiar with Miranda Lambert? She’s a country girl back in the States but she just came out with a girlgroup just now with her and two singers, and people were expecting it to be Miranda Lambert, but it wasn’t. And in the same way this isn’t Kelly Clarkson music. Our stuff is very much all harmonies.
The more you’re talking about it the more annoyed I’m getting that you refuse to release it.
We’re going to totally get it out there! All I’m saying is it might not be something to buy, we might just perform it every once in a while. It’s just something fun to do where there are no politics involved and it’s just a bit random.
What’s your favourite musical note?
I guess a high A.
I’m a first soprano at heart, I always have been ever since I was a kid. So I just love the first soprano area.
What’s your least favourite musical note?
The key of B I don’t like. It just doesn’t sound very good. So I’ll say B. Every time someone sends me a song and it’s in B I’m like, ‘no’. I always change it to something else. It bothers me. I do not like B.