By Sarah Carroll
Golden Globe winner. Oscar-nominated artist. Super Bowl national anthem singer. GRAMMY performer.
Some artists wait a lifetime to rack up that kind of resume, but these are just a few of the prestigious honors Lady Gaga’s taken part in during the last three months.
But it isn’t just about the accolades for Lady Gaga. It’s about making a difference.
The 29-year-old New York native invited 50 sexual assault survivors to join her on stage during her powerful performance of “Til It Happens To You.”
It’s a cause near and dear to her heart. She was a victim herself several years ago when she was getting her start in the entertainment industry.
Listen to the full interview above and check out some highlights from her conversation with Carson below:
Carson Daly: What should music fans know about this #FreeKesha case in general?
Lady Gaga: Well, I think that people should just know that there’s so much more, you know, than what meets the eye in a case like that. And it’s so kind of deceiving when you read about contracts and you read about what people owe each other in terms of power and records. The truth is, I feel like she’s being very publicly shamed for something that happens in the music industry all the time, to women and men. I just want to stand by her side because I can’t watch another woman that went through what I’ve been through suffer, you know? And have everyone have a go at her as if, you know, she’s lying. I mean, I have to say. I talk to her every day. I’m friends with her personally and what I’m watching her go through is not only something I’ve been through, but something that’s really devastating to witness. Somebody that has such a beautiful light within them, so much talent to give. Just to see that light burn out because they feel that no one’s listening to them, I feel that it’s my responsibility to stand up for her when there’s a lot of people that are not listening to her plea for love, for people to have compassion and empathy. I mean, I think we all know that people in power sometimes can use their power for bad things. That’s just reality. That’s just the way that the world works and it’s just not fair to women or men when those powers are used against them and we’re told to just shut up and go back to work.
Nobody wants to say anything implicitly against anyone. Number one, because none of us are vindictive people. We don’t want to hurt anybody. But number two, I think everyone’s really afraid of somebody coming after them. And that’s just the way that this business works. You know, if you don’t keep quiet, somebody will be litigious against you and come after you. We’re all trying to be careful with the way we say things for that reason. I’m sure you can hear me being careful while I’m talking about it.
I’m trying to be standing by her, but I’m also trying to protect myself and my family and it’s a very complicated thing. But I will say, the reason that I’m standing by her is because I want to help make it easier for young artists in this industry, for their music to get heard. I’ve told you before, Carson, what it was like coming up for me in this business. It was so hard and it’s supposed to be hard. It’s not supposed to be easy, but the things you have to deal with on a moral and ethical level with people related to money and sex and contracts. You know, it’s really scary for a young person and I just think that people should be educated about that while the country’s deciding where justice should be served.
Producer Angie: It sounds like that’s actually the norm, which it shouldn’t be obviously, but you’re making it sound like that’s just the norm for a young woman or man coming up in the business.
Lady Gaga: 100% this is the rule and not the exception. I hate to say that and I really hate to be a damper on everybody’s morning listen to the radio, but that’s just the reality of the music industry, which is why it’s so scary for, you know, I think a lot of these female artists like Adele and Taylor [Swift] and whoever else is speaking out. I won’t put words in their mouth, but I think it is probably scary for them as it is for me to see so much kind of shaming happen to females in the business that are so talented because they’re just not in as much of a position of power as the people that are speaking out against them.
Carson Daly: What a PR nightmare. You’ve named five of the biggest artists in music in general. Why wouldn’t Sony just let her out of her deal altogether? It seems like there would be a way to settle this because they’re certainly losing in the court of public opinion.
Lady Gaga: I think that truthfully they probably didn’t think that this story was going to blow up the way it has. And I think it got swept under the rug and at some point, you know, we’re going to shake the tree until that leaf that has Kesha on it falls right off. I care about her…We’re not asking the company to admit something. We’re just asking them to do the right thing by a young woman who’s a professional. This is an almost 30-year-old woman who’s a musician, and an incredible talent. In any other business, if you were to report that anything happened to you, to the human resources department, it would be dealt with. But we don’t have a human resources department. We don’t have a union as artists. We’re just fighting for ourselves. And we have these huge obstacles against us. And if we don’t stick together, our voices just won’t be heard. There’s a lot of great women in music and all of these women deserve to be upheld for how strong they are.
How she got involved in “The Hunting Ground” project…
I got a phone call from Diane Warren about this film and about this project. She really wanted to work with me on it. Bonnie Greenburg who was the music supervisor, reached out as well. At first I Was really unsure if I wanted to do it. Of course I wanted to do it, I want to be a part, always, of helping to raise awareness of things that are important. But it was something that was just so close to my life. It feels like you are really exposing yourself to people. Thank you so much for being so supportive and all the nice things you said, even since the Oscars on Sunday, I can’t tell you how exposed I feel. If feel like I revealed so much to people. But I’m happy I got to be there for women and men that feel alone everywhere.
On her performances at The Academy Awards…
The thing is, any time anyone has been through something that’s hard for them, if you don’t tell somebody or share your story with other people, there’s almost like a bit of you that you’re hiding. I think I never really realized what a big part of me this was until I had to face it on a world stage like that. And then once you face it, you go “wow that was and still is a really big part of my life.” And that’s a really big part of the lives of all of the people that were on the stage with me as well as many people around the world. It really brings context to what my mission is as an artist. It’s to bring people together through music. I was really happy that happened. It’s a very strange thing growing up in front of the world. I know I wasn’t youngr than 21 when people strated to know me for my music, but I still feel like I’ve grown up with a lot of the world watching. This is just another moment I was growing up.
I think I will. I have told this story before. I hate to say it. It’s just that people don’t always listen or care. That’s often why a lot of women and men don’t come forward because it’s this really awkward conversation that nobody quite knows how to deal with. I think I will tell my story, I just want to tell it when I can use it to further more change in the world and when it will be affective. You have to choose to say things when people are willing to focus on them. Theres a lot of times things on the news or in the papers that I think we all think are not really important, that are maybe shallow or gossipy. This is not one of those things. I want to make sure I’m always telling the right people on the right platform so I can have a positive outcome for my fans.
On new music…
Lady Gaga: I’m actually working every day on my record and I will be done with it at some point! You know, I just feel like this is my time for me to spend with my music. I have, for years, had to do so many other things and keep up with so much to please people around me and this is the first time I really get to spend with my work, you know? I promise you it will be worth the wait.
Let me tell you something, I’ve been writing since the day the artRAVE ended two years ago. I write every single day, music, but I write my own music, so I don’t like wake up and someone sends me a list of the songs I’m going to go into the studio and record! I have to make it, so, you got to give me some time!
Carson Daly: Is the “American Horror Story” experience influencing your new music?
Lady Gaga: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, being with Ryan [Murphy] and the cast has really helped me to feel more connected in everything, just because you’re working every day on the set with people and you’re exchanging these circumstances and looking into each other’s eyes and it forces you to really be in the moment. They’re just wonderful actors to have given me so, so much, and the crew and all the directors. When you’re around good people, they inspire you, so of course that has and will continue to inspire my work.
Carson Daly: Will a new record come out with 2016 or are we talking 2017?
Lady Gaga: This is very crafty, very cryptic questions!
Carson Daly: Are you hearing anything currently on the radio that’s influencing you? Have you heard something that lit a fire and was like, “Oh yeah, I got to get back on that train”?
Lady Gaga: I’ve always wanted to be on the train, you know, I always like making music. I guess I just have been taking time to think about what it is that I want to say next. It’s not just always about being out there and being on the radio, or being on the charts. It’s about growing and evolving as an artist. I view my output over the past few months as part of my output into the world even though it’s not part of an album cycle…but you’re not getting anywhere! Sorry! I will tell you that I’m so, so happy.