Ke$ha: A Music Mix Q&A on her Top 5 hit 'Tik Tok,' the origin of her name, and why she's not welcome in Paris Hilton's home
When electro-pop party girl Ke$ha sang on Flo Rida’s number-one smash “Right Round” earlier this year, she “didn’t have enough money to buy a taco.” Things are looking much better for the L.A.-born, Tennessee-raised pop singer these days. Her debut solo single “TiK ToK”—which she co-wrote with Britney/Katy Perry vets Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco—is currently a top-five hit and one of the most recklessly fun dance songs of the year.
We talked to Ke$ha about her alleged foul mouth, her public display of “bladder desperation” at a recent awards show, and what caused her to spew (for real) in Paris Hilton’s closet.
EW: Kesha is your birth name, but I’m guessing the money sign isn’t on your birth certificate. Why did you throw it in?
K: I was on the Flo Rida song “Right Round,” and I was hearing it everywhere, just all over the place. It was number one in a bajillion countries and I didn’t have enough money to buy myself a taco. So I was talking to one of my friends about it and I was like, “What the hell!” I literally had two dollars to my name, and she was like, “Whatever, you don’t need money: You’re money.” And I was like, “Yeah! I’m money!” So it’s really just me taking the piss out of the fact that I was broke while being on a number-one record. It’s actually just being ironic about the whole money thing, because I actually stand for the opposite of putting a lot of emphasis on money.
EW: Would you mind being rich?
K: It’s not at all the reason I’m doing it. I wouldn’t mind it, because it just so happens that if I am a successful musician and I make good records, I might make some money, too, and that’s totally fine. And I love that I don’t have to wait tables, and I’m so appreciative for anything I do earn, but I don’t have to be greedy and gluttonous about the money I’m making.
EW: What inspired the Diddy reference [“Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy”] in “TiK ToK”?
K: I used to live in this sort-of castle in Laurel Canyon. I woke up one morning surrounded by all of my hot babe friends because they had all crashed after a night out. And I woke up surrounded by babes—it was a total babe-fest—and I thought, “This must be what Diddy feels like every morning.” That was the first line of the song, and I took it in and Dr. Luke liked it.
EW: And I hear your family was on The Simple Life?
K: Unfortunately, yes, that is true.
EW: And somehow you vomited in Paris Hilton’s closet?
K: Totally separate occasion, but yes, that did happen. They stayed in my house in Nashville when I was 17. Then fast forward six months, I’m out in LA, and I sing background vocals for her second single. And then that night we went to her house and we were all dancing, hanging out. Then I got overexcited and ralphed in her closet. I thought it was a bathroom… and it just so happened not to be a bathroom. It was a closet.
EW: Did that end things with you and her?
K: That kind of ended the relationship right there.
EW: Do you hold that against her?
K: No, I wouldn’t want to be my friend either.
EW: When you were on The Simple Life, were you thinking about parlaying that into record deal?
K: No, The Simple Life stuff was totally just my mom. She saw an ad in the paper that said, “Looking for an eccentric family,” and I guess my family is the most eccentric family in all of Tennessee, because they picked us to come stay with. But then I was just working on my record at the same time that they were staying at my house for Simple Life. Dr. Luke and Max Martin actually called me and started flying me to New York and flying me to L.A. and wanted to sign me as their artist. Which happened shortly after that.
EW: They’re huge names. What do you think made them want to work with you?
K: Luke said at the end of one of my songs, where a producer generally turns off the track or cuts off the vocals… one producer just let the track roll and I was in the vocal booth just messing around, singing and being totally ridiculous because I just don’t really care. I don’t get embarrassed. And he heard that and he said that was the moment he realized I was willing to put my balls out there and not get embarrassed. I’m irreverent and fun, and he thought that the world needed somebody fun.
EW: And when you peed in a sink at the British Q Awards, were you drunk or did you just really have to go?
K: No, I really had to go. There were a lot of people waiting in line. And there were paparazzi all outside. It was an act of bladder desperation.
EW: You had to realize it would be a media thing, right?
K: No, I really didn’t, because that was my first trip over there, and I guess I just didn’t realize it. I didn’t realize the paparazzi and those magazines (in Britain) were so prevalent. I didn’t know what else to do because there was nowhere else I could go. There were a few people in the bathroom and I was like, “I’m so sorry you guys, but I have to pee.”
EW: When that incident became public knowledge, were you embarrassed?
K: To me it’s not like I’m hurting anybody. It’s just pee. People need to get over it. It’s just urine. It all goes to the same plumbing general area.
EW: So you’re friends with Katy Perry and you’re worked with 3OH!3. Is there anyone else you like in music right now, or anyone you’d like to work with?
EW: In your video you sort of dress like early Madonna. What’s your fashion inspiration?
K: I would call it garbage-can chic, I just kind of… I don’t wear a lot of high heels. Sometimes you’ll catch me in high heels but it’s not my main steez. You can be sexy and attractive and a total fox and not have to wear heels and a push-up bra and spandex. You don’t have to give it all away: it’s really all about confidence. But my main fashion inspiration would be Keith Richards. Sexy pirate.
EW: And why do you think you have a foul-mouthed reputation?
K: I think I am really irreverent and I pretty much just talk to and about men the way men talk to and about women. So they just think it’s so shocking because I don’t have a penis. And I just think it’s a double standard that unfortunately still exists. Because if I were a man… any man on pop radio could say the things I say about men to women, and nobody would even think about it twice.
EW: And you have an album coming out very soon.
K: My album comes out on January 5th and it’s called Animal. I’ve been working on it for six years and I co-wrote every song on the record. And I’m gonna be touring next year. And my live show is not one to be missed: it’s a total sensory assault.
EW: Is the rest of the album similar to “TiK ToK”?
K: “TiK ToK” is a good kickoff single because it’s just a really fun dance party record, but I talk about a lot of different things on the record, and there are a lot of different perspectives. I think there’s a good pop song in pretty much anything. So I have a lot of songs about real life stuff that people go through, but it’s a pop song. Like a guy hitting on you in a bar, or a guy you’re totally in love with but he won’t call you. Or just some guy that trying to talk to you and he’s just talking too much and giving you a headache. Just things that I know everybody experiences and I just write about it. And I think it’s an honest record and really just funny.
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