It’s no secret that Lady Gaga’s 2013 release Artpop didn’t reach the success of her previous records. But Gaga’s aware of the flop, and thanks collaborators Elton John and Tony Bennett for standing by her.

“When the whole industry turned their back on me during Artpop, they were the ones who said, ‘Hey, this is a blip. It’s going to go away,'” Gaga, 29, told Billboard in her Woman of the Year interview.

While working on Artpop, the American Horror Story: Hotel star says she avoided writing at the piano. “I was doing beats instead,” Gaga explains. “I didn’t want to be near that damn [piano]. It was too emotional. I would start to play and sing, and my mind would go, ‘You are way too talented for this s—.'”

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Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, says that while her fans weren’t clamoring for Artpop, the Little Monsters thanked her for introducing them to Bennett, 89-year-old singing legend.

“On tour, I had people give me war medals and memorabilia just to thank me for exposing a younger generation to Tony Bennett because he changed their lives in such significant ways,” she tells the trade, calling singing with Bennett a “party I’m thrilled to be invited to.”

The “Til It Happens to You” singer also credits her happiness to Bennett, with whom she released 2014’s Cheek to Cheek. “There is nobody more badass than Tony Bennett,” Gaga says. “That man is a part of the history of music in a way that is extremely powerful, and he taught me to stay true to who I am, to not let anybody exploit me.”

For more from Gaga, head to Variety.