As Lady Gaga prepares to trot her Joanne World Tour to even more cities around the globe, she’s also dusting off another set of traveling boots for a venture of a different kind: her next album.
“I’ve started writing,” Gaga tells EW of the planned LP, which is in early stages of conception and might precede another single from Joanne. Or maybe not: “I’ll let ya know,” Gaga says when asked if she plans to release another cut from her fifth studio effort (fans have campaigned on social media for “Dancin’ In Circles” to get the single treatment since the album’s release last year). “I have a lot of ideas and a lot of things I want to create, so you’ll see in a bit. I need some time to create.”
It will be no surprise to die-hard fans that Gaga is already cooking up another musical project while deep into the era of another record, one that scored Gaga her fourth consecutive No. 1 album in the United States upon its release in October 2016. Large portions of her 2011 hit Born This Way were devised as she toured in support of The Fame Monster the previous year.
Gaga’s also known to unveil still-unreleased songs like “Princess Die” and “Living on the Radio” in concert. But the current tour, she admits, will see fewer opportunities for setlist changes, owing to the fact of its complicated technical setup — which includes multiple stages, heavy strobe effects, pyrotechnics, and mobile rigs that double as projections screens, ascending and descending during the performance to bridge the gap between each platform.
“That’s not to say I won’t do songs here or there that I can call during the show,” she assures, having hinted earlier this year that new music would “absolutely” play a role in the Joanne World Tour cycle. “But, this show’s actually extremely complex and complicated, and the stage is coded with a computer. It’s intense and the cues all have to be met at a particular time. It’s high stress and tense backstage to make sure everything happens at the exact moment it’s supposed to. So, the setlist might change a little bit, but mostly you’re coming to see a piece that we’ve created for you. It’s two hours and fifteen minutes we’ve thought about very closely. It’s from our heart, and it’s from a band, dancers, artists, and everyone we’ve worked with in the 10 years we have behind us together.”
One thing concertgoers can bank on this year, however, is Gaga returning fan affection she’s cultivated since catapulting into the world of mainstream music back in 2008. Verizon has partnered with Gaga to give wireless customers the chance to redeem rewards points for exclusive concert experiences as part of its new loyalty program, Verizon Up.
“Verizon likes to give back to their fans, and so do I. So, we’re just doing that together,” she says of the program, which offers select backstage meet-and-greet opportunities, a special VIP seating section, and other perks for the carrier’s best customers.
“They come backstage, get a picture with me, and get to sit close to the stage and see the stage before I go on, check out the crew, and the hustle and bustle of the backstage area,” Gaga continues. “Then, there are other fans [who] can activate [their rewards] with Verizon Up outside the venue, and they get ticket upgrades to the show when they get there. They get to see the stage and what I’ve created with Joanne really close!”
Gaga is perhaps the most appropriate pop star to work with Verizon on the endeavor, as she’s largely come to redefine the word “loyalty” when it comes to the relationship she has with her fans.
“What has bonded Little Monsters and I together, since the beginning, is spreading a message of love and unity and acceptance to the world, so as the years have gone by, we’ve all grown up and changed, but it’s our values that stay the same,” she explains. “It keeps us strong. No matter what happens in our lives, in my life, the world, we always have that common ground and value system that we care about. The Joanne World Tour so far has been really exciting for a lot of reasons, mostly to reunite with my fan base and feel that love they bring every night, and I pray that multiplies.”
That passionate union has endured throughout the various stages of Gaga’s career, which has surged to new heights this year, following her record-setting headlining performance at Super Bowl LI in February. Though public perception of her highly personal work fluctuates (“I put this album out, and I know I do things sometimes that people don’t understand… I do that on purpose. Maybe I did try to become my dad’s sister to heal his pain, maybe I tried to heal my family by putting out a record and singing her name, and, f–, am I so glad that I did,” she told the crowd of Joanne‘s namesake inspiration at Monday night’s tour stop in Queens, New York), Gaga’s commitment to herself — and her vision — remains unwavering.
“You have to be sure about who and what you are, and have that be the most important thing. If every time somebody has a comment about what to do or makes a statement about your work, if you shift as if the wind were blowing, [then] you have no perspective or spinal cord as an artist,” she says. “Every single one of my albums — no matter if they were received with critical acclaim, commercial acclaim, or artistic acclaim — every time I plant my feet further into myself, and that is what I believe to be honorable as an artist. You fall on the sword always. It’s your work, and when I make my work, there’s a reason and I think about it and I love it, and that’s what matters.”