Lady Gaga producer reveals ARTPOP era left him 'broken,' teases Act II songs
DJ White Shadow said he and longtime friend Lady Gaga might release ARTPOP: Act II some day: "Try and be nice to her. She has feelings.... and this 'era' was a hard time for her too."
After resurfacing a fan-made petition to hear unreleased material from the ARTPOP era, longtime Lady Gaga hitmaker DJ White Shadow revealed in an emotional Instagram post that the 2013 album's gestation left him with lingering trauma.
DJ White Shadow (real name Paul Blair) began the message by thanking fans for their continued interest in the long-rumored ARTPOP: Act II project — which many have speculated will be a continuation of Gaga's fourth studio album that she first teased in an eight-year-old tweet.
"I made an April fools day joke about 'Tea' (sorry) and am amazed how much you all still care about that era, and about some songs you have never heard," Blair wrote, referencing ongoing interest in a particular album B-side before noting that while he's "humbled" by his followers' excitement over new music, the album's creation process was not an easy process for him or Gaga.
"Making music and delivering it the way ARTPOP was made and delivered was particularly difficult," he said, likening the behind-the-scenes process to a skydiver repeatedly crashing into the ground without a parachute. "So many scum bags trying to latch on to the train I had worked so hard to get out of the station. So much transition and turmoil. Let me tell you that I have never been so broken as a human being the day when that record was turned in. I was nearly dead."
Without discussing specifics, Blair, who's worked on some of the most successful songs among Gaga's discography, including "Born This Way," "The Edge of Glory," "Applause," and 2018's A Star Is Born movie soundtrack, recalled feeling "trampled on" and "finished with music" altogether, and said the whole experience left him with lingering "trauma" that remained a struggle for him to cope with until 2020.
Despite his personal turmoil, he reassured fans that he feels much better about his work on the album today, and that he "can hear the music with a happy heart."
"While I want you to hear the 'extras' that you guys want to hear, I would also like to make you some new things," he said.
He also expressed appreciation for Gaga's longtime friendship and partnership with him across several projects, and hinted that "whenever [she's ready], we can get after it."
"Try and be nice to her," he continued, days after he previously shared a sweet birthday message to the Oscar-winning musician. "She has feelings (like any other normal person) and this 'era' was a hard time for her too. I am sure she will be okay with revisiting it one day and building on it when the time is right. I will continue to push for those songs you want so badly, that LG and I did, and I hope you will get to hear them. Don't let them die. Continue to get your message to the people in charge. You have the power, don't give up."
Since the Chromatica singer-songriter first hinted at a followup to ARTPOP back in 2013, Blair has publicly played reported instrumentals from ARTPOP: Act II at several concerts. As the opening act on Gaga's Joanne World Tour in 2017, he unveiled portions of "Tea" to those in the audience. Fans have long discussed rumored song titles like "Onion Girl" and "Temple" as potential Act II inclusions.
Though it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in November 2013, ARTPOP was, in the shadow of Gaga's massively successful Born This Way album, considered to be a commercial disappointment at the time. Still, the EDM-heavy LP gave Gaga one of the biggest hits of her career, "Applause," which peaked at No. 4 on the American charts after garnering a huge audience on radio. ARTPOP has since been certified Platinum in the United States, and is consistently regarded among Gaga's fandom as an underrated masterpiece.
In a 2014 interview with Harper's Bazaar, Gaga said she felt "depressed" after the release of the album, which left her "exhausted fighting people off."
"I couldn't even feel my own heartbeat. I was angry, cynical, and had this deep sadness like an anchor dragging everywhere I go. I just didn't feel like fighting anymore. I didn't feel like standing up for myself one more time — to one more person who lied to me," she told the publication.
She later alluded to behind-the-scenes greed in the music video for ARTPOP single "G.U.Y.," the narrative for which depicted her as an angel shot down out of the sky by a horde of men in suits chasing after dollar bills.
"I really felt like I was dying — my light completely out," she told Harper's Bazaar. "I said to myself, 'Whatever is left in there, even just one light molecule, you will find it and make it multiply. You have to for you. You have to for your music. You have to for your fans and your family.'"
On the album's fourth birthday in 2017, Blair also referenced past difficulties in releasing ARTPOP.
"Four years ago I put out a record called ARTPOP with @ladygaga. I could write a book about it, maybe one day I will. I lost a best friend and manager, LG lost her entire support team, and we were all alone. I am so grateful for this record because it taught me a lot. I made some friends that have changed my life forever in the halls where this record was recorded, whom I love so incredibly deeply," he wrote on social media at the time. "For all her flaws, strangeness and beauty, I thank you ARTPOP for the lessons learned and the gifts you gave."
Gaga is currently filming Ridley Scott's upcoming feature House of Gucci with Adam Driver and Jared Leto, her first movie role since winning an Academy Award for writing the A Star Is Born soundtrack tune "Shallow." She released her sixth studio album Chromatica in May 2020, and is also preparing to release another collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett later in 2021.
A representative for Gaga didn't have an update on the status of ARTPOP: Act II at press time.