Katy Perry on 'Wide Awake,' Film Aspirations and the 'Part of Me' DVD Release (Q&A)
Among the outtakes from THR’s cover story, the pop star weighs in on the state of the music industry and why she’s not a reality judge.
Katy Perry: Part of Me opens today, but it marks a closing for the pop star as well: the end of the Teenage Dream cycle, one that, since the album’s release in 2010, has seen five No. 1 hits and 124 sold-out shows with tour revenues of more than $60 million, making Katy Perry one of the most in demand and recognized female artists today.
And she’s certainly among the richest; Perry ranks fourth in the net worth arena, raking in $44 million in 2011, according to one estimate which saddles her between Taylor Swift ($45 million) and Beyonce Knowles ($35 million). “If I made $50 million, I probably spent $45 million of it touring,” she told The Hollywood Reporter in June. “You have to spend a lot to make a lot. It's not like I'm sitting on top of a pile of money.”
But the 27-year-old is sitting on the top of the world right now, following two premieres -- in Los Angeles on June 26 and in London on July 3 -- which can only be described as pure spectacle. She’s also soon to notch her eighth No. 1 single with “Wide Awake,” which was written specifically for the movie (with Bonnie McKee) because, according to Perry, she wanted to get some things off her chest. “We wrote it in two days and recorded it on two other days, so it was very quick,” she says of the process, which was documented on film, naturally. It didn’t make the cut, but Perry promises, “You'll be able to see it when the DVD comes out.”
Clues into the future director’s cut of Part of Me is just one of several Perry revelations that didn’t make THR’s cover story, Confessions of a Pop Star. Read more Perry outtakes from the interview in the Q&A below:
The Hollywood Reporter: You’re already talking about the next album, do you ever appreciate the “right now” or are you always living in the future, thinking two to three steps ahead?
Katy Perry: I never live in the present. I’d do interviews and people will say, "Isn’t this great?" or "Can you believe?” And I would react, like, “No, I can't believe it because I'm not living in this moment." I have to reflect to really understand the moment. I don't know, that's just how it works for me.
THR: What are you planning for now?
Perry: I've always got a general idea of the next few things I'm going to do, whether it's the next two records or maybe I’ll branch out into film or some other creative outlet. I get a lot of the ideas when I'm resting -- either when I’m meditating or getting some kind of work done on my back, like physical therapy or acupuncture. That's where I get my best ideas, maybe because I'm balancing my body.
Perry: When the record came out and people were really responding, and then again for the tour, we couldn't believe we would be able to play arenas. My business manager was sweating. But I was, like, "It will be okay." I could feel something in the air from the people putting out the good juju. With the movie, I knew I was either going bankrupt or about to have the biggest success of my life, but when I sold it to Paramount in the beginning of the year and they got really excited, I didn't know it was going to turn into such a big thing. It was just the seed of an idea.
THR: Having met with several movie studios, what was it about Paramount that made it a good fit?
Perry: It was kind of like my musical process, most just didn't completely get the vision. Then I arrived somewhere where they were cool enough to take a chance. Paramount is like Capitol Records to me -- they have the same tone; They’re cool and young and open to new ideas. They're not so stuck in their ways and I really appreciate some of the people there.
THR: Like who?
Perry: Like [president of digital entertainment] Amy Powell, who’s my partner in crime. She's like this awesome, kick-ass secret agent movie woman.
THR: You admire her?
Perry: I do admire her a bunch. There are a couple of women in movies, like [Sony Pictures co-chairman] Amy Pascal, who I am working with on The Smurfs as I have in the past. … The Amys are really killing it! [Laughs]
THR: Your name seems to always be on the short list for a judging gig on American Idol or X Factor. Have you ever considered a position on a TV show seriously?
Perry: People have reached out to me about the possibility of being involved and I think that it's not right for me right now. I have ideas for two or three big, creative things and I want to be able to fulfill those ideas. And it's a real commitment to be on one of those shows.
THR: So you're not opposed to them philosophically?
Perry: No, I'm not opposed to it. I think some of those shows are better than others. I like to give constructive criticism that hopefully people can apply and find valuable. But I do find it completely hilarious when they hire people that are not current in music and haven't been for a decade or over. Or when they’re not even in music. How are you going to give a perspective when you haven't even lived it?
THR: You've sold over 9 million albums, and for that, the National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM) named you artist of the year for 2011. During your acceptance speech, you yelled out “Long live EMI!” Understanding that it was in reference to Universal Music's bid to buy the label group, what were you trying to get across with that declaration?
Perry: I meant it in jest. I just have so much love for my record label. The word on the street is that [post-merger], Capitol will remain a free standing label that’s part of Universal, but they're not going to demolish the greatness that I believe is Capitol.
THR: After being dropped by two other major labels, what made Capitol so different?
Perry: They let me be myself -- finally. That's all I ever wanted. When I was starting out, Kelly Clarkson and Avril Lavigne was what was really popular, and people were always really scared to let me be me. But Capitol really believed in me. And EMI has proven to be such an incredible partnership.
THR: You’ve had so much success across multiple mediums -- physical and digital albums, downloads, radio -- who were the key people involved?
Perry: Chris Anokute was my A&R and was really involved. He is such a great soundboard and a positive force. I miss him and hope to continue to work with him in the future. [Anokute left for a svp position at Island Def Jam in December 2011.] [Capitol president] Dan McCarroll, who is my A&R now, is incredible and helped continue this picture the whole way. Angelica Cob-Baehler [formerly the head of publicity, now evp of marketing at Epic Records, who brought Perry to the attention of Capitol chairman Jason Flom] is pretty much the reason why I exist, from a business standpoint. And Greg Thompson, who is the head of all of my radio, is someone I couldn't live without because he really knows how to strategically do the radio game. … Then I have my managers -- Martin Kirkup, Steve Jensen and Bradford Cobb. They’re my three wise men. And I mean that literally.
THR: Radio has absolutely loved every single from Teenage Dream and then some…
Perry: I know that. And a lot of people in radio have an alliance with me because I give back a lot. We just had a great contest where, to get people excited about the movie, we flew in two winners from each big radio station in the country, put them up at the Beverly Hilton and had a pool party. We did that in the middle of a recession -- we're still taking chances and giving back to our stations.
Any time I make a record, I make a point to go and visit these radio stations. In a period of three months, I must have had 150 steaks from going out to dinner with every station owner and their family. ... But we created a bond, and I really appreciate all their support. I'm not just going to get successful and forget how I got here.
THR: And clearly this strategy has worked, you have seven number ones and all are radio-driven songs…
Perry: Yeah, they might have been a bit catchy as well, those little ditties.
THR: Back to the movie, what do you hope people will take away from it?
Perry: The film is about overcoming obstacles and a lot of it is about people wanting me to fit into an idea. But I wanted to create my own idea. Hopefully people will see that we are all going through a lot of the same things and if someone would just have enough balls to say, “Yeah, I'm going through that, too,” it's like, let's get through it together then. Let's have a support system.
THR: You’ve been on the road and promoting your album for two years straight. Would you call yourself a workaholic?
Perry: I wouldn't call it an “'aholic.” I would just say that I am continually inspired. The faucet of creativity hasn't stopped. I can't just shut it off. And when it does stop, you'll see me on a break or something. But right now, I'm having a great time.