KE$HA’s single “Tik Tok” took the country by storm and landed a number one spot on the charts. At the end of March, KE$HA will be waking up “in the morning feeling like P. Diddy” in Palm Springs, at Club Skirts’ legendary "The Dinah". KE$HA speaks with GO about her sound, career path and what she might be looking for in a woman!
GO: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, we’re big fans! You’ve had such a meteoric rise to fame with “Right Round,” the song you did with Flo Rida, and now with your number one single “Tik Tok”. Many of your fans are unfamiliar with your background, and I know you’ve been actively working on your career for six years now.
KE$HA: Well, I dropped out of high school from a very prestigious program. I wanted to go to Barnard College in New York, but I got a call from [producers] Dr. Luke and Max Martin, saying “We heard your songs and we want to work with you,” so I decided to quit school and get my GED. I ended up moving out to L.A. when I was 17.
GO: What was that journey like for you? Was it difficult to live and work in Los Angeles?
KE$HA: There were times when I was broke. It was hard financially, and mentally, but I try not to let anything get me down in life, because I think it’s all about creating your own destiny. I always tried to be super positive. If you listen to the record, there is an underlying theme of how I was broke but it doesn’t matter. It’s never a tragic, starving artist kind of vibe, it’s more like “I’m broke but I don’t care, I’m money.” That’s why there’s a dollar sign in my name, for an irreverent attitude towards money.
GO: Not an easy path…
KE$HA: There was a period of time where I slept in my car, but I actually didn’t mind it, because…my car’s really comfortable? When I first moved out to L.A., I met this guy whom I thought may have been my birth father. I literally got off the plane and moved in with him that night. I was trying to create a relationship with him as my birth father but I am now 99.99 percent sure he’s not, so I moved out and into my car. Then, I got an apartment and I played music, played instruments, recorded on my Garageband. I just tried to listen to good music and learn how to write sick songs. And really craft a sound. I did have bouts of stealing canned vegetables from the dollar store to survive for a little bit. But, all in all…
GO: It worked out?
KE$HA: Yeah. It worked out.
GO: How did you develop your sound? Was it something that happened organically, or a direction you specifically wanted to take?
KE$HA: I kind of experimented—I have a lot of different kinds of sounds. One day I wrote this song and I decided to use this cool beat, and then all of a sudden I was like, “Wait a minute! I wanna make a fun dance pop record!” I think everything should be fun and dancey on the first one, because your first record is your way to come out.
KE$HA: I can come out and be deep later. I can come out and be political later, but the first record I just want to be fun. Period. So I just decided to commit myself to making the most fun record I could make.
GO: In terms of your sound, what road do you see taking as you move forward?
KE$HA: There are so many different types of records I want to make. I love blues and I love country and I love punk, and I love super super electro pop… so I don’t really know. I write everything. I wrote every song on the record and I am constantly writing and maturing at this ridiculously rapid speed because of all of the experiences I went through. So I can’t really predict what I’ll be writing about in the next year. But…it will be different.
GO: What would you say has been the highlight of your career to date?
KE$HA: I’m just excited that I’m finally playing shows to more than three people. And people know the words and actually care. That’s really nice. I’m in it to make people feel good and happy and dance, because one song can change your entire mood, it can change your entire night.
GO: You’ve been compared to Lady GaGa…
KE$HA: I think that she’s really, really talented, so I take that as a compliment. I don’t think that our musical styles are super similar. We’re both strong women.
GO: Tell us about presenting at the Grammys?
KE$HA: Oh, terrifying. Being on the stage was really intimidating, but it felt really good. It was one of those moments where I had to stop and pinch myself.
GO: Speaking of nerves, do you have any routine you follow before a show to psych yourself up?
KE$HA: I definitely get excited right before a show. I draw dollar signs all over my body. I lather my body with baby oil, then dump a small bucket of glitter on myself. And then I stretch, and it’s go time!
GO: What is your favorite memory of a show you’ve played?
KE$HA: Madison Square Garden was a pretty incredible show. I opened Z100’s Jingle Ball and seeing that many people, including everyone from my record company, there to watch me play one song just made me really happy.
GO: That sounds amazing. Let’s talk a bit about The Dinah, where you’ll be performing.
KE$HA: First of all let me tell you I’m really, really excited about this. It’s going to be so much fun.
GO: How did you get involved with The Dinah?
KE$HA: Well, I just think it’s pretty widely known at this point that I am a huge supporter of any and every lifestyle. People should do whatever they want, whenever they want to, and not be questioned about it or be apologetic about it, and I mean that across the board. I think because I’m so vocal about that I got asked to do this.
GO: What are you expecting in Palm Springs?
KE$HA: I don’t know, I was just expecting a really hot chick dance party.
GO: That sounds about right.
KE$HA: Love it!
GO: There are some rumors around town that you’re bisexual…
KE$HA: Well I definitely appreciate women, but I wouldn’t say I 100 percent swing either way. The reason my record is called Animal is because I go by instinct more than anything else. Have I made out with women and do I think women are beautiful? Yes. But I’ve yet to be in a relationship with a woman. Not that I’m opposed to it. I’ve just never tried it, but I’m not opposed to it!
GO: Being around thousands of lesbians at The Dinah might change your mind about that!
KE$HA: I totally think there might be some opportunities coming my way soon!
GO: Say you are looking for a lady. What kind of woman are you looking for?
KE$HA: Funny. I like funny people. Big boobs are really cool (laughs). I don’t know, people who are just down to have a good time. My main thing is people’s energy, so someone who’s down to have a good time, is happy, a positive person.
GO: I know there are still a lot of constraints around artists, even people who are openly gay in the music industry, headlining gay events. Were you ever worried about performing at an event like The Dinah?
KE$HA: Absolutely not! I am 100 percent behind everyone in this country and in the entire world being totally equal. And I will stand on stage and scream that to as many people as I need to.
GO: Are there still challenges for people who are openly gay and are trying to make it into the mainstream pop industry?
KE$HA: Well, it’s weird because we’re supposed to all be equal and free but, especially when confronted with gay issues – like Prop 8— we can really see how that’s not yet true in this country, or the world. But I’m hoping that the more people know, the more they are open to. It should all be about the type of person you are, not about the person you fall in love with. So I just hope the world’s consciousness really catches up here sooner rather than later.
GO: How do you feel like you can help bring about change?
KE$HA: I feel like I can use whatever my name is worth, which, who knows, in the scheme of things, may not be much. But, anything that I can possibly do to help – such as playing an event like The Dinah— and maybe open up the eyes of people who like my music, and have maybe never thought about it gay rights.
GO: Getting it out there.
KE$HA: Spreading the message of love and positive energy. I can hopefully help kids who maybe are confused feel like they don’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed about whom they really are.