Queen of kitsch pop Katy Perry talks fame, spirituality and why she’s really rather normal.
Katy Perry is arguably the biggest pop star in the world right now. But when we meet before her recent tour of Europe we find the chart-topping singer to be in less than the best of health. In fact, as we’re introduced, she offers us an elbow. This isn’t some sort of faddish new greeting from Los Angeles, but rather a way of protecting us from the fact that she is suffering from a severe cold. This means our conversation is littered with tissues, sinus spray and, at one point, the image of Katy Perry with a neon green bogey dangling from her nose. Pop don’t stop, however, and the steely determination that’s seen the California girl transform from unsigned acoustic troubadour to chart queen is never far from the snotty surface.
In a pop landscape dominated by sculpted perfectionists (Beyoncé), tabloid-baiters (Miley Cyrus) and tribe leaders (Lady Gaga), Katy Perry comes across as relatable, self-aware and magnetic. Anybody who has seen her live knows she has a range including big hits (‘I play every song that’s ever gone No.1 or close to it’), with excess (light-up outfits, indoor fireworks, ancient Egypt) and huge dollops of kitsch. Latest single ‘Birthday’ might be packed full of playfulness but it would be a mistake to dismiss the singer as silly. She’s not the world’s most-followed person on Twitter for nothing. ‘The definition of me is to be continued,’ Perry says. ‘Give it five years and you’ll see the plan I have in my head. It’s not all by chance, you know.’
When people refer to you as the biggest pop star on the planet do you think, ‘Yes, I am, aren’t I?’
‘It kind of embarrasses me because I don’t feel that way. I have pinch-me moments, sure, but Beyoncé is the biggest pop star in the world so don’t be outrageous.’
But she’s on a whole other planet, almost. You’re more of an empathetic pop star
‘I hope so. I work really hard; I work myself into this state. But Beyoncé’s an icon and bionic, almost. I bet she doesn’t get sick ever.’
Obviously, pop isn’t a competition. But at the same time it sort of is, isn’t it?
‘Anything is a competition. I mean, if you write a good story you want it to be better than other journalists’. I can’t do a lot of things those other girls can do and they can’t do a lot of things I can do. We all have special idiosyncrasies about us that mean we can all exist.’
What are your main strengths?
‘I am reliable really, I think. That and I have an openness to vulnerability. I just like to have a good time. And fun. And, possibly – I don’t want to keep going on – I have a kind of inspirational zest, which you can get from the songs.’
Do people lump all pop stars in together?
‘Well, yeah, because nobody really cares; everyone’s busy with their own lives, you know what I mean? We’re entertainers, we’re not like patriarchs... Matriarchs? Is that the right word? No. Am I saying anything right?’
Pop’s entertainment, basically. You’re not here to be people’s guide through life.
‘Exactly. Time Out is your guide for life.’
Is there a moment when you’re flying above the crowd when you say to yourself, ‘I’m just a normal girl from California: this is mad’?
‘Yes! Every day when I take off my make-up I’m totally normcore. I’m so normal. I’m trying to do something abnormal and extraordinary and it’s obviously killing me but I’m going to push it.
Are you quite a spiritual person?
‘I’ve got my rose quartz [opens hand to reveal a heart-shaped pink crystal]. You keep this one on your heart because it’s for healing and attracting love – all kinds of love. Just good energy.’
Katy Perry Prism review
The diva has done away with her multi-coloured wigs and cupcake costumes, dyed her hair black and written an entire record about how independent a woman she is. It might not be an original subject, but it makes a welcome change from the teen naivety and frivolous sounds of old. Don’t be fazed by all this change, though, because ‘Prism’ keeps Perry exactly where she has been for a while – at the top of the charts. It might be KP’s most grown-up album, but there are still enough pop hooks here for her to hang her entire wardrobe on.
Prism is out now. Dhs44. Available on iTunes.