I was born this way: Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga answers questions when she was down in Singapore. (Yahoo! photo)
Lady Gaga answers questions when she was down in Singapore. (Yahoo! photo)

American pop sensation Lady Gaga was in Singapore last week to deliver an exclusive showcase to 3,000 SingTel customers at the Marina Bay Sands.

Dishing out hits like Born This Way, Edge of Glory, Bad Romance and Alejandro, Gaga thrilled the crowd of screaming fans with a powerful performance.

Catch snippets of the press briefing in which Yahoo! Southeast Asia caught up with the poker-faced star.

We all know about the millions of adoring fans you have worldwide, but even then, do you still feel misunderstood?

No, I don't. I think that the beauty of what I create is always up for misinterpretation.

How do you feel about approaching subjects in your songwriting that artists would generally avoid. For example, the premise of your song 'Poker Face' was about having an unreadable poker face, so you can be with a man but fantasise about being with a woman?


So, how do you feel about going with that topic?

I can only write about true things. Things that I know, things that I understand, true stories that I can tell. For example, even with Born This Way, the topic of religion and saying the word God in my song was this like huge deal, especially in my country. In America, to have an opinion about God or religion as a pop singer is very taboo. So that song in particular is about being yourself and loving who you are and saying no matter what you believe in, you're perfect. Because it is through our differences that we are all together.

It's funny, in a way, although "Poker Face" might in conversation seem more controversial, it didn't have nearly the controversial effect that "Born This Way" did. And in that way, I'm not afraid because the message of "Born This Way" is so positive.

You grew up in a traditional family, do you still practice any traditional event or tradition?

So many. Too many, I didn't even realise they're tradition anymore because I do them so often. I would say that music in my family is one of the traditions that we share. We listen to Frank Sinatra, we listen to Bruce Springsteen, we listen to Italian opera while my mom and dad cook, or sometimes I cook for my father.

How much of a responsibility do you have in the entire world to push for tolerance and acceptance?

I feel I have a huge responsibility. I believe that art and love are the same thing. So as long as we can push the boundaries of art, we can push the boundaries of love and acceptance. So I intend to push quite forward with my work.

What sort of impact that you wish your album to make and what kind of message that you hope you'll deliver?

Like I just said before, I hope for "Born This Way" to just continue to push the boundaries of love and acceptance, whether it be political or religious or social. Whether it just be for that one 15-year-old in high school who gets bullied and afraid to go to class. Or maybe it's for a 22-year-old who can't find the job that she wants yet and she feels stuck. She went to school for one thing and went to do another, I want her to know that she can be reborn over and over again until she finds the bravest part of herself.

The album is about being fearless, the albums about knowing that life is yours to live, knowing that it is a big party and we all meant to celebrate it together.

Cyndi Lauper gave her salutation to you when you were listed among 100 most influential people in the world. How do you feel?

Cyndi Lauper is such an iconic female for everyone and I must say, in person, she is even more of a superstar than she is in public. She is exactly what you want when you meet someone that is that blessed. She is so grateful, and she is so joyful, and she talks exactly like she sounds when she talks, and she sings about exactly what she thinks. And her own performance for her shows is so indicative of her personality. It's nice to have someone that I admire make a comment on what I create, it's always difficult when someone that you don't necessarily admire makes a comment on what you create.

Watch her "Born This Way" video.

What inspires you now?

Right now, I am doing a lot of different things. I'm creating my next music video, which I'm very excited about, and that's taking up a lot of my time. I'm also working as a fashion columnist for V Magazine which is another fun way for me to be creative and show off my academia a little bit, even though I... dropped out of college (bursts out laughing). You don't have to be a graduate to be a student of fashion and art. And I've been taking a lot of cell phone photographs lately, I jokingly called it... House of Gaga calls it Sally Richardson, after Terry Richardson (American fashion photographer who took picture of Gaga with the machine gun bra and pink platform shoes for the Rolling Stone cover). And I hope maybe one day I'll do a small art installation somewhere where I exhibit all my cell phone photos.

Have you ever crossed out a concept for a video for being over the top or outrageous? What is taboo for you?

Taboo for me... I guess is not exist in my vocabulary. I don't believe that anything is unable to be discussed or shouldn't be discussed. I think more importantly, when it comes to the detail of my work, I edit things out if it doesn't add, change or transform the message of what I'm already saying.

There's a difference in being provocative for the sake of being provocative, and being thought-provoking in order to change the meaning of a song, which all means one thing and then elevate it to another space. For me anyway, not for everyone, but that's what it is for me

What is your expectation in all of your performances? Sometimes people say that you're controversial.

It's funny because I don't see myself to be nearly as controversial as anybody else does, and I guarantee that if we were in a room full of journalists in a different country, you guys would get into an argument over how controversial or not controversial I am. To everywhere it is completely different, but that is precisely what I was trying to burst with 'Born This Way'.

The bubble of my life is much bigger than it was before. It involves different cultures, it involves different people, different backgrounds, different beliefs, different families, different stories. So the album in some parts would relate so hugely to one part of the world, and maybe not so much to another part. But as a whole, for Little Monsters, I believe it tells all their stories. And as a unit, hopefully will be anthemic even for only of the little moment that they have together, having beers in college, enjoying life and celebrating who they are.

And also I really don't pay attention to any negative criticism, I welcome it all.

It's been awhile since you've been back to Singapore and there's been a lot of changes. For example, this building (Marina Bay Sands) hasn't been opened before, so what do you think of all these changes?

It's wonderful here. It's a beautiful place and last night was an absolute dream come true. I had just begun promotion for this album. I really almost feel like I've just put out my first single in a way, even though I'm not, because the album has a statement of its own, it's so strong. And then, there's so many stories told throughout it that when I was on stage last night and I sang 'Hair', the way that the audience reacted, the way that they sang every word, the way that they sang every single nuance in 'You and I' and knew exactly how I was going to sing it and where I was going to sing it, and when I held the mic up and they went "six whole years.." I just felt something so unique and strange. Very spiritually engaged between us. I'm on the other side of the world right now from where I wrote the album, and they already know every word. So Singapore means something very different for me now.

Mr Edward Ying (right), SingTel’s Chief of Multimedia presented Lady Gaga with the award for being the most downloaded artiste on the SingTel AMPed unlimited music download service. (Yahoo!)
Mr Edward Ying (right), SingTel’s Chief of Multimedia presented Lady Gaga with the award for being the most downloaded artiste on the SingTel AMPed unlimited music download service. (Yahoo!)

During your journey around the world last year, what was your most memorable moment?

I have a lot of memorable moments. The Grammys this year was a very big moment, an important moment because... as a performance piece, staging and performing my rebirth in front of the entire world, that was a transitional point for me as a performer.

Also the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in America was a really joyful and important moment for me as an American and as a young person who's fighting for the right of my generation and my friends.

And the release for 'Born This Way', I had no idea what was going to happen. The turbulence of being a woman in music can shake you to your core, but I have very strong high heels. And when we sold that many albums first week in America, and worldwide, we sold 2.5 (million copies) just the first week, it was like sending my child off to college. I was so proud and I'm still proud. They just told me the other day, we're at five million records worldwide, and it's only been over a month. Where can I take this record, how far can I go, how much can we push the boundaries... I just love art so much, I talk about it like it's the center of the universe, so forgive me if I sound hyperbolic. It's the centre of my universe.

Is there any particular reason why you put a lot of rock sounds in your new album?

Well I wanted to push pop music into a new direction, and you know as with usual things, creatively related, I felt this sort of usurping rock 'n roll energy in my show, from the fans. They have behaved for the past couple of years like a cult, like a heavy metal cult. I have been listening to metal for such a long time, I went to lots of different shows, I saw Iron Maiden live and I got very inspired. And I realised I wanted to create a hybrid album, an avant-garde techno-rock record that is really really heavy and industrial on one end and really joyful and pop on the other. So it is pop music with a very very very strong message and a very uncomfortable message, it intended to give you a sugar high and a terrible stomach ache.

You've answered so many questions from the media, but what is one question that you seldom get asked but would like to be asked more? (Interviewer's note: She was very articulate in answering all of the questions, this one got her quiet for 30 seconds)

I mean, I know that it sounds crazy but sometimes I feel as though I've been asked every question, but in a way, my album is the only answer that I never gave. Everyone needs to say why, why the clothes, why the hair, why the provocation, and I never knew what to say.

I always find myself defending myself and you don't need to defend who you are. Even if you are different. So my answer is: I was born this way. Maybe the hardest question that you can ask me but I won't answer but I would like to answer at some point is, "How are you not born?"