Three months ago Katy Perry was merely an Internet sensation. The YouTube video for "Ur So Gay" -- taken from her EP of the same name -- had fans clamoring for a full-length release. Now "I Kissed a Girl," the lead single from Perry's debut, One of the Boys, is becoming a radio staple and has pushed the middle child of two Santa Barbara, Calif., pastors into the Billboard top 5.
While Perry might appear to be an overnight sensation, her album, released June 17, was five years in the making. Since joining forces with Glen Ballard (most famous as the producer of Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill) at 17, she has tapped musical tastemakers from Dave Stewart and Butch Walker to Dr. Luke, the hit machine behind Pink's "U + Ur Hand" and her own "I Kissed a Girl," for the project. Before hitting the road on the Vans Warped Tour, Perry talked to The Advocate about her strict upbringing, the inspiration for "I Kissed a Girl," and what it's like to name Madonna among her fans.
I can't think of another artist with two buzzed-about gay-themed songs. It was very coincidental. I remember going to the record label when they really wanted to go with "I Kissed a Girl" thinking, I can do that. I know I'm strong enough and prepared to do that, but I feel like people will think I can only sing about this angle when the record is really full of lots of different shades. I guess it is a subject that is close to my heart. I have a lot of friends who are gay, and I have kissed a girl. I grew up in a very strict household where that was considered what you call "an abomination" -- and I fucking hate that word.
Many gays might relate to coming from a religious background like you and having to find their own place within their faith. My platform in life isn't necessarily to preach or anything. I respect everybody's faith. For me, honestly, it took a lot to get to that point of respecting everybody's opinion. I was raised in a household where that wasn't necessarily allowed. There's no such thing as respecting everybody's faith in my kind of upbringing. I hold nothing against anyone. Like I said, you don't pick where you come from, you're just born. I'm in the business of rock 'n' roll. I make mistakes. I'm human. I'm flawed. I accept that. I'm not here to preach the Gospel right now other than to be a good fucking musician. That's all. Maybe down the lane, you know... It's so weird. I respect the artists who want to be role models. I think Miley Cyrus and all them want to be role models, but I'm not here to be a role model. I'm here for the rock 'n' roll.
What inspired "I Kissed a Girl"? First of all, the song is about an obvious curiosity. It's not about anything intense. The fact of the matter is that girls, a lot of the time, smell much better than boys. We smell like vanilla. We smell like watermelon. We smell like strawberries. So, duh! One day I was with my boyfriend and I opened up a magazine and realized, "You know what, honey, I would probably make out with Angelina Jolie if she wanted to." You know those couples who are like, "You're my one!" or whatever? The song is kind of about that game -- just as it's also about the beauty of a woman and how that's definitely changed a lot of things in life. It's started wars. It's ended wars. In general, it doesn't matter if you're female or male, if the right woman walks through the door, everybody's jaw is going to be on the floor.
If a particularly gorgeous woman -- say Pamela Anderson -- wanted, I would totally make out with her. Exactly! That's what I'm saying. A lot of gay guys do say that. There's just that one. That's what I'm singing about. That hot girl, you know, that everybody thinks is hot. It's like, "You know, I bet her lips are like mine."
What was it like to hear "Ur So Gay" is Madonna's favorite song? I broke out in hives when I heard about it. No, I didn't -- but I definitely wanted to! [Giggles] I heard about it and my eyes welled up, I think, and got watery. Having such a thumbs-up from someone...it changes things! Here's Madonna, doing her thing, and everybody thinks it's all about Madonna. But somehow she knows about what's coming up in music, because I'm not anyone. I'm barely on the scene for a hot minute, and she knew about it a while ago. She knew the details about it. I think this is the coolest thing to happen to me to date.
You're on the verge of a number 1 single. What is that like? [Laughs] I'm happy. I'm knocking on wood hoping people really love the song and want to take it to that place. The fact of the matter is, there's a void right now in pop music, female pop music especially. I remember getting those records from Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette to Shirley Manson of Garbage to Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and Cyndi Lauper, even way back then. It's like those women were and are so strong, and they don't care what anyone thinks. They're not caught up in... I live in Hollywood, but I'm not caught up in it. I have been before. I got caught in that trap of being like, "Oh, I have to go to that club!" No, fuck it! That club will be there in three months -- and it will be a new name! I definitely feel there's a void of women in rock, and we're just barely creeping up. I want to be part of team. Out with the old, in with the new!