Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life
Tuesday, April 23
MTV, 11pm ET
I’ll admit that when the publicists scheduled my interview with Ke$ha for 10:20am I wondered if maybe that meant she was on the other side of the world. Because hey, if you buy into her public persona, that would lead you to believe the hard-partying pop star would still be sleeping off the previous night’s activities, or perhaps brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack. But no, she was stateside and decidedly coherent as she spoke with me about her upcoming MTV docu-series, Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life.
It quickly became apparent that this project is genuinely important to the wild child pop star behind such party anthems as “Tik Tok,” “Die Young” and her current hit, “C’Mon.” She sees it as not just That Kesha MTV Show, but as a way to give people a message she never got or absorbed growing up, that the glamorous life of a touring musician is so often anything but. They will also see the real person behind all the glitter and body paint. Of course there are the late-night parties, random hookups and other backstage antics that might make even TMZ blush, but there is also the “really kind of scummy” part of the business: the endless grind of sometimes daily airport visits, bouts of heightened insecurity and having to perform even when you feel like you’re “swallowing razorblades.”
Ke$ha (born Kesha Sebert) worked on the series with her brother, journalist Lagan Sebert, who filmed pretty much her every move for two years. Among other things, I asked her how that worked, being her uninhibited self as her sibling looked on:
Channel Guide Magazine: When your brother started filming you, did you ever picture what the final product would look like?
Ke$ha: You know, we never knew exactly what it was going to end up as. One of our first dreams, in the early stages of shooting, we wanted it to come out as an independent documentary, because I funded it all. And it was just me and my brother and his friend. We were dreaming of Sundance [Film Festival]. But then as we racked up the hours and hours and hours of footage, it seems almost like an injustice to cut it down to an hour and change. So now we decided to make it into a documentary miniseries, obviously, and I’m excited about it because there’s just so much footage. Now we have somewhere between three and four hours that we get to cut. I’m actually working on cutting it right now.
CGM: You must have a good relationship with your brother then, to take this on with him.
K: We’re incredibly close. It’s crazy, because I never grew up with a father figure, so it was just me, my mom and my brother and it was just us against the world since I was born. Now, as I grew up, whatever music he was listening to, I wanted to listen to. We were in a band together, and we lived in a shitty studio apartment in Los Angeles together, and now he’s part of my management team and has been following me around for two years, so we are about as close as any brother and sister probably could be.
CGM: So how did that work to have your brother there when you were doing your typical rock-star stuff?
K: Whenever anything awkward or sexual or seemingly inappropriate comes up, I just tell him to put on earmuffs, but keep filming.
CGM: What are you weary about people seeing in the series?
K: There’s a lot of stuff I’m weary of people seeing but I’m going to show it anyway, because I feel like that’s what I wanted to make this film for, to show people what it’s really like. It’s not a glamorously shot documentary, but it’s really not a very glamorous lifestyle for a large percentage of the time. I think that growing up I always thought anyone who’s a touring musician, “Oh, it sounds so glamorous.” But the truth is it’s most of the time really kind of scummy and not glamorous at all. I want to show the real shit, behind what it means to be a touring musician.
CGM: And what are you most excited about showing people?
K: I’m really excited about the whole thing, but I’m excited to show the juxtaposition between the sides of my personality. One of the first things you’re going to see is me playing a show getting so crazy, making out with hot dudes, and then it hard cuts to what I’m like in the morning, which is no makeup on, feeding my godson breakfast, and … hanging out with my family. I’m excited for people to see that juxtaposition to the sides of my personality that they probably don’t know exist, and also the making of Warrior. I’m excited for people to see the whole process of making the record, but also I’m excited for them to hear some songs that didn’t make the record.
CGM: You talk about how viewers will be surprised at seeing what a musician’s life is really like, but what about you? How was the reality different from how you pictured it?
K: Growing up, I thought it was the most glamorous, coveted thing I could do in my life. Although I love it to death. It’s my favorite thing, and it’s definitely what I think I was put here to do, it’s definitely not glamorous. There are very many times where you don’t get to shower, and you’re on airplanes every day for a week straight. You just have to get onstage and play a show even if you’re sick. I remember there was one time I had strep throat, it felt like I was swallowing razorblades. But you’ve got to get onstage. The show must go on. So I’m excited for people to see the behind-the-scenes stuff.
CGM: The series is going to cover the time when your star really started to rise. How would you describe the experience of becoming so famous so quickly?
K: Well, at the beginning I had no idea what to do. I was just trying to stay alive. I had no idea what to expect. Nobody around me prepared me for what was about to happen. It went from literally just being this girl who was just writing music to all of a sudden there’s paparazzi chasing me and my friend around in my cars and we’re going to one shitty dive bar to the next trying to outrun the paparazzi. It became some sort of weird videogame for me and my friends. And just the whole, like, people caring about what you look like all the time was very strange. I don’t know. It took a minute to get used to that whole idea that every time you walk out of your house there could be someone with a camera. I think that’s still the strangest part that I still have not gotten used to. They’re like weird zombies.
CGM: After “Tik Tok” got huge, a lot of people maybe thought you would be a one-hit wonder. Talk about how it was getting that next hit and making sure you were going to have a career beyond that one song.
K: Obviously, I still will go places and they’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, ‘Tik Tok.’” And I’m like, ‘Wow, that was like three or four years ago.’ So people know me predominately from that one song, which is amazing. Like, it really is. I feel like I’m really lucky to have had a song that’s that defining in my career, but following that up was a little bit stressful, because that was something I was conscious of that I could have been a total one-hit wonder. But my attitude was always like, “Well, then, at least I was a one-hit wonder.” A lot of people can’t even say that. But I think honestly I was just bound and damned determined for my music to work, because I can’t really do anything else. So I’d be f@#$ed if I wasn’t playing music. So I just never slept. For like two years I didn’t sleep. I went a little crazy in the process, which you’ll see in my documentary, but I wouldn’t take no for an answer, which is how I’ve been since I was young. I wouldn’t take no for an answer with my music and getting it into the hands of the right people and getting a record deal, and it’s kind of how I was with the single. I was just going to work them to death.
CGM: You’re very active on social media, and are often in the news for some outrageous thing you’ve said or done, so one might wonder what there is left to show people. How will this be different than what we’ve seen from you so far?
K: The documentary is not a product of me wanting to shock the world. It was more I wanted to show all sides, and I wanted to show the true story, because with the media the way it is people can just make up stories and they go viral and … it’s just not true. So I wanted to put out a series that is the truth and it comes from a person who’s close to me and only has my best intentions at heart, which is my brother. But also because we are so close, he can catch everything. He caught all the drama, the tears, the high points, the makeout sessions, the family stuff, he caught everything on film. It’s a really special relationship we have, and I think you’re going to see that in how much genuine material people are going to see in this documentary miniseries. I just really wanted to show the truth, because when you sit around and read things about yourself that are so inaccurate, it’s frustrating. I decided to take matters into my own hands and put a camera in my brother’s hands and you’ll get to see the real life behind the scenes of what my life is.
CGM: After going through this experience with the docu-series, is it something you’d be open to doing again?
K: I don’t know. It was really fun. It was a fun process, so I’m not opposed to it. It’s kind of up to my brother. He hasn’t slept in eight months, so you’ll have to ask him that.
Photo: Courtesy of MTV