Pop icon and triple Grammy winner Lady Gaga, for the first time, appears for an interview to Indian television channel.
Amrita Tripathi: Hello and welcome to this very special show. For the first time on Indian television, an interview with a pop icon. She has become a kind of cult figure, fresh off her triple Grammy win. Lady Gaga, welcome to the show.
Lady Gaga: Hi, thanks so much. I am so excited to be meeting with you today.
Amrita Tripathi: We are excited to be meeting you too. So, all of this and not yet 25. Isn't that an incredible achievement?
Lady Gaga: Thank you. Well, I will be 25 in about a month. So don't hold your breath. (laughs)
Amrita Tripathi: Tell us a little about the moment. We were there at the awards ceremony. It was a very moving speech. You did tear up a little bit. You did a shutter to Whitney Houston. Take us through to what you were feeling at that time.
Lady Gaga: I was so shocked, I have to tell you. I was sitting at my seat, and thinking: "You are not going to win, you are not going to win." Come up with a gracious smile. And they said the Monster... my father did this sort of Fred Flintstone kind of scream from his seat. It was so funny and it just got so emotional. It was like when I was a kid, my dad and I would run the rollercoaster together and he made that same sort of noise when we first heard about the Grammys. So it was just like a rollercoaster ride and when I got up there, I just thought about my sister and everything we have been through and our family because I don't come from a wealthy family. My family really worked so hard for everything we have. Both my parents were the first from their generation to go to college. So just for the legacy of my family, it was such an incredible moment. Whitney was my major vocal inspiration when I was young. We used to listen to her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner over and over again. She has an angel in her throat and I promised myself that the first time I win a Grammy that I would thank Whitney on TV. I did that last year too but that was not on TV. So this year I had to thank her again.
Amrita Tripathi: There is a lot of comparison to Madonna, especially with this latest song. How do you react to that? I remember you saying on the Jay Leno show that for you, Madonna is a queen.
Lady Gaga: She is the queen, Madonna is the queen. I have so much and adoration for her. Being compared to her is unbelievably flattering, but in truth there is no one that can compare with Madonna. She is the queen!
Amrita Tripathi: Tell us a little bit about the latest single. It was released on Friday and is already Number One worldwide. It's been called everything from a gay national anthem with Ricky Martin describing it as 'loving the people you love being what you are'. Does that capture the message you had while you were trying to do the song?
Lady Gaga: The message of Born This Way? Well, although the lyrics are quite simple, it's quite complex in message. I always feel that in music, the best way to do it is to say it simple. And I wanted the song to be really direct. I didn't want to sugarcoat it with metaphors. I didn't want to do any poetic wizardry with the lyrics. I wanted to say exactly what I mean. I wanted everyone to challenge themselves to imagine a world with a new race - a race within the race of humanity, a race that bears no prejudice. I really wanted to challenge ourselves to dream of this new utopia where we all live in harmony and be free of judgement. I feel very in touch with the disenfranchised communities of the young people all over the world. It's not just for them but for everyone. I think everyone in their life feels insecure at some point and this was the time for me to write this song because I now have a platform upon which I am some kind of a 'role-model' and I wanted to do the right thing. This song is so much bigger than me, way bigger than me actually. So many people could have sung it, you know. It's not just a Gaga record or a record for myself. It's something I could have heard so many powerful women singing over the years.
Amrita Tripathi: Part of the message, and you said since you have this platform, seems to be to everyone to speak of their individuality, of who they are. It's not something that you see much of in the world today. When everyone is looking to mainstream or assembly line, you sort of raise this very powerful voice saying everyone should be comfortable in what they are. Sort of live and let live.
Lady Gaga: Yes. I experience it on a daily level all the time still as a performer, feeling unaccepted by the music industry. Things are going well. I don't live by or operate by a particular marketing plan or a particular strategy. I am just myself, and all the music is based upon my creativity. So that in itself is a challenge to people. They say why do you do this or do that. I simply say I was born this way. So it's something that I understand, it's something that I have struggled with for so many years. That's why the answer is so simple, and so are the lyrics.
Amrita Tripathi: No, it sounds amazing.
Lady Gaga: Thank you. I love it too. I am so happy that everyone likes it.
Amrita Tripathi: I want to get to your fans, the Little Monsters as well. But first about the struggle that you mentioned and now the phenomenon that you have become. There must have been points where you sort of questioned yourself. You know about people looking at you in a certain way. You once tweeted that people used to call you Rabbit Teeth in school, and now you are on the cover of the Vogue. Tell us more.
Lady Gaga: I had a big gap in my teeth, and I mean a really big gap. Hence the name Rabbit Teeth. I would try to laugh it off and try to act like it didn't bother me so that I wouldn't seem so sensitive. But you go home in your room and you are by yourself, and you just cry. I also used to wear a lot of make up, so that would also be made fun of. It really messed with me, truly affected me. My mother told me when we were young that we are all born superstars. She used to roll her hair and put her lipstick on. The songs I sing are so true in that sense. So I want my songs to engage people and help them fight back.
Amrita Tripathi: You have this huge reputation as a performer and then there are the outfits. Everyone always comments on what you are wearing. Do you feel this pressure that the next one has to be bigger and better?
Lady Gaga: I think every artiste wants to always do better, always top themselves or create more precisely. But most importantly for me now as a performance artiste, I felt last night that among the other performances that I have done like the McQueen tribute and my performance during the MTV Music Awards, this was my most pointed performance. It has a musical perspective as well as the creative embryonic state that I went through in order to be born on stage. This was for me my most cohesive performance in the pop cultural, pop commercial, pop music arena. And that is what I always wanted to do better. I always wanted to be more cohesive, more intelligent, more neat with my statements.
Amrita Tripathi: So all of this a way to express yourself. When you are saying this, you are talking about the egg, the vessel. What did that signify?
Lady Gaga: I don't want to elaborate on that. I don't want to explain the piece. I just want everyone to take it for what it is and decide for themselves the meaning behind it.
Amrita Tripathi: Let's come to your fans, the Little Monsters. There is a huge following on Twitter and real life as well. We got to shoot the other day and there were almost 200 fans dressed up like you. How do you cope with all that?
Lady Gaga: It's so amazing. I don't want to say flattering; I want to say magical. It's so amazing to see them find their own individuality through what we are creating together because truthfully this album and this music was created for them. I never would have been born this way if it hadn't been for my fans.
Amrita Tripathi: Explain to our viewers in India why you call them Little Monsters.
Lady Gaga: Actually, it began sometime at the Monster Ball tour when I began to see a lot of people going like this (folds fingers like a cat's paw). I saw them scream so viciously at me. I would just say: Oh you are a bunch of little monsters! And it sort of caught on. There was one day in particular in Boston I believe where I saw a Gaga fan dancing to I think the Love Game in the car. This guy was in the front seat and the windows were rolled down. This other car pulled up and I saw them waving at each other with their paws. I thought, well, there goes the symbol of the Gaga fan now! And it's great. When I go to this Yoga class in a barn near New York City once in a while, someone would go… (shows paws again).
Amrita Tripathi: That's incredible. Any India plans in the near future?
Lady Gaga: Yes, I can't wait to come to India. We actually have some very exciting plans about how we are going to put our music out in India. I can't disclose the details, you will have to find that out!
Amrita Tripathi: Are there any Indian artistes that you know or like or want to work with?
Lady Gaga: I don't know much about the music in India. But I am excited to learn more. Okay, I will give away a little (about the India plan). The artistes that I am most familiar with are the DJs in India and I will be collaborating with them in future.
Amrita Tripathi: Good to know. We are waiting to hear more on that. So, when it comes to your messages, you are very vocal about issues like gay rights. You know the don't-ask-don't-tell policy. Are you planning to use your platform to talk more about that?
Lady Gaga: Yes. It's interesting that I see the politics of my music be quite symbiotic with what's going on in American culture in particular, but also all over the world. Equality is the most important thing in terms of the politics of my music and I am going to much more involved. But I do see that separate from promoting my music because I am not interested in using my platform in music to enhance my political career. So I am really trying to keep them separate particularly since Born This Way has this politics about it. I am sure the song can stand on its own two feet. I don't think I will be involved with any other political agendas because this is the issue that I mostly know or feel about, that I am comfortable talking about and the most passionate about.
Amrita Tripathi: As you said, it's cohesive. It's issue-based.
Lady Gaga: It's issue-based and it's also what I know about. I have had gay friends since I was very very young. I have a tremendous gay fan base. But it's also not just about being gay. It's just about this idea of equality for all. When I spoke recently on the repeal of the don't-ask-don't-tell policy, I spoke specifically about equality being the prime rib of the American cut of meat. And that all Americans don't get to enjoy the finest cut of meat the country has to offer. That is removed of sexual orientation. It's just rights.
Amrita Tripathi: And acceptance…
Lady Gaga: Yes. And given the massive amount of gay suicides going on in America, I think it's important to add a top legislative level. Let society and young people know that they are just as valuable as anyone else.
Amrita Tripathi: You said you are always honest with your fans. This is in the context of the interview with Anderson Cooper with the whisky and the wheat etc. Is that something you strongly believe about?
Lady Gaga: Of course. I think it's important to build goodwill with your fans. If you lie to them, then they never really know when you are being honest. My fans know that I don't lie. So they will never have to question me just like it's with them. They are always honest with me too.
Amrita Tripathi: Alright. Congratulations again.
Lady Gaga: Thanks. And yeah, hello to all my monsters in India. I am so excited to come and perform for all of you. It's been a dream of mine to travel to India. So I cannot wait.
Amrita Tripathi: Well, we can't wait either to see you. Thank you very much.