In the October issue of Out, we interviewed openly gay singer-songwriter-superproducer Linda Perry, mastermind behind Gwen Stefanis debut single, What You Waiting For, Kelly Osbournes sophomore album and musical rebirth, and, of course, Christina Aguileras mega-hit single Beautiful. Here we present outtakes from the interview with Perry, including a bit about the re-release of her 1996 solo artist album, In Flight. For the complete story, pick up the October issue of Out.
What first interested you in music?
Music has always been a really big part of my family. My father was a kind of a country jazz player. He played guitar, piano, bass. So we were brought up with Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter, and Brazil 66, Sergio Mendes My brother [John] was a great guitar player. He was in a band called Chaos and they would play in our garage and I was probably maybe 14, so he would never let me in the garage. [Laughs] When they left I would sneak in there and pick up his guitarand always get bustedand I would try to figure out by ear what they were playing, and thats how I learned. I dont know how to read one frigging note. Dont even ask me, I have no idea. People put [sheet music] in front of me and Im like, I dont fucking know what youre doing right now. What the fuck is that?
Do you remember the first song you wrote?
Yeah. I wrote a couple of weird little songs. I wrote this song called Desperate. It had two chords in it, the two chords I could play at the time. It was about men taking advantage of women and how desperate they are. And then I wrote a song that I remember really well, called Titty Girls, and it was about a girl that wanted to kill herself. And then I made my brother play it with me at the school talent show. And it kind of tripped people out because it was about this girl that wanted to kill herself. That was when I was 15 or 16.
When did you come out?
I dont feel like I ever was in! [Laughs] I feel like Ive always been out. Ive been into girls as far back as I remember. I had a crush on my fourth grade teacher. I had crushes on my brothers girlfriends. My mom came to me one day, and she was like, Linda, and my mom has a very heavy [Brazilian] accent, shes all, are you homosexual? and Im like, Yes, Mom, Im into women, and shes like, OK, well at least look good at it.
What did she mean?
There was this girl, when we were kids, that lived across the street from our house this total motorcycle dyke, you know, the leather hat, the leather vest, the leather pants, and she rode a motorcycle. She was very butch. And my mom just didnt want me to look like her. She didnt want me to look like a guy. I never was a proper dresser in her eyes, so that part didnt really matter to her, she just didnt want me to look like Mrs. Proctors daughter.
Lets talk about your collaborators. Courtney Love introduced herself to you in an unorthodox way, didnt she?
Yeah, shes crazy. I love her, that woman. She just showed up at my house at 2:30 in the morning, banging on my door, and Im like, What the fuck? It was so surreal from the moment she walked in she would not shut up! She was just like [in one breath], Blah blah blah this is why I want to work with you I think youre incredible you know I should have met you a long time ago before I got into Hole me and you are supposed to be together Im Mick youre my Keith and what we need to do is write a song like Sympathy for the Devil.
I go, Lady, youre really overwhelming me right now, and she just started laughing, and shes like, I overwhelm everybody. We ended up writing a song that night, and she didnt leave until 6 or 7 oclock in the morning. It was really fun. She was my rock-n-roll savior Right now weve been hanging out again and we wrote a couple of songs already and I told her if I got involved that Id definitely have to produce it this time, because she needs to just make a balls-out record with no overdubs, no backgrounds. Just a badass record that is full of mistakes, and just full of Courtney, because Courtney is a walking mistake, and she constantly does something wrong, and thats the kind of record she needs to make, a chaotic mess.
How do you get into someone elses head that way in order to pull out whats them in order to collaborate?
I have to meet everybody that I work with. I always make my manager set up a meeting. And I dont care who you areI dont care if you had the worst record last year People gave me shit about working on the Kelly [Osbourne] record [Sleeping in the Nothing], like, What? Youre going to ruin your friggin career doing Kelly Osbourne! I fucking love that girl. And I knew exactly what kind of record she needed to make, an electronic kind of 80s record, and its perfect for her voice. And I absolutely love that record. Its one of my favorite records right now. And I dont care what anybody thinksbecause I know I tapped into something with her.
Lets talk about In Flight. Describe the album and tell me why its being re-released.
I really did not enjoy myself in [4 Non Blondes] So when I left the band, I just wanted to take a breath and sit down in a chair and use my low register, and never go up high, and write a record that was basically everything I was feeling at that time. The record is about a very troubled, very intoxicated person In Flight is very soothing, its very calming, and its to me, my best work Ive ever done. I was very disappointed when the label basically shelved it So I didnt listen to it for years, because it was so heartbreaking for me to listen to it. Even when I wanted to put it in, I just couldnt because I knew Id start crying and get really depressed and feel miserable and feel like a failurewhich I did, I felt like a total failure on that record.
So do you feel like youre putting yourself on the line in the same way by re-releasing it?
Absolutely! Im scared. Im not kidding you, Im petrified right now, because its a very sensitive subject for meme as an artist failed To re-release this record and for it to be open for judgment and to get bad reviewswhich it willcause it has nothing to do with what I do [now], like what you hear on the radioIm very nervous about it.
Youll be returning to the stage with this album?
Well, I promised I would do 10 shows. I cant tour. I hate it. I said, OK, Ill do 10 shows, Ill do some interviews. I dont like doing this [interview] either I just want people to know that the record is there, and if they want it, they know where they can get it.
Well, Im really pleased youre speaking with us despite all of that.
Yeah, I felt like I owed Out an interview because I am so gay unfriendly. [Laughs]
That leads me to another question.
You dont like gay magazines. Is that right?
No, I dont.
What is it about gay magazines
I dont know, its so gay! You know what I mean? I am full-on lesbian. I fucking love women. Im out there, Im doing whatever I can possibly do, but the problem I have is that sometimes the experiences that Ive had, [the media focuses on] the gay factor, and not on who I am as a person, and not who I am as a creative person. I just struggle with that because its like, thats not what the world is. If we want to fit in this world, then we need to live in it, not segregate ourselves from it. I probably have a really naive idea of what gay should be, and I know that Its not that I hate gay magazines, its just that I feel that it could be a little bit better. Let me put it in a more positive way: Theres room for improvement.
I think, just to champion gay publications for just a moment, that reading about people like you really inspires kids who dont grow up in southern California or who dont grow up in an urban center, who feel like, Ah, Im not the only one, I can look up to someone.
Absolutely, I totally get that, and I respond all the time to e-mails from kids that [write], Youre so out and its so nice and its wonderful to see that it makes me feel like theres nothing wrong with me, and for the longest time I thought that something was wrong with me.
You seem to be pretty private. But youre also outspoken when you do interviews. How do you navigate that?
I dont do interviews that much and I dont go out that much. I like being home and I like being in my studio. Its my entertainment, its my nightlife, its my social life, everything. The reason I dont like to do interviews is that I dont know my boundaries, so I am very outspoken, and Ill answer any question, and thats what my problem is. Why I dont like doing it is that you can ask me anything and Ill answer it.
In that case are you involved romantically with anybody?
Im not, but I love, love my ex-girlfriend. Were broken up, but I just love her to death Relationships arent for me because Im so involved in and I love music. Imagine your first love, someone that you love so fucking much in your lifethats what music is for me. Its just, I love it so much and it is my relationship. Thats my girlfriend I dont think relationships are going to be for me. Ill probably just hang out with my best friend and that will be it.