By Matthew Breen
In the October issue of Out, we interviewed openly gay singer-songwriter-superproducer Linda Perry, mastermind behind Gwen Stefani's debut single, 'What You Waiting For,' Kelly Osbourne's sophomore album and musical rebirth, and, of course, Christina Aguilera's 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 guitar'and always get busted'and I would try to figure out by ear what they were playing, and that's how I learned. I don't know how to read one frigging note. Don't even ask me, I have no idea. People put [sheet music] in front of me and I'm like, 'I don't fucking know what you're 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 don't feel like I ever was in! [Laughs] I feel like I've always been out. I've 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, she's all, 'are you homosexual?' and I'm like, 'Yes, Mom, I'm into women,' and she's 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 didn't want me to look like her. She didn't want me to look like a guy. I never was a proper dresser in her eyes, so that part didn't really matter to her, she just didn't want me to look like Mrs. Proctor's daughter.
Let's talk about your collaborators. Courtney Love introduced herself to you in an unorthodox way, didn't she?
Yeah, she's crazy. I love her, that woman. She just showed up at my house at 2:30 in the morning, banging on my door, and I'm 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 you're 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 I'm Mick you're my Keith and what we need to do is write a song like 'Sympathy for the Devil.''
I go, 'Lady, you're really overwhelming me right now,' and she just started laughing, and she's like, 'I overwhelm everybody.' We ended up writing a song that night, and she didn't leave until 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning. It was really fun. She was my rock-n-roll savior' Right now we've been hanging out again and we wrote a couple of songs already and I told her if I got involved that I'd 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 that's the kind of record she needs to make, a chaotic mess.
How do you get into someone else's head that way in order to pull out what's 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 don't care who you are'I don't 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? You're 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 it's perfect for her voice. And I absolutely love that record. It's one of my favorite records right now. And I don't care what anybody thinks'because I know I tapped into something with her.
Let's talk about In Flight. Describe the album and tell me why it's 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, it's very calming, and it's to me, my best work I've ever done. I was very disappointed when the label basically shelved it' So I didn't 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 couldn't because I knew I'd start crying and get really depressed and feel miserable and feel like a failure'which I did, I felt like a total failure on that record.
So do you feel like you're putting yourself on the line in the same way by re-releasing it?
Absolutely! I'm scared. I'm not kidding you, I'm petrified right now, because it's a very sensitive subject for me'me as an artist failed' To re-release this record and for it to be open for judgment and to get bad reviews'which it will''cause it has nothing to do with what I do [now], like what you hear on the radio'I'm very nervous about it.
You'll be returning to the stage with this album?
Well, I promised I would do 10 shows. I can't tour. I hate it. I said, 'OK, I'll do 10 shows, I'll do some interviews.' I don't 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, I'm really pleased you're 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 don't like gay magazines. Is that right?
No, I don't.
What is it about gay magazines'
I don't know, it's so gay! You know what I mean? I am full-on lesbian. I fucking love women. I'm out there, I'm doing whatever I can possibly do, but the problem I have is that sometimes the experiences that I've 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 it's like, that's 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' It's not that I hate gay magazines, it's just that I feel that it could be a little bit better. Let me put it in a more positive way: There's room for improvement.
I think, just to champion gay publications for just a moment, that reading about people like you really inspires kids who don't grow up in southern California or who don't grow up in an urban center, who feel like, 'Ah, I'm 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], 'You're so out and it's so nice and it's wonderful to see that it makes me feel like there's nothing wrong with me, and for the longest time I thought that something was wrong with me.'
You seem to be pretty private. But you're also outspoken when you do interviews. How do you navigate that?
I don't do interviews that much and I don't go out that much. I like being home and I like being in my studio. It's my entertainment, it's my nightlife, it's my social life, everything. The reason I don't like to do interviews is that I don't know my boundaries, so I am very outspoken, and I'll answer any question, and that's what my problem is. Why I don't like doing it is that you can ask me anything and I'll answer it.
In that case' are you involved romantically with anybody?
I'm not, but I love, love my ex-girlfriend. We're broken up, but I just love her to death' Relationships aren't for me because I'm so involved in and I love music. Imagine your first love, someone that you love so fucking much in your life'that's what music is for me. It's just, I love it so much and it is my relationship. That's my girlfriend' I don't think relationships are going to be for me. I'll probably just hang out with my best friend and that will be it.
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