Lady Gaga Takes On Austin

"Go to a city, sit in an apartment by yourself, and stop shaking hands with people and taking selfies because it's not going to make you a star. Nobody cares about that." Lady Gaga on being more than a pretty face, breaking in, and standing out. 

Credit: SXSWCredit: SXSWJust hours after slathering herself in barbeque sauce and vomit during a live performance at Stubb’s in Austin, Mother Monster herself sat with Fuse TV’s John Norris for a Q&A on art, the music industry, and what it means to sell out. Donning what appeared to be an ‘80s cellophane wedding dress, Lady Gaga opened up about her struggles over the past year, which included four months spent in a wheelchair following hip surgery and a lawsuit from a former personal assistant and best friend, as well as her determination to remain a true artist despite industry pressures.

Once you have so many people’s attention and once you have so much, they think that because I’m a female, it’s better to make inconsequential music,” Gaga said. “…That’s the thing that poisoned me from 2013 to 2014 or 2012. That was the poisonous thing. ‘We just want you to look beautiful’ over and over and over in my head until I just wanted to look ugly all the time. … It really crushed me. I’ve won Grammys now. I’ve written albums. I’ve toured the world four times. You’re telling me to be beautiful? … Is it all back to tits and ass? That’s so sad.”

Breaking away from those pressures is what both her puke-tastic performance and her latest album, ARTPOP, are all about, Gaga said. She also had a few wise words for critics of her partnership with Doritos, who sponsored last night’s show, the proceeds of which benefitted Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.

To be completely honest, whoever is writing or saying all those things, you don’t know f—- about the state of the music industry. …The truth is that without sponsorships, without these companies coming together to help us, we won’t have any more artists in Austin. We won’t have any festivals because record labels don’t have any f——— money.”

For aspiring artists, Gaga was quick to add that success isn’t about knowing the right people or having a killer social media campaign, nor does it revolve around the coolest video you made for YouTube or your craziest Instagram pic.

The way to make it in this business is to write songs and to go out into the world, pick up your guitar, and walk from block to block and say, ‘Hi, I’m Lady Gaga. I’m an artist. Can you book me at 7 o’clock on Friday?”

Gaga, who has been performing live since age 15 and developed a strong grassroots following by working neighborhood New York clubs in homemade costumes and no budget, credited her experience coming up as crucial to her current success. While social media has made it possible for young artists to get discovered without having those hard lessons, she said that honing skills through trial and failure (and failure and more failure) is still invaluable.

Go to a city, sit in an apartment by yourself, and stop shaking hands with people and taking selfies because it’s not going to make you a star. Nobody cares about that. … Be careful what type of business you’re selling because if you’re selling anything other than talent and anything other than good songs, you’re in the wrong business,” Gaga noted.

Because, she said, success in any artistic industry really boils down to having a genuine connection with fans, which can only be built over time through personal connections. Maintaining that bond also means staying real, despite pressures to appeal to the broadest audience.

I know that it’s fun being on top. I know that it’s fun having everyone wish that they were number one, but having people envy you really isn’t fun at all,” Gaga said. “Having people feel a part of you and feel one with you, that’s the greatest feeling that there is.”

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