No matter how you feel about her tunes, you can’t not be entranced by Katy Perry’s beautiful blue eyes and voluptuous curves. Best of all she’s single—and very over her ex, Russell Brand. On a recent ASCAP I Create Music Expo panel, the singer said of her divorce: “It's a very tiny elephant. It's like a little tchotchke now.” Read on to find out how she makes hit music and how you can too. Oh yeah, you can see some rather fetching photos of her as well...
MADE MAN: How do you write your songs? KATY PERRY: I feel like I’m a student of life, so I’m always looking around and always wanting to know what things mean. If I don’t know what a word means, I don’t shy away from it and pretend I know. I’m like, ‘What’s the definition of that word?’ I think words are like little treasures, so I can adopt them into my treasure box and use them for later.
MM: How do you keep track of words and ideas? KP: I used to have this little red Dictaphone, but now I’ve changed to the iPhone and put all my ideas there, whether I see them in newspapers or hear them in conversations between friends. I have that transcribed and have a folder of all these ideas and highlight them to see what’s good. I’ve got years of titles and things I want to write about…
MM: What inspires you? KP: The world inspires me. There’s not one thing that I don’t take inspiration from. I just feel like it’s kind of a facet when you’re a creative person; you’re always going. It could be large, it could be small, but you’re just always flowing.
MM: Are there singers who inspire you? KP: I just got back from Coachella, and I really liked Purity Ring. I like how they write, which I’m sure is on a laptop in the bedroom. Sia, I’ve been writing with a lot lately. I love her very much. She makes me laugh the most. We actually wrote a song that will be on my next record called ‘Double Rainbow’. It sounds insincere, but it’s not.
MM: What's the story there? KP: I had written this beautiful song and I had everything, the melody, the verse, and the idea for the whole song and I came in and was working on it and she kinda hopped in and was like, ‘I just came back from yoga and saw a double rainbow,’ and I thought that might fit as an idea for a chorus for this song. It did and now it’s one of my favorite songs.
MM: You've gotten huge responses to songs like "Firework." KP: It’s the most important song I’ve written for myself. There are different things music can do; it helps the party, it helps you get dressed, it helps you fall in love and it helps you when you’re down and out and that’s the best thing a song can do. I know that I need music sometimes when I’m feeling bad… I need music to help me through.
MM: Is writing a cathartic experience for you? KP: It’s so cathartic, it’s like therapy or really helpful. If I’m congested by some kind of pain or feeling or emotion, the only way to get it out is to write a song about it.
MM: Do you intentionally do it in a studio or do you do it at home? KP: I do a lot of writing in the shower, actually.
MM: What advice do you have for an aspiring singer/songwriter? KP: Take up an instrument. Play guitar. Learn it really well and start playing small venues. I got the paper and had a bunch of open mics and I would just go and wait my turn and play. You get used to playing songs in front of audiences; I could gauge whether they liked it or not. You have to put yourself out there and work really hard, and then when you get to the point of making it, you work ten times as hard.
MM: Do you know when you've written a hit? KP: Yes. It’s a special feeling you get like finding the person you love. When you meet someone it’s like the same thing as writing a song that you know is a hit. Wish I could bottle that feeling and give you all a whiff of it. You walk around with this confidence… you just know.