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KESHA: USING EVERY COLOR IN THE CRAYON BOX

Interview by Samantha Hissong 

How does it feel to be recognized by the Grammys for this album in particular?
I am so incredibly honored and humbled to be recognized by the Grammys. It’s literally a dream I’ve had my entire life coming true, and I owe it all to my fans. 

Rainbow serves as your metamorphosis. Obviously, you’ve grown immensely as a person, writer and artist. What do you want listeners to take away from the album?
I don’t know how people will react to my music when I make it; that aspect has always been a mystery to me. I just want people to know that [this album] is honest. It all comes from a very genuine place. It comes from me finding all the corners of human emotion and being OK with being an imperfect person who’s just doing her best. 

Did you go into this album with a ton of material to choose from, or did you look at Rainbow as a blank slate to start anew with?
I never stop writing—I even write in my sleep sometimes. I think the biggest difference on this project is that I decided to let myself experiment with the sounds and instruments and push myself to try to be the kind of artist that I’ve always wanted to be. This album is closer, sonically, to the kind of music that I listen to when I’m dancing around my house—and closer to the kind of music that has influenced my art and life—than anything I’ve ever put out in the past. 

Rainbow is a little bit country and a little bit rock & roll. It’s also funky, folky and soulful. You enlisted The Dap-Kings and Eagles of Death Metal. Did you intentionally ignore genre limitations during the creative process?
I don’t believe in putting limitations or restrictions on any art. It’s two-dimensional self-expression. There are only boundaries if you decide they exist. This album is called Rainbow for a number of reasons, one being that it shows many sides of my personality, my taste and my imagination. If I’m going to make art, I want to be able to use every color in the crayon box, every sound I can imagine in my mind, any instrument ever created. I never want to limit myself because of stereotypes or expectations. 

Talk about writing with your mom. Do you work well together? What’s the best piece of advice she gave you during this process?
My mom is the one who taught me how to write songs. One thing she has always emphasized to me is to be genuine and unafraid of being different. From the time in high school when she encouraged me to sing/talk my lyrics rapid-fire into the mic—which other people called rapping—to when we wrote a song on this album together about leaving earth on an alien spaceship, she has always encouraged me to be unafraid and true to my feelings and beliefs.

Not only did you get to work with your mom on multiple songs, as you have before, but you got to put your own spin on the famous song she wrote for Dolly. What compelled you to put “Old Flames” on the album?
It’s always been a dream of mine and my mother’s to do my mom’s song “Old Flames” as a duet between myself and Dolly Parton. Dolly is such an inspiration for me. She has always been one of my idols and always seemed larger than life. I asked Dolly if she would do the song with me for my album, fully expecting her to say no, and when she did say, “Yeah, I’d love to,” I was beside myself. I still get full-body chills every time I listen to that song with Dolly and me harmonizing. That was life teaching me a lesson to always shoot for the stars. 

Self-actualization and acceptance, as well as the power of womanhood, are primary themes on Rainbow. What advice would you give to young female artists?
You don’t need to pretend to be anything that you aren’t. If you’re genuine, people can tell. You don’t need to try to follow the world.

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