Christina Perri on 'Head or Heart,' Her Musical 'Soul Mate' & What Makes Her Heart Explode
For her 2011 debut LP "lovestrong," which spawned the hit single "Jar of Hearts" and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, pop singer/songwriter Christina Perri hit the road hard, enduring a relentless touring schedule that saw her riding nine tours straight over 27 months. In October 2012, she finally landed home, "in a house I didn't even know," Perri jokes to Billboard. But the work didn't stop. "I thought for sure I was going to take a break, but I don't know how to do anything else but write songs, so album two just kind of started."
Working with her Atlantic team -- led by Chairman & CEO Craig Kallman and Executive VP of A&R Pete Ganbarg -- Perri agreed to write her sophomore album herself first, as well as taking on a total of 38 writing sessions from January to May of 2013. In May, Perri and co. narrowed down a total of 49 songs to 16, and eventually 13 made the cut for "Head or Heart," due out Apr. 1.
"I had sort of an epiphany that it would be called 'Head or Heart,'" says Perri. "Everyone always asks about the pressure, or the fear, and I was like 'Please!' I wasn't afraid until people started mentioning it."
Recorded almost entirely in a small U.K. town called Windlesham, Perri found her groove with producer Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, One Direction), who she happened to meet first out of a long list of producers provided by Atlantic. "I did one song and ended up staying the entire summer," she says. "He helped me find the tone of the whole album. It was just two of us in this English garden, 18 hours a day, creating all of these sounds together. I've never connected creatively with someone like that my whole career. He was some sort of soul mate for me."
In addition to Gosling, Perri worked with high-profile writers and producers like Kid Harpoon, Jack Antonoff, John Hill, Butch Walker, and Martin Johnson, who produced first single "Human." Connecting with Kid Harpoon on second single "Burning Gold" almost didn't happen: Perri was burnt out on writing sessions toward the end of her trip in London, and didn't want to be plied with another possible single.
"I hit this gnarly point where I stopped having good experiences," she says. "As a writer, I know you have to write shitty songs to write good songs too. But the night before my last day, it was 4 AM and I was in a place where I just didn't like music anymore, and I didn't want to go. My manager said, 'Can you, for me, go up in your pajamas and at least show up?' So I go and I sit down and I said, 'If I hear the word 'single' one more time, I'm going to throw up.'"
After taking Perri for pizza, however, Harpoon (real name: Tom Hull) convinced her to return to his studio, and "Burning Gold" was born in just twenty minutes. "We stayed up all night that night finishing it, and I remember thinking 'this is it!' It was a whole new sound for me, which I'm really excited to grow into."
While Perri might have matured her sound on her sophomore effort, legions of Twi-hards will no doubt still be on board for the ride, after the success of her song "A Thousand Years" garnered global attention being prominently featured in the Twlight film series. "It really catapulted me to a global level. I was No. 1 in Brazil again four weeks ago. I've never even been there!" Perri says.
Another phenomenon still aiding to the tune's popularity? Weddings and proposals. "People are constantly getting married to it. It's the coolest thing ever. If someone wants to propose to their girlfriend at my show, we always do it during that song. I'm such a romantic," she gushes. "My little heart is exploding!"