Katy Perry Premieres Concert TV Special, Explains Why Pop Stars Should Always Play Their Hits

Katy Perry
Ferdy Damman/AFP/Getty Images

Katy Perry performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, on March 9, 2015 as part of her Prismatic World Tour.

At the premiere of her Epix special, 'Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour,' Perry explains why she always plays the big songs.

Katy Perry premiered her new two-hour Epix special, Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour, at the Ace Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles on Thursday (March 26) evening, offering fans a chance to see the concert film before its airs on Saturday, March 28.

The singer, who arrived in L.A. earlier this week after completing the European leg of the ongoing tour, introduced the screening alongside Epix president and CEO Mark Greenberg. "I'm very proud of this tour, but I'm due for a nap," Perry told the cheering crowd. "We've done 129 shows. We've gone all over the world. I'm still going. I've got Asia to do and I've got South America to go to. I'm proud of it."

The special, directed by Russell Thomas, captures Perry's arena-sized tour in support of her most recent album, Prism. The singer called the film "very different" than her last movie, Part of Me, which took a more autobiographical spin, as it revealed her California Dreams Tour. Rather than draw fans into her backstage life again, Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour, specifically captures Perry's current live show, which she toured around the U.S. last year.

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"I wanted to do something different than the last [tour], because the last one had a real narrative from start to finish," Perry tells Billboard about her initial vision for the Prismatic Tour. "I wanted to create different worlds. No narrative. Just show off the strengths and the different hairstyles."

The tour features six wig changes and different seven costumes, which shift over various thematic production settings. The costumes, displayed in the Ace Hotel lobby during the premiere, include a Roberto Cavalli dress wired with illuminated neon lights, and a fireworks gown by Todd Thomas.

"Each group of songs had its own vision," Perry's costume designer Johnny Wujek said. "Every group had a specific vibe and we'd build off that. We made mood boards and thought about which designers we'd want to go for. We reached out to designers we have relationships with and who we love, as well as some new designers. Katy masterminded it all."

"I collaborate with a lot of people that are great," Perry said of her hands-on involvement in the tour's creation. "I have a fantastic team. It's a collaboration. But I see everything down to the shoelaces. It's very tiring, but very fulfilling."

A key aspect of the Prismatic Tour is its extensive setlist, which collects songs from Perry's entire discography and doesn't ignore any of her hits, even those like "I Kissed A Girl" that may feel overplayed at this point. "I want to keep including all the important songs," Perry tells Billboard. "When I go see a show of a mega pop star or a mega musician that I love I want to hear the hits. Because I've made so many memories with those hits. If you're not going to play them, just preface it before we get the ticket. I'm sure at one point in my life I'll do something left-of-center and do that. But I want to know that I'm coming to the show and I'm going to hear the song I had my first kiss to or that me and my sister hang out to. Stuff like that. I wanted to include those. I made sure the old songs were kind of remixed a little, just changed up a little bit."

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"We're in big arenas now so I created this thing called the Reflection Section that's in the very front and I created this thrust that's in the shape of a triangle that goes almost to the end of the area so I'd get to touch everybody so much," Perry adds. "I think that's very important – that connection I have with people. Looking them in the eyes and seeing them as they're singing back to me. There's something very beautiful about that experience. And I think every artist holds that's as the top three reasons why they do the live show."

As for what you don't see onscreen on in the tour special? "It's so crazy when you see me under the stage," Perry says, joined on the red carpet by a small brown puppy named Butters, who she referred to as her "tour dog." "It all looks so calm on the surface, but underneath I'm literally holding onto a steel bar and things are being ripped off me, zipped up me. Water is being given to me to me like a boxer."

Perry's Epix special airs Saturday at 8 p.m. ET as part of the Epix Free Preview Weekend. The network has previously featured concert films from P!NK, Madonna, Usher and Britney Spears.