What remnants of your life do you hold onto? What have you let go?
Well, my ego. That is something I’ve gratefully let go of. I started in the industry so young. I look back and I don’t even know how I am alive at this moment. That is probably the biggest feat in my life: surviving. I was a child star and I still get to make music as an adult. It feels like my best years aren’t behind me. The biggest thing that got me here was finding humility — I cry talking about this shit. (She tears up.) It’s really deep. Once it wasn’t about my ego anymore, I became human. To be able to create from that place is incredible.
On the cover, you’re standing in front of a mirror. What inspired that image?
When you sit in front of a mirror, there’s no hiding. It’s interesting: I can’t stand to get dressed before a show, to look in the mirror and do my makeup. My mom had me all dolled up from when I was really young. So I’ve always been uncomfortable with it, with the insecurities that pop up. Especially when you’re getting ready to be so vulnerable [onstage], it’s like, “Oh, God. I want to hide.” But as I get older, I’m more like, “OK, I’m cool looking in a mirror.” Being in the public eye and social media if you don’t know yourself, you’ll be dragged into a very dark place.
There’s a song called “Mother” on Remnants. Do you see yourself having children?
I would love to have kids. I’m taking it day by day — I’m still young. The song is about how your parents are supposed to be superheroes, but of course they aren’t. There’s baggage they bring from their parents, and their parents’ parents. When my mom ran away at 18 to marry my dad, her mom burned all her clothes. I’ve always been fearful of having children, because I didn’t want to pass that pain down. I wanted to heal myself before bringing a child into the world. I’m not even close to doing it, really, but I think that’s where the pain stops.
You speak about LGBTQ rights on songs like “Love Is Love Is Love” why is that cause important to you?
Equality is a big thing for me, partially because I’ve been so picked apart and judged my whole life. I’m very aware of judgment. My uncle, who was gay, died of AIDS when I was 11, and my dad was the only one that showed up at his funeral that stuck with me. For anyone to put a boundary on love is insane to me. Why do people care so much about what someone else is doing? We’re talking about human rights. It’s 2017 and we’re really talking about this? It’s ridiculous.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of Billboard.