Rick Rubin is renowned for his great set of ears. Kesha discovered he’s also a great listener. The “Raising Hell” singer recently marked a return to music with Gag Order, her vulnerable soul-searching fifth album.
Rubin produced the 13-track set, which Kesha and her team had described as a “post-pop” act of “emotional exorcism” on which she finds empowerment in baptism-by-fire self-discovery and acceptance.
There were times, not so long ago, when it was the courtroom — not the studio — that was demanding Kesha’s attention.
She notably entered into a legal battle with Dr. Luke in 2014, when the producer and Kemosabe Records founder filed a defamation suit against her for alleging that he drugged and raped her in 2005. Just a few months ago, a New York judge scheduled a new trial start date of July 19 for the case after key issues made its prior February start date unworkable.
Making music with Rubin has been a salve. She’d fallen out with her craft, but working with the uber-producer, she told Apple Music 1’s Zane Lowe, “has now made me fall in love with music again because I remembered why we all love it and why I loved it.”
Kesha sat for a chat with the New Zealand-born broadcaster, and Billboard has an exclusive sneak peek of the interview.
Joining forces with Rubin “was the first time in my life I sat with someone and they were like, ‘Let’s just make what we both think is cool,’” she recounts. ”You are not being a vehicle for something that you will please others with and get paid, admiration, et cetera.”
Gag Order, which dropped May 19 and features the dual lead singles “Fine Line” and the trippy “Eat the Acid,” was the product of some good-old fashioned communication.
“The whole process with Rick that blew my mind was being present in how I feel and making it come out into the song in a way that felt like it’s reflective of the feeling, a sound that reflects a feeling,” she recounts.
“And I just had never made art for that purpose before, like subconsciously. I didn’t really know, but in making these songs with Rick, we never once talked about singles, radio, any of it. It was just, ‘We’re making a song about how you feel.’ And that still kind of blows my mind because the entirety of my life, there was this illusion of what it was for.”
If Kesha was pleased with the process, fans were thrilled with the outcome. Music fans voted in a poll published May 19 on Billboard, choosing Gag Order as their favorite new music release of the previous week, raking in some 68% of the vote.
The interview airs in full at 1 p.m. ET on Apple Music 1.
Watch the exclusive clip below.