Katy Perry detailed her long road back to happiness and creating her forthcoming album Smile in a new profile with the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday (Aug. 12).
In the feature, the pregnant pop star opened up about how her disappointment with the performance of her 2017 album Witness set her on the road to a spiraling depression and eventual creative rebirth.
“I think the universe was like, ‘OK, all right, let’s have some humble pie here,’” Perry told the paper. “My negative thoughts were not great. They didn’t want to plan for a future. I also felt like I could control it by saying, ‘I’ll have the last word if I hurt myself or do something stupid and I’ll show you’ — but really, who was I showing?”
According to Sia, who was also interviewed for the story, her pal and fellow pop star had a “real breakdown” following the failure of Witness to reach the stratospheric heights of her previous, chart-topping records like 2010’s Teenage Dream and 2013’s Prism.
“She’s on stage with 10 candied lollipops and clowns and dancers, selling the dream, the joy, the happiness — and that’s really hard sometimes when you’re not feeling it yourself,” Sia said. “I knew she was driven and ambitious, that was clear from the beginning. But I didn’t realize that she was so reliant on that validation for her psychological well-being. She did say ‘I feel lost.’ I think it was a big kick to her ego, but it was the best thing that could have ever happened to her, really, because now she can make music for the fun of it. Getting number ones does nothing for your inside.”
These days, Perry is also more focused on supporting and uplifting her fellow female pop stars rather than play into the oft-repeated narrative of competition and cattiness between herself and her peers. In fact, during the chat, she lists Selena Gomez‘s Rare, Halsey‘s Manic, Lady Gaga‘s Chromatica and Taylor Swift‘s Folklore as a quartet of albums she currently has on repeat. (She cites “My Tears Ricochet” as a personal favorite off the latter.)
As for her own album, which arrives Aug. 28 via Capitol Records after multiple delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, Perry said she’s done putting pressure on herself to recreate the Teenage Dream-era days when she earned five consecutive No. 1 singles off the same LP. (“Daisies,” the earnest lead single off Smile, peaked at No. 40 on the Hot 100 upon its release last May).
“I’m thankful that I’m out of the loop of how intense it is to be red hot for 10 years,” she concluded. “Because I’ve had all the numbers, honey. Still set those records, honey. Talk to me when you’ve done that. Do I need to keep ringing that bell, or can I start ringing others?”