Lady Gaga has a lot on her mind. Like, really a lot. In a wide-ranging interview with Apple Music on Thursday (May 21), the singer did a deep dive into the creation of her upcoming sixth studio album, Chromatica, which is slated to drop on May 29 after being pushed back due to the global pandemic.
In addition to running through the origin stories of several tracks from the album, Gaga touches on working with Ariana Grande on “Rain on Me,” working with mentor Elton John, flirting with the idea of sobriety, and a new track that takes on her sexual assault at the hands of an unnamed music producer.
“It’s been a very difficult time for a lot of people, and we stopped the drop of the record and everything that we were doing because I really wanted to be more specific at one point,” Gaga tells Apple Radio’s Zane Lowe. “I wanted to do something to help the world, that was very focused. And working with the World Health Organization and Global Citizen was a way for me to talk about kindness, and the things that I believe in, in a very focused way, as opposed to a more abstract way, which for me, is what Chromatica is.”
Gaga describes the album as a “beautiful abstraction” of her perception of the world, including the very literal imagery of red vs. blue in the “Stupid Love” video, which she says is indicative of the global divisions we’re experiencing now. And while we’re apart now due to COVID-19, Gaga hopes that Little Monsters all over the world will follow her into her latest “creative portal to the other realm” and feel the love.
As she recently told a friend, “I can’t wait to dance with people to this music; I can’t wait to just go into any space with a whole bunch of people and blast this as loud as possible to show them how much I love them.” Because for her, the album is the first personal step into radical acceptance, but also, she hopes, a source of “inspiration for people that are in need of healing through happiness, through dance.”
Gaga breaks down a number of the tracks, including “SINE From Above,” which she says is a sound wave that helped her dance her way out of the album. She also opened up about “Babylon,” which takes on gossip, a toxic fog that used to run her life and make her feel small.
As for her collab with Grande on “Rain on Me,” Gaga says it was a true partnership, which started with Gaga asking Ari what she needed and how she wanted to proceed. “I said to her, “OK, now everything that you care about while you sing, I want you to forget it and just sing. And by the way, while you’re doing that, I’m going to dance in front of you,” Gaga recalls. “And she was like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God, I can’t, I can’t. I don’t know. Oh my God. OK, OK.’ And then I did it and she sang, and she started to do things with her voice that was different. And it was the joy of two artists going, ‘I see you.'”
Gaga says that fans will see Grande do things she’s never done before in the video for the song, which she says helped build a bridge between them after Gaga kept pulling away. “When she came into the studio, I was still crying and she was not. And she was like, ‘You’re going to be OK. Call me; here’s my number,'” Gaga says. “And she was so persistent. She would try over and over again to be friends with me. And I was too ashamed to hang out with her because I didn’t want to project all of this negativity onto something that was healing and so beautiful. And eventually she called me on my s–t. She was, ‘You’re hiding.’ And I was … and then this friendship blossomed.”
The singer also reveals that the song “Free Woman” is a rare track that references her gender, but does so in order to help her confront what she says was a sexual assault. “I was sexually assaulted by a music producer. It’s compounded all of my feelings about life, feelings about the world, feelings about the industry, what I had to compromise and go through to get to where I am,” she says. “And I had to put it there. And when I was able to finally celebrate it, I said, ‘You know what? I’m not nothing without a steady hand. I’m not nothing unless I know I can. I’m still something if I don’t got a man. I’m a free woman.'”
The interview also touches on Gaga working with her mentor, John, and supporting younger artists, including Billie Eilish, who she wrote a letter to as a gesture of love. “I love all these younger artists. I’m there for you. I love you. I am not in competition with anyone,” she says. “I want everyone to win. I’m support. I want to support and love, but that’s how I feel about the world, Zane. Just generally I feel that my rebellion in life is to be kind like to almost an annoyance to people.”
Watch excerpts from Gaga’s interview below and watch the full interview here.