Pop singer Kesha did not talk about her recent legal battles with Dr. Luke in an hour long casual conversation with Refinery29’s chief content officer Amy Emmerich at the South by Southwest Conference on Tuesday. Instead, a conversation loosely structured around the theme of online bullying roamed from the pressure of being in the spotlight, to her artistic evolution, to an emotional discussion of the eating disorder that almost killed her. She also talked about her activist work particularly around animal rights.
The singer, who just turned 30 a few days ago, says she has between 70-80 songs to choose from for her next musical project. She says she’s been exploring new sounds including country music. Her mother is a country songwriter and she loves the straightforward storytelling style of the form. “I ditched the idea of what my image should or shouldn’t be. At this point, it is what it is,” she said. She describes her new work as “speaking honestly about my life for the first time ever without anyone dictating anything.”
Here are a few choice quotes from the session.
On social media and life online:
“Instagram connects me to my fans. I get to live my dream because of my fans, aside from that it’s not a healthy place for me. There can be a million positive comments but I always gravitate to the one negative one and I know it’s not healthy.”
“Criticism for me has been a long road. It used to tear me up inside and then someone told me something, ‘You’re making people you don’t know your higher power. Trolls, bullies, people you’ve never met before, you’re making them your higher power.'”
On eating disorder recovery:
“Eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of any mental disorder…. It’s a part of my story. I’ve suffered from body dysmorphia. If you struggle with just looking in the mirror and being ok with yourself you are not alone. … It’s not a weakness, it’s a disease. … It can kill you. … By the time I entered rehab they were surprised I hadn’t had a stroke because I wasn’t consuming much of anything.”
“I was starving and people would say, ‘You look so great. You look fabulous. Keep doing what you’re doing.’ They were encouraging me to starve myself to death…. I like being alive.”
On her love of animals:
“The day I turned 30 I was on a safari and I saw two lions having sex and I thought, ‘Wow, my 30s are going to be dope.'”
“I want to rescue the ligers and take them back to their homeland.” (She’s very concerned about a situation with the lion tiger hybrid animal in Ohio)
“My goal is to live on an island full of cats in the not too distant future.”