Talent: Kesha(@iiswhoiis)
Photography: Jacques Burga (@jacquesburga)
Creative Director: Vicen Akina (@vicenakina)
Fashion: Nausheen Shah (@nausheenshah)
Hair: Owen Gould (@owengould)
Makeup: Natalie Ventola (@nattiventi)
Nails: Miho Okawara (@mihonails)
Producer & Set Design: Christopher E Hughes (@_chrishughes)
Retouch: Misha Chubun (@misha.chubun)
Lighting & Tech: Zach Arquilevich (@zacharquilevich)
Photo Assistant: Milo Fontanez (@milofontanez), Jaden Torres (@jadentorresss)
Styling Assistants: Grace Taylor, Angie Shah
Production Assistant: Skyler Stanley (@skylerwstanley)
Special thanks to Redcar Properties

Interview by Valentina Hites

Hi Kesha, may we start the interview by asking you what does Gag Order mean to you? 

Sure! Gag Order was a reference to the inability to speak my truth without a constant debilitating fear of judgement, both personally and publicly. The emotions were ones I suppressed to the best of my ability for as long as I could, and this album was the reckoning of my spirit. The surrender to the anger, the vulnerability and the absolute truth, as ugly as it can be. The repercussions of my story were so great that I felt like my divine gift has been in a stranglehold. Feeling stuck is an emotion that I hope very few people can relate to, yet I know many people can because we are all humans, and we all have some semblance of a shared experience in life. I hope me sharing myself can make someone out there not feel as isolated in their uncomfortable emotions. We’re never really alone in anything.


I love how unique and different ‘Only Love Can Save Us Now’ from everything you’ve done before! Was that the first time you’ve worked with Vincent Haycock and who came up with the concept for the music video?

Thank you! I really wanted it sonically to be a bridge between aggressive expression and euphoria. The push and pull of control and surrender. Lyrically “Only Love” is a back and forth, much like the voices have been in my head, between control and the release of control. Working with Vince was so great, having this team of great men around me that listened to me intently and helped me to relate my emotions visually felt very healing and powerful. My team made me feel like the goddess I am. I wanted the voyeuristic nature of my life to be portrayed in the video, which I think we really captured.


You are about to embark on a tour for Gag Order, what has been your most exciting performance venue ever? Any many most fun memories from touring? 

All of my tour memories are my favorite. Every night is so unique and full of adventure that it keeps me so excited. I never know what the night is going to hold for me. and I still get nervous for every show. My tongue gets itchy when I get nervous, and I’m grateful that every show I’ve ever played, I get that feeling, because it means I care so much. I love connecting to my fans and seeing how they relate to my music, and especially after the pandemic I’m more grateful than ever to be able to play my music in person to my Animals. I’ve missed them. Recently, I played the Taylor Hawkins tribute show at Wembley and I remember after I played my song, sitting on the side of the stage watching these music legends all honoring Taylor. It was so heart melting. I was watching Paul McCartney and ended up giving him a wave with my feet and he waved back. It was a weird and very special moment.


You have said that you are feeling so much more connected to your true, authentic self and are much more comfortable in your own skin, what would you say are some common misconceptions about spirituality, reflection and self-love?

I think the idea that healing is easy or pleasant is a huge misconception. The disassembling of the ego is a scary and the questioning of everything you think you know is very destabilizing. Self-love also is something that really requires discipline in my experience. Self-love starts with myself, but the trusting of my gut and having boundaries in my decisions has been very imperfect, yet the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.


What was the best part of working with Rick Rubin? Did he teach you any good chants or meditations?

Every element if working with Rick has been beyond. I really felt seen and supported. I did not feel like a product to be shaped, molded and sold. I felt human. He taught me so much; we would meditate before we would work. I really took away that I get to make music; I don’t have to. I also watched him have excellent work/life boundaries, which is something I have always had trouble with. I saw someone make amazing music and still make time for himself and his family.  He was an incredible man to learn from him.


Nowadays people can have a hit go viral and become famous without any support from a label. What are your thoughts about this phenomenon?

I think the world we live in is terrifying and magical. I hope that everyone on this earth experiences the success of their wildest dreams, because only after I felt like I had fulfilled mine did I realize that the external validation was not actually filling the void I had inside of me. That being said, I find it so exciting that anyone and everyone can find their voice and have the same opportunity as someone with the support of a record label. It’s fascinating and electric.


What are your thoughts of the way the music industry has changed over the last 10 years? 

I believe the world is getting more connected. There are less boundaries, which is amazing and also dangerous. It’s exciting to have success be so available to anyone and everyone, and I like to balance my screen time with time in nature.


Would you ever want to write a theme song for a movie and if so what kind of a movie?

A million percent yes! I would love to write a theme song for a spy movie or a bad guy theme song. I want to make the “bad guy slow motion rising from the ashes” song. Or an animated animal cartoon theme song about a singing whale.


Would you ever judge a singing competition? What do you think about those kinds of shows and the way they find and produce talent? 

I would love to be a part of a judge or mentor panel. I always wish I had a big sister in this business, so I absolutely would love to help mentor other young artists navigate this world.


Are there any words of advice or encouragement you’d like to share with young upcoming artists who are dealing with the pressures and expectations of an industry that’s increasingly competitive and judgmental. 

The world will be chaos around you. Let it be. Find grounding and peace in who you are and let it all be madness.  Enjoy the madness! But always remember who you are. Return to it again and again.


Lastly, if you only have 10 minutes to workout, what is your go-to exercise? 

My favorite practice is yoga and hiking, but if I have 10 minutes, I may do a few burpees and call it a day.