Q&A with Kelly Clarkson
She's topped the charts with songs like Since U Been Gone and Because of You, won multiple Grammys and sold over 20 millon records around the globe. Pretty darn impressive. Kelly Clarkson opens up about life in the spotlight.
Q: How's life in the music business?
A: We were just discussing this at the video shoot, how crazy our job is. Everyone that I work with was like, "We're so lucky." It's hard work, obviously...but it's fun, though, and it's cool to do what we do. ... I grew up with no money. So I appreciate every second.
Q: What's it like to be on tour?
A: It's a lot of fun. I've known most of the people on the road with me for six or seven years so...and we're around each other far more than we're around our own families. So it's pretty cool. ... We play board games, and we have everybody's families out on the road at different times. We've all watched everyone's kids in the band grow up—we're not very rock 'n' roll though, we always laugh about that. We go out probably once or twice on a big tour—we'll go out and drink and have a good time. But for the normal everyday thing, we're all computer nerds, we're all bookworms, we're pretty low key.
Q: One of the things we love about you is that you're really true to who you are. Is that hard in this industry?
A: Unbelievably. It's unbelievably hard. And not even in a sense of being negative on anyone, just in a sense of I think people get nervous about things I don't get nervous about. I'm not nervous when I come out with a record thinking, "Oh, how is it going to amount up to others?" I never get nervous like that. I'm not nervous when I go into the studio, thinking: "Oh, well is this potentially radio-friendly? Is it not mainstream enough?" I don't really do that. I just have a good time.
Q: What are your favorite genres of music?
A: I love all different genres. I grew up with a lot of urban influence and a lot of country influence. I'm the youngest within my immediate family, so it's like I kind of got everybody's musical taste and they're all very different. So I'm kind of the garbage disposal of all my family's different influences.
Q: You're such a soulful singer. Why did you chose the pop genre?
A: After Idol like seven years ago, I had people asking me: "Are you going to go country? Are you going to go soulful? Are you going do pop? What do you want to do?" because no one knew what to do with me...it was kind of all up in the air. My whole thing is I chose pop because it's popular music and you can kind of do anything. You can bring in those influences that are completely different. I mean a lot of people do hate on pop radio because they do play a lot of the same songs over and over, but the one thing that is cool about pop radio that I think differentiates if from other genres of music is you get a lot of styles. You can hear something urban or something rap right after you hear Avril Lavigne or right after you hear Katy Perry or right after you hear Coldplay.
Q: What do you look for in songs?
A: We went to all these different publishers, my management and I, and I was like: "I don't want your best writers. I want the best songs. I don't care if it's Joe Shmo or your sister or whoever it is. I just want you to give me the best songs." ... Everytime they kept saying, "What are you looking for?" I'm like, "I'm looking for anything with a soul to it." It could be country-sounding and we'll make it a bit more pop. Or it could be urban-sounding and we'll make it a bit more pop. It could be anything you throw at me, but it has to have a cool message and it has to have a soul to it. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's so important.
Q: Your version of Up to the Mountain is a great track. Why did you decide to cover that piece?
A: I love that song. Do you know Patty Griffin? I'm crap compared to her version. She is this phenomenal singer/songwriter that's been around forever. Oh my gosh, it's on her album Children Running Through, which is a great album. You should buy it. Go on iTunes and look it up. ... She wrote it about Martin Luther King. ... I just saw her in New York for like the fifth time. She's literally my favorite singer/songwriter in the world. I cover her all the time. I love her. She's got this amazing soul to her voice. It's one of those lived-in voices. You're going to love it. I'm excited. She is so good!
Q: You mentioned that you love spending time on your land...away from technology.
A: I think I would have liked it back in the day of not being that accessible. ... I think that's why people like Elvis were so huge; they weren't that accessible, so when they came to town it was this huge thing because no one got to see them. Now they can basically look right into your bedroom if you look at satellite cameras. Everything is so right at your fingertips.
Q: What are you most grateful for?
A: I most grateful for my career. I know that sounds weird. It should be family, right? But I love what I do, and I know there are a lot of talented people who can do what I do. I guess I just feel fortunate that I get to do it. And I generally find, if I'm ever feeling down or anything, I can start writing and get in the studio and start writing for a record, and I'll be right back to good. My career helps me out a lot not only for having a career but emotionally too. It's cool. It's very therapeutic.
Kelly Clarkson's favorite things