Linda Perry has been one of the best producers in the music business and actively engaged in writing music through her experience as the lead singer of a rock band 4 Non Blondes with a hit song "What’s Up." She has produced an amazing variety of musicians such as Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Courtney Love, Adam Lambert, Lisa Marie Presley, and Pink. She also has a partnership with Warner Music Group’s Atlantic Records division and owns her record label called Custard Records, which is widely known for its success with English singer-songwriter James Blunt.
She will present a fundraising event "An Evening with Women" held by the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center on May 1 with other celebrities such as Ren©e Zellweger and Christina Aguilera.
Blast got a chance to talk to her about her view of creativity, life, and music.
BLAST: You are originally from Massachusetts. Do you sometimes come by your home state?
Linda Perry: No, I was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and at 1 year old, I moved to California. So San Diego, CA is more of my, you know, I consider more of my home. And I don’t even remember Boston. I have a few relatives there but I do not really know but I have cousins, you know, out there so…
BLAST: So, you don’t really come by?
LP: No. For some weird reason, we were never brought up with our that family, you know, like I said, I don’t know them. I heard from some of them a couple of times but I do not know that side of my father’s family he has always kind of kept away from us for some reason so I know they are out there but you know, I was brought up in California and they never reached out to us. We never really knew much about them.
BLAST: 4 non blondes released the debut album and broke up but people still quickly recognize your song "What’s Up" when they hear it. What was on your mind when you wrote the song?
LP: Um, nothing ever really is on my mind. It’s more about what’s in my heart. You know, I don’t write songs from my mind. I ad-lib, I make it up as I go along. And I don’t … yeah it’s hard. Obviously that song wasn’t on my mind. That song was in my heart. I don’t know how it comes out, it just shows up.
BLAST: Did you expect that the song was gonna be a hit?
LP: No! To me, I wrote the song that everybody likes. You know, I don’t really look at things that way. That’s how I write. That’s how I talk. That’s how I am. I am just, I don’t have preconceived idea what I’m going to do. It just happens.
BLAST: What’s the main difference in your life as a music producer, comparing with old times when you were in the band?
LP: Well. I don’t have to go on a tour. I don’t have to deal with the band mates to make decisions. I choose not to do interviews. I don’t have to do pictures. I don’t have to make videos. I don’t have to do things that I don’t wanna do. And being in the band, you have to â€¦ there’s a lot of sacrifices that you have to make. There is a lot of compromises that you have to do because of those 3 other people with you. And being a producer, I gotta do what I wanna do. Only my decision. That’s that. I don’t have to do interviews. Only reason I’m doing this interview for you right now is because I’m promoting "An Evening with Women." It’s what I would love to get to right now in our interview. You know, I don’t need to do interviews for, you know what I mean, It’s like, I wanna make music. That’s it! I don’t think anything else is that important and I feel that, in the music industry today, everybody’s made what you look like more important than music. They’ve made your fashion and perfume line more important than music. They’ve made gossip and drama more important than music. They’ve made money more important than music. Everything is more important than music. And, I can’t live that way. There is nothing more important than music. If you are in the music business, music should be the most important thing. Everything else is a bonus. To create the videos, you know, you should write great songs and perform a great concert. If you have those few things, you will make it in this music business. If you rely on your look, fashion, whatever all the other stuff, if you think that’s more important, then you are screwed.
BLAST: You’ve produced many musicians, such as Pink, Courtney Love, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Adam Lambert and so on. How do you get the most out of their talents?
LP: Well, I get the most out of their talents by getting people focused on what we are here to do not here to, like when people come into my studio, like I said, I’m not here to … um … kiss their ass. I’m not here to make things smoother and soft-pedal things for them. They are coming into my studio to work and make music and to do something, you know, meaningful. Now, to me, something meaningful and heartfelt or real isn’t a hit. It is not always a hit. It’s just "Let’s do something cool. Let’s do something real." I don’t wanna waste my time with all this bullshit that you can get from other people. I wanna do something unique so what you get from work time is something unique whatever that means to you. That’s people who listen to their side what’s considered unique. Some people think unique is a hit song. To me, it’s not. To me, it’s an experience. If they have a song, like if you listen to my song on Adam Lambert’s album, for instance, it’s not a hit. But it’s a really great cool song. It’s unique from the rest of the album. That’s what I do. I like to consider myself like if you wanna give an analogy, it is in another term, it’s more like going to someone for contour outfit. No one else is gonna have this. You know, the next album I do, you are not gonna hear Adam Lambert, Christina Aguilera, Pink. If you actually put all those songs together, not one of them sounds anything remotely like each other. You know, that’s what I do. I will give you something unique.
BLAST: Is there any special memory with them that you would like to share?
LP: No, I don’t share things with the people that I work with. I mean, that’s our private moments. I can write a great book though with the stuff that I know. But you know, for me, I’m private. I’m that type of person and I think that’s why people like working with me. They know when they come to my studio and work with me. I’m not trying to promote myself. There’s a lot of producers out there that try to promote themselves and tell you stories about working with so and so and blah blah blah blahâ€¦um, you know, there’s obvious things that Christina is an incredible singer, bottom line, she works her ass off. She’s perfection. Love it. You know, Gwen Stefani is one of the most down-home, most humble people I’ve ever met in the business. You know, she’s incredible and she is funny and dorky and I really like her a lot. Adam Lambert is a really sweet guy. Really really sweet. You know, Pink, she’s a very strong girl that has very strong opinions. You know, those I’ve been telling you that, obvious. Those are the things that are obvious.
BLAST: What about Courtney Love?
LP: Courtney Love is a very smart woman but very destructive (Laughs).
BLAST: Do have any plans about your solo activity/albums in the future?
LP: You know, I used to, when people asked me that, I used to say, "That’s never gonna happen." And now I can’t really say that. I don’t have a plan but I don’t think it’s never gonna happen. I could see. You know, I write a lot of songs that really go over people’s head. They don’t get it. And the only person that could actually sing them is me. So I’m, um, you know, partly not quite a lot of those songs and they are really great songs. And so, you know, I have concentrated maybe this is something I should do. But it’s not saying that I am making a plan for. It’s just a thought back of my head.
BLAST: So you will do that when your life is ready. Is that correct?
LP: When it’s time, yeah.
BLAST: Is there any possibility for us to see you going on a tour sometime?
LP: Well, I would have to make an album to do that now, wouldn’t I ? (Laughs) Without delay. I don’t know. It’s possible! You know, like I said, I am not gonna ever say "Never" again. It’s not, that’s not a reality. "Never" is not a reality. But again, I don’t know.
BLAST: I would love to see you though.
LP: Well, you know, it’s fun. I think playing shows is fun. I never really liked touring because again, it was having to do things, you know, on demand, and I am not good about doing things on demand. I like to do things on my own pace when I’m ready to do it because I like to give everybody more than 100% of myself so what I have to do things on demand, you are not getting 100% of me.
BLAST: Yes because that’s fake.
LP: Yeah, I don’t feel good. To me, it’s a lie. Like being in the band and touring all the time. It was a lie. And I’m just an honest person in any way whatsoever. So in my soul, my spirit, I didn’t feel good.
BLAST: I’ve heard a story that when you were young, you fell off a high place and broke your rib, which changed the quality of your voice afterward. Is that true?
LP: Um, I fell off the building and broke my collarbone. And, you know, I did a lot of drugs because I was very wild, you know, in my teenage years, and I did a lot of drugs and you know, I slept in cars, I slept in parks, I did a lot of crazy things … I loved dropping myself and I got better and I started doing drugs. And do more routine the course of my life, it was a part of the course of my life.
BLAST: So did your voice change?
LP: My voice changed? No. I wasn’t singing then. It was before I was doing any of that. No. My voice didn’t change. I didn’t have a voice yet.
BLAST: You’ve been supporting the event "An Evening with Women" held by the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. You are open about your sexual orientation. However, some people really need some courage to open up themselves. What would you say to those people?
LP: Well, I guess it’s easier said than done. But I’ve always been out. I’ve never been, you know, honestly, I just don’t like people are saying "Coming out." I find that, to me, it’s the things bizarre that it’s like that. But, um, I’m gay. I’ve been always gay, bottom line never hit it, that’s who I am. It’s never affected me in a bad way. But I do know that people who have been out or whatever expecting them being gays, they’ve been beaten up in high school, some has been murdered, you know, it’s a really horrible thing to know. You know, when you are in high school or school and like the story just recently about a teenage girl, you know, pushing the girl over the cliff because she was a lesbian. You know, if I were in school and I read that story, I would be afraid too. But the bottom line is, you know, we have to be who we are. And to be who we are, it takes a lot of hurt, it takes to be very brave, and you really have to, you know, it’s not an easy answer, again, because there could be, you know, some boy that’s 15 years old that is very gay, you know, everything that he wants to come out so bad but his parents are Christian and he goes to a Christian school. Well, Christians are the most horrible religion, you know, out there because they believe, you know, in a white race, they believe gay people are going to hell and they are evil, you know, they are not, they believe god is gonna come down and strikes all dead if you don’t believe Jesus Christ, you know. They are, most Christian ,should I say, not all Christians, but most Christians have a very horrible bad belief. Their god is evil and vengeful god, you know, so when you’ve been brought up in this, well, hell, man, you can’t come out being gay? Because your parents probably send you to therapy? They probably put you in a mental institute? You know, you probably would be killed. You know, that’s a horrible thing to think about! Like kids are being brought up would be belief their parents are teaching them that being gay is a devil work and you are a sinner. Being an African-American is a sinner. Being an Asian is wrong. Being Hispanic is wrong, you know. Listen to rock’n’roll music is wrong. Like their kid being brought up with all these belief so how am I gonna sit and answer to this question going? What can I tell your child? You know, "be brave?" "Back up?" "Hey, you are gay, go out there?" You can’t answer that question. You can’t answer that question. You know, all I know is, in my life, it’s never affected me. I’ve been proud about it, I’ve been open. I’ve been strong. And if anybody ever said anything about me being gay, I would confront them to get on and scare the shit out of them to the point where they would know there’s nothing wrong with this, or I would talk to them and express to them, "Look at me. I am a regular person," and they go, "Oh, there is nothing wrong with that." I mean, it’s a hard question. I’m gay. If you are gay and you feel it’s comfortable for you to come out, then good. You know, be gay. But the thing is, ok, here’s another thing. So I will give you the complete worst scenario. Being brought up with Christian parents and going to a Christian school. That’s the worst scenario, right? Well, half out, just a simple as you are gay but you are afraid that your friends aren’t going to accept you and you know, and it’s easier or if you are just afraid of people, then that’s not a good place to be either. You know, if you are afraid that your friends are not gonna accept you, and then they are not real friends if you are afraid of them accepting who you are. You know, if your parents disown you because you are gay, then let your parent disown you. Let them kick you out of the house. Let them turn their back on you because that’s screwed up if your parents would not accept their child for who they are. If you are afraid to be gay because you are afraid of your employer or people that you work with, then you are not working in a healthy environment. You know, There’s that. You need to look in yourself. If you are afraid of yourself, It’s you that’s the homophobic. It’s you. It’s the gay that’s been homophobic. It could be only person that’s keeping them in themselves.
BLAST: How do you define "Love?"
LP: Love is, you know, the best love..if youâ€¦let me see how can I right say thisâ€¦You have a dog or any pet?
LP: No? Well, when I come home, my dogs greet me with so much happiness. They don’t judge me for how late I came home, they don’t judge me for what I look like, they don’t judge me for what I did. They just love me unconditionally. They appreciate what I do. Now, I’m not saying that, you know, that’s the way should be and I’m not saying that I want my people to love me like a dog. I’m not saying that. I am using it as an example. But it’s unconditional. And when you can get that from human being, and that’s the best love. You can find, if someone doesn’t judge you for what you’ve done and just loves you for who you are, everything about you. And they want to support you and they are being honest with you, they would tell you, "You know what, that was wrong and you should really work on that." so love shouldn’t be afraid to be honest. Love shouldn’t be afraid to love. You know, love should just be exactly what it’s right is in there. That’s how I define love.
BLAST: Most people tend to see you as a "powerful rock’n’ roll woman." Do you have any counterargument?
LP: I think that I am a strong woman. You know, I think I would kick "rock’n’roll" out. I am just a strong woman. I love all music. I don’t actually consider myself a rock’n’roll person because I love the Carpenters. I love Carole King. I love Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, and yes I love rock’n’roll music. But I also love country. I love R&B. And I love soul music. I love 80s. I love it all, I love everything. I love music for all the beauties that it offers you for, I love the bad stuff too, like I love when people write really bad songs and hear it on the radio, you are just going like "Ugh! Oh my god!" That’s pretty much, you know, half of the mid-90s, just one bad song after the next but it’s likeâ€¦ I love it. I love it all. I love it, you know, because what a wonderful place to be, you know, I mean, the fact that somebody can write a song and if it’s on the radio or put on a record or you can perform at live to people. It’s just amazing. I mean, how can I really judge it for good or bad? How about look at it for..that’s incredible. "Hey, I don’t like this song but that’s incredible that you did that." You know, I wish things were more like that. Like instead of us putting people down, how about just say, "I don’t like it but right-on for you to do it." you are out there and you are doing what you wanna do. You know, like Britney Spears, I can’t stand her music. But you know what, right-on for her, great for her, that girl is selling it because she believes it. You know? She believes what she is doing and that’s all we need. if you can do something and you believe what you are doing, we should be patted on the back for actually doing what we are believing, not being insulted because we don’t like what you did. But our, so, "right-on for doing what you are believe in doing!" What a different world we are living in if we actually could just accept that we are different. We went around and complain about how we wanna be unique and different, but then here we are trying to make everybody the same. Why can’t we be just different and unique? I’m not gonna like all the music you like and you are not gonna like all the music I like. How about we share with each other why we like this and just respect the fact that "Hey, you did that and I did that, right-on, it’s music." Your music you like is creating a feeling for you, right? Well, my music I like is creating a feeling for me. So anyway, I am a powerful woman that’s in the music business that really loves and is open to all stuff of music.
BLAST: How would you encourage whoever has to make a breakthrough in his/her life?
LP: With music? Or just in general?
BLAST: Whatever you would use.
LP: I really do feel that, you know, there is a lot of talented and smart people out there. A lot of creative people. And, hundreds of thousands of millions of, and just because you are talented or smart or beautiful or whatever your thing is, it’s not enough. That’s not enough. My talents are not enough to get me from here to there. But my focus, my motivation, I need drive. I need perceivance. I need determination. And I need dream to make it. So I need all that to take my talent to, and then my talent helps me to get there. That I have to have all of the other stuff first, you know, because if you really look at it, how many people are out there? There’s a lot of people that some may say are not that talented, right? I mean you can probably think of a lot of people that’s really popular and famous right now that’s really untalented. But what they had was determination. They were hungry. They were focused and they had dream. So you just have to really work hard to break through in the entertainment field. You have to work hard. You have to work extremely hard. It’s not easy. It’s not an easy job because there are million other people who want it. So you need to stand out. And the way you are gonna stand out is by how hard and how much you want it. And what you are willing to go out there and, you know, put in hours of working non-stop. Most people would think I’ve made it that I am successful. But in my own life and my mind, I’m not nearly as successful as I would like to be. I work all the time. I’m still putting the hours in. I’m still hungry. I’m still motivated. I’m still driven. I still have the dream. And I’m still going after it. And I’m in a great position but I have to work my ass off to be here. You know, so if you are a lazy person, you think everything is gonna be handed to you, good luck. There are a lot of people out there like that, that think "Oh, I’m so brilliant, I’m so talented." There is a lot of fucking artists like that. That just makes me fucking crazy. That they don’t appreciate where they are at all. And honestly, I wanna take my hand and slap them on the back of their heads and tell them to wake up. But the reality of it is they are gonna lose everything that they have. I am watching it right now, I am watching a lot of artists that have been sitting in high horse, thinking that they don’t have to do that much to get there and I’m watching them one by one fall because there are too many people out there that want it and they will continue to want it. Madonna still wants it. You know, you gotta constantly be working. There is nowhere being enough. And that’s how you break through in life in general. You know, don’t sit there your job 9 to 5 and be content with that. Here is something. We all have talent. We all wanna do something. But you know what, you know how many people say "What if?" "What if I did this?" "What if I did that?" They use it in their past context. You know what I mean? They should have at their desk and go, "What if I would’ve took that, you know, job or the gig," "What if I would’ve be famous today," or "What if I would have more money today" "What if I would’ve be married," you know what I’m saying? Now here, listen to the switch. I’m gonna use "What if" now in a positive, "What if I do take that?" and, um, "What if I had a million dollars" "What if I was a big rock star" "What if you walked out right now and just say hello to the whole world." You know what I mean? Vibe-change. "What if now" is a future. I’m not using it in the past. I’m using it "What if now." I’m gonna get off the phone, what if I get off the phone with you and I walk into the kitchen and I give my girlfriend a big kiss and tell her I love her. What do you think will happen? She’s gonna be really happy.
LP: So, you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna get off the phone, when I get out of here, walk in the kitchen and do that. Now it’s my future. "What if" is my future. It’s no longer my past. Do you understand?
BLAST: Yeah. That’s a good point.
LP: Big change. Right? It’s more motivating. It’s more of a plan. "What if now" becomes a plan and your future.
BLAST: So you are making causes for the future by yourself being really motivated.
LP: Yeah, exactly.
BLAST: So at the event this Saturday, you are going to auction "a day in the studio with you." Are you looking forward to doing it?
LP: I love that, yeah, you know, everybody should have an opportunity to experience being in a studio and I’m really a great person being in the studio with. So, you know, not everybody can do that so I’m giving an opportunity for somebody to have that chance. And I feel that, you know, it’s gonna be fun and I’m looking forward to it. And this is an event really important to me and I just wanna get as many people there to support it as possible. It is this Saturday. It is for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. They do so many wonderful things for the community. They have a wonderful health clinic. They have legal services. They have been incredible pharmacies for the HIV. They fight for gay rights. Their house, there are thousands of kids who get thrown out of their house for being gay and they have been caught for drugs and prosecutions. And the center grabbed them off the street to get them somewhere to go and help them, you know, helping them all in their lives and I think there should be the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center in every state, so my goal here is to get people really aware of the work that they do so really wonderful and I look forward to Saturday and I got Ren©e Zellweger coming up and talking about the center. I’m performing. Heart is gonna perform. Gina Gershon is hosting the event and Sarah Silverman is performing. It’s gonna be incredible. Kat Von D, she’s auctioning a tattoo done by her, so you know, there is a lot of great great things.
BLAST: So, are you going to kiss your girlfriend now?
LP: Yes, I am.