Standing outside the gates of AMP Radio in the crisp California dawn, a group of young people stood buzzing with excitement with only one goal: to see their Mama Monster, Lady Gaga.
One would think that when someone opened the gate to come in, the Little Monsters would live up to their ferocious name, barreling through to get to their hero. But Mama Monster would be proud of her Little Monsters who politely moved out of the way as the gate opened.
25-year-old New York native, Stefani Germanotta a.k.a Lady Gaga was once much like her devoted fans, a teenaged drama and jazz band geek who stood outside of MTV’s once popular TRL waving signs for the show’s host, Carson Daly. A little over ten years later, Gaga’s life had come full circle and she was talking one-on-one with Daly–a media figure instrumental in her decidedly complex and intellectualized quest for fame.
Being in Lady Gaga’s presence, it becomes obvious that Gaga is not an overly-theatrical, outlandish diva. Similarly to her Little Monsters, Gaga is humble, sweet-natured, passionate about music, driven to change the world for the better, and more poignantly, a normal girl.
Gaga’s normalcy is illustrated by the story she told Carson Daly about how when she was “12, 13, 14″ she came down to MTV’s TRL with signs that said:
“‘I love you, Justin.’ ‘ I love you, Carson.’ ‘Marry Me, Carson.’ I was always very jealous because Britney was up there with you and we were like ‘We love Carson please let us upstairs!’”
This explains why Mama Monster has such a soft spot in her heart for her Little Monsters. When she came in today and saw them lining up outside, Gaga told Carson that she was:
“Pressing up against the window…I’m going to stop on the way out and give them all kisses. They’re really cute and so sweet. My favorite thing is to see the physical copy in their hands. That means more to me than anything.”
Perhaps Gaga always knew that she was destined for pop stardom, which Carson brought up after her description of her adorable loyalty towards the TRL brand (and Carson himself). Gaga elaborated:
“I did. So strangely. When I moved out and dropped out of college when I was living on the lower East Side, you know, waitressing and doing my thing working from the bottom up.
“I kind of felt like I’d already made it in a way because I was getting to do what I love everyday which is write music and perform, so the idea was always to push the boundaries of pop music but to do it the grassroots rock ‘n roll way.”
“When you’re in high school and you just don’t know who you are…some people do. But I had no idea who I was and I had to wear a uniform and I had no way of expressing myself and I felt very strange and awkward and out of place.”
“No one really understood why I was so into theater and why I was so into the music was into and why I did jazz band”
“So when I left home that was sort of my time to say, ‘OK. Well, what kind of music do you really like to listen to and how do you want to sing and what is it that you want to be and how do you really want to dress’ and I made all those choices for myself until finally I had my own rebirth which is what ‘Born This Way’ is all about.”
Outfitted with a baby grand piano, soft red couches, and mood lighting, AMP Radio had its own Gaga-fied rebirth this morning.
While most days the average employee would saunter in mid-morning, the hallways were buzzing with excited staff members and the lucky winners who got to watch Lady Gaga’s exclusive, intimate performance while literally five feet away from her.
As the winners waited in another room, Lady Gaga came into the performance space and sound-checked abbreviated versions “Edge of Glory” and “You And I,” which Gaga later announced as her next single in her interview with Carson Daly.
Wearing what one would dare to call her “casual morning look,” Gaga was still gorgeously turned out in an avant-garde and 1940′s-style royal blue vintage serge skirt suit, royal blue Christian Louboutins, and royal blue tights with sheer panels, a “Born This Way” side ponytail, and Elton John-esque round sunglasses.
Gaga described her outfit to Carson Daly on air, saying that she was wearing a “vintage Nuglare suit. It’s blue. Some matching blue tights and a ‘Born This Way’ side pony.”
Her outfit was perfect for Gaga’s general distaste for sunny, hot weather climates, including Los Angeles which she says she prefers in small doses:
“It’s too sunny for me. I like pale, dark, lonely. I like to wear veils because I figure there’s always someone that’s died. There’s always a reason to mourn.”
“I’m not really a sunny, sunny, sunny…but, it’s really beautiful here and actually, the minute we touched down in Los Angeles I felt this wave of ahhhhhhhh [Lady Gaga sighs]…I just like to really relax and enjoy the sunshine. Like I said, I live in a cave.”
Although Gaga is not a huge fan of sunny Los Angeles, she does name drop East LA in her song “Americano,” which she explained to Carson at the behest of one of her fans:
“We talked a lot about immigration law in America and Prop 8 as well which was actually overturned while we were on the road and while we were writing music.”
“So I wrote ‘Americano’ about equality, about freedom, and we chose that neighborhood in Los Angeles because there’s so many people affected by those laws living here in Los Angeles.”
Despite the impeccably pulled together outside, Gaga wasn’t stuffy or remotely snobbish in her demeanor.When Daly mentioned how fast her career has escalated, Gaga said with utmost sincerity:
“Yes, it’s been very fast and I’m really very grateful that I just get to do what I love everyday which is write and create music.”
In fact, just in judging from the conversations overheard with her entourage of people, Gaga has a delicately maternal, even girlish streak about her, albeit mixed with a penchant for quick-witted, slightly risqué double entendre.
Invariably, Gaga’s inspiration from years of going to salty New York jazzhouses, research into glitter rock culture, and blue-stocking theatrics shines through with every word and movement; Gaga is a living tribute to all her artistic muses.
Lady Gaga’s attention to cultural detail has inspired a sociology course at the University of South Carolina called “Lady Gaga And The Sociology Of Fame,” which Gaga describes as a “wonderfully interesting art.”
“When you look back, movie stars sort of created their own sense of fame. Andy Warhol appropriated the fame of others in order to appropriate his own.”
“Especially in today’s media with social networking and cameras, everyone can take that same picture that the paparazzi used to take…It’s not so much about doing it as it is about embracing the art of it. And I think that’s what the course is about.”
One recent victim of fame and the self-destruction that often attaches itself to artists at the height of it is Amy Winehouse whom Lady Gaga didn’t know but says was a great inspiration:
“I didn’t know her…I loved her so much. I was nobody when she was first coming out. I have really dark hair and all the time on the street people would go, ‘Amy!’ And they would go, ‘Back In Black.’ They’d scream at me. I loved her and I just remember feeling like I wasn’t alone because she was so different and she was so special. It’s really devastating and I think it’s a lesson to the world: Don’t kill the superstar. Take care of her. Take care of her soul.”
Certainly, this is the reason why she inspires such vastly different types of people. One of the most dedicated groups within the Little Monster camp is the LGBTQIA community, which Carson asked about, mentioning Gaga’s stance on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and the legalization of gay marriage in New York:
“Oh, man. It’s so great. Just one step closer to full equality. I’m really, really happy as a New Yorker that this marriage equality law, this bill is being passed…So wonderful.”
“There was so many families that don’t get the opportunity to feel legitimized by the government and it really creates such a much more promising future for their children to feel welcome.”
A fantastic, ingenious creature, Lady Gaga is still respectful and self-conscious. She does not take from her mentors; she is more a symbol of devoted approbation.
Carson asked Gaga if the line between fantasy and reality ever blurred for Gaga to which she replied, “No, it gets blurry for everyone else…When people say that., ‘Do you realize that you were doing that?’ I was like, ‘Yes, I did it.’ I say that to people a lot. I always say, ‘I’m not two different people. I don’t know why you talk to me like I am.’”
When Gaga performed acoustic versions of “Edge Of Glory” and her next single, “You And I,” the audience could visibly see the intensity on her face while she sang.
Her voice pure, true, and with a touch of upscale blues, Lady Gaga is an exceptional acoustic performer, her talent coming through in those silent, subtle musical moments rather than in the pomp of her theatrics.
Gaga explained to Carson and Producer Angie during her interview why her fourth and ballad-driven single “You And I” is Nebraska-themed, although she switched out “Nebraska” for “California” in her exclusive live performance later:
“It’s about my cool Nebraska guy. About a guy I dated for years and who was my best friend for a long time”
“He’s from Nebraska and it’s about how hard it is being apart for the person that you love…The video is actually really incredible…The premise of the video is that I walked all the way from New York in this kind of almost wintry outfit; I’ve walked all the way from New York to Omaha, Nebraska to get to my man.”
“So I’m walking down the highway and my feet are kind of bloody. There’s this fork in the road and it’s four different ways that I can go, but there’s lots of other things that can happen.”
“All sorts of strange things that occur and it has a lot to do with bridging my past and my future as an artist. Living halfway between reality and fantasy so there’s these sort of strange things that begin to occur in a barn in the middle of Springfield.”
Some Little Monsters might have that much perseverance to get to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way tour, which Gaga says starts at the “top of the year” and states is all she wants to do.
“Basically, I have it all planned out in my mind…I just don’t really understand this take a break thing because do people really just make music so that they can sit by palm trees? ‘Cuz I don’t. That’s why I work. I do not make music to sit by palm trees and sip pina coladas. I make music to make music. “
“I love performing. And to be honest, when I’m not on tour, I’m freaking miserable. They’re just trying to hide me from getting drunk and going to jazz clubs in New York with bad fake tanner all over me. I just love to sing. Love to sing. I love jazz. I love music. I love everything.”
Lady Gaga performs “You And I” acoustic at AMP Radio:
Lady Gaga’s interview with Carson Daly, Part 1:
Lady Gaga’s interview with Carson Daly, Party 2: