Ke$ha: A Music Mix Q&A on her Top 5 hit 'Tik Tok,' the origin of her name, and why she's not welcome in Paris Hilton's home

When electro-pop party girl Ke$ha sang on Flo Rida’s number-one smash “Right Round” earlier this year, she “didn’t have enough money to buy a taco.” Things are looking much better for the L.A.-born, Tennessee-raised pop singer these days. Her debut solo single “TiK ToK”—which she co-wrote with Britney/Katy Perry vets Dr. Luke and Benny Blanco—is currently a top-five hit and one of the most recklessly fun dance songs of the year.

We talked to Ke$ha about her alleged foul mouth, her public display of “bladder desperation” at a recent awards show, and what caused her to spew (for real) in Paris Hilton’s closet.

EW: Kesha is your birth name, but I’m guessing the money sign isn’t on your birth certificate. Why did you throw it in?

K: I was on the Flo Rida song “Right Round,” and I was hearing it everywhere, just all over the place. It was number one in a bajillion countries and I didn’t have enough money to buy myself a taco. So I was talking to one of my friends about it and I was like, “What the hell!” I literally had two dollars to my name, and she was like, “Whatever, you don’t need money: You’re money.” And I was like, “Yeah! I’m money!” So it’s really just me taking the piss out of the fact that I was broke while being on a number-one record. It’s actually just being ironic about the whole money thing, because I actually stand for the opposite of putting a lot of emphasis on money.

EW: Would you mind being rich?

K: It’s not at all the reason I’m doing it. I wouldn’t mind it, because it just so happens that if I am a successful musician and I make good records, I might make some money, too, and that’s totally fine. And I love that I don’t have to wait tables, and I’m so appreciative for anything I do earn, but I don’t have to be greedy and gluttonous about the money I’m making.

EW: What inspired the Diddy reference [“Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy”] in “TiK ToK”?

K: I used to live in this sort-of castle in Laurel Canyon. I woke up one morning surrounded by all of my hot babe friends because they had all crashed after a night out. And I woke up surrounded by babes—it was a total babe-fest—and I thought, “This must be what Diddy feels like every morning.” That was the first line of the song, and I took it in and Dr. Luke liked it.

EW: And I hear your family was on The Simple Life?

K: Unfortunately, yes, that is true.

EW: And somehow you vomited in Paris Hilton’s closet?

K: Totally separate occasion, but yes, that did happen. They stayed in my house in Nashville when I was 17. Then fast forward six months, I’m out in LA, and I sing background vocals for her second single. And then that night we went to her house and we were all dancing, hanging out. Then I got overexcited and ralphed in her closet. I thought it was a bathroom… and it just so happened not to be a bathroom. It was a closet.

EW: Did that end things with you and her?

K: That kind of ended the relationship right there.

EW: Do you hold that against her?

K: No, I wouldn’t want to be my friend either.

EW: When you were on The Simple Life, were you thinking about parlaying that into record deal?

K: No, The Simple Life stuff was totally just my mom. She saw an ad in the paper that said, “Looking for an eccentric family,” and I guess my family is the most eccentric family in all of Tennessee, because they picked us to come stay with. But then I was just working on my record at the same time that they were staying at my house for Simple Life. Dr. Luke and Max Martin actually called me and started flying me to New York and flying me to L.A. and wanted to sign me as their artist. Which happened shortly after that.

EW: They’re huge names. What do you think made them want to work with you?

K: Luke said at the end of one of my songs, where a producer generally turns off the track or cuts off the vocals… one producer just let the track roll and I was in the vocal booth just messing around, singing and being totally ridiculous because I just don’t really care. I don’t get embarrassed. And he heard that and he said that was the moment he realized I was willing to put my balls out there and not get embarrassed. I’m irreverent and fun, and he thought that the world needed somebody fun.

EW: And when you peed in a sink at the British Q Awards, were you drunk or did you just really have to go?

K: No, I really had to go. There were a lot of people waiting in line. And there were paparazzi all outside. It was an act of bladder desperation.

EW: You had to realize it would be a media thing, right?

K: No, I really didn’t, because that was my first trip over there, and I guess I just didn’t realize it. I didn’t realize the paparazzi and those magazines (in Britain) were so prevalent. I didn’t know what else to do because there was nowhere else I could go. There were a few people in the bathroom and I was like, “I’m so sorry you guys, but I have to pee.”

EW: When that incident became public knowledge, were you embarrassed?

K: To me it’s not like I’m hurting anybody. It’s just pee. People need to get over it. It’s just urine. It all goes to the same plumbing general area.

EW: So you’re friends with Katy Perry and you’re worked with 3OH!3. Is there anyone else you like in music right now, or anyone you’d like to work with?

K: Well, I really like this band called Miike Snow. They’re amazing. And there are these two producers named Diplo and Switch, they’re really good. And I’d love to work with Santigold. She’s amazing.

EW: In your video you sort of dress like early Madonna. What’s your fashion inspiration?

K: I would call it garbage-can chic, I just kind of… I don’t wear a lot of high heels. Sometimes you’ll catch me in high heels but it’s not my main steez. You can be sexy and attractive and a total fox and not have to wear heels and a push-up bra and spandex. You don’t have to give it all away: it’s really all about confidence. But my main fashion inspiration would be Keith Richards. Sexy pirate.

EW: And why do you think you have a foul-mouthed reputation?

K: I think I am really irreverent and I pretty much just talk to and about men the way men talk to and about women. So they just think it’s so shocking because I don’t have a penis. And I just think it’s a double standard that unfortunately still exists. Because if I were a man… any man on pop radio could say the things I say about men to women, and nobody would even think about it twice.

EW: And you have an album coming out very soon.

K: My album comes out on January 5th and it’s called Animal. I’ve been working on it for six years and I co-wrote every song on the record. And I’m gonna be touring next year. And my live show is not one to be missed: it’s a total sensory assault.

EW: Is the rest of the album similar to “TiK ToK”?

K: “TiK ToK” is a good kickoff single because it’s just a really fun dance party record, but I talk about a lot of different things on the record, and there are a lot of different perspectives. I think there’s a good pop song in pretty much anything. So I have a lot of songs about real life stuff that people go through, but it’s a pop song. Like a guy hitting on you in a bar, or a guy you’re totally in love with but he won’t call you. Or just some guy that trying to talk to you and he’s just talking too much and giving you a headache. Just things that I know everybody experiences and I just write about it. And I think it’s an honest record and really just funny.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Axl Rose issues statement on ‘unprovoked’ paparazzi scuffle
Miley Cyrus song disqualified from Grammy noms
Kanye West responds to EW’s Best of the Decade honor
Lil Wayne’s Rebirth delayed yet again to 2010
Did Eminem call Adam Lambert a homophobic slur?

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Comments (57 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3
  • graeme

    Go away. Please.

    • Rob

      The same could be said for you.

  • jamie

    PLEASE don’t give any time to this no talent hack. pretty please?

  • Brooke

    I don’t know. I like Tik Tok as well as Boots and Boys. I’m curious as to what the rest of the album sounds like.

    • alex

      its good u should buy it i garentee u will like it

  • Sarah

    This interview is hilarious. I actually like “Tik Tok”.

  • lacey

    Either she is amazingly talented or she is the luckiest girl in the world.

    • edita

      or what passes for talent and entertainment is at an all time low and she is taking advantage of that.

    • Ashleigh

      Srsly. I can’t believe “musicians” like Pitbull, David Guetta, Akon, and Jason DeRulo managed to score such popularity with such utterly horrible music. It’s a crime that a “hip-hop” song like “I Know You Want Me” managed to get more airplay than “Day n Night” on radios across the country.

      • edita

        uhh i know you want me honestly makes me gag. its so repulsive. like there is guilty pleasure music, and then there is this, utterly horrible crap that isn’t even good enough for a karaoke bar.

      • Josh

        Well the thing is you call it utterly terrible, and others call it amazing. Day n Night is a good song but it’s very monotonous. Things like “I know you want me” and “Beautiful” by Pittbull and then Akon appeal to a much larger crowd.

    • Kaylah

      I know right. I bet that single was a fluke (referring to Lacey’s comment)

  • edita

    also ticktock is a COMPLETE rip off of the justice and uffie song the party. if i was uffie i would call this trick out on it.

    • anonymous

      how would you know if you can’t even spell the name of the song right?

      • edita

        oh sorry Tik Tok. i see her fans are as bright as she is.

    • Katy

      ok so i dont see the uffie/justic reference at all. they are both party-esc songs but different….

  • psychoanalyzer

    I liked the song before it became super popular because I thought — this is garbage, this is stupid, and this is a guilty pleasure that I and I alone can indulge in without people knowing what the hell I’m listening. If she becomes some standard for being edgy, forward, and muscially sound — I will turn off my radio in the next decade and pull out my dad’s old records and never look back.

    • Raden

      Good web site! I really love how it is spilme on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

  • Lea

    Someone please find this girl a shower, stat. On second thought, take her “garbage-can chic” self, throw her in a dumpster, and set it on fire so we don’t have to listen to her “talent” anymore.

  • Gabby

    I don’t know, I was preparing to write her off (I find her song pretty obnoxious), but now I’m slightly intrigued. She’s not the most articulate, but neither are most of the dime a dozen male hip-hop/R&B acts currently on Top 40 radio. She made a few good points about the industry and what’s considered “sexy” and “feminine,” and I’m interested in seeing whether she actually has a distinctive voice or point of view on her album or if she’s just a flash in the pan one-hit wonder (then again, if someone like Pitbull can get a second crappy single up on the charts with relatively little backlash, then no one can say Ke$ha doesn’t deserve to as well, lol). Let’s withhold judgment until we hear some more of her music.

  • anonymous

    wow. just wow. this interview with her was rather.. odd i guess. she’s not really unique, and her style is sort of lady gaga/katy perry in my opinion

  • Erik

    I am holding off judgement until I hear more from Ke$ha. I am a big GaGa fan, but “Tik Tok” is undeniably catchy (sort of reminds me of Just Dance). However, lightning doesn’t often strike twice at the same time and Lady GaGa appears to have already cemented the title of being the new Princess of Pop. However, given Ke$ha’s public antics and catchy song, history may serve as a teacher… 25-26 years ago, a then young recording artist named Cyndi Lauper was to be the biggest female recording artist of her time. While she was visually exciting and definitely had musical talent, another young woman from Detroit took the world by storm. With a combination of pseudo-punk fashion, outrageous (and now iconic) public appearances anda very mediocre singing voice, Madonna brought Cyndi Lauper’s career to a screaching halt.

    GaGa will need to watch her back, especially over the next 6-12 months as many copycats will emerge. While, Ke$ha is likely just one in a long line who will attempt to capitalize on the GaGa craze, I can’t help but see parallels to what happened between Cyndi and Madonna.

    • Moe

      But Gaga is overall unique while Ke$ha (even with her name and its spelling) seems like a copycat and forced.

      • Stephanie

        GaGa? Unique? Tell that to Roisin Murphy and Madonna, since she basically ripped off both of them. Just because she claims she’s unique doesn’t mean she is…GaGa knows how to spout some bullcrap.

      • Jayne

        Oh, and Steph, don’t forget to mention gaga biting Debbie Harry, Peaches, Boney M, ABBA, Marilyn Manson, Elton John, Billy Joel….
        Cyndi Lauper, Ace of Base, Grace freaking Jones…but a very tame dumbed down version
        Geez, you guys have convinced me! gaga makes this Ke$ha girl look like a ray of uniqueness in a dim world. I see some Hip Hop and early Madge. Me likey.

    • psychoanalyzer

      very interesting point! I love the history behind pop culture. I think with luck, Ke$ha may be more than a flash in the pan, but I’m pretty confident that Lady Gaga has more than solidified herself in the music industry for the next decade. 5 – soon to be 6 – hits in row? Who does that anymore? I commend her. I wasn’t a huge fan of hers at first, but now I repsect her. She’s like bacteria… she grows on you if you let her.

      • Laura

        I wouldn’t be so sure. Two years ago people were saying the same thing about Rhianna and she is struggling right now. I don’t think GaGa has solidified anything yet.

      • Jayne

        This also was on the Dance chart, Freud dude. We ain’t talkin’ about the real deal: the Billboard Top 40. When they try to obscure the stats, you know they are goin’ flat.

    • Jayne

      Yikes, Erik, know your history, homie. “25-26 years ago Cyndi was to become the biggest blah blah”…wha? 1985? Things were decidedly different.

      This Ke$ha has done no overt biting of gaga. Who would want to right now?

  • Tyre

    To be quite honest, the thing that’s most annoying me about this song and the person singing it are the unnecessary cash symbol in her name, the misspelling of tick-tock and the capitalization of the Ks in the before mentioned tick-tock. That alone turns me off, but then to hear her haughtiness and laughable lack of eloquence. No way in hell will I ever listen to her music.

    • Jake

      did you even read the interview about the $ symbol?

      • jk

        Um, her reasoning behind the $ made it even more annoying, if that’s possible.

  • Stephanie

    Not gonna lie, I like her more than Lady GaGa. Maybe that’s just because she’s funnier and doesn’t look like a drag queen.

  • duffy

    her “music” is complete crap. the lyrics are horrendus (“popo shut us down” “boys try to touch my junk”) and theres soooo much auto-tune, there might as well not be a human voice on it at all.

    you can have fun party music without it having to be all about how much liquor you can take.

    • Jealous

      Jealous that she is making it big??? EW seems to be nothing but hate everywhere.

      • duffy

        yeah im jealous of a trick who can’t sing, has a freaking dollar sign in her name, and only has how much alchol she can drink to brag about. sooo jealous.

        stretch your mind alittle bit. nowhere in my comment did i imply that i’m jealous. only that its pathetic that no talents like her can shoot to the top while legit artists have to toil for years to even try to make it big.

  • Bernice

    I have to be honest I’d never heard this song because I pretty much quit listening to the radio and watching MTV a couple of years ago and whenever I turn on the radio I tend to say WTF alot because everything on it is complete trash but then Tik Tok came on one day and my lil sis told me to leave it on because she liked the song and I truly wanted to write it off but its so dang catchy I couldn’t help but like it.

    • blahblah

      Yeah I pretty much stopped listening to the radio because of music like this. I feel like we have lowered our standards when it comes to music. But i guess she’s doing something right if so many people like her. Not for me though, and i definitely think she is low class after this interview.

      • Jayne

        er, but the point was for her to come off as a bumpkin. So, she is a great actress. She didn’t get this far by being a bumpkin, but she fooled you. xo

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