Her album Bangerz was one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year and her latest video, ‘Wrecking Ball’ broke YouTube viewing records in 24 hours, so it’s safe to say that Miley Cyrus is on a bit of a high right now.
Starting out as the saccharine sweet TV character Hannah Montana when she was just 13, Miley has grown up on a world stage and has let the public in on her life since then, courting controversy along the way – whether that’s in the form of a nearly naked shoot with a bed sheet for Annie Leibovitz at 15 or twerking provocatively with Robin Thicke at the VMAs this August. But the one constant? The public fascination with the young woman from Nashville has never subsided. But why?
When Miley bounded into the Hunger office, wearing six inch thigh-high leather boots, barely there hot pants, a grungy checked shirt with bright red lips, smoking cigarettes and laughing over animatedly, I’ll admit, I was dubious. Surely she was just another attention grabbing child star with an ego bigger than her entourage and a furious PR machine behind her to rival the size of a small country?
But I was the one left eating my words as, throughout her shoot, Miley was warm, friendly, incredibly easy going (“sure I’ll wear that, whatever you think is best, and can I have your number so we can go shopping while I’m here?”) and a damn sight more open than many of her cagey, over media trained counterparts that express zero opinion of their own and act as though they’ve just undergone a lobotomy in interviews. And something else that struck me? Miley is incredibly savvy. Many have pondered as to whether the popstar is a well (and barely) dressed puppet of the industry, but Miley knows exactly what she’s doing, and according to her, has to often coax her management into going along with her more outlandish ideas. And it’s her that comes up with her public image and performances as she knows it will shock people, so in turn will keep them talking, which will then equate to album sales. A clever formula, and one that’s obviously working. Here Miley tells us why she’s the one having the last laugh.
YOUR NEW ALBUM, BANGERZ WAS RELEASED TODAY – HOW IS THIS ALBUM A PROGRESSION BOTH LYRICALLY AND MUSICALLY?
I feel like a lot of it now is mostly visual. People are so obsessed with what I’m doing visually and I think it will be good for people to hear more than just ‘Can’t Stop’ or ‘Wrecking Ball’ so they can get the whole vision of what I’m doing. Because right now I’m the only one in the world who’s heard all the music and so I keep trying to explain to people what I’m doing that’s different and what kind of sound it is but it’s something you can’t really describe. I think people just have to hear it for the first time, I can’t wait.
WHEN YOU RELEASED YOUR TRACK LISTING WE NOTICED THAT THERE’S A SONG ON THERE WITH BRITNEY?
I think West Hollywood just exploded, every gay area in the world just shot up into pink glitter dust.
WHAT’S SHE LIKE TO WORK WITH?
She’s awesome. In album packaging I know no one gives posters and stickers anymore. That was important for me to give a like poster, for me to give stickers and gifts because when I was younger my first record I went to buy was Britney Spears and right away I wanted her poster up. I think she represented a time when people had a different connection with their fans, not just about Twitter and all this but there was something about going and buying a record and every Britney record I’ve gone out and I’ve bought because there’s something about holding that album and you’re excited to see what’s inside. She’s like an icon in that way and so I wanted to bring her back to that, I just kept telling her, “Britney you don’t really realise actually how dope [you are]. People tell me I represent their childhood, for me you represent my entire childhood, like you were the soundtrack to my life.” I want her to realise how really dope she is and how she’s a living legend. You know when you’re 30 you don’t realise what you are, I want her to take herself out of it and realise “I’m Britney Spears”. So I wanted to celebrate that in the song, I wanted it to be like this is Britney, it’s not even about her singing as much as it is her voice. She’s got one of those speaking voices that as soon as she opens her mouth you know it’s Britney Spears and I wanted it to be about that.
EVERYONE IS OBSESSED WITH YOU AT THE MOMENT. IS THAT DIFFICULT WHEN PEOPLE ARE SEARCHING THROUGH YOUR WORK TRYING TO FIND THINGS OUT ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL LIFE – LIKE ‘WRECKING BALL’ FOR EXAMPLE?
Yeah, it does bug me but then again I had two years where I really just hid out in the studio and I didn’t really work, I didn’t really do anything. I pretty much sat around with my friends and didn’t do shit, so now it just feels like that’s what it needs to be. I’m either a zero or a million, there’s really no in between, I’m so hot or cold. So either I have to have everything about my music and have nothing else matter or it has to be everything else matters and career doesn’t matter at all. I kind of have to choose what my time is and that’s why I think it’s good when you can shut off, it’s too much to balance real life and this.
Right now it has to be go time. You don’t pause when a rocket ship is taking off, you don’t say “hold on I gotta go smoke with my friends’ you know you’ve got to just go, it’s your time. And so, I just make sure I keep reminding myself, this is my time. It’s hard right now I’ve got to keep pushing myself. Once the music is out it’s going to feel more inspiring because I’m going to get to perform more, where I get the people singing the songs back. Right now it’s trying to describe it and I don’t really know how.
DOES IT EVER MAKE YOU MORE GUARDED OR THINK “MAYBE I’LL KEEP THAT TO MYSELF” OR ARE YOU JUST LIKE “WHATEVER I’M GOING TO PUT EVERYTHING OUT THERE”?
I’m a little…I’m not guarded because I’m actually jaded, but I feel like a lot of people feel like they owe people their personal life and I don’t. I feel like I give so much as an entertainer, I want people to focus on that. It’s not really talking about my personal life when it’s people talking about VMAs or talking about my videos, that’s what I do as a job and I want people to talk about those things because it is keeping everyone watching.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BASICALLY THE MOST FAMOUS WOMAN IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW?
It feels pretty sick. Only because like I said I have been gone for a few years, where I wasn’t doing anything and I wasn’t working. So now it feels like all that work in the studio did pay off. And I had so many times where I had to tell people like, “Yo, just trust me, I’m telling you with this ‘Can’t Stop’ video this is going make people watch” or with ‘Wrecking Ball’ saying, “this is going to make people go crazy.” And once I did ‘Can’t Stop’ that’s when people really started trusting me. At first on paper that video sounded insane, no one understood it and I’m just like, “let me film it and then if it doesn’t work out you never have to trust me again but if it works out you have to let me drive this ship, you know I’m on to something.” And then they call me and they’re like “yo, you’re onto something!”
You know me and Rankin were talking about it. With magazines, with movies, it’s always weird when things are targeted for young people yet they’re driven by people that are like 40 years too old. It can’t be like this 70 year old Jewish man that doesn’t leave his desk all day, telling me what the clubs want to hear. I’m going out, I know what they want to hear. I know when you’re in a club, what makes everyone go crazy and when the time is where everyone’s like “alright I’m going go get a drink”. I know when people walk off the dance floor and I know what’s driving it so I’ve got to be the one doing it because they’re just not in on what 20 year olds are doing.
SPEAKING OF THE VIDEO FOR WRECKING BALL, YOU AND TERRY RICHARDSON SEEM LIKE A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN.
It’s ridiculous, that’s how I felt about Rankin now too. I was like “this is a match made, this is the whole thing.”
WHOSE IDEA WAS WRECKING BALL? DID YOU HAVE MUCH CREATIVE CONTROL?
Yeah I came to Terry and I had said I wanted to create something kind of like Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares To You.’ I said a lot of people tried to recreate it, a lot of people have tried to get that emotion in but there’s something about the way he did it. It had to be a different look it, it had to be real. It can’t be someone running in with the gelatin eye drops and trying to look beautiful it just needed to be really beautiful. There’s something obviously sexual about it but that’s not what the video is driven by, it’s actually driven by emotion, it’s an emotional video but people only really look at the sexuality because they don’t really try to see the full thing
DID YOU INTEND IT TO BE SHOCKING?
I’m surprised people are still shocked, I’m glad that tactic is still working because I expected people at some point just to not be shocked.
DO YOU LIKE SHOCKING PEOPLE?
Well, it couldn’t be the same kind of shock as ‘Can’t Stop’ it had to be like, “Woah I didn’t expect Terry Richardson and I didn’t expect all this.” It has to be the full package because you can talk about the sexuality all you want but you also have to reference back that it’s Terry. You have to respect the fact that it’s art, you have to respect the fact that when you watch the video it makes you feel something and gets you choked up at some points.
STYLE IS ANOTHER THING THAT OBVIOUSLY HAS EVOLVED FOR YOU. YOUR STYLE HAS EVOLVED FROM THE HANNAH MONTANA PHASE TO NOW, SO WHAT’S YOUR LOOK NOW?
I work a lot with Marc Jacobs. He kind of brought me into fashion when I was 16, that was when I started being around him and just learning from him. He let me inspire some of his pieces and now I feel like it’s just about having the right people around you.
With the ‘Wrecking Ball’ video or ‘Can’t Stop’, there are parts of it that of course are for a mature audience, but there’s something kind of immature about it because the party’s so ridiculous, it always has to have a balance and a ying yang to it. That’s the same as ‘Wrecking Ball’. It has to be sexy and strong and that’s what I feel like with fashion, I feel like Marc does that so well. There’s definitely something amazing about being so lady like yet being so punk and that’s more of what I am even if I’m wearing things that aren’t. I like having this punk feel about it even if it’s like Louboutin. You’ve got to find the right designers that know how to mix. When I was in Paris working with Kenzo, that’s something that they do really well there too. Like fashion and everything else, it doesn’t need to be so serious. People take it too seriously, it’s supposed to be self expression and how you want people to see you. I read that 80% of what people think about you is made off the first ten seconds they meet you and you look at someone and you say “are they competent, are they this, are they that?” And for me if that’s what people are looking at for the first 30 seconds they see me they’re going to think they know who I am so I want you to take in everything and I want everything to be representing who I am.
PEOPLE HAVE CRITICISED YOU AND SAID YOU’RE NOT A GOOD ROLE MODEL BUT YOU’RE STILL GETTING MORE COLUMN INCHES THAN PROBABLY ANY OTHER POPSTAR AT THE MOMENT, ARE YOU HAVING THE LAST LAUGH?
Yeah. I mean that’s how I always try to think of it. It’s like a sales person really, you know you’re like “this shit does not get rid of your wrinkles but if I sell it well enough you know, they’re gonna buy into it” and it’s like the exact same thing for me. At the end of the day I want people to buy my records, it isn’t about thinking just about this two minute performance on VMAs or this music video. I want people to want to hear my records and the more that they’re wondering what the hell is she doing, the more they’re going to want to listen to my record.
THERE IS SO MUCH WRITTEN ON YOU BUT WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SAY TO THE WORLD – COMING STRAIGHT FROM MILEY?
Buy my fucking album…now.
AND LASTLY, YOU’RE 21 IN NOVEMBER, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR YOUR PARTY?
Hopefully get away; I’ve got to go somewhere nice. I never get a vacation so I’m going to try and schedule in a vacation of some sort. I might hibernate for my 21st birthday, that’ll give people a shock!
Bangerz is out now.