SELENA GOMEZ LAYS IT DOWN ON HER HIT SONG: THE HEART WANTS WHAT IT WANTS. NOW PREPARING FOR A SLEW OF FILM ROLES AND A NEW ALBUM (ON A NEW LABEL), THE ACTRESS AND POP STAR TELLS JAMES FRANCO THAT WHAT SHE WANTS TODAY IS SIMPLY TO GROW UP, MOVE ON, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, BID FAREWELL TO EXPECTATIONS
JAMES FRANCO: Hi, Selena.
SELENA GOMEZ: Well hello, James!
JF: Do you normally get up this early?
SG: Yes, but not on Saturdays.
JF: What is the schedule like when you’re making an album?
SG: I have a little brunch or breakfast, go in, get situated, and then it depends. I’ll go in and sometimes I really feel a song or two, and then I’ll leave.
JF: So, if you’re having an off day in the studio you’ll just call it off or take a break?
SG: Yeah. I have to leave. It’s just not even worth it.
JF: But what’s not working?
SG: Well, especially if I didn’t write the song, if I go in and I’ve bonded with the producers and they’ve envisioned a story being told a certain way, sometimes I just won’t find that thing that I can really connect with. I’ll try it out because obviously I love to see and try new things and have a different take, especially now that I’m with a new label [Interscope Records]. They’re really wonderful, and helping me figure out my voice, which after I don’t know how many years I’ve been doing this, I still don’t even really know what that means, my voice. But it’s fun to find out. So yeah, sometimes I just won’t feel it. I’m like, I just don’t think this is me, I’m sorry, and I’ll just step out.
JF: How do the music and lyrics usually come together?
SG: Well, the first time I recorded an album I was 15, so how am I really gonna talk about heartbreak and devastation and loss then? I’m just gonna talk about dancing and jumping around. I’d come in and I’d want things that were uplifting and positive, and then once I started living life, I guess I realized I’m definitely not jumping around all the time and I’m definitely not super stoked every damn day. So, with this one, particularly, I wanted to work with people who’d pull that out of me. What I love about the opportunities I’ve had so far is that I have people who are willing to push me—including yourself—to go there emotionally. I like when people do that in the studio. This is a true story, this literally happened yesterday: I was starving, I hadn’t eaten for, like, six hours, and I kept asking when the food was coming. I was like, I’m sorry, my voice just sounds like I’m wearing it out because I’m starving. They held the food off for an hour and a half because they liked the desperation in my voice. That’s kind of genius to me. I was like, I’m not even mad at you but I’m definitely mad at you! After my burrito, it sounded completely different.
JF: So, if you’re saying that this is the more experienced album, they can’t just all be super downers, right?
SG: Yeah, it’s just adding texture really, because my music is just super light, like disco. I have those songs that have a great time and let loose, because thank goodness I still have the ability to do that. So, we set up different little camps. For two weeks, I’ll work with Stargate, and for two weeks, I’ll work with Zedd. When you’re in the studio you don’t know what time of day it is, you kind of go into this vortex with these five or six people and you end up just getting to know them. At the moment I probably do need a more upbeat song to be honest, but the stuff I’m coming up with is great. It’s just more about how I’m going to tell my story. I think I’m putting way too much pressure on myself, but I haven’t released music in two years. Now I’m an adult and I think that people are going to be interested to know what that means.
JF: Do you tell the producers, I’ve had this experience, this is how I’m feeling about it?
SG: Yeah. I spend some time with them, listen to different songs they’ve done, or just listen to beats. For me, the definition of my voice is that the listener doesn’t imagine anybody else singing this song but Selena. “Come & Get It,” maybe a couple of other people could have sang that song. That was only because I didn’t have the opportunity to work with Stargate like I do now. I think we’ve really, together, collaboratively worked and found this really cool sound.
JF: Tell me, generally speaking, how you would characterize these past two years.
SG: [laughs] Generally speaking, the past two years, James? It’s just such an awkward time in my life. I think this year is going to be incredible, I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life, but I mean, your 20s, good God, you know? I’m super stoked that I’ve got some bumps on me, some scars, some bruises. I actually really love that. And I don’t mean that in a morbid way. It was great to experience really beautiful things, and then, you know, have the growing pains, in every possible manner, in every relationship. It was family, it was business, it was buying my first home, moving out of my parents’ house. There was so much going on. You can’t help but have some troubles here and there. I don’t think it’s a smooth process for anyone, and it definitely wasn’t for me.
JF: So, when we act, right, some characters might be closer to ourselves than others, but there’s still this mask of a character over us. Musicians also in some ways have that mask, but people read that work as true. Certainly a singer’s work. Do you feel that difference when you’re acting and when you’re making music?
SG: No, yeah, it’s way different. There’s this soul connection to someone when you’re just Selena. When I’m onstage, talking about life, whether I’m just rambling, or I’m singing, or crying…I usually always cry, so they can feel when I feel those emotions. I can instantly see in their eyes in that moment, and how they take it. It can be a little girl on her dad’s shoulders and she’s just living her life, maybe at her first concert ever, and then next to her could be a 15-year-old girl who has been bullied, and you can see it, you can see it in all of their eyes. And then you’ve got the guys who are just there throwing their boxers onstage. It’s just kind of all over the place.
JF: You have the added energy of a direct connection.
SG: And you have to think about it, it’s mostly kids, which to me is even crazier. To lock eyes with this little girl that is looking at you as if you are everything. That is so overwhelming. I mean you could Google me crying and there are probably millions of videos.
JF: So you usually cry when you see the children?
SG: Yeah. It’s the kids. There’s just something so pure and innocent and you can just tell they’re feeling so much by even just being there, that they’re crying. It’s so crazy and it’s beautiful, it’s awesome, you know, I remember I felt that about a few artists.
JF: Who did you go to see when you were that kid?
SG: My first one was Britney Spears, and we sat all the way in the nosebleeds. I didn’t care, I was living my life, and my mom got me a glow stick so I was very excited. Christina Aguilera and ’N Sync. Actually, my mom cried because she didn’t realize she had gotten tickets behind a pole, but we ended up hanging out with the ladies in front of us. I will never forget that. And then Shania Twain. I’m from Texas, so I just wanted to be her. [laughs] I did a whole Britney tribute on, not my last tour, but the tour before that. I did a little monologue talking about how I used to be that little girl and now I’m here and it’s nuts. People ask, What’s your first concert? and I say Britney Spears. You ask these kids when they’re 30 what their first concert was and they’re going to say me. I need to deliver some good stuff.
JF: Do you feel a large responsibility to your fans?
SG: I used to have a very unhealthy perspective on it, to the point where I would be 21 and I would be nervous to, you know, have a glass of wine. I didn’t want anyone to see me. Honestly, I think Spring Breakers is what really helped me understand that I don’t think I’m giving my fans enough credit. I started my show when I was 13. So either they’re my age now, or teenagers. Do you remember, at the Toronto Film Festival, when I was with Harmony [Korine, director of Spring Breakers] and I was freaking out because the first two rows were 15- to 18-year-olds with my CD? I’d thought you had to be 18 to get in. Harmony was laughing at me the entire time. I went in and just watched the movie, and they were actually laughing when they needed to laugh, and they were scared when they needed to be scared. I know I have younger fans that still follow me, but I don’t even think they registered what Spring Breakers is, which is great, so there’s that balance. The 15-year-olds get it. They know I’m not chilling with you in a hot tub with Vanessa [Hudgens] and Ashley [Benson]. I think that’s when things started. It was a good kind of shake-up, defending something I actually believed in. Oh my God, that press tour was amazing because every person was saying, You’re a role model and you’re doing a movie like this? After that screening, though, I was just able to pop off answers. Like, You were in a bikini! I’d say, Well, what would you like us to be in? It makes you more vulnerable if you get arrested and you have no clothes on. How is a young girl going to feel? You’re going to feel scared and vulnerable. I wasn’t in a turtleneck on the beach, or feeling safe and warm in a jail.
JF: When you were offered the movie, was that—your fans—one of the reasons that you wanted to play the role you did, because she’s the girl with the biggest conscience, who doesn’t go along with my character, Alien?
SG: Honestly, I just wasn’t ready. I saw Harmony last year, before the holidays, and I even said, Now I think I’d be ready to play one of the other characters, and he started laughing, and was like, Totally. I think it was just where I was. You’re going to laugh at me, but I genuinely didn’t think a lot of people were going to hear about it. I genuinely thought that only people who like Harmony and really underground stuff would see it. And then obviously we’re in Florida with, like, 500 photographers and it was all over the place.
JF: I no longer read press about myself, but Harmony sent articles, so I know that we did get a lot of very, very positive press. But some people just aren’t going to get it. Did you experience any of that? Maybe people who liked you for Wizards of Waverly Place were like, What the heck is this?
SG: [laughs] Yes, yeah, oh yeah, I deal with that a lot in general. There is always this perception of what people want me to be, and then they meet me or have a conversation with me and it’s completely different. It’s great that I’ve been able to kind of be consistent, but it’s also an opportunity for me to really shock people in film.
JF: How do you manage having this public persona?
SG: Well, I think I had to rewire my brain a little bit. The older I was getting, the more insecure I was getting, which I didn’t think would be the case. Last year was me trying to figure out how to reverse that, thinking, I actually, really, like, I don’t do anything. I go out every now and then, I’ll go to Soho House, do the typical L.A. thing, or I’m at home. That’s kind of my everyday life. I want to enjoy myself and have fun. I think I had to just figure out what genuinely made me happy. I did what you did. I don’t read anything about me anymore at all. I don’t spend my time tiptoeing around certain things, because the things I’m going to do aren’t bad. I’ll be 22 soon and I could go to a bar or go to the movies. I could do what I like.
JF: I think celebrities in general, but you in particular, have this thing where if you, Selena, wear short shorts, it’s a headline on my Huffington Post app. That must be in your head when you dress in the morning: What am I going to wear, and is it going to turn into a fucking headline? Not everybody in the world has to deal with that.
SG: It just causes a lot of anxiety. There were a few months where I was a little depressed, where I wouldn’t leave as much. I love my home, it’s a really nice house and it’s the first home I’ve owned, so I have a music room and I have a nice kitchen and I kind of just stayed put for a while, but it drove me crazy. I think I drove myself crazy for a little bit. It was just easier to say, Hey, do you mind running to the grocery store and picking some stuff up, I don’t want to get photographed. My friends will come over and I’ll have movie nights and then I’ll have not left the house, just because that was in the back of my mind. As much as I don’t like to wake up and think about that it’s there, it’s naturally just there. My response was to stay in, which sucked. That’s what I was trying to fix this past year, I’m finally getting a little bit more comfortable. It’s a process.
JF: What seems like one of the bigger drags is that you can’t just enjoy that kind of private regular citizen activity. The cameras are these big, flashing arrows. It’s like, You’re not getting me doing anything, I’m just walking out of the airport, but you’re calling all this attention to me and then it seems like I’m creating this situation.
SG: Oh yeah, for sure, I mean I think I’m a classified fame whore to so many people. So many people think it’s my fault, like I caused it. It blows, it really does, and I have people-pleasing issues, so, for example, I was in Boston and it was snowing and I was walking to the hotel and this elderly man held the door open for his wife, and I said, Oh, thank you so much, and I walked in. And his 19-or-something-year-old, like, granddaughter snapped at me for cutting off an elderly woman. I tried to explain that I didn’t mean to, there was nothing I did wrong, and later I was in the elevator and I was thinking, She’s going to tell people that I was awful and that I was disrespectful, and they’re going to tell people and they’re going to tell other people, and it just kind of started eating me alive. That’s how I process things. I’ve got to work on that. But I still remember. Hopefully she’ll read this.
JF: So now, I need some Instagram advice. You are one of the masters. How do you have so many followers?
SG: [laughs] I don’t know! There’s no secret. It’s super bipolar. Sometimes I’ll be in pigtails and I’ll be at the pool, and then next thing you know I look like I’m 35 on the cover of Latina.
JF: And what’s your percentage of selfies? You know that the followers would rather see you. You know that, right?
SG: Of course, well, I mean, I don’t know. Some video I made was really cool and I’ve never had videos get a lot of likes, but that almost hit a million. It’s also situational. When I was on tour, I posted a lot of photos of the fans. But when I’m just hanging out, reading scripts, it’s like, Okay, selfie time.
JF: You can be my guru in this area too: how do you manage a public relationship?
SG: I think I would be silly to say that it wasn’t maybe caused a little bit by us. I mean, we were very young, so it was very fun. It was great to have somebody at all those things, and then you don’t really become individual. And that went public. It also looked like it went public especially more so for me. Because we were so young, we were definitely easy targets. So, I don’t really know how to answer that because I don’t really do anything other than what I feel I want to do, what I feel like I need to do, and that may not make a lot of sense to a lot of people, and that’s totally fine, but it’s definitely not my favorite part of who I am.
JF: That becomes part of your life, if you’re dating someone and you’re with someone, it is part of your life. Is there a push to share some of it, and then also this defensive reaction when the glare of the lights and the interest gets so hot that you want to hide it away?
SG: I think the next time will be much different…which will definitely not be any time soon. That’s a growing up kind of thing. I was 18 years old, and it was my first love. The older I get, I’m guarding certain things more. After being put through the scrutiny, I understand what it is. When you’re young and you’re being told so many different things…it almost felt like all we had was each other, like the world was against us, in a way. It was really weird but it was incredible. I would never take it back in a million years. You live and you learn, you know?
JF: On some levels it’s so silly that media outlets, adults, are commenting on every moment of your relationship and they’re obviously doing it because there’s great interest from their readers, but they’re trying to have their cake and eat it, too. They’re reporting on what they know will get attention, but then they’re trying to act as if they’re lowering themselves by commenting on a teenager’s relationship.
SG: Right, yeah, well you said it, not me. [laughs] That would be my favorite response to interviewers. I would just say, Well, what were you doing at 18 years old? What were you doing at 21 years old? That’s all it is. It’s not even about a relationship, it’s about where you were, it’s about the kind of choices you were making.
JF: And any 20-year-old can wear short shorts and go to the mall and it’s not a news story but if you do it, it becomes a news story. Teenagers have relationships, they fall in love, and it’s not a news story. It’s partly because you started so young and a lot of early work was of a certain nature and then, like anyone, you came of age. There’s this weird kind of attention and focus on you that I think has positive aspects—you can use it in your work, use it in your album, but then there’s also this frenzy of interest in everything Selena.
JF: Is that fair to say?
SG: Yes, you’re absolutely right, I just feel like it’s going to be that way for a bit and then it’ll be somebody else. I used to go to some events and I wouldn’t know anyone. All of a sudden all my friends are doing awesome things and I’m seeing them at these things and I’m starting to know people, and I start stepping back and looking at how it works. Then it’ll be a whole new wave of people. I’m here for this second, and for some reason people are interested in the strangest things at this moment, but I’m just trying to do what I love and do it well. I feel like I haven’t even really started my career, so I’m excited to see where that goes.
Source: V Magazine