Katy Perry Woke Up. She Wants To Tell You All About It.

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When, in February, Katy Perry released ‘Chained To The Rhythm’, the ultra-catchy first taste of new album ‘Witness’, it seemed like something of a rebirth had happened. The pop megastar behind 2010’s ‘Last Friday Night (TGIF)’, a song about waking up to post-party carnage, had instead woken up to modern politics, referencing the toxic effects of social media feedback bubbles and concerns about personal liberty (“Come on, turn it up, keep it on repeat / Stumbling around like a wasted zombie / Yeah, we think we’re free / Drink, this one’s on me”). The single promised to usher in a new era of what Perry neatly described

as “purposeful pop”. Her Twitter bio was “Artist. Activist. Conscious.”

Four months later, in the present day, Perry’s bio reads as follows: “I know nothing.” What happened? “The genuine story behind that,” she says, after a long précis of her journey so far, “is whenever I think I know something I just get served.” Served by what? “By the universe.”

Perry has been in London for less than 24 hours. It’s midnight when we meet at a five-star hotel in the West End, and she’s practically bouncing off the walls. She’s wearing stilettos and a boxy, silver-coloured couture jumpsuit, with arcs of geometric blue eyeshadow. She looks like an android and moves like Tigger, bounding into the suite belting out the chorus to Kanye West’s ‘All Of The Lights’ as hotel staff struggle to turn them on.

She circuits the room and, finding a microphone tucked away in a corner, grabs it and does a mock talent show for the benefit of the half-dozen people present. Perry stops, declares she wants a “SPAG BOL” and flops down in a booth for the interview, removing five chunky rings from her fingers as she does, as if to imply she might deck me but spare my teeth. Only when she occasionally stops mid-sentence does Perry show any sign of fatigue. “I’m jet-lagged, so…” she says. She seems full of beans, I comment. “I am full of beans! I’ve always been full of beans. Magical beans.”

Three hours ago, Perry played a secret show at Water Rats, the tiny King’s Cross venue where, nine years ago, she made her London debut. As well as performing a near-incomparable string of hits (you know

all of them), she handed her own phone to a fan to stream the whole gig, cried real, honest tears when paying tribute to the victims of the terror attack at Manchester Arena and talked at length in a stream of consciousness, at one point extolling the virtues of “beautiful, consensual sex” in your thirties. In a time when pop stars are too afraid to say or do something weird or controversial or different, Perry is the blessed antidote.

Her new album has a song about “beautiful, consensual” sex on it, too, called ‘Tsunami’. She describes the songs on ‘Witness’ – out today – as being “like body parts”. Sheelaborates: “‘Swish Swish’ is the middle finger, ‘Bon Appétit’ is maybe the p**sy, ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ is the mind, you know, so it’s kind of like I’m having a mental liberation, or I’m having a sexual liberation, or I’m having a liberation from all the negative things that don’t serve me.”

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The record sees Perry working with a cast of A-list collaborators (plus some surprises – UK geektronica types Hot Chip appear on one track) on 15 tracks of very good,very modern pop. Also present is songwriting supremo Max Martin, co-author of Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’, widely believed to be a f**k-you track to, well, Katy Perry. Awks? “I can’t speak for him, but he didn’t know [who ‘Bad Blood’ was about],” says Perry. “I’m not supposed to tell him what he can and can’t do. I’m very fair; I’m super-duper fair and I’m not one of those people who’s like, ‘You can’t do that because I don’t like that person. Just, like, you do you, make your own choices.’ And I love Max. I’ve been working with Max my whole career. I’m not his mother and he was fine before I met him, you know what I’m saying?He’ll be fine continuing.”



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