Lizzo, Billie Eilish & Camila Cabello cover ELLE’s Women in Women in Music October issue, on newsstands 9/24. Three of the most rule-breaking, genre-busting women in music—are here to cut through the noise. Billie opens up about finally being able to feel happy, Lizzo reflects on taking self-love seriously and Camila talks about her relationship with Shawn Mendes and keeping things private. Photographed by Yvan Fabing and styled by Anna Trevelyan.
Reflecting on her early music days in Minnesota: “I miss those days. Not just when Prince was physically with us, but how it felt to be young and excited about music, and life, and not knowing what was next, and not having money but manifesting our dreams. There’s a spirit of adventure that I took away from that—to never let life and music not feel adventurous, and to always push yourself and believe in the magic you’re creating.”
On the inspiration for her songs: “My songs feel happy, but they come from a sad or frustrated place,” she says. “My songs are always the silver lining or the ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ moments.” That’s especially true of “Soulmate,” “Truth Hurts,” and “Crybaby,” all three of which she either wrote or recorded through tears. “Those songs are actual anecdotes, like real stories about real moments in time. ‘Pull this car over, babe’—that is something that happened to me. ‘New man on the Minnesota Vikings’—that happened to me. ‘Old me used to love a Gemini’—that happened!”
On how learning how to communicate her feelings has been “revolutionary” in her life: “You realize that people truly care about you and they’ll help you, and they don’t mind helping you.” Now when she feels down, she tells someone (or a lot of someones). “Being in those places is inevitable for me; I’m going to end up there again,” she adds. “But the fact that I’m prepared now to go to those places—and I have a toolbox, and I know I can pull myself out—is really helpful to me in my mental health journey.”
On taking self-love seriously: “I take self-love very seriously. And I take it seriously because when I was younger, I wanted to change everything about myself,” she says. “I didn’t love who I was. And the reason I didn’t love who I was is because I was told I wasn’t lovable by the media, by [people at] school, by not seeing myself in beauty ads, by not seeing myself in television…by lack of representation. My self-hatred got so bad that I was fantasizing about being other people. But you can’t live your life trying to be somebody else. What’s the point?”
On being authentic and not setting out to be antipop: “When you’re trying to come off a certain way, it’s not gonna work. I was just making songs with my brother. Now it’s like a thing: I’m this artist who’s going against the whatever-the-f***.” She puts her hands up. “Where?! I wasn’t saying, ‘F*** pop!’ I was just making what I wanted.”
On being lucky to have a family that keeps her grounded: “I’m lucky to have a family that I like, and that likes me. The only reason I do what I do is because my parents didn’t force me. If they’d said, ‘Here’s a guitar, here’s a microphone, sing and write,’ I would have been like, ‘Goodbye! I’m gonna go do drugs.’ ”
On why quitting Twitter was “the best decision of my life”: “I was in Europe, in one of the worst headspaces I’ve been in. That’s when I realized, ‘You know what? Bye!’ There are so many things I can’t stop, but I can delete Twitter.” On Instagram, it’s easier to ignore comments. Twitter is nothing but comments, and she found herself looking at every one. “I have too much love for myself—I don’t need to see all these opinions. Shoo!”
On finally being able to feel happy and being hurt by cynics who accused her of faking depression: “I’m finally—” she says, hesitating. “I’m finally not miserable. Two years ago, I felt like nothing mattered; every single thing was pointless. Not just in my life, but everything in the whole world. I was fully clinically depressed. It’s insane to look back and not be anymore,” she says. Some cynics have accused her of faking depression. “It hurt me to see that. I was a 16-year-old girl who was really unstable. I’m in the happiest place of my life, and I didn’t think that I would even make it to this age.
I haven’t been happy for years. I didn’t think I would be happy again. And here I am—I’ve gotten to a point where I’m finally okay. It’s not because I’m famous. It’s not because I have a little more money. It’s so many different things: growing up, people coming into your life, certain people leaving your life. All I can say now is, For anybody who isn’t doing well, it will get better. Have hope. I did this shit with fame riding on my shoulders. And I love fame! Being famous is great, but it was horrible for a year. Now I love what I do, and I’m me again. The good me. And I love the eyes on me.”
On finding her confidence and not being afraid to speak her mind: “I think I just know myself more,” she says. “I’m more gentle with myself. I think I naturally have less anxiety now, because I realized that so many of the things that brought it on weren’t so scary after all. No matter who the person is or how much I want to impress them, I’m not going to let that rule how I act, how open I am, or what my opinion is. “I’m just going to be myself. I listen to my gut. That’s all I can do.”
On keeping her romantic relationships private: “Love is the most sacred, precious thing to me. I want to always feel like my love is between me and that person, and never belonging to anyone else. As much as I love my fans, and as much as I love people, I like to live my life as normally as possible. In a relationship, it makes me feel uncomfortable to invite everyone in on that.”
On her relationship with Shawn Mendes: “I don’t know; people can say whatever they want to say. They can speculate, but at the same time, we are going to live our own lives, enjoy it, and fall for each other like nobody is watching. That is how I want to live. I never want to open the door for people to feel like they are involved. Like I said, I want it to be mine and [his]. That’s why I’m so tight-lipped about it: because I want to protect it.
On working with Shawn on “Señorita”: “I mean, I love him. We have always connected; we have the best time together. Shawn texted me the idea for the chorus for “Señorita.” He was like, “Hey, what if we work on this and do it together?” I was on the Taylor Swift tour and hadn’t been in the studio for a while. I didn’t want to do it, and then a few months later, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. I [finally] told him, “I think we should do this.” He was like, “I don’t want to do it anymore.” It went back and forth for, like, eight months. Then we finally went into the studio and reworked it so we both felt good about it, without any pressure. I love working with him so much.”
[Photo Credit: Yvan Fabing/ELLE Magazine]
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