. In this interview,
recounts never-before-heard life experiences that shaped her early years and brought her to where she is today. From the moment she looked in the mirror and decided she was meant to be a star, to the "Thunder Road" challenge she accepted from her father to land her first baby grand piano, Gaga shares an abundance of personal and poignant stories that includes: the inspiration behind her first song, the impact of being bullied at school, her musical and style influences, her relationship with her family, her love of late night bike rides around Brooklyn, and much more.
Lady Gaga: I don't remember ever even thinking to myself, "My fantasy is the stage." It just was. I was so inspired by musical theater, like Guys and Dolls, the character Adelaide. It was always hard for me, though, because I had such a powerful voice, but I would never get cast in those roles because I was brunette. So, eventually, I bought a wig.
Davi Russo: What was it like, waiting for that audition?
Lady Gaga: Well, I knew that I had the best voice. It was just about the look. And I got that wig, and I just went for it. I just figured it out. And I watched the movie over and over again, and I read the script over and over again. And I remember when I did the audition, I didn't even use the call sheet.
Davi Russo: When you got it, what did it feel like?
Lady Gaga: It was the greatest moment of high school. I tell you, I still dream about that. I still have these crazy dreams that I get cast for that role, and it's always the same role. Always Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. I remember I was in trouble, because I think I was dating someone my father really hater, or i was just being bad. I remember I was being bad and my dad was like, "You're not doing the school play! You're not doing that play!" And I just remember crying and saying, "Daddy! But I'm so good! Daddy, I'm the best. They gave me the lead." And he would go to me, "You're so bad. You're bad."
Davi Russo: Were you really that bad?
Lady Gaga: I was bad.
Davi Russo: I want to take you back to being a kid. What made you want to learn music?
Lady Gaga: I don't know exactly where my affinity for music comes from, but it is the thing that comes easiest to me. When I was like three years old, I may have been even younger, my mom always tells this really embarrassing story of me propping myself up and playing the keys like this because I was too young short to get all the way up there. Just go like this on the low end of the piano. I guess she just looked at my dad one day and said, "We should get her some piano lessons." I started taking from this woman, that was amazing. She was so great. She was like a great friend. I didn't know this at the time, but she was actually a stripper. I remember, I use to say, "Why do you have such long nails? Don't you ever cut your nails?" And she used to say, "Someday you'll understand why I don't cut my nails." And she had these long nails, like I have now. Now I understand. When I play, i would sometimes be very floppy with my hands because it was so theatrical. So I would get really into it and be really emotional when I was playing classical pieces. I had this one teacher that tied a string to my wrists, and I would play Buchanan exercises, they're these really fast scales that go up and down the piano, and then she would put this pink panther action figure that we would balance the neck of the pink panther on the string and play really evenly, so the pink panther wouldn't fall off the string. I was really, really good at piano, so my first instincts were to works so hard at practicing piano, and I might not have been a natural dancer, but I am a natural musician. That is the thing that I believe I am the greatest at.
Davi Russo: Tell me about that first CD. What was that first CD you bought?
Lady Gaga: It was Green Day, Dookie, with my own money. But my parents got me Stevie Wonder, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", and The Beatles. They were two CDs and they were given to me with a boombox, a little boombox, for Christmas when I was young. They could have chosen anything but Stevie Wonder and The Beatles. I mean it's totally their fault. Don't spoon feed me Stevie Wonder and The Beatles, and Bruce Springsteen and Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and Elton John and expect for me not to turn out this way. My dad saw me singing along to his records, and he would pick me up and throw me across the room, and he would laugh and cry with me while I would sing Pink Floyd and Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel records with him.
Davi Russo:Were thesy your dad's records?
Lady Gaga: Oh yeah. All my dad's. My dad was really into rock and roll. It was this special thing between my parents and I, going to see music together. My dad would take to Arthur's cafe, to see, his name was Frankie. He use to sing, "You Sexy Fucking bitch", I remember. And I would always feel really awkward, because my dad was there. But, that's what really shaped my love for music.
Davi Russo: Could you rock out on the piano?
Lady Gaga: Well I knew that on the speakers, but the only music that I knew how to play was classical music. I only knew Beethoven and Mozart and Bach and Chopin and Rachmaninoff. That's all I knew. And then my father gave me for Christmas, it was a Bruce Springsteen song book for the piano. And on it was Thunder Road, which is my favorite Bruce Springsteen song. And my dad said, "If you learn how to play this song, we will take out a lone for a grand piano, a baby grand." It was the hardest thing for me. I was playing these huge pieces, like 15 pages long, and then there was this Bruce Springsteen song. I opened up the book and it was like, guitar chords; I was so confused and didn't understand it. So I just started to read it, and eventually I got it down. I knew what the song sounded like, because my father had been playing it everyday since I was a kid and he would cry every time. He would always cry and he would say, "Baby, I just imagine when you're 18 and leave me for another man." that;s what he used to say. 'Cause the lyrics in that song, "Screen doors slam, Mary's dress sways," is all about the road of life and leaving those behind you. "Like a vision, she dances across the porch as the radio plays." It was just this beautiful thing with my dad. Bruce represents my youth. And he still is so much of my life now. Whenever I search down a highway, I can't not think of Bruce Springsteen. It just doesn't happen. that's what's great with real legends, they own the whole fucking interstate. "It's a town full of losers, and I'm pulling out of here to win." That lyric is like, who fucking rights lyrics like that. it's a nightmare. And that's why I get so passionate about what I do, it's because when I finally written a lyric that is real like that. It's those artist that push me forward. I would spend hours listening to music in front of the mirror, in my mother's pearls, in her fake pearls. I didn't care what they were. I wan't a little girl in that mirror, I was Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard. I was Gloria Estefan on stage. I was whoever I wanted to be. I got discover singing in a store, in a little boutique where we grew up. There were these two guys that worked at the store. They loved fashion and music, and they loved talking about theater. And I became friends with them because came into the store one day with my mom. I would go and hang out for hours. My mom would say, "Where the fuck are you?!" But one day, I started singing and one of them said, "You have a very nice voice." I said, "Thank you." He said, "My uncle is a voice teacher. I'll give you his phone number." I said, "Okay." I had a classical voice teacher at one point, but I never studied anything else and he said he'd teases pop/rock vocals. I thought, "Well that could be really great 'cause I love musicals." So I called Don Lawrence, and he listed off all the people that he has worked with. And they included Mick Jagger, Bono, and Christina Aguilera. My heart sank. He was on speaker, my mother was sitting next to me and I remember we were holding hands and just went like this. She started squeezing my hand. So I went in to meet Don and I sang a song for him. There was a E flat in the song, like a really high, belty note. And I hit the note at the end and I was really proud. And I didn't hit it very well. Little did I know, that I hadn't hit it really well. But it wasn't until I worked with him that my voice really started to grow and change. He looked at me one day, and he said, "You're a pianist." I said, "Yeah." He says, " I can tell." he said " Cause you, the way you understand the scales when we're working. You just really understand what you're doing and you can always tell when I screw up." He didn't screw up really often, but if there was ever a little sour note I would. And to me it was like, yeah. I know. But to him it was like, you're a musician. And i was 13. He said to me, and these were the words that changed my life, Don Lawrence. He looked at me and he said, "Have you ever thought about writing music?" I said, "Well, when I was young I would notate strange things on my Mickey Mouse staff paper. And I've written poetry. But I've never really written a song." He said, "I think you should write a song. I think you would be good at writing songs." And I said, "Okay." Just a few weeks later, I was in the car with my dad, my mom. We were driving back from visiting my grandma, and I had my headphones on. And I was singing my pants off in the car, probably not very well. He said, "The headphones underneath can't her." My dad said, "Hey kid, you're not on stage yet." And I burst into tears and I start screaming. And my mother was like, "What is going on with you?" And we drove to the front of my parents place. My dad was driving the car back to the garage, 'cause you know it was New York so you gotta drive it to the garage ten blocks away and walk home. Pain in the ass. My dad was always gone for about 15 minutes. By the time he had gotten home, i had written my first song. It was called, "To love Again."
Davi Russo: What's that song about?
Lady Gaga: The song is about being in love and the losing it with someone. And then saying we can find what made us fall in love in the first place, and in hindsight I'm like, "What the fuck was I talking about." I was 13, what did I know about love. But I think it was my innocence. Of course my first song would be some giant, theatric power ballad.