Kesha has been lying low since the New York Court ruled against her passionate effort to prematurely end her contract to Dr. Luke, the mega-hit producer Kesha alleges drug, raped, and emotionally abused her. Since then, she's been performing at small venues around the nation. But a sprawling profile by Taffy Brodesser-Akner for The New York Times Magazine was released today, covering everything from the convoluted beginnings of Kesha's career with Dr. Luke to her brief stint in rehab. A subdued Kesha appears in the article as an artist trapped in a cage. It is revealed she has over twenty new songs recorded and collecting dust as her legal battles with Dr. Luke drag on and on. What's most revealing about the article is not so much the supposed events that occurred between Dr. Luke and Kesha, but more so the Kesha we walk in on: struggling to pay her legal bills, forced into playing small venues because not she's not legally allowed to tour, and tired from everything.
Here are some highlights from the powerful piece:
On Dr. Luke: "I remember specifically him saying: 'Make it more dumb. Make it more stupid. Make it more simple, just dumb.'" She tried, joking around with some lyrics she found silly. "I was like, O.K., 'Boys try to touch my junk. Going to get crunk. Everybody getting drunk,' or whatever, and he was like, 'Perfect.' "
On the public's initial response to her image: "You know, when I first came out, I was saying I want to even the playing field. I'm a superfeminist. I am an ultra-till-the-day-I-die feminist, and I am allowed to do, and say, and participate in all the activities that men can do, and they get celebrated for it. And women get chastised for it."
On working with producer Ben Folds on her new sound: "He just really helped pull out of me exactly what I wanted to be, but I've always kind of been scared to try," she recalls. "And he's like, 'Try to sing that high C. Try to go higher. Try to do this weird thing with your voice.' Instead of getting shamed, it was like I was being encouraged and validated, and it was so magical and so beautiful."
The most powerful moment is not what we hear from Kesha, but what we don't get to hear. Throughout the profile Brodesser-Akner talks heavily on a yet-to-be-released song Kesha wrote in rehab on a keyboard piano called "Rainbow". The song was apparently so powerful to Brodesser-Akner, who received an exclusive listening session, she chose to end the profile on it. She writes, "It's big and sweeping, and you can hear every instrument that Ben Folds and his associates played — it does recall a Beach Boys vibe, just as she wanted it to. And as Folds said, the way she sings the song is so rich and so real that it jerks you out of your expectation of a pop song. "I found a rainbow, rainbow, baby," she sings. "Trust me, I know life is scary, but just put those colors on, girl, and come and paint the world with me tonight." In the final section, her voice becomes stronger and more strained, and the effect is devastating. I asked to hear it three more times."
You can read the full profile here.