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Ke$ha on Cannibal and Her Haters

After making her album debut with January’s Animal — which featured chart-toppers like “Tik Tok” and “Your Love Is My Drug” — Ke$ha is back on November 22 with a new expanded version of the record, Cannibal. Vulture spoke with the 23-year-old recently about her haters, her singing voice, and whether she’ll ever drop the dollar sign.

Why did you name your new album “Cannibal”?
I think that this year has been just totally insane, and I think that there’s been a little bit of self-devouring. It’s gotten a little intense, and I’m going a little crazy. And I just took Animal a little left, and a little darker, and just a little crazier.

You were recently criticized for not having “the best voice,” and you defended yourself. Do you think your style of music prevents you from showcasing your voice?
I think that it might because it obviously has an electronic element to it. I know that I can sing. That’s the reason I started playing music when I was twelve years old. So if people haven’t seen that yet, then hopefully they will in this repackage. There are definitely two songs on here that showcase that.

A song that you co-wrote with your mom in 2002, “Good-bye,” recently surfaced, and it has a very different, surprisingly sweet sound. Would you ever want to go back to that?
I’ve been writing songs for forever, but yeah, listen to that and obviously I can sing. It’s not the kind of music I’m doing now, but the transformation happened because I went through a rebellious, angsty period of my life, as do most adolescents, and I wanted to capture the essence of youth on the record. I feel like that song was more singer-songwritery, and I can always go there. But you can only really capture the essence of youth when you’re young and living it. The one thing I don’t do is I don’t write bullshit. I write about what I’m going through.

You recently teamed up with the It Gets Better Campaign to fight bullying, particularly among gay youth. Have you had any personal experience with bullying?
Oh absolutely. I have haters. I have so many haters. People assume because you’re in the public eye that we don’t notice or we don’t care about it, but I’ve definitely experienced my fair share of hate. And that’s what doing the It Gets Better Campaign is about, because there will always be haters, there will always be cynical people, and there will always be jealousy. It’s really just learning to ignore the haters and giving them the finger and doing what you know is right for you. That’s what I’ve had to learn how to do, and that’s what hopefully any kids getting bullied would know how to do.

You’ve gotten some heat over your lyrics about subjects like brushing your teeth with a bottle of Jack. Do you actually do that?
I have, but I don’t do it every day. It wasn’t an instruction manual for 8-year-old little girls to do.

You’ve been photographed with blue lips, covered in glitter, and most recently, with a gold tooth. What look are you going for?
I’m trying to look like a cross between Keith Richards and a hobo. But like a really ridiculously hot hobo. Or like a sexy pirate.

Will you ever drop the dollar sign from your name?
I don’t know. It’s ironic. Some people have gotten the irony, some people it’s been lost on. It is definitely obnoxious. But I think part of the job of a pop star is to be a little bit obnoxious, so I think I’m doing my job well.

Ke$ha on Cannibal and Her Haters