Is vodka neat always your drink of choice?
Oh yeah. Mine is straight vodka! I really enjoy it. I always have. Maybe it’s the Slovak in me.
Are you still on a high from your Lollapalooza performance this afternoon?
It’s really weird. I had a little bit of a moment today where I thought, “I made this stuff in my room and now I’m playing at Lollapalooza.”
How did Lollapalooza differ from Coachella?
I thought there were a lot of people at Coachella. I played the Sahara tent and it was full. It was so crazy. My parents flew out; it was very different in the sense that Coachella was my first American show. I was super nervous about it; I had just released my album. I didn’t know how I was perceived at all in the [United] States. I didn’t really know if anyone gave a shit to be honest– it was really scary. I was this little Australian girl who just made an electronic record. I didn’t know how it would go down, but yeah, the tent was full. Everyone knew the songs so I couldn’t have asked for anything better, really!
What a way to make your U.S. debut!
Yeah, it was really amazing. I haven’t done that many shows on the East Coast. Today was a big deal because Lollapalooza has been a festival I’ve always wanted to go to ever since I saw the Hullabalooza episode on “The Simpsons”.
What’s been the biggest difference between Australia and America that you weren’t expecting?
The food! Oh my God.
Good or bad?
Everything has cheese on it. It’s great! I love it. I’m a big foodie. In Australia the food is really different. It’s a lot more simpler. I really love the [United] States. I now live halfway between Sydney and the [United] States. I go back and forth a lot. What I do love about playing here is that everyone is really positive and open-minded. The type of stuff that I’m playing isn’t really a commercial thing yet, so I’m thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to play in front of these crowds.
What are your favorite restaurants in Sydney?
There is a place called Ms. G’s which is like an Asian fusion restaurant and it’s my favorite restaurant ever. I recommend the Asian food. There is a Thai place called Chat Thai. But yeah, Ms. G’s is the best.
Best piece of advice someone gave you about your career?
Let your art speak for you.
Who told you that?
My art teacher. I was not very popular in school and I was always the shy person in the corner. I’ve trained myself to be slightly less shy for interviews and stuff, but I still am. All of the girls were being very rude and she saw it. She pulled me aside and said, “I think you’ve got something, and just remember, you don’t need to talk yourself up. Just let your art speak for you.” And that stuck with me. So I did that.
You’ve been open about how you were bullied in school. When did you decide you weren’t going to let what other people think bother you?
I was in sixth or seventh grade. It was pretty bad. I was just a really awkward kid who liked music. I wasn’t wearing the coolest clothes or anything. I remember having the plain clothes day and this is the day it clicked for me. I was wearing cargo pants and a Beatles T-shirt and this girl came up to me and said, “What is that? Your band or something?” And then everyone started laughing. I remember thinking, “She doesn’t know who the Beatles are? That just made her so lame.” In my head I thought, “Why did I ever bother caring about what any of these girls thought?” So I just did my thing for the rest of high school. Everyone is going to have an opinion about you. School kids are mean! They pick on people, but that’s cool! If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t have worked as hard. I wouldn’t have sat in front of a computer and done it.
Has there been a transition period of learning how to deal with life in the spotlight?
I try not to think about it at all. I mean, look, I can go out and play in front of thousands of people at a festival, but I still come home like everyone else and pick up my dog shit. There’s no difference. I think it’s important to be more conscious about what you’re presenting when you’re out there. I, myself, am a music fan, so I would only expect the people who I go up to, whose music I listen to, to be nice. So I always make sure to give people the time of day; that’s one thing I do make an effort to do.
What’s been your biggest pinch me moment?
EDC was pretty crazy, but I think for me Coachella was crazy. I also threw warehouse parties. I’m going to send you the video! We had about 5,000 – 7,000 kids at each show.
Was that your concept and idea?
It was my concept. My booking agent and I researched the whole thing, used our own money, did all of the staging, licensing– everything. I’ve got a lineup of my favorite producers and just made secret warehouse parties around the country in Australia and New Zealand. We made it about a community, not about what’s cool and what’s not cool. It’s about the music. It has really translated. Last year we did it and it sold out in a few days, and this year we did it again and it sold out 35,000 tickets.
Is there a musician you look up to who you still can’t believe listens to your music?
I played some of my music to Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins when I didn’t even have much music out at the time. He listened to two of my songs in full, sat down and actually listened to them. He said, “You should be more confident and just go with your singing.” And I was like, “Oh! Okay.” That was a bit of a pinch me moment because when I was in eighth grade I wrote a song about Billy Corgan.
Have you had any embarrassing moments on stage?
Yeah. Yes. I’ve spewed on stage before.
No! It’s really fucked up. I honestly wanted to cancel my show, but the sad reality is no one gives a fuck how sick you are; you just need to be on that stage and show them that you care. I had really bad food poisoning. I couldn’t even get out of bed. My mom and my dad– who hadn’t been in the same room together in 10 years– were together looking after me. I was that bad. I had to get on a five-hour flight to Perth, Australia and play two shows. The first show I got up and I was just swaying and trying to DJ. I said on Facebook, “Just letting you know I might not make my show tonight.” And then I got all of these really mean messages like, “Fuck you. Why would you cancel?” I thought, “Shit, I’ve got to play this show. They don’t give a fuck.” I got up, I played and about 10 minutes in I just projectile vomited into a bucket in front of the whole crowd. I kept playing. I played for about 40 minutes.
Are you used to your demanding schedule?
It comes with it. I would not have it any other way. I would give all of my time to the people who actually give a fuck about my music. Honestly, if anyone comes up to me– even if I’m really super tired or whatever– I will listen to them. I read everything everyone writes to me. I think it’s pretty cool. Only because, personally, I’m a massive music lover and I’m a fan of people and I remember when they gave me the time of day. Do you know what? I will tell you, in 2009 when I was a kid, my friend and I got meet and greet tickets to meet Beyoncé. At the time I wasn’t a massive Beyoncé fan. I know that sounds really sacrilegious, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t a hater, I was indifferent. I went backstage and they said, “No hugs, just stand there and she will come and talk to you,” and then she came in so beautiful, hugged me, let me look at her shoes and we had a chat. I was just like this little kid, and she was the nicest woman ever. After the meet and greet I decided to go to the concert; I stayed for the show and now I love her so much. I will support her forever. It made me actually take the time to see what she does. And she smelled really good.
What did Beyoncé smell like?
Vanilla. Another person that has always given me the time of day is Skrillex. He has always been really nice and I think he is one of the most humble dudes in dance music, really. Everyone will say that about him. I’ve never actually said that in an interview, but I think it a lot. He’s really, really lovely. Like a really nice person– very hospitable. He’s a great guy.
When did you first meet Skrillex?
I don’t even think he remembers this, but I remember it because I was, again, a little nobody in L.A. and I just signed with EMI. So, this is 2012. I had nothing out, everything was in a database or under my other alias, which I don’t know if I can even talk about. We bumped into him at a restaurant. He let us come up and hang out with him, listened to what I had to say about music and put me on the door for his show the next night. We went, and it was great. I would have never gone to the Skrillex show and then I did. I have so much respect for him and that was ages ago. I don’t even know if he remembers that first encounter, but I won’t forget it. I honestly don’t find that many genuine people in dance music and he is one.
What are some tips and tricks to staying healthy on the road?
I started doing meditation, which is really weird. When I’m on the road for a long time I’ll be vegetarian, so I’ll eat quite clean and I’ll make sure I’m not eating burgers and pizza every night. That’s a big thing for me. That can get you really out of whack. Also, turning the air conditioning off in hotels is really good because you get really congested. To be honest, I drink a lot. So the hangover thing, I mean, I’m used to it now. When I come back, my mom has chicken soup prepared for me and I have that and I just rest and get in the sun. I think that sunshine and chicken soup is the best thing. And me time.
What kind of meditation do you do?
It’s meditation my mom taught me, so it’s not really [anything formal]. I don’t really know what it is, but I’ve been doing it forever whenever I need to get in a good state of mind. I think she knew I was always really hyper-active in my brain, so ever since I was a little girl she taught me how to do it. Just to timeout a little bit.
Seems like you are close with your mom. Is she the first person you share things with?
Yes! My mom keeps messaging me now. She’s in New York. She is going to come to the Mad Decent Block Party next week.
Do you miss her?
No. [Laughs] Because every time she is here she does all of my washing. I’m like, “Mom, I can do my washing! I’m a woman!” She just really loves mothering me because I’m never home.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Actually, I have a funny answer for that because when I was in second grade we had to write down what we wanted to be. Everyone was like, “A doctor, blah, blah, blah,” and I said a rockstar. I said I wanted to be a rockstar or the editor for Rolling Stone magazine and my mom was always like… I’ve spoken about my mom a lot, maybe I do miss her!
Did you know you were destined for this life?
I knew I always wanted to be a musician. It was my passion. I’m terrible at everything else, a part from organizing holidays. I’ve just always had tunnel vision in terms [of wanting a career in music]. There was no other option in my head. I think if I wasn’t doing this I’d be homeless and miserable. Really. I’ve been fired from every job I’ve done. I worked in a sandwich shop and got fired after a week, worked in a CD store, got fired after a few months. I worked in an office and got fired after a month. I just refuse to wear corporate clothes and they fired me, so that was funny.
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
Can I choose three people? One of them would be Jim Henson, one of them would be George Harrison and one would be Joan of Arc.
KIRSTEN MICCOLI PHOTOGRAPHY / A DRINK WITH at Virgin Hotels
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