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I felt beautiful energy in TLV, says Gaga

Iconic pop star reflects on Israel performance, says it’s ‘very safe’ to be in White City

Lady Gaga in Tel Aviv, Sept. 13, 2014 (photo credit: Debra Kamin/Times of Israel)
Lady Gaga in Tel Aviv, Sept. 13, 2014 (photo credit: Debra Kamin/Times of Israel)

After hip surgery and parting ways with her longtime manager, Lady Gaga says things are looking up. And her concert in Tel Aviv last week was one of the uplifting factors, she said in an interview.

“I’ve very centered now. I meditate a lot. I’m happy. I am more sober than I’ve ever been,” the singer said in an Associated Press interview this week. “It’s a very happy time in my life.”

Last year, Gaga parted ways with longtime manager Troy Carter, who helped the pop star achieve multiplatinum status, dominate the pop charts and win multiple Grammy Awards. She said she was overworked and that greed led to their split.

“Part of what was making my sort of artistic experience so unpleasant was that I felt that I was not able to truly freely fly as an artist,” she said. “In some ways my talents were not being used to their full potential.”

Gaga says part of her happier state of mind comes from working with Tony Bennett on the album “Cheek to Cheek,” out on Tuesday.

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett on stage in Tel Aviv, Sept. 13, 2014. (photo by Shooka Cohen)
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett on stage in Tel Aviv, Sept. 13, 2014. (photo by Shooka Cohen)

The 28-year-old is currently on an international tour that wraps Nov. 24 in Paris. Calling from Istanbul, she spoke with AP about being unhappy, letting go of her manager, her under-selling “ARTPOP” album, and performing in Tel Aviv.

AP: Did your disagreements with management affect the making of “ARTPOP”?

Gaga: It certainly affected my mind during “ARTPOP.” I would have to say that whole situation had less to do with creativity differences and more to do with me really needing some time from myself to be creative. My schedule was way too difficult, I was not able to keep up and my whole business became very focused on making as much money as possible as quickly as possible, which is really not where my heart is.

My integrity as a musician is so much more important to me than money. … While I was making “ARTPOP,” I was very tired. I’m actually very proud of “ARTPOP.” As much as it’s had a lot of criticism, I think a lot of that had to with where I am in my career, I’ve been on top for a long time, I think it’s the nature of this industry — we love to build them up to tear them down.

AP: Other singers have backed out of performing in Tel Aviv. How did you make the decision to perform there this week?

Gaga: I was very confident based on my relationships with lots of internal, political people. We’re very lucky to have great relationships with the White House. They let us know it would be very safe while we were there, and I hope to share that with the world so that they know it is safe to be in Tel Aviv right now.

But I have to say, and I don’t mean this as a suggestion that anything bad would have happened, but I’m a gypsy and I live around the world, so in my mind when I was staying in Tel Aviv — I say this on my song “Gypsy” on “ARTPOP”: “Be my home just for the day” — that would have been my home while I was there and it was. … I felt a beautiful energy when I was there.

Last Saturday, the iconic star brought a psychedelic, wild performance to Tel Aviv.

Lady Gaga in Tel Aviv, Sept. 13, 2014 (photo by Shooka Cohen)
Lady Gaga in Tel Aviv, Sept. 13, 2014 (photo by Shooka Cohen)

Gaga, the multi-platinum, multi-hued, multi-talented artist formerly known as Stefani Germanotta, was the first big-name star to confirm a show in Israel after this summer’s 50-day war with Hamas forced the cancellations of Neil Young, The Backstreet Boys and Lana Del Rey.

Gaga, who last played Tel Aviv six years ago, put on a show that was so big and bright, it almost made up for those cancellations. Sauntering on stage at 9:40 p.m., in the first of several blonde wigs and sequined, space-age like bodysuits, she launched into “ArtPop,” her world tour’s signature track, before belting out “G.U.Y. (Girl Under You),” as a bevy of bare-chested male dancers gyrated and convulsed around her.

Like many of this summer’s pre-war musical acts, including The Rolling Stones and Justin Timberlake, Gaga sprinkled bits of Hebrew into her show, opening her performance by telling the crowd “Ani ohevet othem” (I love you) and closing off several of songs with the words “Todah Rabah” (thank you very much).

The show was everything Gaga promised and everything fans have come to expect from her — loud, florescent, sexually explicit and mind-numbingly bright. While the middle of her set featured some of the more bubble-gum pop tunes (“Paparazzi,” “Poker Face,” “Just Dance”) that propelled Gaga to fame, the show was bookended by her newer tracks including “Manicure” and “Venus” — songs that are harder and more acid-tinged, and complemented the Hannibal Lector masks, the whips, chains and acrylic accessories of her back-up dancers.

“Put your hands up and cheer for yourselves,” she told the crowd. “You are strong, you are brave, you are confident, and I f*cking love you, Israel.”

Her words, no doubt, were part of her much-heralded campaign for equality and self-confidence. But after a summer of relentless rocket fire, Gaga’s color-drenched love fest was also a much-needed pick me up for a weary Tel Aviv.

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