After Trump was elected president, Cyrus — who first supported Bernie Sanders and, when she won the Democratic nomination, Clinton — launched #HopefulHippies, an initiative of her Happy Hippie youth-activism nonprofit that encourages people to “turn emotion into action.” “I have to ask myself, ‘How am I going to create real change?’” she says, “and not just fucking preach to the choir anymore.” With the new album, Cyrus hopes to reach the other side of the aisle. “This record is a reflection of the fact that yes, I don’t give a fuck, but right now is not a time to not give a fuck about people,” she says. “I’m giving the world a hug and saying, ‘Hey, look. We’re good — I love you.’ And I hope you can say you love me back.”
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Where exactly did you write “Malibu”?
On the way to The Voice. I drive myself everywhere, but that day I decided to Uber, and I was trying not to sing out loud because someone else was in the car.
People might call it sentimental.
They’re going to talk about me if I come out of a restaurant with Liam. So why not put the power back in my relationship and say, “This is how I feel”?
After you guys broke up, you said something like, “I’m so immersed in work, I can’t even think about it.”
Yeah, but also ’cause I needed to change so much. And changing with someone else not changing like that is too hard. Suddenly you’re like, “I don’t recognize you anymore.” We had to refall for each other.
The new album is pretty singer-songwriter-y, no?
Yeah. But not granola. I don’t listen to Ed Sheeran and John Mayer and stuff.
Did folk singer Melanie Safka [with whom Cyrus performed in 2015] influence you?
She did, and I grew up with her. But I also love that new Kendrick [Lamar] song [“Humble”]: “Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks.” I love that because it’s not “Come sit on my dick, suck on my cock.” I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much “Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock” — I am so not that.
I was torn on whether I was going to work with certain producers that I really like. But I feel if we’re not on the same page politically … My record is political, but the sound bite doesn’t stop there. Because you can write something beautiful and you know E! News will ruin our lives and say, “This is a political record.” Because then I’m the Dixie Chicks and I’m getting my album smashed in the streets, and that’s not what I want. I want to talk to people in a compassionate, understanding way — which people aren’t doing.
What appealed to you about The Voice?
I’m down for hanging with Blake [Shelton]. I actually want to take advantage of the fact that he’s there, [because] his fans don’t really take me seriously as a country artist. One, I haven’t given them that music. But I’ve got a tattoo of Johnny Cash’s autograph that he gave me when I was a little girl that says, “I’m in your corner.” Dolly Parton is my fucking godmother. The fact that country music fans are scared of me, that hurts me. All the nipple pastie shit, that’s what I did because I felt it was part of my political movement, and that got me to where I am now. I’m evolving, and I surround myself with smart people that are evolved.
But we’ve seen the way that Madonna and Lady Gaga get asked, “Is this just another costume? Another phase?”
I think [Madonna and Gaga] are enlightened. I fucking hate it when people can’t adjust. I used to [resist changing]. But I haven’t smoked weed in three weeks, which is the longest I’ve ever [gone without it]. I’m not doing drugs, I’m not drinking, I’m completely clean right now! That was just something that I wanted to do.
Is it hard to not smoke?
It’s easy, dude. When I want something, it’s fucking easy for me. But if anyone told me not to smoke, I would have not done it. It’s because it was on my time. I know exactly where I am right now. I know what I want this record to be. And not in the sense of manipulation — wanting something from my fans or the audience, like some slimy thing — “How do I get attention?” I never thought about that. Dude, I was shocked that people gave a fuck about the [MTV Video Music Awards in 2013, when she performed with Robin Thicke] — the twerking, the teddy bear. It’s a totally different time, and I don’t think that would freak people out anymore.
Photo Credit– Billboard
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