Lowell on her song “LGBT” and lending a track to the “Faking It” mid-season finale

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AE: Another issue is that people feel a type of way about certain issues but they don’t know how to talk about it. It’s also very intimidating to talk about, because they feel like they’ll get attacked for it. 

Lowell: Exactly. It comes back to what you were saying about pinning people against each other. The problem is that it is a really complex thing and people are very sensitive to it. People are so sensitive that they feel like they have to say everything right, but the truth is it’s just better that people say what they want to say and we can discuss it so we can move forward. 

AE: It’s like you don’t know unless you put it out there first and then have someone help you through what you’re thinking about. 

Lowell: Exactly. I’ve made mistakes in interviews saying things that I felt sensitive to that I didn’t regret saying. I was glad I did because people pointed it out to me. The one I always remind myself of is when I was talking to the Toronto Star and the Rihanna/Chris Brown case came up. I said, and this was about three years ago and I’d like to think I think a little differently, but I said that I thought Rihanna had a responsibility as a woman to press charges against Chris Brown and that even though obviously it wasn’t her fault, she should’ve done something about it. 

It was actually my brother that read that interview and said, “Don’t you think it’s unfair to put blame in the hands of the victim?” I got really defensive about it and I said, “No she’s a role model for young girls. They’re gonna look up to her and decide the wrong thing.” And then he said, “No, if anything, she’s a victim. It’s wrong for us to put responsibility like that in the hands of a victim. It shouldn’t be up to a victim of a serious crime that involves an abusive relationship in which we’ve identified the Stockholm Syndrome that exists. It shouldn’t be their responsibility to come forward. It should be placed in the hands of the law.” Then I thought about it and I was like, “You’re so right.” The whole time I was placing blame on the victim, which is exactly what you shouldn’t do.

AE: Do you think, generally speaking, pop stars have a responsibility to their audience?

Lowell: I think that we’re all just human beings and you can’t place that pressure on single human beings like that. It’s not fair. Pop stars aren’t prophets. They’re just people who want to be singers or writers or producers who want to be successful. I think if you want to have a voice and you choose to speak out about things, that’s amazing, and that’s where the responsibility comes in. I really believe in freedom of speech, but I also think that with that right, there’s a responsibility. 

AE: Your song was just in Faking It this season. Do you watch that show?

Lowell: I’ve never seen it but I think I will watch it. I don’t have a TV and I don’t watch TV, except for The Daily Show. Is it about somebody in high school that is gay and hasn’t come out yet?

AE: It starts off being this show about these two friends who fake being lesbian for popularity, but it turns out one of them is actually struggling to come out.

Lowell: Ohhh OK. That sounds interesting. I have to watch it. I can’t comment on it because it’s really great that they use my music and I’m appreciative of that. It’s tough with pop culture and gender issues. It’s so hard to get it right. But I know my old roommate is a lesbian and she loves the show, so that’s always a good indication. [Laughs.] But I don’t want to make that generalization. 

AE: Speaking of, you have that song “LGBT.” I love how you take these issues, put it pop music, and show that pop doesn’t have to be about nothing. You dance to it, but you listen to the lyrics, and you’re like, “Wait…”

Lowell: It’s so funny. I was doing a college tour with Icona Pop in the U.S. and college kids are awesome. They’re sorta coming into their own and fun to watch while you’re playing. We were playing a remix of “LGBT” so it was the danciest song on our set, which was pleasing to the crowd, and people started singing, “L-G-B-T!” And I could see this one girl and her friend, they had this sort of what-the-fuck look on their face while they were singing it, and I could see this girl whispering to her friend, “What’s LGBT?” [Laughs.] I was like, “Are you serious?” But they kept on singing it! This was exactly what I wanted when I made this song!

She came up to me afterwards and she was like, “What were you singing in the song?” I said, “LGBT,” and she turned to her friend like, “See! I told you that’s what she was saying!” 

AE: That must’ve been so gratifying.

Lowell: I guess the whole idea was that I wanted it to be so catchy that even homophobes would sing it. We haven’t pushed the song as much as I would hope for it to catch on, but in my mind, I just had an image of this person that hates gay people but he’s been singing this song for a month and he loves it, and then somebody goes, “You know that song is about gay rights, right?” Then that person goes, “Oh man, maybe I need to learn to like gay people so I can listen to my favorite song. That was just my dream scenario, I don’t know if that happened. I don’t think it could. I pretty sure everyone knows what LGBT means. [Laughs.]

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