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Lady GaGa reveals her touring secrets

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat reporter, Birmingham

Lady GaGa
Lady GaGa says her live shows are more like performance art than gigs

To release a debut album called The Fame before anyone has even heard of you is a brave move.

Yet it's funny how just a few short months later it is that album's 22-year-old creator, Lady GaGa, who - courtesy of wonder-hit Just Dance - is beginning to look like pop's next genuine star.

Right now she's midway through a UK arena tour alongside Pussycat Dolls, who she's written songs for, and Ne-Yo.

GaGa's opening the bill with a 20-minute conceptual performance of short films, dizzying visuals and thudding bass that's both baffling and unarguably danceable.

On the surface she may appear to be another fluffy pop star but, make no mistake, she is deadly serious about her 'art'.
It's about the performance and the fashion and the fact that I'm going to be here for the next 25 years of pop music
Lady GaGa on her live show

"We've been focused the past few shows on making sure the vision comes to fruition," she says, sat in a backstage corridor at Birmingham's cavernous NIA on Thursday.

"We combine the elements of dance and film and provocative imagery and music together to create something that's much more performance arts-based than just your typical pop show."

Indeed, it sees GaGa prowling the stage like a robo-Aguilera or an electro-Grace Jones, and features her songs interspersed with short art-house flicks.

Though it seems she's enjoying the tour, the bands haven't yet had a real chance to socialise.

"I'm not a 'go out and party after the show' kind of girl," she asserts.

Number one

Just Dance, of course, has undoubtedly been a phenomenon, topping charts simultaneously in the UK and US, seemingly from nowhere.

"I want it to be three, and four, and five [weeks]... Of course I want it to go on but more importantly I want to establish a relationship with my fans in the UK that I'm a real artist," she says in her soft New York accent.
Lady GaGa onstage
Lady GaGa onstage at the NIA in Birmingham on Thursday

"I don't know what you think of my show but to me it's the most beautifully intelligent lovely pop show that I've ever seen.

"It's not just about one song - it's about the performance and the fashion and the fact that I'm going to be here for the next 25 years of pop music."

Make no mistake, GaGa [as she's called, even by her mother] sees herself in it for the long run - even if tabloid and gossip magazine interest has been strikingly immediate, with a scrum of paparazzi tracing her every footstep.

"I try to ignore it. I'm a real artist - I'm not an heiress," she retorts.

"The paparazzi and all that, it is what it is. As much as that might be the commercial art that I write about - the paparazzi is a subject of mine [on The Fame track Paparazzi] - it's not the reason I make music.

"You learn to block out the noise and focus on that one truthful note."

Speaking of notes, GaGa has a habit of penning some pretty successful ones, having lent songs to Britney Spears, Fergie and touring pals Pussycat Dolls in the past.

"[I'm] always writing at some point. It starts to take to a bit of a backseat just because I'm working on other things but I'm always writing and pretty soon I'm to start working on my new album.
Lady GaGa
The singer's moniker references Queen's song Radio Ga-Ga

"I'm sure I'll write a few songs in there that I'll give away."

With all the fevered attention and life on the road - she's touring solidly for the next three months - that prolific songwriting process has to be carefully protected.

"When inspiration comes you have to be good at harnessing it so knowing what to do with it," she says. "It's all about, 'Everyone leave, get out, I need a minute!'

"Every once in a while you've just gotta do for yourself as an artist and make sure that you have your environment conducive to recording a song or writing one."

GaGa's crew don't appear to mind, as the majority of them are a part of Haus Of GaGa - a group of young creatives inspired by Andy Warhol's Factory collective, whom she surrounds herself with.

"You've got to be around people who're better than you," she explains, touching the latex bow in her hair. "Because then you learn, and if they're not better than you then they shouldn't be there."

Grand ambition

What's most remarkable about Lady GaGa then is not the fact she's only 22 and an international star, or her elaborate eye make-up - of which she has a suitcaseful in her dressing room - but her bullet-proof ambition.

"I'd like an exhibit in a museum and five hit records in a row and the greatest pop show on the planet," she wonders out loud. "I want everything that every woman wants - I want it all.

Lady GaGa performs Just Dance

"I don't know what it's like not to have ambition - people who don't have ambition, I don't understand them.

"I think it's pretty scary to be mediocre.

"It's my belief that 'the fame' is something inside of you. Everyone might not know who you are but you can certainly make people want to know who you are and it's all about having conviction for your ideas and having passion for something great in your life."

In the immediate future, though, it is GaGa's thorough intention to be performing at the same level as the classic rock gods she regularly cites and so adores, like AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.

"I don't know a man in the world who wants to fill Robert Plant's pants or shoes," she says of Led Zep's reported hunt for a new touring singer.

"I'm working, I'm busy," she giggles, when Newsbeat asks if she's tempted. "It should certainly be a man - I love Led Zeppelin. I used to sing in a Zeppelin cover band, you know?

"If they want to tour let them tour - I'm never going to tell a band like Led Zeppelin not to go on tour."

With that, GaGa leaves the backstage area to watch touring partner Ne-Yo, where she's mobbed by fans.

Perhaps her grand ambitions aren't so lofty after all.

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