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Interview: Ariana Grande on her loves, problem-solving and her new album.

Interview: Ariana Grande on her loves, problem-solving and her new album.

There’s nothing else existing in the world of show biz that’s quite as pure as the mutual love shared between Ariana Grande and her fans - who refer to themselves as Arianators, but whom she calls her "loves". The 15.9 million strong-on-Twitter fanbase and their Queen, they love each other; they really do. But don’t just take my word for it, consider these facts: lead-single 'Problem’ is the fastest #1 debut in iTunes history - 37 minutes, FYI! - the 4th highest debut for a female artist ever, and made Ariana the youngest woman to have debuted with more than 400k units sold. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is… and that’s just the very first song lifted from an entire forthcoming album, which is predicted to be a big game-changer in 2014.

Ariana herself, reciprocates with gracious and engaging heart-to-hearts via her social media - "loves I wanna start giving u #arianatorhomework we'll make lists of old movies for u to watch so we can make campy memes & gifs together lol" - and releases unheard demos and snazzy covers as treats for fans. She says: "My loves, they are very important to me, just because they lift me up when I feel down. They provide me with endless amounts of motivation and inspiration and strength to keep going. Simple things, like they make me laugh. They are also there for me on a very real level, you know, like a family. So a lot of things, small and big."

Within an interview with Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta in the latest issue of 'Rolling Stone' magazine, is talk of "plotting about how to steer Taylor Swift’s still-unannounced new album clear of Ariana Grande’s current pop-chart ascendance". Swift too, nurtures a requited relationship with her fans, but as Borchetta says: "Number one is number one, and there’s only one who can be there." That’s the pop-power of Ariana Grande now, not even in her prime yet, let alone the peak of her career. She’s just getting started with album #2, but because there’s no-one else quite like Ariana, and there’s no-one else quite like the Arianators, together they’ll be a fierce combo for years to come.

And straight from the horse’s mouth, here are Ariana's favourite lyrics from the new album: "‘cause if the water dries up and the moon stops shining, stars fall and the world goes blind boy, you know... I'll be savin' my love for you."

COUP DE MAIN: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us in New Zealand today! Last time we spoke, you’d only just released 'Put Your Hearts Up', so it’s been amazing watching you take over the world with your #1 debut album - and now 'Problem' has gone Platinum and is the fastest #1 debut in iTunes history!
ARIANA GRANDE: Thank you for making time for me! Oh boy! It is crazy, crazy-crazy. It has been an amazing ride, especially since 'Put Your Hearts Up'. Geez!

CDM: You’re one of the hardest-working people in the music industry, so it’s nice to see that you’ve gotten to finish off your new album at home in Florida so you can spend some quality time with your family.
ARIANA: It is very important to me. My Grandpa is sick, so I want to spend as much time with him as I can and help him get better hopefully. It is of upmost importance that I spend as much time as I can in Florida, you know.

CDM: So at first, you were scared to approach 'Problem' because of the opposite song structure with the belt-y verse and whispering chorus - did it become important to you to really push yourself musically on the new album?
ARIANA: Of course. I think the most important thing with an artist is to push yourself to try new things and show people that you are growing and just definitely take a risk and try something that you’re scared of.

CDM: Why did you choose Iggy Azalea to guest on 'Problem'?
ARIANA: I think she is such a girl power figure and ‘Problem’ is such a girl power song. I thought it would make the perfect combination, so I am really glad that she jumped on board and did it with me.

CDM: Was it fun to work with Big Sean again?
ARIANA: Oh my gosh! Of course. We have so much music coming out together, we have done like three more songs that are not announced yet. We just love making music together, he is one of my best friends.

CDM: Having worked with Max Martin and Darkchild (Rodney Jerkins) on your new album, did they give you any songwriting advice? Or did you pick up any tips from working with them?
ARIANA: For sure. Working with Max, I learnt so much about pop music that I didn’t know before. I didn’t see myself becoming a pop artist - like a straight pop artist - everything I had done before was very heavily R&B influenced. Until I worked with Max, I really didn’t have a full appreciation for pop music - so I have a full appreciation for pop music now that I didn’t before, thanks to him.

CDM: Do you think your EDM song with Zedd will be the biggest surprise to hear on the album? Or do you have more surprises in store?
ARIANA: I think the Zedd song is very different for me - you know what I mean? So, I think that people will be shocked to hear it. But… I think there are some surprises in there.

CDM: Now that you’ve done the track-list for the album, is the song you did with Darkchild still your favourite that you’ve ever done?
ARIANA: It’s hard when you are doing an album to call one your favourite, but I have two that are tied for my favourite and that is definitely one of them.

CDM: You’ve said that you love this new album five more times than your debut - why?
ARIANA: I think I’ve said it "five million" [more times]! <laughs> It is just better. I feel like I have grown more as an artist, I like the songs so much more. But I still have a massive love and a place in my heart for the first album, of course. But it’s just that this one is better, that’s all.

CDM: For the next few questions, just say the first thing that pops into your mind… If your new album were a colour, which colour would it be?
ARIANA: Periwinkle.

CDM: If the new album were an animal?
ARIANA: Tiger.

CDM: If the new album were a movie?
ARIANA: 'Labyrinth'.

CDM: Obviously all of your fans are dying to hear your duet with Justin Bieber! But that won’t be on the new record?!
ARIANA: I don’t know! We are not sure yet, we are trying to work things out. But they will be getting it, so that is all they need to know. We are working hard to get it to them - that’s all they need to be worried about.

CDM: Will your duet with Chris Brown - 'Don’t Be Gone Too Long' - be on the album?
ARIANA: Yes.

CDM: You’re such an inspiration to your fans, so I thought you might like to help them out with a few problems some of your fans have written to us about, by offering some advice or wisdom… No matter what your age, anyone’s who connected to the Internet can be affected by cyber-bullying. What’s the best way to deal with cyber-bullies?
ARIANA: Get off the Internet! Walk away from the computer, don’t give them a platform to reach you - go do something valuable with your time. Every time you read something that upsets you, just walk away and do something else.

CDM: You’re busy working most of the time, so how do you manage to maintain your relationships with those that you’re closest to?
ARIANA: I just make time! You gotta make it a priority. I make time - I will fly places to see people secretly <laughs> or I will fly them out to see me. I will bring my friends with me everywhere I go, and I stay up late every night at home and just hang out with people that I want to hang out with.

CDM: All of your hard work is obviously paying off, career-wise - what’s your advice for working towards life-goals?
ARIANA: You have to make sure you want it for the right reasons. Make sure your head is on straight and make sure that you are strong, secure, and are surrounded by people who are going to support you and be there for you and help you when you feel down.

CDM: Is time-management a hard skill to master?
ARIANA: Yeah, for sure - definitely. But once you master it, I think that it is a beautiful thing.

CDM: For people who find it hard to communicate their feelings, how do you suggest they overcome this?
ARIANA: Writing - write music, or write poetry, or write in your diary.

CDM: Your fans are called Arianators. What does being an Arianator mean to you, personally, beyond simply being an Ariana Grande fan?
ARIANA: My loves, they are very important to me, just because they lift me up when I feel down. They provide me with endless amounts of motivation and inspiration and strength to keep going. Simple things, like they make me laugh. They are also there for me on a very real level, you know, like a family. So a lot of things, small and big.

CDM: When are you going to come visit your New Zealand Arianators?
ARIANA: Very, very soon. I’m trying to work it all out.

CDM: You recently released 'Boyfriend Material' as a surprise for fans, do you have any plans to release another fan-favourite, 'Voodoo Love'?
ARIANA: No, I don’t actually. But, maybe one day.

CDM: We’re now going to play a game of 'Would You Rather?' - so I’ll give you two choices and you tell me which one you’d prefer. Would you rather be able to take all of your dogs with you everywhere you go? Or be able to borrow anything you wanted from Sarah Jessica Parker’s wardrobe?
ARIANA: Take my dogs.

CDM: Would you rather have to cut off all your hair, or dye it rainbow-coloured?
ARIANA: Cut off all my hair.

CDM: Would you rather play the best prank ever on your neighbour Miley Cyrus, or have more time for gardening?
ARIANA: Both.

CDM: Would you rather be best friends with Audrey Hepburn, or have a slumber party with Tim Burton?
ARIANA: Both.

CDM: Would you rather go to Hogwarts, or live in Middle Earth?
ARIANA: Hogwarts.

CDM: At the iHeartRadio Awards, Rihanna gave you some cute advice: "‘Lil’ mama keep doing what you’re doing because it’s working." It’s so great to know that female popstars are more of a sisterhood and supportive of each other, than what the media generally leads people to believe.
ARIANA: Yeah, I think the media leads people to believe a lot of things that are not true, and I think it makes the business look a lot uglier then it actually is. It is this really beautiful, blessed place to be. Of course there are some negative downsides to it, but I feel like the media really loves to thrive off that and really, really puts a magnifying glass over it and makes all these comparisons and creates all of these dramas and fake situations just to get people to read it - it’s such a negative way to be. Really, everyone I have encountered in this industry has been quite nice. I can really only count on three fingers, people that I have met that have been less than gracious to me. But everybody that I’ve met - and that’s been pretty much everybody - everybody has been so incredibly kind and warm, and welcoming and respectful, and complimentary and civil. I think that that is very shocking, because of what the media does and creates of people, especially women.

CDM: It must get really annoying to be constantly compared to every other female popstar who has a new single out.
ARIANA: Well, not just me, everybody!

CDM: Last year in an interview with 'Complex' magazine, you said: "I’m terrified of looking straight into the camera. I see people on the other side of the lens and the whole judgmental world of pop culture waiting with their pitchforks and torches. At the end of the day I don’t care what they have to say, but knowing that every little thing I do is documented is a lot of pressure." Do you still feel that pressure?
ARIANA: Nope!

CDM: What has changed since then?
ARIANA: I became a lot more okay with the fact that you can’t please everybody. I grew up a little bit and I was like: "This is my job, I’ve gotta love it or leave it." And I do love it, and I love it way too much to abandon it or let other people scare me. While there are people who don’t like what I do, there are a lot of people that do, and for those people I am grateful. And for the people that don’t get what I do or like what I do, that’s okay, I don’t feel the need to try and explain myself to them - it is just not for them. So I got over it, and I was like: 'I am going to spend my time being the best at what I do and not worrying about what people will think of it.' Because if I love it and my team loves it and my fans love it and my friends love it, then I am doing something right.

CDM: I love that you’ve been introducing your younger fans to 50s and 60s pop music. Your cover of The Spencer Davis Group’s 'Gimme Some Lovin'' is rad. Is that your favourite era of music?
ARIANA GRANDE: I love all music, but I think definitely a lot of my favourites come from the late 50s and 60s, but I love all music, I really do.

CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
ARIANA: A good song is a song that you listen to and you don’t skip over it. A great song is a song that you want to play again on repeat.

CDM: And the new album is going to be full of great songs?!
ARIANA: That is the objective. That is what I am shooting for, so I hope so. You will have to tell me when you hear it!

CDM: I can’t wait to hear it! Are you still aiming for an August or September release?
ARIANA: Yes, we’re shooting for late-August/early-September, and I think it is going to work out.

CDM: What's left on your bucket-list that you'd really like to achieve?
ARIANA: I want to go sky-diving and I want to go scuba-diving.

CDM: You can do both of those things in New Zealand!
ARIANA: Oh great! See you there! <laughs>

CDM: And lastly, do you have a message for your New Zealand fans?
ARIANA: Thank you for all of your love and support! I can’t wait to make my way out there and say hello to you! I’ll see you soon!

Ariana Grande’s as-yet-untitled new album will be released later this year! In the meantime, grab 'Problem' - featuring Iggy Azalea - from iTunes HERE.

Watch the 'Problem' music video below…

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