Lady Gaga’s SXSW Keynote: A New Video, Intentional Ugliness, And 9 More Things We Learned

Paws up for Mother Monster's first SXSW appearance.

Lady Gaga brought her usual spectacle to the SXSW stage Thursday night, strapping herself to a rotisserie spit, tossing meat into the audience and allowing vomit performance artist Millie Brown to go to work — all over the pop star.

In the midst of all the out-there fanfare, however, she encouraged her fans to buck the system and follow their dreams, a sentiment that she continued to stress during her SXSW keynote Friday afternoon (March 14).

The youngest keynote speaker SXSW has ever seen — and the first woman in 15 years — Gaga spoke candidly about the music industry that has both supported and spurned her, as well as offered up some pearls of wisdom to the younger generation. (Let’s hope they don’t “Swine” out on her.)

Gaga and Norris spoke for more than an hour, but MTV News culled through it all to bring you the most telling parts of the conversation. Read on to find out what we learned about Gaga today, including the scoop on her next video and tour.

1). On Vomit Painter Millie Brown…

“I’m so deeply passionate about any person that has an artistic spirit — any person that has a talent that they believe in no matter how crazy the idea; you never know where that crazy idea might lead you. Martin Luther King thought he could start a revolution without violence and Andy Warhol thought that he could make a soup can into art. Sometimes things that are really, really strange and feel really wrong can really change the world. I’m not saying vomit’s going to change the world… it’s truly just what we wanted to create and do and us respecting each other as artists.”

2). On Her Next Video…

“I have a video, I’m actually putting it out Saturday — next Saturday…. We shot it at Hearst Castle and it’s a different type of video for me — in a different way from what we did at Southby last night, but still in the same spirit. There’s a very deeply creative rebellious spirit in ARTPOP and kind of, you know, wrapping what we were talking about with Millie and this one performance [from] yesterday and the video that’s coming up — really what it’s about is freeing yourself of the expectations of the music industry and the expectations of the status quo.”

3). On ‘Selling Out’ With Doritos At SXSW…

“Whoever is writing or saying all of those [negative] things, you don’t know f— about the state of the music industry. I think it’s also about how the artist chooses to engage in these sorts of relationships. What’s the type of relationship, what’s the philosophy behind the collaboration, do you have things in common, do you not? When you come to do the performance, how much time do you put into it? Do you really care about the show, or are you just taking the check and showing up? Are you only coming to Austin for the press? Or do you want to have a real connection with the fans?”

4). On Sponsorships…

“Without sponsorships, without these companies coming together to help us, we won’t have any more artists in Austin. We won’t have any festivals, because record labels don’t have any f—ing money.”

5). On Making People Cry…

“The best thing that happened last night is I came off the stage, I was covered in paint, vomit — we did live art during the show. The CEO of Frito-Lay came in with all her kids and was like, ‘That was so brilliant!’ and she was crying.”

6). On The Younger Generation ‘Making It’…

“For young people that want to make music, I feel like the scariest thing that I experience is when I go to these corporate events or I meet people and they introduce me to their artists, they bring these young kids and they’re like, ‘I’m working with this producer and that producer and I’m friends with Lil Jon’ or whatever. Namedropping. I’m just sitting there wanting to grab and shake them and go like, ‘Go to a city, sit in an apartment by yourself and stop shaking hands with people and taking selfies, because it’s not going to make you a star. Nobody cares about that.’”

7). On Money…

“I refuse to compromise and allow my talent to be monetized to the point that I don’t even want to be here anymore. I will stop, I will quit, I will retire from the commercial market if I have to do something other than be myself. Because if I can’t be myself in this moment, then everything I have said to my fans since the beginning would be a total lie…. I’ll be myself until they f—ing close the coffin.”

8). On ARTPOP‘s Sales…

“We’ve sold over 2.5 million copies of ARTPOP all over the world — I’m sorry I didn’t sell a million records the first week. I have before. I’ve sold 27 million albums. I’m very proud of what we did; I sold as much as everybody else sells. It’s so insane. I’m held to such an insane standard…. I don’t know what f— all I have to do with Katy Perry. My music is so completely different.”

9). On The Business…

“Don’t sell out to this business. Sell in.”

10). On Being ‘Ugly’…

“That’s the thing that poisoned me…. That was the poisonous thing. ‘We just want you to look beautiful’ over and over and over in my head until I just wanted to look ugly all the time.”

11). On Her Upcoming Tour…

“It’s going to be a great big show. And it’s going to be really fun and we have a beautiful custom stage and I’m going to release the stage this week for the fans to see.”


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Brenna Ehrlich is a reporter for MTV News as well as the senior writer/editor for the O Music Awards. In the past, she served as associate editor at Mashable, penned a netiquette column for CNN and co-authored the blog and book "Stuff Hipsters Hate." She likes trying not to die in moshpits and listening to songs on repeat. Follow her on Twitter @BrennaEhrlich for news on cats and punk bands.