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Mentorology in Action with Linda Perry, Musical Mastermind

Written and Photographed by Russ Mezikofsky

Recently OMSF Founder Dawn Carroll and Creative Director Russ Mezikofsky met with legendary record producer, songwriter and performer Linda Perry. When asked if she would become the next Over My Shoulder “Mentorologist” she enthusiastically said yes!

It became apparent that Linda is a perfect example of Mentorology in action as she told Dawn and Russ about how mentoring played a big part in her early career and later “cross-mentoring” relationships with P!nk, Christina Aguilera and other musicians.Here’s her fullstory.

As a young girl who didn’t feel like she even needed a mentor, Linda Perry idolized her older brother, spending hours listening to his band and studying everything he did.It was her brother that started Linda towards her career path in the music industry, acting as her first mentor.

Linda burst onto the music scene as “the chick with the big voice” with the rock group 4Non Blondes,best known for their mega hit “What’s Up”. As lead vocalist and primary songwriter for the band, her dynamic singing capabilities and razor sharp writing skills earned her recognition as a unique and unforgettable talent. With a hard-hitting, uninhibited and seductive style Linda caught the attention of music fans all over and grew to be a source of inspiration for young aspiring singers, both male and female.

In 2001 after the break-up of 4 Non Blondes Linda Perry met some difficulty. She had made her brother, her first mentor, proud. Yet, she wasn’t absolutely sure what to do next.Thankfully, Mentorology breathed new and unexpected life into an already great musical career. To Linda’s surprise, she was contacted by Alecia Beth Moore, or “P!nk”.

P!nk, a longtime fan who revered Linda’s musical talents, wanted Linda to write and possibly sing for her album Missundaztood. At the time Linda was laying groundwork to showcase new songs and get a tour going, but after several meetings with P!nk, Linda canceled her plans.Linda knew there was something special about P!nk.

As Linda Perry and P!nk made music, something magical was happening. At Over My Shoulder Foundation we like to call it Reverse-Mentoring, or,Cross-Mentoring. Initially, P!nk(a new artist) reached out to Linda (the established artist) to mentor her and in the end Linda also got mentored by P!nk.  Canceling her plans for her next career move was a chance Linda took, but in taking it she introduced new opportunities to both musical stars.Linda ended up writing a bulk of the songs on Missundaztood, which sold over 11 million records and boasted the # 1 hit single “Lets Get the Party Started.”

Demonstrating her keen ability to inspire and natural ability to mentor, Linda says, “That’s the beauty of life. We never know what we are signing up for but the key is to just sign up for it anyways. Be open to the experience.” She continues, “Follow your gut feelings, not your brain. The way I live my life is one gut feeling after the next.”

Along with her resolute belief in trusting her gut, Perry credits Bill Bottrell, music producer and songwriter of such artists as Michael Jackson and Sheryl Crow, as her producer mentor. She says, “He taught me that there is no right or wrong way of producing or songwriting. You just write, record and mix the sound of the song until it makes you happy.”

Newly energized and inspired by her role as a musical mentor, Linda was sought out next by Christina Aguilera. Linda had just finished writing the song “Beautiful” for herself as a come back hit of sorts.  As soon as Linda heard Christina sing the song, Linda knew it was meant for Christina. “Beautiful”, a song about self-esteem, became another #1 hit and was nominated for the prestigious Song of the Year Grammy Award.

Linda beams with pride when she explains her decision not to sell the lucrative rights of her songs to anyone. Instead she generously donates the license to various worthy causes.It brings Linda Perry great joy to give something back to the world. Her continuing saga of Mentorology is further proof that Linda keeps giving back.

“We can only be great if we allow ourselves not to know what the future holds. You have to have confidence and believe that you are going to be okay.” Explains Linda

That philosophy works, and Linda’s musical career proves it. Perry went from artist with 4Non Blondes to producer with P!nk and Christina Aguilera to shrewd business person when she started two record labels:Rockstar Records and Custard Records. The first label was started to sign the bands “Stone Fox” and “2 Lane Black Top”.  The second label was started as a platform for mentoring new musicians and helping them develop their sound. James Blunt was the first musician Linda signed to Custard Records.  His album “Back to Bedlam” sold 11 million records world wide.

Linda explains that she now works with lots of young fresh talent. She recognizes that a majority of young musicians have no clue about the way of a “true” artist. She pushes them to take ownership of their careers and mentors them to stay true to themselves, never compromising their artistic vision. “Everyone’s afraid of losing something.  They don’t think about the gifts that they have been given or the things that they can gain by believing in their gut and believing in themselves”, she says.

We all get mentored when Linda emphasizes the importance of being open to new ideas. She says, “You can’t mentor someone who thinks they know what they are doing already. When egos and insecurities come into play, you have to realize that you really have no idea what you are getting into. You look for a mentor to tell you how to recognize the little things that make your path right. And hopefully you find that mentor.”

In closing, our newest Over My Shoulder Foundation Mentorologist Linda Perry wants to be mentored all the time.  She even regularly says to random people, “Teach me, teach me something.” This open attitude and inspiring legacy makes us proud that Linda Perry took  the time to share some information about her life of Mentorology. Thanks Linda!

A New Tatoo For Lp


Premiere of Oxygen's new docu-series "The World According to Paris"

Linda Perry at Premiere Of Oxygen's New... par Lindaperryfan



Linda Perry arrives at the premiere of Oxygen's new docu-series "The World According to Paris" at Tropicana Bar at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

Big Morning Buzz Live







Q: Tell me about the progression of the songs on this album. The record is gut-wrenching, moving from infatuation to obsession to misery to rage.

Linda Perry: The beginning song, “I’m Coming for You,” is basically a synopsis. It’s kind of letting you know what happened. The song is about how she pursued me, but she’s unaware of what’s she’s doing. It’s not an angry song; I’m just saying what happened. And “No One Wakes Me Up Like You” is basically the beginning–I’m falling in love. I’m thinking, “Here’s this sensitive woman– look at her, look at what she can do.” This starts the whole obsession. The songs show how love bounces around, going from happy to obsessed to pathetic to sad.  That’s just how it happened.

Q:  I read where it’s been hard for you to relive this relationship when you’re singing these songs live onstage. Did it feel that way when you were recording the songs, too?

LP: Everything was happening in real time.  I was writing the songs as I was having the emotions, and then we’d record them. The songs would come on the day the emotions actually happened. When I found out that she had started seeing this guy, I wrote “It Fucking Hurts” that day.

Q: After experiencing this relationship and getting your feelings out in song, would you say that love is worth all of this?

LP: The crazy part of this whole thing is that I never got the girl–ever.  We were both into each other and very connected, and if she wasn’t straight, we totally would have ended up together. I’m assuming that I just didn’t fit into her very straight lifestyle.  I’m only assuming because she never really explained it to me. We’re talking about two people who really connected. It’s sad that we just can’t go there because of whatever choices she is making in her life. So, in the end, I never got to go through the being-together part and the breaking-up part. That’s why I had to write the album.

Q: How are you feeling now about her now?

LP: It still goes on. It’s still there, absolutely. It’s torture–100% torture. In the song “Fuck You, Stupid Bitch,” I say that I’m moving on, everything’s fine. And I am. There’s a line in the song that says, “You give me more than you’ll ever know, but it doesn’t make it hurt less inside.” Basically, what that means is that she was my muse.

Q: How did it happen that you moved from working as a songwriter and producer for others to making your own record?

LP: The choice of doing the album wasn’t a decision–it was really something that organically happened. I had no intention of making a record at all. I did come up with the band name about nine months before, and I asked Tony at the time if he wanted to be in a band. But it took us nine months to get into the studio.

Q: Your songs have been recorded by a lot of incredible people–Pink, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Courtney Love, Alicia Keys, Adam Lambert, Dixie Chicks. Can you imagine anyone else singing any of Deep Dark Robot’s songs?

LP: No, especially “Speck.” I could never give that song to anybody. I knew that the songs had to be for Deep Dark Robot, and it had to be an entire album.

Q: Let’s talk about another band of yours. I’ve read where you have mixed feelings about your first band, 4 Non Blondes.

LP: To say I didn’t like 4 Non Blondes would probably hurt someone else’s feelings because then they’d go, “That band changed my life.”  To hear the singer go, “Oh, I hated that band” might make them feel bad. It’s not that I think we weren’t any good. Sonically, I just didn’t like the sound of the record.  I love the journey that 4 Non Blondes took me on, but it kind of took me off path a bit.  Being in the band, I definitely learned a lot that really makes sense to me now. But I knew I had to reinvent myself. And then it turned out, “Oh, I’m going to be a songwriter and producer. Okay, I’ll do that.” It’s not like I’m putting these brainstorming ideas together.  I’m just kind of going with the flow, wherever the wind blows me.

Q: I imagine it’s incredibly gratifying to see the songs you write become hits and get nominated for Grammys.

LP: Being a songwriter-producer and then having success with that, it was like, “Alright, cool. This is awesome.” I’ve been having a great time. It’s so cool having people you don’t even know calling you up to write something for them or to collaborate with them. I’m still like scratching my head figuring out why people even call me. It’s a very humbling experience every single time. And it’s been really fun. But the wind is blowing again, and it’s pushing me toward Deep Dark Robot. And that’s what I need to do right now. I need to be an artist for however long I do this.

Q: Talk about your relationship with Tony, both as friends and as musical collaborators.

LP: We met through Clementine, an ex-girlfriend of mine.  She’s Tony’s best friend, and she’s an incredible, beautiful person.  We started hanging out with Tony and his wife Melissa, and we totally hit it off. And Clementine and Melissa would go off and do the girly stuff, and Tony and I would be the dudes hanging back talking about music. We have a lot of things in common. He’s this punk-rock, out-there drummer, and he’s totally reckless. It’s a good fit because I need to be a bit reckless at times. I love the tension that comes when something’s reckless, and you’re holding it back from crashing.  I can hold him back, and there’s this tension that just builds and builds.

Q: How does Tony relate to the subject matter of the songs, seeing how they are so personal to your experience?

LP: What’s really cool about this album is that anyone can relate to it. Tony called it out by saying that, as a man, he related to it all. He had the same feelings about an ex-girlfriend.  Although it’s a girl singing, the songs are relatable to everyone because I’m so androgynous in the way I sing and perform. It’s a gay record, but you don’t look at it as a gay record. It’s totally a dude record too. The emotions behind it are so raw and so universal, that’s what makes it work.

Q: You’ve always been out of the closet, years before it became more culturally “acceptable” for musicians to be out. Do you get the sense from some of your fans that you’re a role model to them?

LP: You know, I’ve never been in–I’ve been out my whole life. As far as being a role model or an inspiration, I would hope that I’m being an influence to more than just the gay community. Hopefully, I inspire someone because I’m doing what my gut tells me to do. I’ve never made decisions based on money or fame or that type of false success. In fact, I’ve made decisions that have taken me further away from that. As far as being gay and proud and all that stuff, I hope what shines through to kids that are 14- or 15-years-old and are struggling with being gay is the fact that I am proud of who I am, and I’m standing strong for that. I remember getting letters way back, saying things like, “I saw you on David Letterman, and you had dyke written on your guitar. That made me realize that it’s okay to be who I am. Thank you for that.”

Q: It’s not always easy to be who you are in the music business, especially if you’re gay.

LP: Not letting people be who they are is not just a gay problem–it’s a human problem.  It’s happening right now as we speak all over the radio and all over MTV and VH1. These straight little girls are running around looking like dip shits because the labels want them to be this way. I have to deal with them when they come over and meet me to work on their music. They say, “I hate my label; I hate the way I have to dress; I hate my record; I can’t be who I want to be.” The label’s trying to get them to raise the tittie flag.  And I say, “It’s your fucking fault! Why are you doing this then?”  Ultimately, I hope I can represent someone who stands up for who they are and doesn’t let anyone push them around. You’re going to get a lot further than if you just follow the game plan. And if you’re gay, just be fucking gay! There’s nothing wrong with it.

Q: Some gay people are still afraid of certain consequences if they come out of the closet to their families or on their jobs.

LP: You know what? Bad things are going to happen, no matter who you are. Things are going to happen in life–we can’t avoid it. I would hope that everyone can get to a place where they don’t have to hide anymore. Stop fucking hiding!

Q: Have there ever been any situations where you have been afraid to let anyone know you are gay?

LP: Have I ever been afraid of being gay? No. I’ll walk in the middle of anywhere holding my girlfriend’s hand, and I might have to suffer the consequences but I’m not going to hide who I am. Nobody should. How are we supposed to be treated equal if gay people aren’t allowingthemselves to be treated equal?  I’m a big supporter of the LGBT Center in Los Angeles, and I’m out there doing everything I possibly can to show kids that it’s okay to be gay. I know what it’s like to feel like an outcast. I knew I was attracted to women when I was in kindergarten, and I used to think, “What’s wrong with me?” I wrote a song called “In Flight” about how I ended up meeting all of these other “birds like me,” and it was such a beautiful thing

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