By Hayden Wright
Kesha participated in a Refinery 29 discussion about “Reclaiming the Internet” at SXSW, and the dialogue wandered through Kesha’s experience with bullying, online harassment, and self-esteem issues. She kicked off her remarks with one fundamental thesis:
“I think that the world should be a safe place, I think that America should be a safe place, and I think that the internet should be a safe place,” she said. “I feel nervous for [young people]. I got bullied at school, but I got to go home and write songs.”
Kesha says that the trap teens fall into is ascribing too much value to the people who bully them.
“You’re making people you don’t know your higher power,” she said. “I was making trolls, I was making bullies, I was making people I had never met before — who were projecting their insecurities on me, on the internet — I was making them the truth, the higher power.”
The singer described how those experiences plagued her self-esteem and contributing to an eating disorder that nearly killed her.
“If you feel a certain way about yourself, your body — it can kill you,” she said. “I almost died. I came closer than I ever knew. By the time I entered rehab, they were surprised I hadn’t had a stroke — because I hadn’t consumed enough. I’m not ashamed anymore. It’s emotional because it’s a deep-rooted disease. It can really affect your self-worth.”
Nevertheless, Kesha’s new musical direction has created a productive outlet for her experiences.
“The new music is just me speaking honestly about the s— I’ve been through in life,” she said. “For the first time ever, without anyone dictating anything — it’s just me speaking directly from my gut.”
Without directly discussing her long-simmering Dr. Luke legal situation, she recalled feeling put down by tormenters.
“I have people that doubt me and try to get in my way, and people that are horrible to me. I have this mental place I put them all. It’s my ‘f— you’ list. … I have a bunch of people that doubt me, and I have the strength inside of me — you have a lot of people to prove wrong.
“[That’s when I say to myself] ‘Get your ass up and write a song.’ I’m not gonna let hate win. I’m gonna win, and I’m gonna do it, and I’m going to spread love for the rest of my life. My goal is to be remembered for being a positive human being that did positive things to other people.”