When Jessica Sutta cracked a rib on tour in late 2009 during one of the Pussycat Dolls’ tightly-choreographed dance numbers, more than just a bone that snapped. “It was like it broke open something inside of me that had to come out,” she shares. “It was something that was holding me back.”
After seven years with the multi-platinum girl group – and touches of solo success, including the 2007 #1 “White Lies” with Paul van Dyk, beween PCD albums -- Sutta knew it was time to finally fly alone. To date, the pay-off has been huge! “Show Me,” Sutta’s first release on Hollywood Records, landed atop Billboard’s Hot Club/Dance Play chart and heads to pop radio within the month.
As Jessica prepares for the 2012 release of her full-length album Sutta Pop, she sat down for a chat with GuideToGay.com celebrity correspondent Pollo Del Mar. Like old girlfriends, they discuss Sutta’s strong conviction for LGBT equality, why she chose to make dance music and, yes, how it feels to go head-to-head on the charts with her former PCD compatriot Nicole Scherzinger.
You told me years ago, your high school friends were gay men because other girls were so competitive.
(Laughing) That’s very true!
So, you have a long-time understanding of gay men?
Yes, I do. It’s like all my closest friends. Before this, I had an interview, and we were talking about gay rights and gay marriage. I get so heated! I’m sweating after talking about it, because I get so angry. People are just so ridiculous in not allowing full rights for everyone, for every human being. Who are we to judge who others fall in love with and spend the rest of their lives with? It’s so stupid to me! Oh, there I go, getting heated again.
Is that why you participated in the NoH8 Campaign?
You know, I was bullied as a teenager. My friends were bullied; a lot of my gay friends were bullied. That’s why we became so close. That’s all we had in life, those friends, and I got a better understanding of their lives. There would be times when my one friend went to school, beat up by his parents, and it was just so emotional. It was so awful to actually see my friend going through that. It was a hate crime, and it’s despicable. Just because of the idea that something’s wrong or different, it’s just the same as when black and white were segregated. The fact that we’re in 2011, and we’re still living with that same idea…it’s beyond me. I don’t understand it, and it needs to change.
Hollywood Records seems like a great fit for you. They have a strong understanding of dance music.
Yeah, the people I work with there understand dance music. They understand remixes, the same way DJs do. They’ve actually introduced me to people. I went to this convention a couple months back where I got to meet Morgan Paige. Dave Aude was there. There’s that underground world of music, which I have really tapped into, which I really enjoy and is what I personally listen to. It’s expanded my whole world of music. It’s expanded my whole mind, which is brilliant. You know, there are elements of everything in my music.
“Show Me” is your first solo single – no other names attached. How does it feel to watch it climb the charts?
Honestly, I feel like I’m dreaming. I love the track, but the way it’s being received in the clubs, it’s like a dream come true! It’s like – oh, my God! I can’t believe it.
I don’t want to bring it up – OK, I do. You’re not the only Pussycat Doll in the Top 5! You’re #1 and Nicole’s #2!
I don’t mean to suggest you’re one-upping your friend, but it must be satisfying to know you’re both doing your own things – and you are doing it successfully?
Yeah. I respect Nicole. I think she’s an amazing vocalist, and I wish her all the best in her career. I learned a lot from her in the Pussycat Dolls. Now I’m doing my own thing, I’m describing who I am as an artist and learning to stand out and do my own thing. It feels really good.
Does “Show Me” represent the rest of your upcoming CD?
It’s interesting. I have a studio session in an hour to do a song that has a more R&B flavor with an 808-bass. It’s not necessarily dance. My album, Sutta Pop, has all different varieties of music. Music isn’t just one genre any more. In my album, there’s the influence of R&B, dance, I have my ballads, things that are connected to me. I’ve also been writing on it, too, so everything is viscerally connected to me and everything I’ve gone through in my life.
Even after the Pussycat Dolls, I read you wound up “homeless”?!
E! had a hey-day with that! They did this whole thing called “From Hollywood to Homeless!” For 24-hours, I was getting calls from my family asking, “Are you ok?” I had to tell them I didn’t even know what [E!] was talking about. Basically, what happened was when I left the Pussycat Dolls, I was in a relationship for four years, and it ended. When I came back from tour, I was staying briefly on my girlfriend’s couch. That’s where they got the whole “homeless” thing. It was an interesting thing, though. On tour, I broke a rib, and it meant so many things for me. First, it broke open part of me that needed to come out. It was something I was maybe holding back. It was me as a solo artist. I had a great time with the Pussycat Dolls. I grew. I traveled the world. I had the best time of my life, but I knew it was time to move on. It was kind of a transitional phase for me. It made me stronger. It made me independent. It made me into a solo artist, and I’m writing. I’m on my own, and it feels awesome!
It must be hard leaving something as successful as Pussycat Dolls. Despite not being professionally fulfilling, at least it was “safe.” How did you finally make the decision to fly solo?
It wasn’t easy. It’s funny you say “safe.” Sure, I was secure and comfortable in something, but I wasn’t 100-percent happy. I feel like we do that often. We find ourselves in relationships where we’re maybe not 100-percent happy, but we’re “comfortable.” But when you take that leap of faith, when you go forward and follow your dreams whole-heartedly, you’re going to get your life out of it. As hard as it was to leave the group, looking back now, it was the best decision because I got so much life out of it. I’m grateful for that. I don’t know. For me, I’m a normal girl. When I walk onstage, yeah, I’m an artist, but off-stage, I’m a normal girl. Within Hollywood, I understand the façade, but I’m not fake. I’m here for a purpose. My music’s here to inspire. I’m here to be of service. Maybe it’s to help gays achieve equality with the celebrity I’ve achieved? That’s why I’m interested in this life. If you’re in this industry, and you’re just doing it for the success, that’s selfish. If you’re doing it to be of service and help people – which you do -- you can help people – then that’s worthwhile.
Usually it’s, “Money, money, more hits, make it big…”
Right, and that’s all great, but at the end of the day, what do you have? You think you’re going to be happy, but you’re not. I know some of the richest people in the world, and they are the unhappiest people. They’re complaining about everything! When you have a purpose in life, that changes everything. It’s like abundance! It’s like you’re a millionaire, but it’s worth so much more.
You’ve been toying with this album for almost five years. What was that journey like?
Wow! There’s been a lot of life lived. It was the height of success for the Pussycat Dolls. Being part of that – especially looking back – man, it was just one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I got to make these amazing relationships with the girls. Every time I think of the girls or talk to them, it’s like family. They’re like sisters to me. Of course, I also had heartbreak. I also grew as an artist a lot. Basically, you look back and see it. It was fun. It was amazing. It was hard. But, it was all worth it! That’s the thing I feel like I’ve learned in the last five years. Everything happens for a reason, no matter what. Life is here for you, and when you grow with it, you become so strong! It’s the best gift in the world.
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