Lizzo on God, the American Dream, and the Smell of Gasoline
Lizzo needs no introduction; she can introduce herself, thank you very much: “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch,” she famously declares in her anthem, “Truth Hurts.” With a breakout year that included a beloved album, Cuz I Love You, a standing ovation at the BET Awards courtesy of Rihanna, and a booty-shaking, bedazzled tequila bottle-induced performance at the VMAs, she has become the world’s favorite rapper-flautist and a champion of self-love. When I ask if she has any advice for a younger version of herself, Lizzo is quick to respond: “I don’t have to give her any advice. She knew exactly what she was doing.”
Aside from a role in the new stripper-heist flick Hustlers alongside Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B, Lizzo’s latest turn is a campaign with Absolut for their new line of flavored “juice.” She took a short break from sipping cocktails and shattering male egos to field some questions for us, lifted from Glenn O’Brien’s legendary 1977 interview with Andy Warhol. From God to the future, from marriage to makeup to mushrooms, Lizzo does her hair toss, checks her nails, and spills all the juice.
SARAH NECHAMKIN: Did you get good grades in school?
LIZZO: I got good grades all the way until I got to high school and I started becoming a class clown. Then I didn’t get good grades in school.
NECHAMKIN: Did they say when you were a kid that you had natural talent?
LIZZO: Yeah, they did. I was really good at a lot of things. I was really good at flute and I was really good at writing, so people told me that all the time.
NECHAMKIN: Who would you say was the first musician to influence you?
LIZZO: The first rapper I wanted to sound like was Ludacris, but the first musician to influence me—it’s hard to remember what the fuck was going on back then. I remember I wanted to rap like Ludacris and play like James Galway.
NECHAMKIN: Did you go to the movies a lot when you were younger?
LIZZO: I went with my family a lot. It was something that my family liked to do, but I didn’t really like to do it on my own. If I did go to the movies with my friends, we would go to look for boys.
NECHAMKIN: Are you a big movie person now?
LIZZO: No. I have a wild imagination.
NECHAMKIN: You’re in your head.
NECHAMKIN: What advice would you give to a young person who wants to become a musician or a rapper?
LIZZO: If you’re young and you want to be a musician, that’s exciting. I would start playing. Youth is when it all happens. You get that instrument and you fall in love with music. You practice it until you’re happy with how you sound. You just try to make beautiful sounds.
NECHAMKIN: What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
LIZZO: I don’t have to give her any advice. She knew exactly what she was doing.
NECHAMKIN: What’s your favorite piece out of all your work? What’s your favorite thing that you’ve ever produced?
LIZZO: I don’t know. I don’t have a favorite because they just keep getting better to me. It’s like having children. You can’t really choose a favorite, but there’s always a child that gives back the most and there’s the one that is a little strange that you have to give extra attention to. There’s the one that rebels, but you’re envious of their free spirit. There’s the one that you just love to love on. My art is like my children.
NECHAMKIN: Pepsi or Coke?
NECHAMKIN: Do you change your clothes to make music? When you go into the studio, do you have anything specific that you wear?
LIZZO: I like to wear really comfortable clothes, but I like to wear makeup, which is strange. I never really wear makeup unless I’m working, doing shows and stuff like that. When I go to the studio, I like to wear makeup. I don’t know why, I just like it. I play a character. It helps me get sold to this character. It’s fantasy.
NECHAMKIN: Do you ever take any drugs?
LIZZO: Yeah, I did mushrooms. But I’m really cerebral. I don’t really need drugs. I was always afraid of taking drugs because my imagination is so wild. It’s like I am drugs.
NECHAMKIN: Do you ever get drunk?
LIZZO: Yes, but I’m trying to do that less.
NECHAMKIN: Do you think people should live in outer space?
LIZZO: Absolutely, I think people live everywhere in the universe. I have an unexplainable scar. I feel like Harry Potter. Sometimes I feel like aliens gave it to me.
NECHAMKIN: Do you think the future will be futuristic?
LIZZO: No, no. Because the future is the present. I think futuristic is an idea that we have of things. Futuristic is a fantasy. I think the future will always feel like the present.
NECHAMKIN: Do you like to work?
LIZZO: I love to work. I’m a workaholic. I don’t not work. When I’m not working, I don’t know what to do.
NECHAMKIN: The next question is, what do you like to do when you’re not working?
LIZZO: Figure out ways to work.
NECHAMKIN: Do you know how to drive?
LIZZO: Yes, but I don’t drive.
NECHAMKIN: Do you like to drive?
LIZZO: Yes, under really particular circumstances I like to drive. It makes me feel like I’m in control of this beast. It’s a really wild and free feeling. I do not like driving on freeways. So much traffic.
NECHAMKIN: Do you sleep in the nude?
LIZZO: Yes. It’s good for you.
NECHAMKIN: What time do you get up in the morning?
LIZZO: It depends on what I have to do. I naturally wake up around eight or nine, but I won’t get out of bed unless I have to.
NECHAMKIN: How much time do you spend on your phone everyday?
LIZZO: An embarrassing amount of time. No, no, no, no. That’s not true. I would say I’m on my phone in the mornings, I’m on my phone at night. During the day, I kind of like to ignore my phone. My phone will just be sitting on the table or in a purse or in someone else’s hand. I spend a lot of time on it in the morning and a lot of time at night. I don’t know, seven hours? Three in the morning, three at night.
NECHAMKIN: What’s your favorite scent?
LIZZO: I have a lot of favorite smells when you come to think about it. I love smelling people that I love. I love the way people I love smell. They all have a distinct scent. I love the smell of eucalyptus. I really love cleaning out my sinuses. I really like a lot of smells, man. You’re triggering me in a good way.
NECHAMKIN: I’m glad.
LIZZO: I like the smell of food—good food. I won’t go to a restaurant unless you can smell it at least seven feet from outside. I have a powerful nose, though. I like the smell of things frying and sautéing. When you sauté garlic or butter, it’s awesome. I like the smell of gasoline.
NECHAMKIN: Do you believe in marriage?
LIZZO: I believe that marriage exists. I don’t think marriage is anything worth believing in. I think marriage is really, really good for couples who depend on each other financially. It’s really good for securing your assets. I think marriage is really good for making sure that children are taken care of in a union between two people. I think that the benefits from marriage as far as health benefits and life insurance, those kinds of things—marriage can be a really good business deal between two people who love each other and don’t need that business to love each other.
NECHAMKIN: Do you believe in the American Dream?
LIZZO: I think that it’s unfair that the American Dream is just one thing. If I could believe in an American Dream that was custom designed for me, then I would say yes. But the American Dream doesn’t really belong to people who look like me, so I don’t know.
NECHAMKIN: What do you look at first on a man?
LIZZO: His nose.
LIZZO: His nose first, and if he smiles, his teeth.
NECHAMKIN: Do you believe in God?
LIZZO: Yes, absolutely. I’m an extremely spiritual person so I believe in everything.
NECHAMKIN: I know you just did this great performance at the VMAs, but for the sake of the questionnaire: Do you know how to dance?
LIZZO: Yes, I can dance very well.