Demi Lovato is far from home. In the midst of a tight schedule, Demi has to grapple with the demands of a pop star’s life: there’s the constant flashing of cameras whenever she’s in public, the long hours on the road or the harried shuffle from one country to another (she’s visiting five countries in a matter of days and she hardly even has time to drink in the cities she’s visiting). But she merely brushes these things off like an insignificant speck of dust on her shoulders. After all, this is a girl who has been through a lot and bringing her music to her legions of devoted fans, especially those who are at the far side of the planet like Manila (okay, not really), is one of the greatest things the world has to offer right now.“It’s kind of crazy, you don’t realize how far from home you are until you fly so far and I talk to my family at home and the time difference is so crazy so I realize I’m on the other side of the world — and I still have fans! It’s really insane and it’s really amazing,” she tells the Philippine press that welcomed her Wednesday just hours before her one-night-only concert in Manila. “It’s something that I can’t really fathom but it’s an incredible feeling. So I’m really excited to be here to say ‘Hi’ to my fans who I’ve never seen before and play my music for them.” Having started her career with a hit Disney TV film Camp Rockand a TV show, the hilarious and meta-loving Sonny with a Chance, Demi could have gone into a sneaky pop spiral into the depths of television and film. She did, however, struggle with a few issues of her own. In 2010, she underwent treatment for her bulimia, self-injury, and self-medicating. It could have ended her career right then and there but Demi, being the warrior that she is, bounced back and skyrocketed into her rightful place in the pop atmosphere. Demi soldiered on and continued to focus on her music, opening up to her fans emotionally. She fearlessly spoke about what she went through and her strong emotional connection with her fans has made her one of the most beloved and relatable artists of her generation. You can hear it when her fans sing along to her hits like Give Your Heart a Break or Skyscraper; each song sheds its paltry pop anthem status and transforms into a beacon that burns through the dread of adolescence or just about any struggle that you’ll find yourself in. Demi’s encompassing influence is felt through these songs, like a voice that leads you out of the wilderness. “You’ve been my inspiration and your music has been an influence in my life,” a woman in her 20s tells Demi as she reaches for a hug. We hear different versions of this through the day and thousands more post on social networking sites or in the comments section of her songs. It’s these testimonies that make Demi feel she has done her job as an artist. We recently sat down with Demi, looking healthy as ever (unlike your garden variety waif of a pop star), and talked about her new album (she’s still thinking about the title as of press time), her stint as judge in the second season of the US edition of The X Factor, and opening herself up through her music.
SUPREME: Your past albums have seen you swerve from the teen pop route into more R&B and slick pop rock. What direction will you be taking in your new album?
DEMI LOVATO: It’s kind of a combination of everything that I’ve done before and stuff that I’m listening to now. You really just have to listen to hear it for yourself. Every time I try to pinpoint it, it really doesn’t get it exactly, so it’s pop, it has influences from other different genres of music (but) most of all, it’s me and that’s the way I’d describe it.
Your new song, Heart Attack, is about taking big risks. What have been some of the big risks that you took in your career since your treatment?
First off, just even coming back to music after treatment. It was a big risk for me because I didn’t know how people would receive me and my story. Thankfully, everyone’s been really supportive. Just coming back to music, X Factor, making more albums, everything you do in your career is a risk.
How has The X Factor changed your career?
It’s definitely opened up my demographic a lot. I no longer only have younger fans. It’s now maybe people who are watching the show with their parents. I have a wider audience now and it’s really, really amazing and it’s something I’m really thankful for.Was it scary for you to be in such a wide audience?
Yeah, I was very nervous about doing X Factor, but it ended up being really great. I said yes because it was such an incredible opportunity that I didn’t want to let go.
What was it like mentoring kids your age?
Mentoring people was really fun. It was a learning experience for me. I think that it’s something that you can’t really prepare yourself for so when it happens, it just happens, but I think I can do a better job.
In Here We Go Again and Unbroken, you did a lot of collaborations. Did you also collaborate with other artists in your new album?
I did a collaboration, yes, and it’s really fun, it’s really cute. I think my fans will like it but you just have to wait and see who’s it with.
Do you ever feel too exposed or vulnerable when you’re writing about personal experiences?
Yeah, when I’m performing my songs, they are always written about personal experiences. When I perform them, it’s a very vulnerable feeling to open up my emotions to people on a stage.