Megalomaniacal Hollywood gossip blogger and one-time self-described “Queen of All Media” Perez Hilton's first CD compilation, Pop Up! #1, was released earlier this week on the Opus Label. As early as 2009, there was talk of Hilton getting his own boutique imprint on Warner Bros., and his website's constant championing of new discoveries is largely responsible for putting artists like Iggy Azalea on the map. He's certainly spending less time berating celebs these days: Having started the fitness-oriented fitperez.com, he's finally making his first foray into record-making. The 18-song sampler of mostly undiscovered artists is the first in a reported series of Hilton-curated compilations.
And indeed, it's a fun record, with such varied flavors of EDM novelty that might surprise people in its scope — one highlight is “Zero Gravity” from Kerli, a “goth-pop” star from Estonia. That said, the work's subject matter may not be so surprising. Ex-Morningwood singer Chantal Claret turns Jack and Jill into a horny revenge tale on “Pop Pop Bang Bang.” Mostly built for clubs and parties, even the “rock” and “rap” stuff here averages out to dance music. Hilton spoke to West Coast Sound by phone about such topics as redeeming Ke$ha.
So how many demos and CDs do you get in the mail per week?
Uh…a lot. But I actually hate getting stuff by mail. I really prefer getting stuff by e-mail because it's easier. But I get a lot.
What's the weirdest shit a band has done to try and get your attention?
Actually something crazy just happened this weekend. On Sunday I was leaving [monthly “polysexual” clubgoer party] Summertramp and this car filled with lesbians and a transgendered singer started chasing me and stopped in the middle of the street and handed me a CD from the transgendered singer.
Did you play it?
Do you look for the same qualities in musicians as the actors and other celebs you admire?
Mmmmm….mmmmmmmnn…nah. No. No, because for music it's usually something a lot more…immediate. So I'm looking for something that will grab me instantly. Whereas actors or other artists, you get to know them more and differently over time. But with music it's really that quick, instantaneous thing.
What's worse for an artist: being terrible or being boring?
Hmmmm. Being really bad is worse, because boring can still be successful. [laughs]
There's a lot of raunchy humor and sexiness on Pop-Up, like on the tracks by Kat Graham and Chantal Claret. Hi Fashion's “Amazing” is very funny.
Do you always lean towards bawdy-humored stuff or does the album just represent one side of your taste?
I have I like to think a very eclectic taste, but I definitely have preferences. And I think the most prevalent preference is my predilection towards female vocalists. I love female musicians, female singers. And another thing I think is guys tend to be in bands, and girls tend to go solo. And I'm much more of an “artist” fan than a “band” fan usually. And there are amazing bands I love — I've been obsessed with Walk the Moon recently, I love them. And just today I posted Lianne La Havas and she's not…funny at all. [laughs] She's very serious and beautiful and makes amazing soul jazz music.
Were any of the artists here completely unknown before this disc?
I think a lot of them are still unknown! But I just came across them and I love their songs. I love how fun they all are and how varied. I called it Pop Up, the album, because to me pop is everything that's on there. Pop is everything from Kanye West to Taylor Swift, it's all pop to me.
The first two songs on it are pop from Estonia and rap from Italy. What countries have really good music scenes that we don't know about?
That people don't know about…oooh. Good question. I mean, everyone knows that the U.K. has an amazing scene, but New Zealand really is popping off right now too. There are so many amazing artists from New Zealand, from Kimba to the Naked and Famous to Kids of 88 to Ladyhawke to Gin Wigmore…and these are just the first ones coming off the top of my head.
Do you read Pitchfork or any music blogs?
I don't. The best way for me to discover new music is through YouTube, and through my readers emailing me stuff.
What would people most be surprised that you're a fan of?
The thing that they would least expect from you.
[pause] I don't know!
Are you like, a Radiohead fan?
Mm..not really. [laughs]
You've said some harsh stuff about Ke$ha in the past, have your feelings on her changed at all?
In the past, yes, definitely. And also my feelings on my job and how I operate have changed, and I was definitely nastier in the past. I'm trying to be better and do better and be more positive but…she really won me over as time went on by continuing to release great music. And actually, when she really, really, really won me over is when she started to incorporate humor in what she did. And I was like, that's so cool, she's able to laugh at herself and be silly and not take this all so seriously, and make great pop music.
It was the “Blow” video with James Van Der Beek that won me over.
That's a great video.
What's the best music to have sex to?
Uhh..that depends what kind of mood you're in. I would make love to Sarah McLachlan. But I would have sex to Rihanna.
[laughs] Well that one, or “Cockiness,” or “Birthday Cake,” or even “We Found Love.”
Other than “The Clap,” what's your own musical history like? Did you ever sing or play an instrument growing up?
No. But I…I am music. [laughs]
I love it so much, it is my biggest passion in my life. I live, breathe, shit music. I interpret the world through song. I'm that dude who will burst into song spontaneously. I think sometimes you don't really need to play an instrument if you're just that passionate about it. I love going to shows, artists are some of my favorite people…
Have you ever aspired to be a judge on an American Idol-type show?
I actively campaigned for that!
For which show?
All of them! I was like, sign me up for X-Factor, sign me up for Idol.”
You haven't gotten any offers for that?
No! Maybe ten years ago I might've but nowadays it's changed, they're only looking for big-name musicians…or musicians who were big names two years ago. [laughs]
What song is your secret weapon at karaoke?
Oh, that's easy. “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” That's my go-to.
Did you like Paris Hilton's album?
The one that she did several years ago? That was actually really good! She was actually one of the first people to work with Dr. Luke, and those songs were really catchy.