Interview: Miley Cyrus Breaks Out of the Disney Mold.
by Daniel Haim
Miley Cyrus might be a petite 17-year-old, but she has the stamina of a burly athlete. For the last five years, whether living out the life of Disney’s princess Hannah Montana or carving out her own solo career, the Nashville-born star hasn’t stopped for a second.
Today, as she rolls around the bed of her hotel suite, the layman might think she’s relaxing, but she’s still managing to go over fine details of her performance at London’s G-A-Y nightclub with one of her many assistants. Even when she looks like she’s relaxing, she’s working.
“I landed last night, about 1am,” she says, like some kind of Duracell-powered Southern Belle. I don’t sleep, like ever, when I’m out on the road. That means I never suffer from jetlag. Can’t be jetlagged if you don’t sleep. When I go home to LA I crash, like really crash,” she says, with massive emphasis on the latter part of the sentence.
The other morning I started working at 6.45am, but didn’t fall asleep until 6.15am. I’m working all day and then at night I get to a computer and all my friends in the States are up, so I’m up all night talking to them.”
It’s a strange thing, being intimidated by a 17-year-old.
Such assurance is rare in the most successful of grown ups, but here’s a girl not old enough to vote, a multi-millionaire, commanding the attention of the six or seven adults in the room, spouting wisdom way beyond her years.
“You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind,” she says, explaining her dislike of gossip magazines. It’s one of her many statements which in lesser hands would appear phoney; ripped directly from a self-help book. Coming from Miley, a girl with more than 15 million album sales under her belt, it sounds like a way of life.
Of course, you don’t get to be Disney’s poster girl without having your fair share of media training, but there’s something about Destiny Hope Cyrus, as she was born, that seems very genuine, well-rounded and homely.
She loves the UK, and has never failed to be surprised by her British fans.
“It’s especially good that I’m not here that often,” she says, because the fans go a little crazier because it’s not normal that I’m around.”
Talking of fans, waiting outside the hotel to meet Miley, a group of Cyrus acolytes somehow mistook me for one of their own. How long have you been here?” asks one, before realizing there might be more professional reasons for my visit.
I came down from Leeds this morning,” says one girl, no older than 14, wearing her 400-mile round trip like a badge of honour.
I’ve been here since 6am,” says another, unaware how ludicrous standing on a pavement for the best part of 10 hours to catch a glimpse of a popstar sounds.
Miley gets wind of the two girls and promises to see them later.
“I absolutely love signing autographs,” she says, “and I really hate it if I spell a name wrong. I always double check, there are some strange spellings out there.”
Her forthcoming album, Can’t Be Tamed, is a big deal for Miley. In the time she’s been releasing music, both as herself and as her alter-ego Hannah Montana, she’s always had the Disney juggernaut to consider and to back her up.
For Miley at least, Hannah Montana is now over — the filming of the fourth and final series wrapped in May and will air in July — meaning she’s freer than ever.
As a result, there’s something distinctly different about Can’t Be Tamed’s contents.
Whereas before she was the All-American Girl, the video for her current single sees her writhing around on a pole inside a cage. A recent TV appearance on Britain’s Got Talent saw her simulate a lesbian kiss with a female dancer, while wearing leather hotpants.
Miley doesn’t think there’s anything to be alarmed about, however. She says her music is about growing up, as it always has been.
“People ask me, ‘How have you hidden that side of you for so long?’ and I say, ‘Well five years ago I wasn’t who I am now’. You know? You change so much in these years, 12 or 13 to 17.
Changing is also how you grow as an artist and a musician, and as a person too. And I’ve definitely grown as all those things, and I’ve been able to put that into a video.
I’ve always have these crazy ideas and yet when they came to be realised I always thought, ‘That’s almost what I had in envisioned.’ The video for Can’t Be Tamed”, though, is exactly what I had in my head.”
“It’s not often that what you get in front of you is exactly what you’ve dreamed of.”
The album was recorded in studios across America, Ireland and the UK while Miley was on tour last year. It’s not a conventional method, different from the usual way of decamping to one studio for a number of weeks or months.
Miley doesn’t have time for that, and for Team Miley, time is money.
“I liked making the album while on the road,” she explains. When I’m acting, it’s hard to make an album because I’m focused on the acting. When I go on tour, that’s when I get in music mode so that’s when I want to record.
I have guitars around me all the time, loads of ideas floating around and I’m seeing fans all the time so that’s great because you get to see how your music is inspiring them.
The hardest part about it is when you record a new song, you just want to play it that night but you can’t, because it’s not finished or you’re saving it for next time.”
Moving on — something Miley seems very keen on — there’s the album release to get out of the way, then she starts work with Demi Moore on the remake of a French film, LOL.
“Demi’s a friend of mine,” she says. I think it’s going to work well because we know each other and it’s good to work with people you like and trust. It’s going to be a good summer,” she says, before addressing perhaps the biggest challenge of her career so far — leaving Hannah Montana behind.
“It’s really weird because you’re leaving a security blanket. It’s something that I’ve been involved with for five years now, and it’s something that has been so easy — I’m so used to it.
But it’s nice to be able to be my full self and I don’t have to think about whether something I’m doing contradicts what Hannah Montana is.
Miley: It feels good to be myself, 100%.”