DEMI LOVATO looks me up and down and says: “I like your outfit. It’s cute.”
The pop star is curled up on a sofa in a darkened hotel room — looking jetlagged and not at all in the mood for a chat.
But as the 20-year-old X Factor USA judge has been famously open about her past eating disorders, drug abuse and self-harm, I am still hoping for a good natter.
Feeling chuffed at her compliment, I plonk myself down and tell her that my clothes are from Primark.
She stares blankly at me and says: “I don’t know what that is.”
I explain that it is a British chain that sells cheap fashion.
Demi looks horrified — as if I had just told her that I found my get-up while rootling through a skip.
But that didn’t stop her telling all about Simon Cowell’s non-stop grooming, her own confessional new album, Demi, and “bonding” with fellow X Factor judge Britney Spears.
Are there any surprises on the new album?
I think my fans know everything about me! But there are some songs that are more personal than I’ve ever been.
Warrior is a song that’s super-personal but I’m not going to elaborate on that. I feel like if you want to know what it’s about you can listen to the song! But I definitely do get more open and vulnerable.
What was it like working with Simon Cowell?
Working with him is really great. He’s a really, really cool guy, not what people expect, I think. He’s not as mean as he comes across.
Are you close?
Definitely. I’ve been able to tell him things that I don’t tell the public — about my personal experiences, my journey and what I’ve been through. He’s been really, really cool about everything. Way deep down there, he’s a good guy.
But on the surface…
Well, it’s Simon Cowell! What do you think?
Does he tease you guys?
He teases us for sure. Just watch the show. You’ll see, he’s constantly teasing me.
Is Simon as vain as people make him out to be?
Definitely! He wears his sunglasses indoors. It’s funny. It’s a part of who he is.
Is he big into grooming?
Yeah, he’s always blowdrying his hair.
What was Britney Spears like to work with?
She was really great and super down-to-Earth. I’m going to miss her this season.
You have a bit in common, both being child stars who have run into difficulties. Did you ever have a heart-to-heart?
We’ve definitely bonded, I think because we’ve been through the same stuff. But if we did have a heart-to-heart I probably wouldn’t tell a magazine about it! It’s pretty obvious that we’ve been through some of the same things for sure.
Do you keep in touch?
We have kept in touch. Our moms have become super-close, which is really random. It’s super-funny.
What made you decide to be so open with problems in private life in the past?
I went through bullying and it was a very difficult time for me. It ended up changing my life and I went through a lot of things because of that.
When you’re bullied by someone, it doesn’t mean that you have to be thrown in a trashcan by the big bully at school or that somebody physically hurt you or something.
There’s verbal harassment, which is sometimes even worse.
Who is your favourite British person?
I really like Adele.
What would you do if you weren’t a singer?
And if it was outside the music business?
I’m fascinated with criminal psychology and things like that. I’d probably go to law school.
How many tattoos do you have?
A bunch. I lost count.
Do you have a favourite?
I have one on my back that says “Now I’m a warrior” that I got really recently. It’s a quote from one of my songs.
When did you start writing?
The first song I wrote was when I was eight — and it wasn’t good by any means.
But it was OK. I think it was about getting butterflies in your stomach over a guy that you liked.
That’s quite young to be writing songs…
I’ve always been an old soul, I guess.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
I hadn’t been in a relationship when I was eight years old so it was hard to sing about something I hadn’t really experienced!
But now I’m older and because I’ve been through everything you can name, I’ve been able to draw from personal experiences.
What is your new single, Heart Attack, about?
Heart Attack is the feeling you get when you’re about to fall in love.
Heart attack is like, “Oh no, I’m about to fall in love and I’m not used to that. I’m used to manipulating and abusing guys and being a game-player — and now being I’m feeling something serious coming on and I don’t know how to handle it”.
Is that from personal experience?
I don’t sing about stuff that’s not from personal experience any more.
@directiovatic28 a million percent yes
— Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell) June 5, 2013