Ever since the release of her first solo single “TikTok” back in 2009, singer-songwriter Kesha has been Pop music’s most unpredictable player. In a way, nothing the twice Grammy-nominated 36-year-old does should ever come as a surprise, as, well, she’s always surprising. Even a quick peruse through her catalog shows a far-ranging creative spectrum, with no clear indicator of what might come next. 

“Surprised” is also likely the best word to describe how a group of students felt at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur when they learned that Kesha would be the teacher for their songwriting course, called ‘The Alchemy of Pop Music.’

Having wrapped a two-and-a-half week stint six hours north of Los Angeles, Kesha spoke with V Magazine about her foray into academia, as well as being more at peace than ever—and channeling that for new music. 

Mathias Rosenzweig: I’ll start off by saying, I Googled the location where you are and it’s so incredibly beautiful. 

Kesha: Maybe I can show you—there’s a butterfly migration right now, so there’s 10 thousand butterflies here. And there are sheep in my hard. Anyway, this is my friend’s cabin. In my cabin, the water doesn’t work and there’s no heat. 

MR: Do you mind that?

K: I’m really settling into it. It’s a whole community. We all eat together. We all sing together…and then I’m teaching. 

MR: So how did this come about? Have you wanted to teach prior?

K: Well, I’d spent three years on and off with Rick Rubin, and I felt like I learned so much from him when I was making my last album. I felt that my own personal stuff could be set aside. I planned this trip immediately. My love and lust for life, and specifically for music—and the art and the magic of music—started coming to me so quickly, that I couldn’t consume it fast enough. And so I had to figure out exactly what I wanted to teach, but I realized that having someone help me process my emotions in such a beautiful way on that last album, well, I wanted to help other people process their emotions too, and give them a tool that could be helpful.

MR: What was your day-to-day like there, and what did your classes look like? 

K: So I became part of the staff, which was really cool. I was one of many teachers. Some people would come to my class and not have any idea about my history. So I got to kind of take a step back and walk people through my life. And from there I played just a couple of key moments and songs from my career that I thought best captured where I was at that moment. Then I mostly focused on the students. Every person is the entire world has their own stuff. So instead of learning how to make money or go on tour, get a record deal, etc., people really wanted to learn the foundation of songwriting. 

MR: It must be such an amazing and magical place to be creating, which is such a spiritual act in itself. 

K: It’s been exactly what my body, soul and spirit knew I needed. It was instinct that brought me here. And I’ve written somewhere between seven and 10 songs, just little moments of them every day over the two and a half weeks that I’ve been here. 

MR: What do you feel was different about this specific class? 

K: I started the class with something that I felt was really important. Even though they were calling me a “teacher,” I signed my first record deal at 18 and got discovered before that. So I never got my GED; I never went to college. So I didn’t look at myself as a teacher. I looked at myself as someone who has something that seems to connect. I’m just sharing my process. It’s also important to say that my process might not work for anybody else in the world, but here I saw it actively working for people and that was so exciting. I got to see people writing songs for the first in front of my eyes and burst into tears. 

MR: To circle back to your own music, you mentioned that you’ve written new songs lately. What can you tell us about what’s to come? 

K: I’ll say this: I’ve never felt happier, more excited, more at peace and had such a purpose in my entire life. And I feel like I have earned the right to be this happy for sure. So letting that be…I am loving every minute of what feels like a brand-new and very exciting chapter. 

MR: Given that this is your first interview of 2024, is there anything else you want to put out there into the world? 

K: I’ll say…to all my fans, all my animals, this has been a ride. I’ll say that there is a day—although I won’t say the day—but there is a day marked on my calendar when I am free to release music. So just know that she is out here in the woods writing and singing till four in the morning, ferociously. I am being a feral wild woman out here. So just know that.

Discover More