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Cher Lloyd Dishes on ‘Sticks + Stones’ LP, Nicki Minaj + Overcoming Confidence Issues

Cher Lloyd
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Cher Lloyd is equal parts sugar and spice. When the ‘Want U Back’ songstress stopped by our N.Y.C. offices the other week, her bright personality was shining, as she delivered hilarious, spunky comments while also remaining extremely gracious and kind. Lloyd took the time to answer a few of the burning questions we had concerning her U.S. debut, ‘Stick + Stones,’ as well as her love for hip-hop (especially if it’s a Nicki Minaj track spinning) and overcoming some confidence issues while filming her new video for ‘Oath.’ She may be young at 19 years old, but this U.K. native knows a lot about living and learning! Check out what she had to say below.

What originally attracted to ‘Want U Back’ and made you want to record it?
This song came through Max Martin and I’d heard so much about him. I obviously was familiar with many of his hit songs, and I listened to this song and I was like, ‘Well I didn’t write it, but I love it.’ Because usually artists have this thing where if they didn’t write the song, they’re a bit like, ‘Hmmm I don’t really know whether I should do that or not,’ but I had to do this song because I would’ve been so upset if someone else had it.

The grunts that you incorporated into ‘Want U Back’ are so great — they really bring the track together nicely. Was it your idea to include those?
Well, I got stuck on a part of the song and I couldn’t hit a particular note, so I grunted and they just looped it throughout the track. It was just one of those things that I did when I was standing there, and they thought it was funny and just looped it.

Can you talk about the meaning behind ‘Oath,’ your second ‘Sticks + Stones’ single in the U.S.?
The meaning behind it is basically a message to say that you are very much someone’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean that when you go away everything stops. You’re still able to call them, still able to stay in contact with them. It’s kinda like one of those things where you finish high school and you’re going off to college, and one of the girls goes this way and one of the girls goes [that] way. It’s one of those songs that should be able to bring them back together.

And how did the collaboration with Becky G come about?
Well she actually wrote the song. She’s a brand-new upcoming artist and this was my way of saying, ‘This song is so great — jump on it with me and just see what it’s like to be in a music video and traveling around all day to different kinds of places.’

Did you record a video for ‘Oath’ yet?
I recorded it two days ago [Note: Our interview with Cher occurred on Sept. 21, so she shot the video on Sept. 19] in L.A. It is a bit top secret but all I can say is I took many risks with this one. I wore a bathing suit for the first time.

Listen to Cher Lloyd, ‘Oath’ Feat. Becky G

That’s a daring thing to do in the entertainment industry. 
It is a daring thing to do! I know some people might have a certain reaction to it, and I don’t really care about that. It was a big stepping stone in my life to get over confidence issues and body issues and just to say, ‘Ya know what? I am what I am, and I am gonna wear a bathing suit in my video because why not?’

Can you talk about another favorite ‘Sticks + Stones’ track?
Yeah, I mean the digital version of the album actually has a song on it called ‘Riot.’ I cannot stop listening to this song. I’ve stopped myself from listening to it for now, because I don’t want it to get to a point where I’m completely like, ‘I’ve had enough of this song,’ because it’s on my brain constantly. But there’s just something about this song that just screams me. Everything about it is completely me.

What type of sound does it have?
Well this is the thing. Obviously, I’ve had this album in the U.K., and at the time [of its release], I didn’t have a clear vision. I was allowed to do some things, but I wasn’t given the freedom to do what I want. And then I went to my new record label Epic. I went in and L.A. [Reid] told me, ‘You do what you feel like doing’ — that’s why ‘Riot’ and ‘Oath’ and ‘Behind the Music’ stick out to me, because that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

Despite the fact that ‘Want U Back’ and ‘Oath’ are pop songs, there’s definitely some hip-hop influence in there. Who are some of your favorite hip-hop artists right now?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Nicki [Minaj], she’s like No. 1 for me. I really feel like Nicki brought that vibe in. No one was doing what she was doing, and then she came in and it was kind of one those things where people were like, ‘Woah. She just changed pop music.’ And she did! There’s no denying it.

She is someone I definitely look up to. I admire how brave she is. She’s kind of got that attitude like, do what you feel like doing, be who you are. I love that, and I love how she incorporates that with her fans as well. I can appreciate that because I’m a fan, and it makes me think, ‘Well if Nicki says she can do it, I can do it.’

Do you have any plans for a big U.S. tour once the album is released?
I’d love to. I am a touring artist — I get a kick out of it, like a huge kick. There’s nothing more that I enjoy doing as much as touring. It’s basically being able to connect with the fans without all the madness that goes on in my regular life. It’s kind of like “Business Cher” doing regular stuff and my crazy schedule, but then tour is like a vacation with the fans … And I get to do things spontaneously — you know, if I want to do a random song like a cover, I can do it! You just learn it with the band and go out and do it… I’d just like to stay in the States for a long time — maybe get some place out here where I can just park up for a little while and then just tour.

Since you got your start on ‘X Factor,’ we were wondering if you’ve seen the U.S. version at all and what your thoughts are.
I have seen clips on YouTube and stuff. Obviously, L.A. is my boss — well, he’s not really a boss but more like a second dad — and he sends me all the bits that I missed so I can catch up. Actually, I’m obsessed. It’s scary how obsessed I am with the U.S. ‘X Factor.’ Normally, I’m like, ‘Yeah I’ll catch it when I can, whatever,’ but the U.S. ‘X Factor,’ I’m hooked.

And you were on the same season as One Direction, who are your buddies, right? Do you guys still keep in touch?
Yeah! It’s a bit sad that we don’t get to see each other as often, but we’re all so busy at the moment. It’s kind of strange, because obviously we were together all the time on the show. I just remember doing fun little things with them, like messing around in the makeup rooms at the show backstage and doing little sing-alongs.

We saw on Twitter that you just got a new puppy! Is it a boy or a girl, and can you tell us its name?
I did! It’s a boy, and you know what, I’m treating this as if it’s a child. You know how celebrities are like, ‘We’re not exposing the name yet. We don’t do questions about the baby’s name,’ so we don’t do questions about the dog’s name yet, OK?! [Laughs]

But he’s a French bulldog, and he’s like so rare! He has a blue coat and blue eyes. Obviously, it’s natural [Laughs], like we haven’t done anything to the dog. I don’t want to be abused of animal cruelty, because I love animals. But his coat is blue! I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I just fell in love with this little puppy.

And we have to ask about your tattoos. How old were you when you got your first one?
I was 16, which is illegal, but not if you have a parent and I had my parent. Her views on it were like, ‘I’d rather you do this than have a kid.’

Next: Vote for Cher Lloyd as Favorite Teen Star

Watch the Cher Lloyd ‘Want U Back’ Video

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