If you've listened to the radio at any point over the last decade, you've undoubtedly heard at least one song with Linda Perry's fingerprints on it. From Pink's "Get the Party Started" to Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For," she is one of the most in-demand writer/producers in the business today.
But it's been her repeated collaborations with Christina Aguilera that have shaped the duo into music's answer to Scorsese & De Niro. After writing and producing "Beautiful" for Christina's "Stripped" album, Linda was a major contributor on "Back to Basics" and lent a few tunes to "Bionic."
In addition to getting the inside scoop on the upcoming CD, I chatted with Linda about her work on the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's An Evening with Women: Celebrating Art, Music & Equality gala. For the first time since becoming involved with the charity, Linda has taken the reigns and turned the fundraiser into one of the year's hottest tickets. This year, Renee Zellweger, Sarah Silverman and Heart are just some of the famous faces that'll take the stage -- all in the name of art and altruism!
PopWrap: How did you get involved with An Evening with Women?
Linda Perry: I believe it was four years ago, they asked me perform and it was just being held in a dark club. It was low-key, $10 a ticket, not sexy at all. The following year, I performed again because they'd gotten so much attention the year before. I happened to be in the studio with Courtney [Love] so I grabbed her and Billy Corgan and that generated a lot of heat too. Then last year I said, ok, if I'm committed to being a part of this, we need to step it up! So I took over and made it a sexier, classier event so they could raise the most money possible.
PW: This year you have Renee Zellweger, Gina Gershon and Heart involved, right?
Linda: Yes, we're not sure what Renee is going to do, but all I know she is one of the most down to earth people I've ever met. Honest to god, you'd think she was a bike messenger if you knew her.
PW: Do you find it difficult to get stars involved?
Linda: Not at all. In the beginning the hardest part was getting the power lesbians to show up, because it used to a well-known, fairly cheesy award. I've changed it into something worthwhile.
PW: Last year Christina Aguilera performed, you two seem to be very much kindred spirits.
Linda: Her and I are funny together -- we're like sumo wrestlers. We both want to win the match, so in the process of battling each other we just laugh the whole time. She wants to be strong, but I'm way stronger than she realizes [laughs]. I love her dearly though. She has so much to offer and as a musician, she's really changing things up, which I love.
PW: She does strike me as someone who refuses to rest on her laurels.
Linda: Absolutely. [Like on her new album, "Bionic"], she's toning it down a lot. Everybody knows that Christina can sing, but I've been telling her that she doesn't have to blow horns off every day. So she's venturing out of her comfort zone and going more electronic, working with Sia, Lady Tron and MIA as producers.
PW: Was it hard for her to turn the dial down?
Linda: I think for Christina, not singing full out is probably the most vulnerable, insecure place for her. So to tone it down and not hit the big notes, that's a really touchy place for her. But I think it's great that she's doing it and taking herself there. Maybe she isn't reinventing the wheel, but you gotta admit, she's always trying something different. Best of all, she's doing it for herself.
PW: Is there anyone else out there you're dying to work with?
Linda: I'd love to work with Barbra Streisand. I don't know why, I just feel like I would learn so much from her. Sometimes the choices I make aren't necessarily for the obvious reasons. A lot of my choices are based on taking in new info and what I can learn from it. But at the same time, it's hard for me to say [who I'd like to work with] because I feel so lucky already. I'm shocked every time someone comes into my studio. It takes me a bit to understand that musically, maybe I am something. I just don't live in that world, in that headspace.
PW: Pretty humble words for someone so iconic in the music industry -- have you ever thought of turning your life into a movie, a la Joan Jett in "The Runaways"?
Linda: [laughs] No. [laughs] Actually, you know what, I'll answer after I see the movie. If it's great, I'll call you back and say, "I totally want to do that!" If it sucks, nah. I do have a great "story" and I'll meet people in the movie business who ask about a biography or a documentary. It's an interesting concept, but maybe when I'm older -- I feel like I haven't achieved what I want to yet. I have a long way to go.
PW: Might that journey include something like "American Idol," I heard your name bandied about to replace Simon Cowell a few months back.
Linda: That's just online rumors. "American Idol" has approached me to use my songs, but I turn them down. I think it's great what the show does, but it's not where I want to be. I would be far too honest to judge that show ... although it would be hot. If I could see myself in a daydream, being a judge on "American Idol," I would shut it down! I would be so brutal because I'd be like, "are you f***ing kidding me with this?"
PW: A big part of the event is the auction -- anything you can tease?
Linda: Last year Pink donated us a Vespa, Slash donated a guitar, Flea donated lessons, Alicia Keys donated, Gwen Stefani donated and I'm going right back to those people this year! I am also going to auction off Kat Von D!
PW: Excuse me?
Linda: Yea, last year she gave me a tattoo and I asked, "Can I auction you off?" I knew I'd make so much money off her! And she was totally game. But I told her, "Don't underestimate a bunch of lesbians with money!" [laughs]
For more information on An Evening with Women, or to buy tickets to the event on May 1, click here!
Photo: Tony Tornay; WireImage