P!nk used to be a “candy raver”. “I used to dress up as a bumblebee and do lots of drugs and dance all night,” she laughs/cackles. “That was when I was a little less… responsible.” The Grammy winner and self-described “Tinker Bell” of the music industry (because of the flying, not the perishing from lack of attention) tells GAY TIMES that she spent her formative teenage years in Philadelphia clubs, where she adopted her stage name and was introduced to EDM, dance and house music. So while the club-ready stylings of her lauded new single Trustfall feels like uncharted territory for P!nk, sonically, it’s actually an homage to her candy raver roots. “That music is in me,” she says, “it’s always been in me.” Co-produced by Fred Again and Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid, the synth-laden electro anthem is an exhilarating call-to-action about leaving one’s fear behind and placing faith in the unknown. It’s in contention for the most infectious chorus of the year. “I wanted to feel that freedom [of my past] and… yeah, it makes me feel free,” she explains. “That’s how life feels to me right now, it requires a lot of trust just to get out of bed in the morning. We need that feeling, where we can close our eyes and let go because there’s just so fucking much. It’s all so heavy.”
Quick recap: P!nk, birth name Alecia Moore, made her fluorescent-haired debut in the industry in 2000 with the R&B-infused Can’t Take Me Home. In her first-ever music video for There You Go, her signature spunk was on full display as she catapulted a motorcycle through her “pitiful” fuckboy’s window. Since taking ownership of her career with her iconic rockier sophomore album M!ssundaztood (2001), home of classics such as Get the Party Started, Don’t Let Me Get Me and Just Like a Pill (as well as career highlight Eventually), P!nk has skyrocketed her body around stadiums (and skyscrapers) across the world to become one of the most commercially successful and influential artists in history; selling over 60 million album equivalents worldwide and grossing more than $800 million in tour revenue. She’s also been credited with blazing a trail for – as Glamour Magazine put it – “tough chick music”. Following her last bout on the road with the Beautiful Trauma Tour – which historically became the second highest-grossing tour of all time by a female artist, just FYI – P!nk has spent the past three years concocting her “best album” yet: Trustfall.
“I’m in a really good place right now with music,” she says, jubilant, although distracted as a result of her youngest child Jameson “dancing” and behaving like a “total crazy person” while her husband, Carey Hart, recovers from surgery. “Jameson is a weirdo,” P!nk laughs, before temporarily halting our conversation to break the following news to her son: “You’re a weirdo, dude.” While P!nk has been categorised as a ‘pop-rock’ artist throughout her career, it’s… unjustified. Of course, the star boasts some of the most anthemic pop-rock singles in music, from U + Ur Hand to So What, Raise Your Glass and Blow Me (One Last Kiss), but her discography is so much more than that. P!nk is genreless, and Trustfall is a prime example of her diverse range of musical influences. Last Call, a mid-tempo country song about boozing it up before the apocalypse, is slotted in-between Runaway, an ‘80s synthpop banger destined to become a fan-favourite, and Hate Me, where she addresses her “villain” status with help from Greg Kurstin’s rowdy pop-punk production. Folk, indie and lo-fi elements are in there too, with the First Aid Kit-assisted Kids in Love and Long Way to Go, featuring The Lumineers. “I’m all about being uncomfortable. I like being out of my comfort zone. I don’t really have a comfort zone,” she says of her artistry. “This album, for me, is my medicine. It always has been. Writing, singing and performing, it’s my therapy and my shows and are group therapy where we all get to come and feel our feelings.”
The themes of Trustfall derive, P!nk tells me, from pain. You wouldn’t think so on first glance, what with the Max Martin and Shellback-produced lead single Never Gonna Not Dance Again, a wickedly fun disco-pop earworm about busting moves through the – again – inevitable apocalypse. Acknowledging the dichotomy between the lively first two singles and the rest of the album, which boasts some of the most introspective and poignant songwriting in P!nk’s library, she says: “You might think that it’s a dance record. On one hand it’s like, ‘Well shit, if the world is ending then screw it, let’s dance.’ But on the other hand it’s like, ‘This hurts. It’s hard to be in the world right now. It’s hard to be a parent, it’s hard to be a daughter, it’s hard to be a human being.’ And I like being a conduit to authentic feeling. We all exorcise our demons together. [My fans and I] have been growing up together since, I feel like, the first album. I’m 43 now, and each album has been a chapter in our lives and we’re walking through it together.” In 2021, P!nk’s father Jim Moore passed away after an eight-year battle with cancer. She opens the album with When I Get There, a gut-punching piano ballad about their inevitable homecoming in the afterlife. “Is there a bar up there where you’ve got a favourite chair, where you sit with friends and talk about the weather?” P!nk’s heart-wrenching vocals soar over minimalist production. “Is there a place you go to watch the sunset, and oh, is there a song you just can’t wait to share? Yeah, I know you’ll tell me when I get there.”
Released to overwhelming acclaim, When I Get There – much like her adored 2006 classic Who Knew – immediately struck a chord with P!nk’s loyal followers, who used the track to come to terms with and reflect on their experiences with loss. I tell P!nk that it also deeply resonated with a recent loss of my own. “I don’t know what kind of relationship you had with your dad, but they’re all complicated and it’s like a suitcase you never stop unpacking, it feels like,” she says. “So, that sucks but it’s also beautiful. I was so relieved for my dad when he finally passed because he was in so much pain for so long. When someone says ‘That song heals me’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, but playing it with you in the same room and crying together, that shit heals me.’” Trustfall marks her first album to open with a ballad (rose ave, her underrated folk collaboration with Dallas Green, not included). This creative decision boiled down to P!nk’s desire for her audience to “be authentic and share our feelings”: “When I meet someone and I ask how you are, I don’t want ‘I’m good, everything’s fine.’ I wanna know how you really are and for me, I like to clear away the bullshit as quickly as possible. Opening [with When I Get There] was my way of saying, ‘Let’s sit down and talk, and really talk.’”
After pausing for a moment, P!nk adds: “And I think we’re all walking around with this low level trauma and dealing with it in different ways. The political climate, rights and equality, it’s all a mess.” Last summer, she was bombarded with right-wing venom online for condemning the US Supreme Court’s archaic decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalised abortion nationwide. Social media trolls told P!nk that she should just “shut up and sing”. Some even informed her that, due to the progressive views that she’s always been known for, they aren’t going to attend her tours in the future. How terrifying! Contrary to what her 2003 rock anthem Last to Know suggests, however, P!nk doesn’t give a damn if you come to her show or not. If you’re of the racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic dimwit variety, stay home. “People always try to threaten me with their opinions and a lot of it is, ‘Well we’re just never gonna come to your show again and we’re not gonna listen to your music anymore.’ Well fuck you, I don’t make music for you anyway,” says P!nk, self-proclaimed “catty bitch”. “You don’t scare me. Ooh, a whole person isn’t going to come to the show? That show is sold out anyway so you can’t get a ticket. Fuck you.” In response, P!nk wrote, recorded and released a song in under a week that addressed gender inequality and the aforementioned spewers of right-wing venom. On the pop-punk protest anthem Irrelevant, she ferociously belts: “You can call me irrelevant, insignificant, you can try to make me small. I’ll be your heretic, you fucking hypocrite, I won’t think of you at all,” before referencing Cyndi Lauper’s signature hit with a rallying cry: “Girls just wanna have rights, so why do we have to fight?” When I ask P!nk how she felt releasing the song, and the backlash that ignited as a result, she laughs: “I love it. If you’re gonna tell me to shut up and sing, then here you go! I love that we’re in a climate now where you can just throw a song out in a week. If you wanna hear my message, here it is.”
Alongside her raspy powerhouse vocals and acrobatic stage presence, P!nk is renowned for her activism. An animal rights activist and campaigner for PETA, P!nk notably declined an invitation in 2003 to perform at Prince William’s 21st birthday bash on account of the Royal Family’s controversial stance on animal hunting. On her 2006 single Dear Mr President, P!nk criticised then-President George Bush and his administration, questioning his views on the Iraq War and the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as his opposition to gay marriage. “What kind of father would hate his own daughter if she were gay?” she memorably sang with support from queer musical duo Indigo Girls. That brings us to Irrelevant. The chilling music video incorporates clips from various protests in support of the civil rights movement, #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ rights, while calling for an end to gun violence and police brutality. “My daughter asked me the other day, ‘Why do you do this?’ and I said, ‘It’s in me and I feel like I have a responsibility.’ I was born a fighter. I was raised a fighter,” she says of her activist roots. “Not everyone has equal rights yet and still, our rights are getting taken away. People are being bullied for being different or choosing a different path and it’s bullshit. No one as a whole is ever going to be okay if any one group is excluded from the conversation. All of these groups are excluded from the conversation because of one group of people that are filled with hatred and nonsensical thinking. There’s so many more good people in the world than bad. It’s just that the bad ones are really loud and organised. I told Willow, ‘If it’s not in you, then there’s other ways you can be involved. You can petition. You can vote. You can donate. You can educate. You can just support one person that needs love. There’s so many ways you can be involved. You can’t just do nothing.’”
Although P!nk doesn’t define her sexual orientation, previously telling The Advocate in 2012 that she “never felt the need to” and that she prefers to be “label-less” in a 2018 conversation with PEOPLE, she hasn’t been exempt from homophobic vitriol. Twenty-three years into her career, anti-LGBTQ+ misogynists continue to call her a lesbian and hurl the “d” slur her way, as if it’s an insult. “You’re right, like that’s an insult?” she tells me. “Why is that an insult to me? You see me as a strong woman, therefore I must be a lesbian, or I must be a guy? Really, that’s the best you’ve got? It’s all so fucking ridiculous. When you boil it down, hatred and division is such a waste. How are we fighting love? That’s what we’ve decided to do with our time? I don’t understand it. My dad was guilty of many things, but I was born with these values and ethics and morals and inclusivity and I don’t like seeing people get picked on for anything. I’m a defender and I think life is more fun when you have the freedom to live it how you choose. Homophobic people are missing out on a lot of fun.”
It’s this vehement outspokenness and unwavering conviction for equality that has resonated with her LGBTQ+ audience since day one. Her androgynous, gender-bending aesthetic has also contributed to her gay icon status, with music videos such as Trouble and Beautiful Trauma subverting gender norms whilst raising a middle finger to the patriarchy. She’s also been commended for granting her children freedom when it comes to sexuality and gender in their label-less household. P!nk tells me that the queer community means “everything” to her (and that she would “love” to guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race one day). “I think [my LGBTQ+ following] just speaks to who I am and what I believe in, and what I’ve always been,” she says. “I am definitely an ally and to be understood for that is a wonderful feeling. For any of us to be understood, that’s what we want in life, right? We want to love, be loved and be seen.” P!nk’s concerts are teeming with fans adopting her signature blonde quiff and drag queens paying tribute to her iconic outfits, from her slinky underwear in Lady Marmalade to her glitzy Glitter in the Air bodysuit. The beauty of a P!nk show, however, is that everyone’s welcome. “All kinds of different people come to the shows and they’re forced to share a space, and by the end, they realise they’re not that different. One show, I saw this bearded biker in leather standing next to a drag queen that was dressed in my Glitter in the Air costume, and you could tell they didn’t wanna be next to each other. By the end of the show, they were arm-in-arm, sweating together, crying together and laughing together, having an experience that probably changed both of them – and me, in the process. It’s fucking beautiful. It’s magic.”
After more than two decades in the industry, in which she’s established herself as one of the 21st century’s most prolific chart-toppers and touring acts, as well as an inspiration for fellow pop monoliths Adele, Dua Lipa and Christina Aguilera, P!nk has never felt more content. As our time together expires I ask her, out of sheer curiosity, which of her legendary eras she’s most proud of. “I think all of it. Can’t Take Me Home, for sure, because it was my first one. M!ssundaztood, absolutely, because I really took control of my life,” she reflects. “I’m Not Dead, I felt an awakening as a human and as an adult. Funhouse was my divorce record so it makes me happy that I got through that. And this one [Trustfall]. Honestly, I haven’t felt this – I don’t want to say ‘confident’ – but satiated by a complete album in a long time.” Later this year, P!nk will return to the UK in support of the album with the Summer Carnival Tour, playing in locations such as London, Birmingham, Bolton and Sunderland. The Script, GAYLE, KidCudUp and fellow rocker Gwen Stefani (Just a Girl/Funhouse medley, please!) will be on hand to support at select shows. “I am so terrified and excited and will probably regret a lot of it because it’s really scary,” she laughs of the tour’s sheer ambition, however adding that her vocals have never felt stronger. “When I inducted Dolly Parton into the Hall of Fame, I saw Pat Benatar and that’s why I asked her to go on tour with me [in the US]. She has never sounded better in her entire life. I don’t even know how old she is. 60s? Her vocals are so strong I almost had a heart attack. And that’s how I feel like I’m going.” This also applies, she tells me, for the performance aspect so – GOOD NEWS INCOMING – her signature blend of pop spectacle and Cirque du Soleil extravaganza isn’t going anywhere. “Oh my god, I have never been stronger,” she says with ferocity. “It’s the most fun thing in the world. I can’t believe I get to fly. I love it. I’m Tinker Bell.”
Trustfall is out now.
This cover story features in the March 2023 edition of GAY TIMES Magazine. To read the full issue, click here.