“I was under immense pressure to starve myself. And I tried to and almost killed myself in the process,” the 29-year-old singer recently told the New York Times Magazine in a candid new interview.
The “TiK ToK” singer said that when she released her first album, 2010s’s multi-platiunum-selling Animal, the famed record producer had a concrete image in mind for the star: fun. “I’m just fun. That’s all I am. That’s it,” Kesha recalled.
And the star said that when she began touring for the album, Dr. Luke (born Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald) began criticizing her weight in front of everyone and called her a “fat [expletive] refrigerator.” The alleged shaming and stress of life in the industry drove Kesha to an eating disorder, she said. And the star entered rehab for the condition in 2014.
Kesha filed a lawsuit against the music producer in October 2014, alleging the 43-year-old sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abused her for a decade. He has vehemently denied her claims and is countersuing Kesha for breach of contract and defamation. (“I didn’t rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her,” he tweeted in February.)
Kesha told the Times that she was determined to redefine herself after treatment, even removing the dollar sign from her original stage name.
“I was taking back my strength, and I was taking back my voice, and taking back my power, taking back my body,” she said. “I’m just taking back my [expletive] life.”
As the headline-making lawsuit has reached the two-year mark, Kesha relies on touring to cover her legal fees. And she told the Times that some of her fans have mistaken her performances in small clubs for her freedom from working with the producer.
“They were like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re free,’ and I was like, ‘No, sweetheart, I love you, but no, I am not, and I don’t know where you got that information,’ ” Kesha said, recalling an encounter with a fan at her September show in Brooklyn, New York.
After the Times story dropped, Kesha took to Instagram to communicate her feelings.
“There’s nothing harder than dreaming and working and fighting for something your whole entire life, since you were 3 years old, since you could speak. and you FINALLY achieve it. and then have someone else take it away from you,” she captioned a photo of herself. “my heart has a giant hole in it and is literally aching and throbbing from sadness and loss. imagine someone owning your voice… and not letting you sing. singing is how I have dealt with everything in my life. and my right has been taken away.”
This summer, Kesha dropped her claims against Luke in a California lawsuit to focus on a similar case in New York, in which her legal team is appealing a judge’s previous rulings to dismiss her suit.
“If Kesha is voluntarily dismissing her claims in the California case, it is because she has no chance of winning them. Earlier this year, she lost her meritless counterclaims against Dr. Luke in the New York Action,” Luke’s lawyer, Christine Lepera, told PEOPLE in a statement at the time. “Recently, the California Court invited Dr. Luke and the other defendants to move to dismiss Kesha’s claims in that action. Kesha never should have brought her false and meritless claims against Dr. Luke in any court. Dr. Luke’s defamation and other claims against Kesha are still proceeding.”