Christina Aguilera Is Getting Back To Her Roots
The genie is out of the bottle, baby.
We couldn’t think of anyone better to steal the spotlight on the cover of our Icon issue than our favorite Dirrty girl. Not only is Christina Aguilera the ultimate Galore Girl, she’s the pop star that opened so many of our readers’ eyes to girl power, sexual liberation, and how to be confident even when you’re different.
After six seasons on The Voice in her “sterile TV mode,” the princess of pop is getting back to her performance roots with a Vegas residency that she says will be her most ambitious show yet.
Christina Aguilera’s Las Vegas residency, The Xperience starts this Friday, May 31st at the Zappos Theater at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Sin City.
If she brings her epic voice, we promise to bring the assless chaps.
To celebrate one of our favorite singer’s return to the stage, we had one of two of our other fave’s interview the “Dirrty” icon and take epic photos.
Tayla Parx, who’s written songs with Christina and also has some killer tracks of her own, chatted with Christina all about getting back in her groove, her Vegas residency, and more.
Christina reunited with Ellen Von Unwerth, to make a seriously magical photoshoot that’s just as “Dirrty” as it is “Beautiful.”
With your tour, you’re clearly back in your groove. The album was worth the wait, so tell me, what’s the set list looking like?
Oooh, miss interview girl! I love that. We could catch up personally all day, but I am really excited. Liberation, as you know, [will be on the set list] — which you’re such a huge part of and such an amazing part of creation. [I’m] getting my feet wet, coming off of this sterile TV mode that I was a part of. [I was] so unhappy there [and I’m looking forward to] getting back to my roots at what I do my best; my artistry, doing what I love to do, creating, and having a purpose and meaning. You were such a great listener and co-creator and you just have that vibe where you can just sync in to anything. The last time I had been on tour and doing shows consistently was literally a decade ago. My son is 11 now and I had not ventured back on tour because I was so scared of it. I was like, “How do I juggle this? How do I do this?” So enjoy it while you can, girl [laughing] — when you have no strings attached!
That’s what I really respect about you. I don’t know how you do it. You’re so good at juggling your home life along with being the superstar that you are. I don’t understand how you do it.
That was part of our schedule [when we were working together] for sure. Like, “I gotta put the kids to bed and then we can start working!” Or we do it beforehand and you’d have Nerf gun battles with my son, Max.
I love it. I think that all goes into the process of creating the album. I was able to see all these real sides of you. Would you say right now that you’re excited to showcase your personality through your brand?
That’s the funny thing too. We laughed about it, but I am trying to be more about it with my fans, sharing content, being more present for them. it’s a whole world. It wasn’t my generation growing up. [I’m like], “you don’t wanna be private? What’s that about?” I’m very guarded. When you came over and you were like, “Can I put you on my story?” I was like, “What do you mean a story?” But it was hilarious.
I was just like, “Wow, it’s so cool to meet you.” I wanted to show everyone inside your world and how cool you are and how funny you are. So I was excited about that.
I know, I love you. I’m a momma bear to everyone I truly, truly care about. I truly want everyone around me to feel good, have a good time, feel welcome. When I really get that you’re a genuine person who’s there for me, nothing can stop me in caring about that person. Of course [with] Insta, this and that, when you’re a guarded person and you grew up in a world where you have to shield yourself for your own wellbeing and protection, exposing yourself on a large platform openly can be a really hard thing to do. [I’m] exploring my own comfort level with [Instagram]. Using it as more of a creative outlet and conversation to your fans is something I didn’t understand before. I was like, “Why would you just want to take pictures of yourself and share?” I didn’t get that it could be something artistically creative, to be an outlet and to let them know what’s up from you directly instead of from some article or media outlet or fake news source. I think that’s what’s great about social and [I’m] trying to understand it better and explore it as a tool.
Back to Vegas, yeah I’m excited because a story is really important to me. Liberation as a whole and a sense of freedom. I’m shedding a skin of sorts, [from] being inside of what I felt like was a box where I could only be seen in one dimension through the lens of television where it’s very manhandled and overseen by a network or however they want the show to be presented. There’s no true artistic freedom in that.
So, being back out on the road, having tested the waters, getting back to my fans—the stage is where I know I belong. I’ve missed it, it’s been missing from my life for so long. My son’s old enough where he can’t just pick up everything and be away from school. Their dad’s great, we have a great relationship. My daughter was almost assisting me with the road. She’d get so into it, she’d put a costume on every night too. She’d put on her Paw Patrol costume like it was Halloween every night. She’d be like, “c’mon mom, it’s time to get to the next stage” or the next show or the next city. She was all about it. We’re almost identical in having our specific setups and how we like to cozy. Everything has to be candlelit or with a cozy blanket or my specific plethora of drinks around. Everything is set up for a comfortable environment.
I’m excited because Vegas gives me the chance to not be too far away from home. I can juggle that with the kids. If you know me, [you know] I don’t like to just let my kids be with a nanny 90% of the time. It’s important to me to put them to bed, to be with them in the morning if I do have to go to work. Whatever it is, [I want to] have these core specific moments and days that I can have with them. I just got back from Disney having fun with the family. Those things are important.
Are you excited to do anything particular in Vegas? For example, when I go to Vegas there’s this flower drink that makes your mouth numb. And everytime I go I have to try it.
See, you have to give me a list of things I need to do and try out in Vegas. Liberation was a more serious time in my life where I had to get things off my chest and explore that. Vegas came at the perfect time cuz I’m kind of in fun mode now.
Turn up mode!
Ayyy! Tina turnup! From a creative standpoint, too. I think the show creatively is about exploration. I didn’t wanna do it where it’s just a concert where you see me perform. I didn’t wanna do it like a regular show or the concept of going to see someone and not being a participant of the show. I wanted to make the experience sensory, [a] moment for everyone to be able to tap into who they are without [a mask].
If you see the advert of the show, it almost seems like I’m wearing a sequin mask or something. So those were individually put on in the course of three hours. It was painstakingly annoying. I had a lil sippy cup to get me through it, but three fucking hours of having those things glued to my face. But it’s beautiful and the idea goes into the concept [of] how we all kind of wear these masks, whether we know it or not. Whether it’s a mask we wear at work, or it’s a mask that we take off at night after a long day to become who we really are. Or it’s one that we put on to be able to express who we really are. Whatever we do, we all wear some kind of mask at any given time. What I wanted to do with this show was give people the freedom to put on a mask or take off your mask. I wanted it to be all inclusive. I didn’t want anyone to feel like they can’t be themselves or appreciate what we’re all going through as a whole. You know? There’s no divide. There’s no sort of repression on any level and it’s about freedom and fun for the night. You get to kind of check out. That’s music in general, and why we love it so much.
My whole thing I’ve taken from my career so far is to be able to inspire somebody else to go out there and do their own thing or be creative in their own right. Many times, especially after being in the biz for so long, you see that nooone’s reinventing the wheel all by themselves. We’re all inspired and we’re all growing in different ways, but we’re all surrounded by each other. How can you not be inspired by something else that’s beautiful? Gender or race or sex or whatever. We’re in a climate right now where everybody needs to feel free to express themselves, no matter how that is.
Because we have the ability to sort of do what we want consistently in the same spot and venue, we have really special things that are maybe going to come down from the ceiling and appeal to all five senses at some level.
That’s exactly what I was going to ask you. It’s a completely different experience than touring. You’re really making the venue your home. Do you feel like you have more creative freedom in doing that rather than following the rules of whatever venue is in that city?
That definitely helps the whole world I’m trying to create here. I think with any creative concert or show you want to feel like you’re being sucked into a different world for the night. Feel like you’re celebrating — not only the music, but seeing everyone just be one with each other. That’s one of the most amazing things about music. Looking around and seeing everyone coming together for one super positive purpose, and yet everyone’s going at their own pace or rhythm or level.
Looking around your fan base in particular, your music transcends genre and gender and has been killing it for decades at this point. So I can only imagine the age range and the different faces you’re helping to light up every single night. I was able to see one show and it was super, super impressive ‘cuz you’ve been killing it throughout the years. Your newer fans might be coming with their moms or older sister. Are you excited to include songs that not only remind them of your past but also your future?
For sure. I love when I hear you talk all interview-y. I miss you girl. We’re not used to talking with each other so professional!
It’s usually after a few glasses of wine!
You know it. We have to catch up. But yeah, for Liberation and having not been on tour for a while, wanting to stay closer and be there for my kids, I was able to see how versatile my audience really was. So many walks of life and genres and sexes and such a wide diverse range of ages and groups having fun together and different styles of people as well. There were hardcore rockers to electronica groups to my amazing drag queens who are getting dressed to the nines in different iconic looks from videos. It’s just an amazing plethora of all walks of life coming together.
That’s what I thought was fun to do with Vegas—that being the epicenter of so many people coming together who just wanna have a fucking good time—is really giving them that experience to enter this world. So, the best way I can kind of describe it a little bit is it’s kind of galactic meets grounded at the same time. No matter what I’m doing, there has to have a solid core meaning and value and an interesting perspective and storyline going on behind the show and content of the music. We have something for my fans who have grown up with me and ones from the freaking Mulan soundtrack. The song I got my record deal with, which was “Reflection.”
That’s the moment that I realized I was terrible at remembering lyrics, the time I tried to tried to sing [my mom] “Reflection.” Every time I go to Texas, my family shows me this video of me crying on stage because I messed up the first lyric. I was like, “I have to show you this,” because I’m just singing through the tears, but that’s the memory I have of that song.
I’m so sorry that happened to you with my song! But yeah, it’s’ almost like, look it happens to the best of us, at least yours happened before you were coming up.
Let’s get into the fashion for a little bit. You’ve obviously been iconic in the fashion industry for a minute, starting with the assless chaps which are now the new thing again. Are there any particular outfits that you’re like, “I can’t wait to step on their necks with this one?”
I like how you put that! I do try to push the boundaries and the creative limits in what we can do and inventive ways to do it. Throughout my career we’ve done everything from creating the assless chaps—which has been amazing on so many different people and versions throughout the years—to the “Lady Marmalade” looks and that whole burlesque era for me which always pops up in my shows. This time we’re experimenting with some looks from even Bionic that we were never able to truly expand upon at that time because I never got to tour with that record. We’re doing some interesting things with glowing and lights and lots of silvertones and angular shapes—it’ll be quite a spectacle.
I’m doing these super interesting moments where each song reflects a monochromatic stylized color scheme where me and the dancers and the video…I’m knee deep in all the creative right now so I’m rambling on about certain things that probably won’t even make sense actually.
One of the things from Liberation was this incredible bed dress that needed its own carriers from Viktor & Rolf which was incredible. It was like wearing a bed, but it had to be propped up on a stand, you couldn’t literally wear it. Gareth Pugh made amazing chaps for the last tour with a cape and face mask and everything. He’s working with me on this tour as well. Bobby Abley who’s actually amazing. [He’s] been such a fan for so long and he’s posted so many things—he’s actually a big fan of yours too. I noticed he likes a lot of your photos and stuff. He does a lot of street wear, so we’re incorporating some of that. He’s been an amazing fan, he said he was walking past a strip club when he was first getting bullied or whatever and “Dirty” was playing and he was like, “that’s when my life changed.” He said it helped him come out and stuff.
It’s refreshing to work with people who are a fan because it gives you the perspective of, “where does my audience old and new want to see me go?”
It’s cool to be able to bring things full circle. I know at one point I was an influence on him and now he’s helping be a part of the tour clothing and dressing my dancers and stuff. Kristen Cohen is another one who’s super dope. I just went to his show last year. It’s all about reinventing the classic looks as well. You never wanna do anything too on the nose. Like, okay some chaps, but let’s see how we can create a new twist.
Those were all the questions I was dying to ask you. If there’s anything else?
I think we just need to get together when you’re done with your tour! Nerf guns and wine! You definitely have to swing by Vegas, maybe even be a part of the show. Tell Lizzo I said hi! So excited for you both.
Photography: Ellen Von Unwerth
Creative Direction: Prince + Jacob
Fashion Director: Joey Thao at Art Dept Agency
Makeup: Etienne Ortega using Lime Crime
Hair: Peter Savic
Interview: Tayla Parx
Post Production: Aurore De Bettignies
Models: Ben Crofchick, Parker Kulas at DT Models, Beau Minniear
Location: Black Rabbit Rose, No Vacancy, Madamme Siam
Fashion Assistants: Heather Pardieu, Giovanni Floresta, Manny Martinez, & Jamie Love
Special thanks to: Mark & Johnny Houston