Demi Lovato Talks Mental Health, Hillary Clinton, Her 'Barney' Days and More

The pop star on anger management, singing the national anthem before Mayfield vs. McGregor and the truth behind "Daddy Issues"

There's not much that Demi Lovato is unwilling to share. The 25-year-old pop singer discusses everything from her broken relationship with her father to her sexual appetites on her new LP, Tell Me You Love Me, featuring the hit revenge anthem "Sorry Not Sorry." She's decided to let her fans in even closer with her new documentary, Simply Complicated, which hits YouTube on October 17th. The film details the making of her ultrapoppy album, and how she went from a depressed teen drug addict to a sober mental-health advocate. "I wanted to be completely vulnerable and honest," she says.

You sang the national anthem before the Floyd Mayweather Jr.–Conor McGregor fight, in front of more than 100 million people. How were you feeling as you walked into the ring?
I was shaking so much that I had to hold the microphone with both hands. I didn't want to mess up. It's a hard song to sing – there's high notes that you have to hit, and you want to make it your own without adding too much. I think it turned out well. I was going to go to the fight anyway for my birthday. Conor did a really great job, and Floyd's incredible. It was a great fight.

You talk in the documentary about everything from cocaine addiction to an eating disorder. Is there anything you didn't want to address?
To be honest, no. I was pretty open with the cameras. The only times I didn't want the cameras on me were when I was songwriting, because I didn't want to be distracted. 

You've been in recovery for drug addiction for a few years. How does it shape your day-to-day life?
It's not so much about avoiding drugs and alcohol, because I don't necessarily put myself in those situations. I don't go to clubs. It shapes my life in a sense that I do inventories all the time. If I want to flip somebody the bird while driving, I check with myself, like, "Why do I want to do that? Why am I impatient right now?"

Earlier this year, you said you were sick of being labeled bipolar. Why?
I'm not sick of it. If anything, I'm proud to be bipolar and speak about it. Bipolar is a mood disorder. I deal with mood swings, I deal with episodes of mania, and bipolar-depression phases as well. But I've used my voice to help others, and I feel proud that I've been able to do that.

You have a song on your new album called "Daddy Issues," which has you singing about a torrid affair with an older man.
I grew up having a strange relationship with my birth father. It caused relationship issues and certain behaviors in the future. I learned the reasoning behind those behaviors was because of my dad.

Do you mind fans speculating about who you're having an affair with in the song?
If I did mind it, I wouldn't put it out there. I'm kind of used to it by now.

You got very involved in the Hillary Clinton campaign. Where were you on election night?
I actually was with the Clinton campaign in New York. It was extremely uncomfortable. Everyone was devastated.

What did working on the campaign teach you?
That it's better to use your voice and lose fans than to not say anything at all and people-please. I know there's a risk that comes with that, but I wanted to see a difference made in this country.

Are you confident that a woman will become president in the near future?
I don't know if it's in the near future. I think that our country has a lot of growing to do before that can happen, obviously. But it'll definitely happen.

You were one of the child actors on Barney & Friends. How do you look back on those days?
Very fondly. I was more comfortable around adults there than I was with kids my own age when I went to public school. I got made fun of a lot because I had been on Barney. I look back and I think it was mainly jealousy from kids that wanted to sing and act on TV. I actually learned so much in my time being home-schooled that I was able to teach my math class things.

As a teenager, you also starred in Camp Rock with the Jonas Brothers. Would you rather watch that or one of your Barney episodes?
Definitely Camp Rock. There's at least some sort of substance. Barney was fun, but the songs and the dancing – it was just too much.

Last year, you said you were taking a break from music and you weren't "meant for this business." Why?
I think I cared too much about what people thought of me. I had gotten to a place where I let my insecurities win – I wanted everyone to love me, and I was getting backlash from interviews that were misconstrued and tweets that people read too much into. Now, I just don't care. I don't focus so much on people liking me as much as I just want to do my thing and be a musician.