Filmed during Covid-19 quarantine, the episode had a noticeably different tone from past My Next Guest episodes that have taken place in front of a live audience; at the top of the hour, Letterman and his crew were shown wearing masks and taking safety precautions like temperature checks while preparing for the intimate interview in the pop star’s living room.
Once Letterman and Lizzo sat down together, though, they instantly eased into a thorough conversation on her rise to fame, covering everything from her upbringing in Detroit and Houston to her early music career in Minneapolis (including a mentorship from Prince) to her eventual star turn with “Truth Hurts.” In cutaway segments throughout the episode, Lizzo took Letterman on a tour of her house and home studio, showcasing her flute and crystal collections and even helping him lay down a demo track.
Here are five of the biggest takeaways from Lizzo’s My Next Guest interview.
Lizzo’s last interaction with Prince was watching him perform “Purple Rain”
Early on in her career, Lizzo was one of several young black women artists in Minneapolis who were recruited by Prince as mentees. Comparing their relationship to “Charlie and the Angels,” Lizzo recalled going to recording sessions at Prince’s massive Paisley Park complex where, most of the time, they would never even see Prince — instead, he would communicate to them via the recording studio speakers. “For me, I was like, the mysticism is real, I’m not gonna argue with it,” Lizzo said.
Sadly, by the time the legendary musician died, Lizzo had already moved to Los Angeles. She recalled the last time she saw Prince was in his studio, watching him perform “Purple Rain” on the piano. “He started crying while playing it,” she said. “It was the most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard. The piano had strings and violins, and I was like, ‘Whoa, where are these sounds coming from?’ And his voice was so beautiful, and then he wept, and it was so beautiful.”
“And then he was like, ‘I really gotta work on my setlist,'” she added with a laugh. “Because he was like, ‘I can’t put that so early in the set.’ But ‘Purple Rain’ moved him so much. But I didn’t think anything was wrong. I just had never seen so much emotion from him.”
She’s treated her depression and anxiety with psilocybin mushrooms
Lizzo has been open about her struggles with mental health in the past, and shared several treatments she’s used, like meditation and acupuncture, with Letterman. When asked if she’s ever been on medication for her anxiety, she broached the topic of “recreational” medication — a.k.a. psychedelics, like magic mushrooms.
“I always microdose,” she explained. “I break off, like, the smallest possible nugget, like a crumb, and then I eat that first, because I don’t wanna just dive in and go down the rabbit hole.”
She went on: “You get real settled. You get happy. You reject artificial things. Sometimes technology kind of challenges you, and you’re like, ‘Wait a minute, I was here first. How you gonna tell me what to do?’ I mean, my iPhone said, ‘Time to wake up.’ And I was like, ‘Listen, buddy, I’ll tell you!'”
Lizzo has a blue flute named Blue Ivy
No visit to Lizzo’s house would be complete without a tour of her extensive flute collection. While the pop star’s trademark instrument, Sasha Flute, was the star of the show, she had plenty of others to show off to Letterman, including an ocarina, a toot, and her latest edition: a shiny blue flute that, in keeping with the Beyoncé theme, was christened Blue Ivy.
“She’s controversial,” Lizzo explained. “They were like, ‘That’s not a flute, that’s a toy!'” Nevertheless, she was able to give Letterman an introductory flute lesson with Blue Ivy’s help.
Lizzo’s first protest was a counter-protest against an anti-gay church group in 2012
Lizzo and Letterman’s interview took place in the wake of global protests against police brutality in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Lizzo has never been shy about speaking up against anti-racism and other activist movements, but her protest roots were relatively humble.
“There was a church group that was coming in, and they were protesting [against] legalizing gay marriage,” she said. “So we did an anti-protest, I think that was like 2012 or something. And I’ve been actively going since then.”
Lizzo participated in the 2015 Black Lives Matter protests over the death of Jamar Clark
For Lizzo, the George Floyd protests brought back memories of living in Minneapolis five years ago, when Black Lives Matter demonstrations erupted over the police killing of Jamar Clark.
“I wrote this song called ‘My Skin,’ and I was very, like, ‘We gotta make a change,'” she recalled. “People were camping out in front of the precinct. We were getting shot at by God knows who. It was scary. It was dark times. And then Tamir Rice, who was 12 years old, who was just playing at a park, got shot within seconds by a police officer. Within seconds.”
Lizzo became disillusioned by the politicization of Rice’s death — “How can you politicize the murder of a child?” — and, in her words, “lost all hope for any type of change in this country.” It’s only been with the most recent Black Lives Matter protests that she’s started to gain it back.
“This time, I saw something different,” she said. “I saw the sudden allyship of young white people, which I’d never seen. And I also saw people in the news realize that it’s more than just a hashtag and a moment and a movement and us complaining — and that it’s a real systemic poison. And that got me, for the first time, a little hopeful.”