Miley Cyrus has tried out many musical genres over the course of her career. None has seemed to fit quite so well as her recent transformation into a rock star. For Interview Magazine, the 29-year-old singer opened up to Metallica's Lars Ulrich about her pivot to rock and roll.
For those who may not know, Cryus and Ulrich recently collaborated on The Metallica Blacklist album. The project consists of fifty-three artists paying tribute to the original 1991 self-titled album, which premiered thirty years ago. Every track from the original album was covered—some even multiple times by different artists. Cyrus teamed up with Elton John and Yo-Yo Ma for a cover of 'Nothing Else Matters.'
"There’s a lack of judgment of the artists that are featured on the record. You’re bringing in Elton John, Yo-Yo Ma, me, and it feels like no one’s excluded from this party," Cyrus told Ulrich. "The door is f—king open. It’s almost like we spent the last year living in these multiple dimensions where we have experienced more division, but also more unity. At the same time, you’re seeing the divide, you’re seeing the glue. We’re bringing people together, and we’re stronger together. Aloneness is special, but togetherness is powerful."
"This eclectic mosaic of a collaboration that we’ve brought to life is reflective of that. It’s like, 'F—k the divide,'" she continued. "For you to listen to my cover of 'Nothing Else Matters' with an open mind is an example of that—you don’t judge who I’ve been, what I’ve done, or how people see me. Then, by allowing me to cover “Nothing Else Matters” on the record is like you guys validating my relationship to this song. It feels like it was written for me, and it was something that I was able to make my own. And now, my fans have that connection to it as well. That’s what happened when I covered 'Jolene,' too. That’s another perfect song."
Cyrus spoke about why 'Nothing Else Matters' is so close to her heart, as well, saying the track was "embedded in my soul" even before she recorded it for the Blacklist album. "That’s the way I related to this song. I didn’t go in to cut just any vocal. This song means something to me on the deepest level," she gushed.
The song became even more special to Cyrus after recording it because she was able to use her voice in the way it was meant to be used. "I was honored by the fact that I didn’t have to sing this song in the way that females are 'supposed to sing," she explained. "You can hear that at the end of the song, when I take the gloves off and just start flying. That part of the song really grabs people. It’s that lower register of my voice. So I’m grateful to have a song where I can lean into that."
As anybody who listened to Cryus' latest music, including her recent album Plastic Hearts, knows, her voice does seem made for rock and roll. Now that she's discovered this, Cyrus says she's enjoying covering her own songs with a rock twist. Having a band with "authentic, real rock dudes" helps, too. "We revisit songs that I wrote before I was able to make this huge sonic pivot in my career, before I discovered rock and roll," she explained. "Now, we cover my own songs. We take my original songs, and turn them on their head, and make them kick ass."
As live music shows start up again, Cyrus and Ulrich reflected on returning to the stage. "I just played Lollapalooza. Beforehand, I was torn. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be this bicycle moment, where you pick up right where you left off like nothing ever changed, or if it was going to feel completely new, and I was going to fall back in love and remember why I do this in the first place. In the end, it was somewhere in the middle," Cyrus shared.
"It felt like jumping out of an airplane in front of 100,000 people," she continued. "It brings back that tingle of fear, or maybe anxiety, which I haven’t felt in a while. But it reminded me, again, of how all of that’s erased when you perform. There’s so much less judgment in a live music setting than exists anywhere else at the moment. "