On “Mama Say,” an electro-pop bop from 2017’s “The Valley,” Betty Who pays homage to her idol — and former labelmate — Britney Spears with lines like “Give it to me one more time” and “I’m your slave tonight.”
So you can bet the Australian-American singer — who will open for Kesha at Rooftop at Pier 17 on Tuesday (and then the Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, NJ on Sept. 2) — has very strong feelings about the #FreeBritney movement.
“I think she should be able to do whatever the f–k she wants, honestly,” Who, whose real name is Jessica Newham, told The Post. “All I want for her is for her to be happy and for her to be able to spend her money that she worked hard for the way that she sees fit … I just think that she is a grown woman who hopefully has people around her who can help her. But I don’t think that the people who are in charge of her life currently have her actual best interests at heart.”
Of course, Who’s tourmate Kesha has had her own well-documented struggles as a young female artist in the music industry: She sued her former producer Dr. Luke in 2014, alleging sexual assault and that his treatment of her should void her record contract. He countersued for defamation and maintains his innocence. Numerous countersuits followed, but the courts refused to let Kesha out of her contract.
“It’s not uncommon,” said Who, 29, who hit No. 1 on the Billboard dance chart with “I Love You Always Forever” in 2016. “I have been very lucky and very blessed to be surrounded by very respectful and lovely men for the most part.”
“I’ve worked with friends a lot,” she added. “One of my main collaborators [Peter Thomas] — the person I made my first three records with — is my best friend from college. We had been working together since the very beginning. So I was also kind of protected and very taken care of by these people who loved me and had been in my life for a long time.”
Still, Who has not always fit industry ideals as a female pop artist. “I’ve had that experience of being really different, being very ‘other,’ ” she said. “You know, I’m 6 feet, so that’s already [different] being tall. And not tall and skinny — I’m tall and proportionate. Stylists can never dress me … I’m, like, being held together by clips on a photo shoot trying to feel good and look good while I’m feeling horrible about the fact that they didn’t even bring any clothes that fit onto my ginormous body.”
But Who, who identifies as queer — having married photographer Zak Cassar in 2020, she said “I’m probably bisexual” — has been embraced by the LGBTQIA+ community.
“That’s how I learned that there are people who get me, and there are people who don’t,” she said. “Spend less time with the people who don’t and more time with the people who do … I want to be able to be me and feel good about myself along the way.”
Indeed, Who — now based in Los Angeles after growing up in Sydney, Australia — said she has a “mutual inspiration” society with her LGBTQIA+ fans. “My experience in the LGBTQIA+ community has brought so much joy and comfortability,” she said. “That has been sort of pulled out of me by the example my fans have set for me. I want to be able to feel that proud and out loud as well.”
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