Linda Perry Fights Loudly For Women, Armed With Her Songs

The out and outspoken songwriter brings an arsenal of divas to the “Served Like a Girl” soundtrack.

What’s up, Linda Perry?

After fronting 4 Non Blondes in the 1990s, the Grammy-nominated Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee went on to write and produce hit pop songs for artists like Christina Aguilera, Pink, and Gwen Stefani. Perry rejoins forces with those divas on a new compilation of songs from and inspired by Served Like a Girl, Lysa Heslov’s acclaimed documentary about female military veterans.

The all-female Served Like a Girl soundtrack—which also features collaborations with Natasha Bedingfield, Pat Benatar, Lykke Li, and more—is the debut release from We Are Hear, an “artist empowerment” label that Perry co-founded with Kerry Brown. All proceeds from the soundtrack will benefit Final Salute, a charity for female veterans.

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Perry, who’s married to Roseanne star Sara Gilbert, chats candidly about why, whether at war or on the home front, being a girl is an endless battle.

Why did you want to be a part of the Served Like a Girl project?

Lysa, the filmmaker, reached out and told me she felt I had the right vibe and emotion for the soundtrack, so she gave me 20 minutes of the film that she had edited. Honestly, whenever I would hear about people fighting, serving our country, I used to think, Well, I never asked you to do that. I don’t believe in war! But after watching just those 20 minutes, I was so moved and so ashamed of myself.

What message do you hope the soundtrack conveys about the struggles of female veterans?

I just hope it brings more awareness and funds to these women who aren’t being acknowledged. I believe the government doesn’t acknowledge these women because they don’t want people having the visual of our mothers, daughters, wives, sisters out there on enemy lines, killing and being killed. So instead of taking care of our female veterans, the government ignores them.

The U.S. military also received a record number of sexual assault reports in 2016.

Yeah, that’s another big issue. The fact that these women who are put in traumatic situations—being shot at, watching friends die—also have to fight off their fellow soldiers? It’s horrible.

A standout track on the soundtrack is your collaboration with Natasha Bedingfield, “Hey Boy,” which challenges men who abuse their authority.

Except for a few songs, the soundtrack was created from demos—songs I wrote a long time ago that never went anywhere. When the idea of this soundtrack came up, I started running through my files. When I came across “Hey Boy,” I was like, “Holy fuck! This is song is so on point with what’s going on right now!”

It’s crazy that you wrote “Hey Boy” before the recent rash of sexual misconduct allegations.

There’s not a day that this hasn’t been going on, and this “me too” thing isn’t going away. But that wall, that unspoken barrier, has been blasted, and aren’t we all fuckin’ awake now? It’s a beautiful thing.

Have you experienced sexual harassment in the music industry?

Well, I’m a badass, so you just know you can’t fuck with me and get away with it. And I don’t need anything from anybody. I know it’s a controversial thing to say, but when you don’t need anything, and when you aren’t afraid to lose anything, you take the power position.

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It’s good to see a group of strong women coming together on the soundtrack to support a common cause, because the media loves to pit female artists against each other.

Yes, but women aren’t always supportive of other women, frankly, and it sucks. I’ve known several female artists who didn’t want another female artist opening up for them because they were afraid of the competition. I’d like to see a better community of female artists supporting each other, not competing and fighting. Because at the end of the day, what they’re fighting for isn’t that important.

This past fall was the 15th anniversary of “Beautiful,” the self-empowerment anthem you wrote and produced for Christina Aguilera. Did you anticipate that song would be so passionately embraced by the LGBT community?

No. I just thought it was a really great song. Christina is huge in the LGBT community, so that took it to another level. I wrote that song from a very vulnerable place, trying to convince myself that I was beautiful. You never know what’s going to hit, honestly, but the world was ready for that one.

Served Like a Girl is out now on iTunes.

Celebrity interviewer. Foodie and Broadway buff in Manhattan. Hates writing bios.