On the day after her song "Give Your Heart a Break" officially became her first-ever number one single, Demi Lovato is making a whirlwind visit to New York City to appear on three TV shows, participate in a mini junket to promote her gig as a mentor/judge alongside Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, and Britney Spears on The X Factor, and, finally, give her Teen Vogue interview, which—because she's due back in Los Angeles that very evening—takes place in the back of a luxury SUV as it speeds toward Teterboro Airport. By all rights, she should be exhausted. But the New Mexico–born, Texas-raised 20-year-old seems anything but as she talks about the superpacked schedule she's been keeping over the past few months. "The amount of success that I've had, even just in the last six months, is incredible to me," Demi says. Read on for her thoughts about music, boys, and the importance of being real.
TEEN VOGUE: So, did you hesitate at all when Simon offered you the chance to join The X Factor? Or were you just totally psyched to do it?
DEMI LOVATO: It was a no-brainer! Right before I got the offer, I'd been sitting in a meeting feeling really discouraged [about my career], wishing I was further along. And I decided that I needed to stop thinking about what I wished I had and start thinking about what I was going to have. I was ready to do something new, and I wanted to put that out there, in the universe . . . and then he called, literally, a week and a half later.
TV: That's kind of scary!
DL: It is. I was nine when American Idol premiered, and I remember thinking, I've been waiting this whole time and working on my career—and now I'm sitting on a panel with Simon.
TV: And with Britney! What's she like? You must have looked up to her when you were starting out. . . .
DL: Yeah, she was one of the first concerts I ever went to. She's incredible. She's such an icon that I didn't know what to expect, but I was excited to find out that she's really sweet and funny and quirky. We have so much fun. We're the two girls on the show, so we're always laughing together, and we kind of have each other's backs.
TV: Still, you're a little young to be a mentor. What kind of advice are you going to give your team?
DL: There's so much more to it than just being a talented singer. I'm going to help them mentally prepare for everything that's coming—like, all these things that have happened to me recently, I really attribute them, in part, to the work that I've been doing on myself. The second that I became more centered and aware of who I am, my performances got better, and I was better able to relate to people. For a long time, I was pretending to be someone that I wasn't, and I was miserable. When I came out and said, "I'm human, I've got problems, but I'm willing to share them," that's when I started to really connect. I've just begun working on my fourth album, and I want to do that in my music too. I'm tired of songs that don't have much emotion in them.
TV: The way you're talking suggests, like, an album of back-to-back ballads. Is that what you mean?
DL: No. I love the way that Adele has carved out a path for a singer that's very emotional, but I also love how Taylor Swift can do the same thing—she puts a lot into her songs yet they're still very catchy. I will say that I'm tired of all the dubstep that's on the radio right now—I think it's going to be out in two months. I want to make something that people will listen to for a while, rather than something that's just trendy. I feel like I've grown as a person, and I want my music to grow with me.
TV: Two years ago, you left a tour and checked yourself into rehab. What are you doing now to ensure that you stay healthy?
DL: Obviously, I sleep, eat right, exercise, and meditate. And even when I'm filming or touring, I keep up my daily routine. I know that I can't miss my therapy appointments or things will get a little rocky, so I always put my recovery first.
TV: Is it hard for you to be okay with saying no to things?
DL: It's something I had to learn. I've always been a really hard worker, and so many of the opportunities I've had were exciting. But I'm still glad that I started working so young, because I'd dreamt about this for so long, and I might not have had the same opportunities if I'd waited.
TV: What do you like to do when you're not shooting, or touring, or recording?
DL: I'm consistently busy, but I make sure I spend a lot of time with my friends and family. I did kind of a friend cleanse right after rehab, where I weeded out people who didn't have my best interests at heart. Now I have friends who love me for who I am and don't care about what I'm doing. Most of them aren't in the industry. Some of them don't even know my songs!
TV: And yet you've still got some friends in the business. For example, there's no shortage of rumors about you and Niall Horan from One Direction.
DL: He's a really awesome, sweet guy. But he's not my boyfriend.... I'm in a place right now where I really need to focus on myself. Obviously, I'm still going to like people—or love them—but I need to not be in a relationship for a while because I need to be okay with being alone, first. I'm really happy right now. I never thought it was possible to be happy because of how depressed I was my entire life. But I feel so incredible. It's like I'm living in a dream.