The Germany I was enthused with was more old fashioned and kind of romantic. I just got there, and the next thing you know, I had this huge gilded album. It was kind of an amazing experience because I didn't intend it to be that way.
I'm definitely a fan of juxtaposition. Using the most beautiful line to say the most horrific thing - I think one of the main things in songwriting is definitely friction between the words and the melody.
In the music business, to survive for so long, you have to be able to cut off from your emotions sometimes. And being a father, you're faced with that situation. I know that my father was, with me. I understand why he had to be distant, because to rip yourself away, time after time, is almost more devastating.
I've had my ups and downs, and I definitely have a sense - in America, especially - that once you've made your mark and gotten your Rolling Stone piece and your Grammy nomination, that they're on to the next piece of meat, and they don't necessarily like to follow the twists and turns of an artistic career.
My love of maple syrup. I've been known to knock back a can over a couple days: A swig here, a swig there, and next thing you know it's gone. It's a habit I have to stave off. I don't want to lose all my teeth.
You know the question: 'How do you get to Carnegie Hall?' Answer: 'Practise?' Well, in my case, I got there by not practising. I didn't finish my music degree. And when I got into the pop world, I decided not to conform because I figured that the point of being an artist was that you shouldn't be like anyone else.
Crazy as it sounds, I'm a believer in destiny and serendipity, and I have had cosmic experiences all my life. Something told me I was meant for greater stuff. And look, I've had a baby! And I've written an opera!
The artist who gave me the most inspiration and direction, especially as a singer - and I absolutely consider myself a singer, 100 percent - is Nina Simone. She's my ultimate pianist-singer-type person.
I'm a big fan of the Pre-Raphaelites. Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, and I realised recently that my music is Pre-Raphaelite in a certain way, in that it reinvents an older era and romanticises it, puts it in this gilded frame.
I'm not born again, I'm not Kabbalah, God forbid, but I did have an experience hitting 30 that I needed to lean on something that assured me that everything is going to be okay. I had to regain a lot of my belief in fairy tales, in happy endings.
I definitely consider 'Poses' - the whole album in fact - to be kind of a miracle. Like the last breath of that moment when decadence is healthy, 'Poses' encapsulates that feeling. It's a kind of song and a kind of album that I'll never be able to repeat.
There's prejudice everywhere. I don't think the music industry is as bad as the movie industry. But I have taken a few hits over the years for my sexuality, and for being honest about my life. In the end, it's the music that rules the roost.
When I wrote the opera, I made a deal with myself that for at least an hour a day I would work on it, even if it meant just sitting on my piano bench, staring into space and thinking about it. It's about keeping it regular, like your bowel movements - let's get real: it's your bodily artistic movements! It comes from the same place.
For better or worse, I've always been curious musically. Whether it's opera or Judy Garland or pop, I've deliberately sought those things out. I've never wanted to do the same things over and over. Some think I've accomplished what I set out to do, and others consider me a dilettante.
Looking back, one of the things I love most about my mom was that she never, ever relented. She stuck to her guns right up until the end. She wasn't abusive, but she was never that thrilled that I was gay.
Arguably, the relationship between Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland is one of the great mother-daughter sagas of all time. Certainly, for certain people, and a lot of them, Liza is the bigger star. Liza is the more kind of viable legend, shall we say. Then there's the other camp, where Judy is the one.
I basically have needed to go to the piano and give voice periodically to, you know - I'm always afraid to describe it as a kind of therapeutic process, but nevertheless it was a type of unloading that had to occur due to my personal life with my mother's health or just my professional trials and tribulations.
My parents were serious working musicians, but they were not stars - not like pop stars that you have now. They had to make a living and that meant touring, working hard, going on the road - and we were roped in.