It’s Doja Cat’s World Now, and She’s Making It Weirder

Doja Cat catches up with Complex for an interview about the success of 'Planet Her,' the VMAs, her thoughts on making the most of "weird" songs, and more.

Doja Cat Pepsi

Image via Pepsi/Doja Cat

Doja Cat Pepsi

If Doja Cat’s performer-host-nominee showcase at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night didn’t make it clear enough, she is always moving. 

When we connect on Zoom just days before her hosting gig at the VMAs, during another busy rehearsal week, Doja explains that she’s just woken up. She’s alert, though, and with all that she’s been balancing as of late, she’s laser-focused on bringing her whole vision, as it ties into her third studio album Planet Her, to life. 

Outside of hosting this year’s show (where she pulled off some of the night’s most memorable looks and brought home two awards for both Best Art Direction and Best Collaboration), performing what she says was her biggest festival set to date only a week before, and riding the high of her June album, the chart-topping artist has added yet another accolade to her rolodex of Planet Her-era milestones: Doja is now a musical face of Pepsi. 

Appearing in the company’s latest commercial for the Pepsi-Cola Soda Shop, featuring her own refreshing reimagination of Grease’s “You’re The One That I Want,” Doja has now become a piece of the company’s storied musical lineage. Michael Jackson did it. Britney Spears did it. Beyoncé did it. And now, Doja Cat is letting Pepsi into her atmosphere. 

View this video on YouTube

“It’s very hard to process at first, and I feel like my success has been very slow,” Doja tells Complex. “And to see things happen this way—the fact that I got Pepsi just really solidified something—but it’s hard to see that sometimes. Because I’m constantly on the road and constantly working, you don’t really get a chance to realize. I mean, some people ask you, like, ‘Are you feeling it yet? Has it hit you?’ And it’s like, sure, but I’m just too busy to really get in my head about everything. But it’s a really beautiful opportunity. I’m so happy to have been offered this, and just looking at all the people who’ve done it before. I’m not that, but you know, I’m told that.”

As she continues her remarkable Planet Her run of Hot 100 successes, television appearances, and nostalgic soda-sipping, Doja took some time to explain to Complex what her latest partnership means to her. She also spoke about the importance of making things a little “weird,” the lessons she’s learned from her latest album, and why the next planet she conquers might just be in the galaxy of acting. 

Doja Cat

I’m so happy to be speaking with you today, not just because it’s a major week for you, but because of the importance of having a musical partnership with Pepsi. Do you remember your initial reaction to this opportunity?

It was very cool to get a call like this, because I feel like it was not full circle—but just a really monumental thing, considering all the people I looked up to when I was younger who were able to do this. And yeah, I mean, it felt crazy. It felt very good.

Mentioning being so busy, you just played Made in America. Was that the largest crowd that you’ve performed for so far? 

It could have been. It makes sense if it is, considering COVID and whatnot, and just the kind of incline I’ve been on since the beginning of that.

I was watching videos on Twitter and the crowd feedback was tremendous. Do moments like that put it all into perspective for you?

Absolutely. When I’m on stage, and that’s happening, it’s amazing to see all the people and hear how loud it is. But going to listen to everything after, and watching the performance after, being able to hear the crowd outside of the performance realm, it’s crazy. I just feel happy. And I’m happy people enjoy it. Fun fact, there’s a thing that Tidal likes to do, because a lot of the performances have crazy crowds, where the audio needs to be regulated. And they turn down the sound of the crowd and kind of up the vocals in the music. And you can’t really hear the crowd in the performance video. It was so loud that night that it fed through the mic more than it normally does. So you could still hear the crowd, considering that something Tidal does is turn down the crowd, and the screaming and whatnot. It was really funny to find out.

This weekend is monumental, too. You’ve locked in six nominations at this year’s VMAs, for four different songs and one award as a solo artist. How does it feel to know that all these different sides to Planet Her are being recognized in this capacity? 

I’m just appreciative of all that my fans have done for me. And I know that none of this would be [possible] if they weren’t there supporting me. So it feels good to know that someone enjoys what I’m doing, that people enjoy what I’m doing, to the point of [being nominated for] this type of award. Just being nominated is good enough for me. I don’t feel like I really need a trophy. I feel like this is my trophy. I mean, having people support me is sort of a trophy in its own kind of corny, poetic way.

You recently mentioned in your chat with Missy Elliott that you wanted Planet Her to have a “collage of sounds.” A lot of albums come together when all the tracks follow a specific sound, but what criteria did it take for a song to be worthy of being on Planet Her?

I feel like I’m kind of not destined—or, maybe a little cursed. I tend to do this on every album, where I do something different with every song. And I really do appreciate consistency as an artist. Those are the albums that I play the most in my own personal life. I’m able to kind of just listen to things that sound very consistent. I can’t really play albums that switch up too much, which is kind of strange. You’d think that I’d be making albums that way if that’s my favorite thing. But I think I just need to really be happy about what I’m making, and sometimes that means I have to change my entire direction in the studio when I’m making each song individually. Because I get very bored very quickly, I think. In the future, I’m going to try more to kind of shoot for more conceptual things that feel consistent, but I don’t know. As of now, and in the past, I’ve just never really felt like I wanted to follow anything. 

Doja Cat at the VMAs

Latest in Music