NEW YORK (AP) — As Demi Lovato was spiraling out of control, struggling with an eating disorder, self-mutilation and other issues, there were members of her team who knew that she was hurting herself, but did nothing to stop it.
So, she fired them.
"I've had to let a few people go just because I know that my (best) interest wasn't in their hearts," she said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Along with her core management, Lovato feels she has good group of people around her now as she rebounds from the troubles that forced her off the Jonas Brothers' South American tour last year and into rehab. She also left "Sonny With a Chance," the Disney Channel show that catapulted her to stardom.
The 19-year-old is entering a new chapter in her life. She released her third album, "Unbroken," this week, a departure lyrically and sonically for the former child star: She sings about champagne on "In Real Life," there's the semi-racy tune, "Who's That Boy" and the R&B-number "My Love Is Like a Star."
There's also the lead single and Billboard Top 10 hit "Skyscraper," which Lovato calls her "cry for help" when she went through physical and emotional struggles.
The Associated Press: So things are good with your team now?
Lovato: Now I have people around me that at the sign of anything, they say something and they speak up and they are no longer afraid to say, "Hey, maybe you shouldn't be doing this" because they're afraid of losing their job or something like that. I think that's what goes wrong in a lot of people's careers, so many people are afraid to say, "This person has a problem" or "This person maybe shouldn't do this" because they're afraid of losing their jobs.
AP: Are you still in therapy?
Lovato: Yeah, definitely. It's a daily thing. It's a daily battle. I check in with many, many people every single day. I have a very strong treatment team and it's actually kind of overwhelming sometimes to have that many people just focused on you and your problems.
AP: Is it easy to talk about your issues in public?
Lovato: Well, from day one, when I left the treatment center and when I was in there, we basically said, me and my team, there's no reason to lie about anything. Things are going to come out anyways, so if you're honest about it, you beat the tabloids to the chase, and that way there's no other stupid rumors that are flying around about you of why you're in there or whatever. A lot of people thought I was in there for drugs and alcohol, and I was in there for an eating disorder and cutting. So as hard as it was for me to come out and say like, "This is why I'm really in here," I wanted to set the record straight.
AP: Is it harder dealing with rehab and those issues since you are a celebrity?
Lovato: I don't think it's harder. To me, it's more rewarding for me to speak about these issues and know that I'm possibly making a difference in someone's life. And it holds me more accountable. I feel like I'm held more accountable to stay healthy now because now I'm a role model to young girls to not have eating issues and to not say, "Hey, it's OK to starve yourself" or "It's OK to throw up after your meals" — that's not OK.
AP: How does it feel to release your third album?
Lovato: It feels so good. I'm so excited. It's like giving birth to a child, kind of. It's like I've created this thing. I feel like it's my little baby and here I am showing it to the world, so I feel like in a way it's my birthday.
AP: How has your voice changed over the years?
Lovato: I've seen my voice change a bunch — especially over this past year because I'm not doing things that are damaging my vocal chords that much anymore. Occasionally, I won't get my rest or I'll drink too much coffee here and there, or too much Red Bull; Red Bull is not good for your voice and I drink it all the time — things like that. In the past it was more serious issues that were affecting my voice and now I'm not dealing with those anymore.
AP: Your live performance of "Who's That Boy" was a little racy. What's it like as you transition out of your Disney character persona?
Lovato: For me it was the transition from rock-pop to more R&B and I think I got that pretty nailed on the dot, and I'm really proud of that song. It's my next single and it is a little bit more racy. I say "damn" in it (laughs). I'm getting older and the performance onstage was definitely, it was a bit sexier, but it wasn't too much. I don't want to scare off my fans. At the same time my fans are growing up with me, and I don't want to go way over the top.
AP: This album is very danceable, but there are ballads, too. Why did you decide to lead with "Skyscraper"?
Lovato: I had to release it because I wanted to talk about the issues and the journey that I've been on, and I didn't want to just like come out with a dance song right off the bat, and people are like, "Wait. What? I thought she was just in rehab and then this happened and now she's coming out with a dance song?" It didn't make sense. So I wanted to have a song that explained it, and was emotional enough.
Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/musicmesfin