Miley Cyrus had to figure out who she was after Hannah Montana came to an end. On the latest episode of Spotify's Rock This with Allison Hagendorfpodcast, the 28-year-old singer shared how the concept of the Disney Channel series skewed her sense of self.
Hannah Montana, which ran from 2006 to 2011, starred Cyrus as Miley Stewart, a seemingly normal teenager who lives a secret double life as the eponymous pop star.
"The concept of the show is that when you're this character, when you have this alter ego, you're valuable. You've got millions of fans, you're the biggest star in the world," Cyrus explained. "Then the concept was that when I looked like myself, when I didn't have the wig on anymore, no one cared about me. I wasn't a star anymore."
"That was drilled into my head [that], without being Hannah Montana, no one cares about you," she continued. "That was the concept. I really had to break that."
In the years after Hannah Montana ended, Cyrus said she went through "an identity crisis," something she thinks happened because she "had gone from being a character almost as often as I was myself."
"I think that's maybe why I almost created a characterized version of myself at times... I never created a character where it wasn't me, but I was aware of how people saw me and I kind of played into it a little bit," she said in reference to her first post-Hannah Montana album, Bangerz. "Like, when I noticed that people gave a s**t that I would stick my tongue out, when they told me, 'Stop sticking your f**king tongue out,' I would do it more... When people are pissed, that means they care, so that makes you want to do it, too."
It's 2013's Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz that the singer counts as her favorite work to date.
"It's my favorite record that I've made because it was me in my garage producing and writing my own lyrics," she said. "That's when I kind of started really developing, I feel like, as the artist that I am now... I was just really finding myself super rapidly and just evolving, almost. I had growing pains constantly."
Next came Younger Now in 2017. During the making of that album, Cyrus said she chose to be the sole songwriter because she was in an "uncollaborative" place. That's changed with her latest release, Plastic Hearts, which came out in November.
"I feel like that's kind of when you stop growing, when you stop surrounding yourself, and you stop collaborating, and you stop learning," she said of Younger Now. "After I made that record, I really got into, I want to collaborate, I want to learn, I want to surround myself with other great songwriters and producers."
"Now I feel like Plastic Hearts is almost... an accumulation of everything that I've ever been into one record," she continued. "I feel like it's kind of almost like a collage of everything I've been."