Having been caught in a litigious he-said-she-said with longtime producer Dr. Luke for two years now, Kesha has left her fans — and the world — wondering: What’s next?
In a Wednesday New York Times Magazine story, the troubled pop star opened up about her contentious lawsuit and the alleged abuse that led to her now seemingly stalled career. Kesha, 29, recently wrapped her F— the World Tour and told the Times she is working on music and has delivered new songs to her label, Luke’s Kemosabe Records. But it is unclear when, or if, the new tunes will be released.
As Kesha’s court proceedings and music career remain uncertain, PEOPLE spoke to a source close to the singer, who opened up about the singer’s next steps.
Where does her lawsuit stand?
After seeking treatment for an eating disorder, Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke in October 2014. The singer (née Kesha Rose Sebert) alleged that her producer Dr. Luke (né Lukasz Gottwald) had drugged and raped her and verbally and emotionally abused her for a decade. Luke, 43, has vehemently denied the allegations and countersued Kesha for breach of contract and defamation.
The estranged collaborators’ claims culminated in an uncomfortable courtroom face-off in February, where a New York judge denied Kesha’s request for a preliminary injunction that would allow her to record music outside of Luke’s purview until the lawsuit comes to a close. Then, in April, the same judge dismissed Kesha’s abuse claims. And in August, the singer dropped a similar lawsuit in California to focus efforts on appealing the New York dismissals.
According to a source close to Kesha, her legal team “filed appeals on the preliminary injunction and the dismissals.” However, “There’s been no date [set] for briefing or argument.”
Counters Luke’s counsel, Christine Lepera: “Kesha’s attorneys could have filed appellate briefs months ago if they had wished to move forward quickly with her appeals. In recognition that the appeals are meritless, they have failed to do so.”
Is she working on new music?
Yes. Per the Times profile, Kesha has delivered 22 songs to Luke and the label. And Kesha and her team “gave Sony and Luke a list of producers and a budget for the album back in April,” says the source, but there wasn’t “any progress with getting the album made” until this fall.
At a recent hearing, “The judge asked where the music was. Only then [did] the judge suggest that if they didn’t get moving on letting Kesha back to work, she would grant a preliminary injunction,” adds the source. “At that point, Sony and Luke really kicked into gear. And Sony, who had not participated in any of the meetings before, started participating.”
Since then, there’s been “a change in the last month or two since that last court hearing, and the judge kind of lit a fire under them,” the source says.
Responds Lepera, “The statements made do not accurately reflect any discussion or the actions of Luke and the label.”
Despite Sony’s involvement, the source maintains the corporation is “just participating as a buffer, a mediator” and that Luke “maintains total control.”
Does she have to work with Dr. Luke?
Not directly. All parties have agreed that Kesha and Luke do not have to work in the same room together. But, he runs Kemosabe Records, and under his contract with Kesha, she still owes the label three albums.
“Ultimately, he is calling all the shots. Given his vitriol and enmity towards Kesha,” says the source, her camp is “skeptical of the process” and has been trying to put the record together for six months. “There’s still a lot of work to be done before it can be released.” (For comparison, “We’ve been trying for six months. On Warrior, when Warrior came out, the whole start to finish of the creative process was about seven or eight months,” says the source.)
The opposing parties are slowly putting the new album in motion, and, adds the source, “There’s a list of producers they’ve agreed upon” to work with.
But, Luke asserts that Kesha is to blame for her third LP’s delay.
“The reality is that for well over two years, Kesha chose — and it was entirely her choice — not to provide her label with any music,” Luke’s attorney, Lepera, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Kesha was always free to move forward with her music, and an album could have been released long ago had she done so. She exiled herself. It was not until months after the denial of her injunction motion – for the first time in June and July 2016 — that Kesha started to provide the label with music.”
Furthermore, Luke’s team maintains any delay is due to standards typical within the label.
“[Kesha] provided 22 recordings created without any label consultation which were not in compliance with her contract, were in various stages of development, and which Kesha’s own team acknowledged needed work,” Lepera continued in the statement. “Then, and for the last several months, the label has been in discussions with Kesha and her team to choose the best music, create additional music, and work on the tracks created. A&R representatives of both Kemosabe and RCA have provided Kesha with detailed feedback in writing and in person on the tracks she provided to help her further develop the material. Kesha has also agreed with Kemosabe and RCA on a list of producers who will work with her on these tracks, a studio has been reserved for these sessions, and a budget for certain work provided.”
When will the new music be released?
Kesha’s team is “hoping the music can come out early next year,” says the source, who adds there are concerns about whether the label will properly promote the new album, whenever it is ready to drop.
“The prior counsel’s position was they would have no incentive to promote this because of the lawsuit,” adds the source. “Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.”
According to Luke’s camp, the hitmaker and his label are invested in Kesha’s forthcoming LP.
“The creation of an album is a process, however what has clearly been communicated is that the aim is for a release date as early as possible,” Lepera said in the statement. “It is in the economic best interest of the label and Mr. Gottwald to put out a top selling album, and that takes time. In fact, the label suggested an early release of an advance Kesha track. It was Kesha’s team who rejected this proposal.”
Last week, Sony released a statement echoing Luke’s sentiments.
“Creating a new album takes time, and everyone’s goal is to deliver a high-quality album consistent with Kesha’s past releases,” Sony said in the recent statement. “We hope to share exciting new music with Kesha’s fans soon.”
What will the new music sound like?
Per the Times, there is a clause in Kesha’s contract that states her music must remain “reasonably consistent in concept and style to the artistic concept and style” to her previous work.
From “TiK ToK” to “Die Young,” the singer is best known for her dance-pop party-starters. However, on her recent F— the World Tour, she countrified many of her past cuts.
And the Times reporter who interviewed Kesha listened to some new Kesha songs and dubbed some of them a sonic departure, including “Hunt You Down” (“a real country song with banjo and some real country sentiments,” the piece’s author, Taff Brodesser-Akner, wrote) and “Rainbow” (“it does recall a Beach Boys vibe…the way she sings the song is so rich and so real that it jerks you out of your expectation of a pop song,” Brodesser-Akner wrote).