So it was something I understood." A vocal coach pointed out to her how easy it was to play a Mariah Carey tune by ear "'It's because you've been playing Bach inventions since you've been four, and it's the same kind of idea'<0x2009>" and she says, "That's how I found out I had a knack for it, and I've been writing, writing, writing, since I was 13 years old."
Those skills came in handy when she started playing piano to beats in her undies at clubs in New York City's Lower East Side, and had to come back to, for instance, a heckler who yelled, "Why don't you play something serious?" Her response should be familiar to fans of "Beautiful, Dirty Rich"'s and "Poker Face"'s provocation: "I put my leg up onto the piano with my crotch pretty wide open to the audience, and then I did a very old school George Gershwin ragtime improv on the piano pretty complicated. The whole idea was 'Fuck you, I'm going to be sexy, sing about sex in my underwear, and then I'm going to do this really, really difficult piano virtuoso moment and show you it really doesn't matter.' People associate glamour and being female and being nude and being provocative with stupidity there's a great deal of intelligence and conceptualizing behind my work."
Sun/13Mon/14, 7:30 p.m., $48
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
99 Grove, SF