Los Angeles will eat you.
The LA music biz specialises in packaging young girls into pop stars — Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Nicky Minaj, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears.
The singer-songwriter Kesha is one of those. Spotted by producer Dr Luke at the age of 17, she was persuaded by him to drop out of high school and move to LA.
But it was not until 2010, that Kesha, autotuned and “sexified”, had a hit with a song she wrote, Tik Tok, and the subsequent album, Animal. Her second album Warrior was just as successful — as were her tours. The persona she projected was part Pisces (her Sun sign) — mermaid hair, glitter-mirror outfits — and part Sagittarius (her rising sign) — boots, cut-offs, strong legs, wildness, rebellion. She looked like Doris Day dressed up as Lilith — Neptune in Capricorn opposite Lilith in Cancer — the girl next door as temptress. Not unlike, say, Britney Spears, another brand Dr Luke helped create.
Since the demographic for this music is tweenage girls, it’s hard to understand how so much money is involved — but if a star is “made” — that is a sellable brand is created — everyone makes tons of money.
But then Kesha stepped out of line. She didn’t do the thing of freaking out (Britney Spears) or getting beaten by her “boyfriend” (Rihanna) or marrying a weird English guy (Katy Perry). Kesha had the audacity to take her producer, Dr Lukc, to court and try to get out of a six-album deal with her label. She took herself and her artistic integrity seriously.
We’ve been here before: both Prince and George Michael went through the same court battles, trying to get out of deals which tied them to a label for years. But Kesha had more to say. She accused her producer of rape, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and drugging her.
But wait, we know this story too. This is Judy Garland’s story, Clara Bow’s, Marilyn’s. The uppers to pep you up, the downers to help you sleep and the date rape drugs to make you compliant. It’s a nasty business — and Kesha is brave, because taking on “Dr Luke” means taking on the whole industry. Her actions have brought the stinky underbelly of confidential LA into the open air — again. It surfaces occasionally. After all the first Hollywood scandal back the era of silent movies was the rape of so-called “starlet” Virginia Rappe.
Saturn, the stern teacher, has had a lot to say to Kesha throughout this process. She has been having a long and arduous transit of Saturn, the planet which makes us grow up, but also creates boundaries, rules and restrictions.
Kesha brought her case in October 13, 2014. Dr Luke hit back with his own lawsuit. She lost a temporary injunction — to prevent her having to work with Dr Luke while the case was on-going — on February 19, 2016. The larger case is on-going. Lawyers are making a ton of money.
Saturn entered Sagittarius on December 23, 2014, crossing Kesha’s Ascendant and entering her first house. This is often a tough time, forcing a person to take responsibility. We look to both Saturn and Jupiter when we discuss law courts, also. Saturn continued in Sagittarius until June 2015, when it went back across Kesha’s Ascendant and into Scorpio again in retrograde motion.
Saturn took one last pass over Kesha’s Ascendant in September 2015. This Saturn pass can give you some real steel, and Kesha has had to dig deep to find her iron-core.
On the day, Kesha filed her suit, Mars, the planet of action, was on her natal Saturn, setting in motion a long arduous process that might turn her from victim into teacher. A few monnths earlier, Kesha had experienced a Progressed Lunar Return — an important moment in everyone’s life when the Moon by progression comes back to the place it was when you were born. This happens every 27 years and it can put you at your most vulnerable. (The 27 Club of dead rock stars is connected to this cycle.)
Kesha was born just after a New Moon, so her natal Moon is in sensitive, musical, resilient Pisces. It closely conjoins a super-powered Jupiter, the expander, in the very final degree of the entire Zodiac. That Jupiter-Moon is compassionate, sensitive and gives Kesha a kind of Piscean majesty, a whalish grace, a largeness of character that will see her through this ordeal. Some Pisces, as Linda Goodman memorably puts it, are whales. Kesha is one of those.
What is more Jupiter, the chart ruler, makes a perfect trine to Pallas Athena on her Ascendant. Pallas, the asteroid of wisdom, is how Kesha sees the world — and how people who know her see Kesha. Saturn was working with this Pallas, testing her wisdom and courage, every time it went over her ascendant.
But right now she is going through tough times. On February 19, when she lost one leg of her case, Saturn opposed her natal Chiron in the 7th House of Open Enemies. Court battles often show up across this axis, but this one made me wonder about Chiron. As we know Chiron is our weakness, our Achilles Heel — and in her case, it could be bad choices in her friendships — but it could be more precise than that. Chiron was a teacher and mentor to heroes, indeed he played a similar role to, say, a producer in the music industry. What if the dark side of Chiron is Svengali?
Neptune, the planet of glamour, music and illusion, has also been busy with Kesha. The great deceiver has been crossing her Pisces planets. Neptune sometimes washes away illusions — and in 2013-14 he conjoined her Mercury — the product of her mind, the songs. Maybe it became clear to Kesha that her songs were being stolen and manipulated. She complained that she was forced to sing words she did not agree with, and drop songs she liked in favour of ones Dr Luke wanted. Beneath all the synth-sound pap, there’s poetry in some of Kesha’s lyrics.
Neptune will be conjoining Kesha’s Sun, this year. This will either wipe her out completely — unlikely – or help her to overcome the enemies stacked against her. Her plight has fermented a huge wave of emotional support from her fans, other artists and, well, mothers.
Her Saturn Return is due this year — the moment when we truly step into our adult power. For some who find success young, this can mark the end, but in Kesha’s case, this may just be the real beginning of her career — when we get to hear her real voice.
But what she’s doing is more important than being able to make the music she likes. With that brave Jupiter (the chart ruler), the stubborn Mars in Taurus (opposite the bullying Pluto), her girl-power Venus in Capricorn, and maybe above all Pallas the warrior goddess on her Ascendant, Kesha is making a legal case for every “starlet” who ever found herself victimised by the Los Angeles music industry.