Billboard talks with Lady Gaga’s hairstylist, Frederic Aspiras, who revealed some inspirations and methods he used to cultivate and attune Lady Gaga to every persona she portrayed for the last decade. Read and excerpt of the interview below.
"You can change a person's attitude, mood, and day just by the way the way they feel through their hair."
"I was really nervous because I hadn't done a lot of makeup at the time. The kind of generosity he had as an artist was something I really identified with," Aspiras recalls with Billboard. "I didn't really show off my work and style but I really wanted to merge the two. I'm my own role model because we all strive to do better. In no way have I become a master of hair and I'm learning all the time, but I also have a lot to give back and have a lot of responsibility. This journey had really taught me to become a better person and artist."
Upon making the successful transition from San Francisco to Los Angeles as a celebrity hairstylist, Aspiras spent nearly four years working with Paris Hilton. He planned on taking a vacation after touring with Hilton -- until he received a call from agent Kent Belden of The Only Agency, who asked if he would like to work with Lady Gaga in 2009. "I had just seen her on stage during an award show, and she needed somebody for her tour," Aspiras continues.
"I said, 'Sure, why not, I would love to play with new hair.' I remember working for her the first night and she was so respectful of my ideas. I created one look for the Monster Ball tour, and before you know it, we were bouncing ideas off each other, creating every single look from there."
The duo has seen many wins during their career trajectories over the past decade.
"With Gaga and I, we respect each other's creative voices," he says. "And with that kind of respect coming from somebody you live for, you create that special bond, you never want to let that go. It brings out something really good in you. That's what friends do for each other."
Tell us about the collaboration process between you and Lady Gaga.
I look to her as an artist. So how we approach that is usually during meetings for a project. It's so important to listen to an artist, as she brings the inspiration out of you for her vision. I would need to create styles throughout [her shows] that contributed to her story. Sometimes I would recreate hairstyles on wigs so she can try out different hairstyles with different outfits. So I'm constantly [thinking of] new ideas I want to do with her in my studio.
What would you choose as the most memorable hairstyles you've created for Gaga over the years?
The most memorable moment was for the Venice Film Festival for A Star Is Born [last August]. I saw her step out of the hotel in her feathered dress and cried because it was so beautiful. There was a thunderstorm, I don't know what happened, but it was like a [Federico] Fellini movie scene! The next would have to be the [2017 Super Bowl halftime show] because it was monumental. It was such an important moment in her career so it had to be perfect! And her hair changed halfway. To watch it on playback was beautiful.
Another one was the  Born This Way world tour. We became family on that tour, spending day and night together. I created so many styles for it. I never got bored while we toured around the world three times. When we did American Horror Story: Hotel [in 2015], [makeup artist] Kim Ayers and I had to come up with something like 70-90 different hairstyles [for the singer's Countess character]. We were on set sometimes from five in the morning to three in the morning. It was really, really hard but rewarding.
How would you describe her current hair aesthetic?
She is such a beautiful human being. Her aesthetic so far this year is something that reflects who we are now as artists. I can't speak for her, but I can say I'm a more comfortable stylist now because of her.
How do you decide when to use a wig versus her natural hair?
We don't decide. It depends based on the looks, style and color. And with things like hair extensions, people have realized they don't need to bleach their hair. If there is a time where I feel like it might damage her hair, I would suggest a wig, which looks just like her hair.
So how many wigs do you think you two have amassed together?
She has some, but I have all the wigs. I had archived them through the years. I would say there are about 5,000. There's also a collection you can see in Las Vegas, and a lot of them are in New York.
What does Lady Gaga like to listen to while getting ready?
When she first walks in, I would probably play some Don Henley because you're sitting for so long. I would also bring in some Ace of Base. I would love to play ARTPOP -- it’s my favorite album. I would also play jazz like Tony Bennett, of course. She actually played for me when I went to receive my [Hairstylist of the Year honor at the Daily Front Row Awards in March], and I cried. We have a great time in the trailer talking to each other. It really is like a family.