NEW YORK — Have a question for Selena Gomez? She says you'll find the answer in her new album.
The singer-actress, who had her breakthrough on Disney Channel's "Wizards of Waverly Place" at age 15, says she knows she hasn't been too revealing in the past, but she's becoming comfortable in her own skin — and that's reflected on "Stars Dance," released Tuesday.
"Genuinely, the whole record is me being a woman and wanting to explore that and being comfortable in my skin and my body, and exuding confidence," said Gomez, who turned 21 on Monday. "People speculate or think what they want to think, but it's been really fun for me to kind of explore what I want to explore."
Gomez credits her daring role in the film "Spring Breakers" with helping her find comfort in her womanhood. She has similar energy on her seductive single, the Rihanna-esque "Come & Get It," which has officially broken her into major pop territory. The double platinum song has peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Even Beyonce posted on Instagram that she's a fan of the addictive track.
"I have so many people come up to me saying, 'I didn't know you sing that song. It's a little different than what you put out,' and that's a great feeling," Gomez said.
She'll kick off a 56-city world tour — where she'll play venues like the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. — in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Aug. 14. It wraps Nov. 27 in St. Louis.
Gomez talked about growing up, music and her relationships with ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber and best friend Taylor Swift in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
AP: You turned 21 and released an album — is this your best week ever?
Gomez: It is. It genuinely is. Turning 21 and releasing my fourth record. ... I can't really believe the place I'm in. I'm superstoked. I think I always kind of backtrack, I always kind of say, 'OK, I'm going to put my all into (it) and hope for the best,' and when it happens, I get really surprised.
AP: You say this album is more personal. What's it like to reveal your true feelings on the songs?
Gomez: The last records ... were very processed and a little bit rushed in a way, so the fact that I had so much time to share my life story and just where I am was really fun for me. ... There were moments where I would kind of be a little emotional, talking about things I made sure I executed perfectly because it was such a sensitive subject. ... (And) being with the producers and being honest because I never really had time to do that before.
AP: What else do you want to do this year?
Gomez: I don't think it should be too serious at this point for me. I think I take my job seriously, but I enjoy my life and I enjoy my friends and I never really allowed myself to do that before. So I just kind of want to party with everyone.
AP: What's it like growing up with all the cameras?
Gomez: I attempt to be who I am and it's fun. At the same time, growing up doing what I'm doing can be a little crazy. You don't ever know, and obviously I have my off days. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes.
AP: It's different today for celebrities compared with 10 or 20 years ago.
Gomez: I do agree to a certain extent that it is unfortunate that I have to be a little more aware of being a kid and growing up and figuring out who I am, but at the same time, it's part of what I love. My mom always told me if I love what I'm doing and I'm having fun then just continue to do it. But if it's not fun for me anymore and I'm miserable, then I'm going to go back to Texas and quit it all, to be honest.
AP: Do you feel like the blogs and the celebrity Web sites play up your relationship with Justin Bieber?
Gomez: I think they do kind of blow it up in a way and I do think they want to have something to talk about, so that's the easy thing to do. ... I've known him for a really long time and we enjoy each other's company every now and then. But I'm definitely single and enjoying being that.
AP: What have you learned from Taylor Swift when it comes to making music?
Gomez: I think Taylor has been a really good inspiration in my life in general, not just the music side, just who she is. Taylor's been one of the strongest people I've ever known and she's been through a lot. ... Honestly I think if anything I aspire to be her in her personal life and how she handles herself publicly.
AP: You gave a shout-out to your Bible study crew in your album "thank yous." Is that an important part of your life?
Gomez: I think it's been important for me to kind of keep all of that part of me private just because I know it's such a sensitive subject for everyone and what I believe is maybe not necessarily what you believe and what everyone else believes. It is very important for me to acknowledge it because I'm not ashamed of it, but at the same time I know that people get kind of sensitive with it, so that was really for them.
AP: What it's like being a big sister? (Gomez's mother gave birth to a daughter last month.)
Gomez: It's crazy. There's a 21-year age gap, which is OK, but it's actually really amazing because we won't be fighting over boys or clothes, so I'll be able to be a cool aunt in a way. But I'm absolutely obsessed.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu on Twitter: twitter.com/MusicMesfin