Lady Gaga gets up close and personal with Elle magazine for their October 2013 issue. The “Applause” singer discusses the pressure of being her public persona, firing back at her critics and why she changed her name. Check out a few quotes from her chat with the publication below, along with a couple pics snapped by photographer Ruth Hogben.

On Firing Back At Her Critics

“Everyone is so cynical – that I can’t purely love my fans, or share an honest story about my past, without someone asking me if I really, truly struggled. Do you know how much dirt I ate? Do you know the men I had to crawl through, the people that disrespected my body, my mind, my heart?”

On Her Public & Personal Persona

“I am – Stefani is – a perpetually tortured artist. That’s why I changed my name. I can’t be her in public. She would be a mess!”

On Handling Pressure

“What are you talking about pressure? I’m great under pressure. I’m a warrior. I’m Rocky, round 12.”

For more, head over to Elle.com.