TORONTO - When electro diva Lady Gaga received the invite to perform at the MuchMusic Video Awards, she says she didn't hesitate for a moment.

She was in.

"(Canada) is like a second home," Gaga said over the phone from Australia. "I'm very grateful to Canada, they took me under their wing early.

"Every time I get a call that Canada needs me, I'm on an airplane."

The Grammy-nominated singer was announced Tuesday as the second performer at the June 21 awards bash, which will be hosted by the Jonas Brothers.

Even when reached on the phone immediately following a performance in Melbourne, Gaga mustered considerable excitement for the MuchMusic gig in Toronto.

"I can't believe it, it's huge," said the affable 23-year-old. "A year ago nobody knew who I was."

Of course, a lot has changed.

Gaga -- born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta -- was brought up in New York, playing piano at five years old and performing in jazz clubs by her early teens.

By the time she was 20 she was writing pop songs for other stars -- including Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block and the Pussycat Dolls -- and working on her own album all the while. After overcoming considerable skepticism from labels and radio, she released her debut album, "The Fame," in 2008.

The disc, which has gone double platinum in Canada and topped Billboard charts around the world, took off on the strength of a string of bulletproof hits including "Just Dance," which was nominated for a Grammy for best dance recording.

Gaga is known for her provocative performances, her dedication to controlling pretty much every aspect of her image and her peculiar wardrobe -- she loves over-the-top, retro-futuristic glam flourishes and hates wearing pants.

Yet those who have seen her bizarre yet assured performances on "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars" might be surprised that she didn't take to performing on TV right away.

"I actually had such a terrible time doing television in the beginning," she said Tuesday. "I hated performing to a lens, I felt like it was soulless."

To get over it, she says she pored over the tapes of her performances.

"I studied watching myself," she said. "I studied sonically the way that I wanted my voice to sound after it's passed through the many compressing airwaves of television, and lighting choices, consistency of design, what clothing I liked.

"You see, I approached TV almost the way I approach designing my music videos. It's just executed differently, I guess."

Gaga says she's just finished the video for her upcoming single "Paparazzi." She calls the clip "the most amazing creative work that I've put together so far."

"I'm very proud of it," she said. "It has a real, genuine, powerful message about fame-whoring and death and the demise of the celebrity, and what that does to young people.

"The video explores ideas about sort of hyperbolic situations that people will go to in order to be famous. Most specifically, pornography and murder. These are some of the major themes in the video."

Meanwhile, Gaga says she takes a lot of pride in her performances -- and she detests lip synching.

"I just don't believe in it," she said. "It's hard work learning how to sing and dance at the same time, live on TV, while also looking impossibly fresh in the camera, right? But that's what we do, and you have to be good at it.

"I just think it's a false impression to your fans when you don't sing live."

Although Gaga refuses to tip her hand on the details of her MuchMusic Video Awards performance -- "You know I like to play `LoveGame,"' she says, the only hint she's willing to give -- she wants to assure viewers it will be a spectacle.

"Well you see, it's my lifestyle," she said. "It's like, everything that you see me do is in some way taken and inspired by these visions in my brain that happen because of the way I live my life. So I just live and breathe art every day, and I consider myself to be a performance artist.

"Every time you see me, it's performance. When I'm sleeping, it's performance."