Tinashe is the truth. The talented 23-year-old singer-songwriter-dancer is part of a wave of alt-R&B stars--The Weeknds, the Janelle Monaes, the Frank Oceans and the FKA Twigses--redefining the rhythm and the blues for a new generation.
With hits "2 On" and "All Hands on Deck" she positioned herself as the heir-apparent to Janet Damita Jo Jackson--seamlessly combining confessional lyrics, undeniable grooves, instantly imitable choreography, and arresting visual imagery all in one delightfully sensuous, midriff-bearing package.
Her latest collaboration, with Brit electronic/R&B duo Snakehips and fellow truth-personifier Chance The Rapper, "All My Friends," perfectly captures the ennui of millennial party culture.
The track will also be available on her sophomore album, Joyride, which she is currently promoting with a worldwide tour. We caught up with Lady T as she prepared for a show last week in New Orleans.
Out: How's Joyride coming along? Is there a release date?
There's no date yet. I'm hoping it will be out super soon. I've been working really hard on all the music, I just have a couple finishing touches I want to put on the album. But I'm really excited for everyone to hear it and to hear how far I've come.
And what can fans expect from it?
I think it definitely shows an evolution of my music, but at the same time shows where I've been. I think fans that have been here for my old music will be excited to hear all the different tones and flavors and layers. It really kind of takes you on a journey. It's an adventure. And that's really what Joyride is about.
You're constantly putting out music--you've put out four mix tapes and one studio album in four years--what drives you? And what's your creative process like?
As far as my creative process goes, I really just like to be at home in my studio space, in my bedroom, and try to get into my zone. I enjoy collaborating a lot, but I have always kind of created music on my own.
Do you have complete creative control over your music, styling, choreography, etc.?
Yeah, I think creative control is very important. I think for me it's especially important because I've always had that control over my music creatively, coming from sort of being DIY, so it's important for me to be in charge of everything, from the visuals to the live shows, choreography--every aspect that goes into it.
What do you think of the current state of popular music?
It's interesting, it's in a changing period. Genres are definitely blending, music is going in interesting, new directions. I'm excited to be a part of it and I hope to bring something new and fresh to the table.
Do you have a big queer following?
Yeah! Absolutely. They're one of my favorite parts of my fanbase.
I remember when your video for "All Hands on Deck" came out, I was just hanging with a bunch of black queens--
--and we were basically screaming at it for five minutes, like obsessed with it.
[laughs] Yas! It was so fun and iconic.
It was really iconic.
Thank you! It was so fun to shoot because we got this really awesome location, we also had this great choreography that everyone just latched onto. It's still fun. I can look out at the show and see everyone doing the dance and that's always so exciting to me.
Yeah, it really felt like a moment and the choreography was so epic, that's why I was so happy to see you and Ciara in the Janet tribute at the BET Awards.
What was it like paying tribute to one of your icons like that?
It was amazing to be involved in any aspect of that, but especially to be personally chosen by her to be part of the tribute--amazing, amazing! And a really big deal for me. I was so excited, jumping up and down. It was an honor, for sure.
Oh, she personally chose you?
Yeah, she personally chose me to be a part of the tribute.
Wow. That is huge.
Is there anyone you're dying to work with?
Andre 3000 is on my wish list. Obviously, Janet or Sade, my idols. Or even Britney Spears, who I live for. I'd love to collaborate with her. That'd be awesome.
I've read a few interviews of yours, and marijuana often comes up--do you ever get tired of people asking you about smoking weed?
Um, I mean, I get tired of people asking me about everything so yeah. [laughs]
You've been in the game now for a little while, what are you still surprised by?
I think about how hard it is and how hard you work everyday just to push through. This industry is not an easy place for women, it's not an easy place for young people, it's not an easy place for black women. There's just a lot of stuff I need to work on everyday and I feel like that's always surprising to me--how hard I have to work.
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
I'm just focusing on getting the album out and really connecting with my fans, seeing everyone, being able to share new music with them. I really put my heart and soul into this so I can't wait for everybody to hear it. That's my main goal--to share it with everyone!
Check out the video for "All My Friends" below and click here to catch Tinashe on tour.