Photos by Greg Hurdle
If Tinashe isn’t the future of R&B music, it has no future.
The “2 On” singer has popped up everywhere in the last few months, from Teen Vogue to 106 and Park to Billboard, showing no signs of slowing down. With an electric personality and impeccable stage presence, this young songstress is destined to rise through the ranks with ease and already has her Grammy speech down pat. Aside from opening for ScHoolboy Q this June at Summer Stage, the LA-based singer is making her way through the states with a list of top notch shows. We caught up with the budding star before her sold out performance at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade NYC to talk about her debut album Aquarius, possibly working with Drake, and girl power.
Mass Appeal: Tell me a little bit about what’s been going on today. How’s it been? Are you excited for the show ?
Tinashe: It’s been awesome. I mean, I had some stuff in the morning. Interviews, meetings and such, and this afternoon I just got my makeup done for two hours, which was awesome cuz’ I just stood there [Laughs]. Yeah, I’m excited cuz’ it’s sold out! I already have some fans out there. One of them literally started crying when I met them. That’s an awesome feeling. She said that my music helped her get through… like her cousin got murdered, so she said my music helped her get through that and she just started crying. It’s amazing.
That’s all that I really, at the end of the day, do music for. It’s supposed to mean something to someone so when somebody can listen to my music and it helps them get through something, whatever they’re going through, good or bad, that’s the most important thing for me.
MA: Let’s talk about your recent Drake cover “Days in the West.” It’s amazing. You talk about a lot of different topics on that track. From negative comments, double standards, your family, Internet bullying. Tell me a little about that track.
T: I think that’s something that people definitely take advantage of. On the Internet you don’t have to necessarily own up to the things that you say. I think more people should be aware of the fact that their comments actually are a lot more powerful than they realize. Or maybe they want that. I don’t know. I just find it very interesting that people have this false sense of confidence on the Internet that they would never, EH-VER say it to your face. So I don’t know, it’s just something I find interesting. That’s why you can never take anything anyone says of the Internet seriously cuz’ it’s probably a 13-year old kid in their basement.
MA: Going on to Drake…
MA: You’re talking about working with him right?
T: Yeah. There’s nothing like super super set in stone, but I definitely got the ball rolling with him remixing my song which I thought was awesome. It meant a lot to me that he just wanted to without me asking. I feel like he would be an awesome person to collaborate with cuz’ his writing comes from such a real genuine place and he always writes from a very specific perspective and I definitely have perspective, so to be able to work with him would be awesome.
MA: Yeah. So let’s get into your debut album Aquarius. Is that based on the age of the Aquarius or is something else?
T: Girl you know! Nobody even knows that! They’re like [mocking voice] ‘is your sign Aquarius?’ Yesss! But, yeah my sign is Aquarius, it also has stuff to do with the age of the Aquarius and that in turn is a metaphor for my kind of coming out. It being my debut album and me trying to bring something new and fresh to the table. It’s very deep, but no one understands it. That’s all good. That’s what art is. Just look out for my album cuz’ I’ve been working really hard on it. I’ve been working for a long time, obviously coming from a place where I used to make videos and record it all myself…now to be able to put out something in a major way, with all the support around me, it’s really exciting.
MA: The first thing I thought of was the Outkast album Aquemini. What are some classic albums you’re into?
T: Obviously, I love Sade. Everything that she’s ever…the band has ever put out. All of them are old school …except for the newest one which is still like 2009 so it’s basically old. [Laughs] Yeah, I love them. I mean, I grew up listening to a lot of ’90s kind of R&B. Boyz II Men, Tony, Toni, Tone, Sade. Janet Jackson was huge to me. She’s a huge inspiration. Michael Jackson. Any Jackson.
–The sound of Tinashe’s band having fun downstairs rises through her dressing room–
T: Is that them? Why are they having such a blast out there! They are just playing music and just like dancing? That’s what happens when you get 2 On! You can have fun in ANY SCENARIO. [Laughs] It was happy hour earlier so…
MA: Is that usually how your shows are? Laid back. Everyone just having fun?
T: Yeah! I mean I never really stress out too much cuz’ I don’t get nervous. Backstage there isn’t really too much tension because I’m super relaxed before I go on. Being on stage is just really fun for me. I get excited. I honestly never did! That’s like one of my…I feel like…superpowers or something. I’m so luckyyy that I don’t like stress about like ‘ oh my god am I going to forget something..am I gonna be bad.’ It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be and I’m gonna do my best so why worry? The best part is that you can see that your music is directly affecting people. Like you can watch that happen! You can see a song come on and someone get excited, or someone get emotional, or someone connect. You can see the direct reaction that music causes and that’s the most rewarding part about creating music at all. That’s why being on stage is so fun.
MA: Right. You’re from California and you wear your city on your back. What do you want to bring back to where you come from when everything is said and done?
T: I think there has never been, especially recently, a female artist coming out of Cali that has really come and held it down and represented. Everyone’s come out for a second and maybe fallen off or never really reached that level of ‘oh yeah, she’s a super star’ since like I don’t know… Rihanna came out… or Ke$ha came out… it’s been a minute. There’s this thing about women artists. It’s almost like there’s only room for one, or two, or three. I wanna be able to kill that, like there’s definitely room for all of us. More than enough room for everyone. We just need new artists in general. New artists need to be able to break into the mainstream.
MA: Where do you want to be in a year?
T: In the next year or so I want to win a Grammy. I really want to win a Grammy…
MA: Do you have a speech prepared already?
T: Oh hell yeah. I can’t say my speech! It’s under wraps. I have to save that premiere for America.
Tinashe is on the come up and is excited about her upcoming album Aquarius, set for release this year on RCA records. Follow her on Twitter @Tinashe
Gyasi is also excited for Tinashe’s new album, and can’t wait to see her open for ScHoolBoy Q on June 25th at Summer Stage. Follow her on Twitter @TheDominusG