Solange covers the February issue of Interview Magazine, and in it, she's interviewed by her big sister Beyoncé. She says she chose the global superstar she happened to grow up with to continue the theme of her critically acclaimed album A Seat at the Table. "....The album really feels like storytelling for us all and our family and our lineage," she explained.
The exchange is full of the kinds of insights into Solange and her creative process that only a loved one could solicit. Read the entire interview here.
She attributes her womanism to growing up in Houston and seeing women of all walks of life.
I feel so happy that I got to grow up in a place where you could be the pastor's wife, you could be a lawyer, you could be a stripper on the side, you could be a schoolteacher—we saw every kind of woman connect on one common experience, which was that everyone wanted to be great and everyone wanted to do better. And we really became womanist because of that. And that's the thing that I carry with me the most, being able to go out into the world and connect with women of all kinds
And, as far back as I can remember, our mother always taught us to be in control of our voice and our bodies and our work, and she showed us that through her example. If she conjured up an idea, there was not one element of that idea that she was not going to have her hand in. She was not going to hand that over to someone. And I think it's been an interesting thing to navigate, especially watching you do the same in all aspects of your work: Society labels that a control freak, an obsessive woman, or someone who has an inability to trust her team or to empower other people to do the work, which is completely untrue. There's no way to succeed without having a team and all of the moving parts that help bring it into life. But I do have—and I'm unafraid to say it—a very distinctive, clear vision of how I want to present myself and my body and my voice and my perspective. And who better to really tell that story than yourself?
Missy Elliott empowered her to take that control as a woman.
One of my biggest inspirations in terms of female producers is Missy. I remember seeing her when you guys worked together and being enamored with the idea that I could use myself as more than a voice and the words.
Despite the incredible work she put it, she's humble
One thing that I constantly have to fight against is not feeling arrogant when I say I wrote every lyric on this album. I still have not been able to say that. That's the first time I've actually ever said it, because of the challenges that we go through when we celebrate our work and our achievements.
She explained why Master P is featured in interludes throughout the album.
And I wanted a voice throughout the record that represented empowerment and independence, the voice of someone who never gave in, even when it was easy to lose sight of everything that he built, someone invested in black people, invested in our community and our storytelling, in empowering his people. You and I were raised being told not to take the first thing that came our way, to build our own platforms, our own spaces, if they weren't available to us. And I think that he is such a powerful example of that.
With her falsetto, she aims to push back against stereotypes about Black women.
I had not really explored my falsetto as much on previous works. As you said, I have always loved Minnie Riperton, and I loved Syreeta Wright and really identified with a few of her songs that she and Stevie Wonder did. She was saying some really tough shit, but the tone of her voice was so sweet that you could actually hear her more clearly. I wanted to find a happy medium, feeling like I was being direct and clear, but also knowing that this was a conversation that I was very much in control of—able to have that moment, to exist in it, to live in it and ponder it, not to yell and scream and fight my way through it—I was doing enough of that in my life, so I wanted to make a clear distinction of me controlling that narrative.
The album cover is an allusion to the Mona Lisa, there's a deeper meaning behind the clips she's wearing.
I wanted to put these waves in my hair, and to really set the waves, you have to put these clips in. And when Neal, the hair stylist, put the clips in, I remember thinking, "Woah, this is the transition, in the same way that I'm speaking about on ‘Cranes.'" It was really important to capture that transition, to show the vulnerability and the imperfection of the transition—those clips signify just that, you know? Holding it down until you can get to the other side. I wanted to capture that.
She told us what "Cranes in the Sky" means. Hint: It's probably not what you were thinking.
I used to write and record a lot in Miami during that time, when there was a real estate boom in America, and developers were developing all of this new property. There was a new condo going up every ten feet. You recorded a lot there as well, and I think we experienced Miami as a place of refuge and peace. We weren't out there wilin' out and partying. I remember looking up and seeing all of these cranes in the sky. They were so heavy and such an eyesore, and not what I identified with peace and refuge. I remember thinking of it as an analogy for my transition—this idea of building up, up, up that was going on in our country at the time, all of this excessive building, and not really dealing with what was in front of us. And we all know how that ended. That crashed and burned. It was a catastrophe. And that line came to me because it felt so indicative of what was going on in my life as well. And, eight years later, it's really interesting that now, here we are again, not seeing what's happening in our country, not wanting to put into perspective all of these ugly things that are staring us in the face.
Solange stans for Diana Ross and Nas
BEYONCÉ: One of my proudest moments as a sister was when I was able to introduce you to your hero, Nas, and you cried and acted a fool. I was so surprised that Mrs. Too-cool-for-everything was acting a fool. Is there another human being that would get that reaction out of you now if you met him/her?
SOLANGE: Diana Ross. For sure. I broke out in some hives when I went to her concert. Alan was like, "Uh, you're breaking out into hives. Calm down."
She and husband Alan Ferguson damn near traveled 70 states to get the album's incredible visuals.
We started off with huge ideas, a sizable crew. We were in two RVs that we drove from New Orleans to New Mexico with about ten to fifteen stops along the way. And, at the end of it, people were so tired, rightfully so. They were cranky and ready to go home, rightfully so. And Alan and I were like, "We just got started!" We were maybe a quarter of the way through what we actually wanted to achieve. And only a person who loves you would say, "Let's fly back to New Orleans, rent a car, and just you and I do that trip all over again."