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Interview: Beyonce Talks Music & More with Solange For Interview Magazine

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After releasing a #1 Album last year with A Seat at the Table, Solange gets interviewed by her sister Beyonce for Interview Mag. Last month, they talked in depth about the album, producing her own music and being a mom. Take a look at some of what Solange had to say below and read the full article over at Interview Mag.

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BEYONCÉ: You write your own lyrics, you co-produce your own tracks, you write your own treatments for your videos, you stage all of your performances, all of the choreography … Where does the inspiration come from?

SOLANGE: It varies. For one, I got to have a lot of practice. Growing up in a household with a master class such as yourself definitely didn’t hurt. 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? For this record specifically, it really started with wanting to unravel some truths and some untruths. There were things that had been weighing heavy on me for quite some time. And I went into this hole, trying to work through some of these things so that I could be a better me and be a better mom to Julez and be a better wife and a better friend and a better sister. Which is a huge part of why I wanted you to interview me for this piece. Because the album really feels like storytelling for us all and our family and our lineage. And having mom and dad speak on the album, it felt right that, as a family, this closed the chapter of our stories. And my friends’ stories—every day, we’re texting about some of the micro-aggressions we experience, and that voice can be heard on the record, too. The inspiration for this record came from all of our voices as a collective, and wanting to look at it and explore it. I’m so happy I got to take my time in that process. And the end result feels really rewarding.

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BEYONCÉ: It was a three-year process to create A Seat at the Table. You took your time, and it’s still so fascinating to me the amount of production you did for this album, the live instrumentation, with you physically, on the keyboards, on the drums, producing not only the vocals but also co-producing the tracks. It’s something to be celebrated, for a young woman to be such a strong producer as well as a singer-songwriter and artist.

SOLANGE: Thank you! 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. On my previous records, I contributed to production here and there, but I was always really afraid to really get in there and … I guess I wasn’t really afraid, I was just really comfortable writing the songs. I felt like my contributions as a producer were enough. But when I started to work on the sonics for this record, I realized that I had to create such a very specific sonic landscape in telling the story. I had these jam sessions, and there were holes that no one else could really fill for me. It really came out of a need for something outside of what I could articulate and lead someone else to do. And it was scary. It was really scary, and a lot of times I was frustrated with myself and feeling insecure because it was new to operate in that space and be in front of people at this age, learning something on this level. But I feel so grateful and excited that there’s a new phase that I conquered as an artist.

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BEYONCÉ: What does the song title “Cranes in the Sky” mean?

SOLANGE: “Cranes in the Sky” is actually a song that I wrote eight years ago. It’s the only song on the album that I wrote independently of the record, and it was a really rough time. I know you remember that time. I was just coming out of my relationship with Julez’s father. We were junior high school sweethearts, and so much of your identity in junior high is built on who you’re with. You see the world through the lens of how you identify and have been identified at that time. So I really had to take a look at myself, outside of being a mother and a wife, and internalize all of these emotions that I had been feeling through that transition. I was working through a lot of challenges at every angle of my life, and a lot of self-doubt, a lot of pity-partying. And I think every woman in her twenties has been there—where it feels like no matter what you are doing to fight through the thing that is holding you back, nothing can fill that void. 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.

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BEYONCÉ: You and Alan—who is my brother, your husband—worked together on the visuals for this project, and y’all outdid yourselves. What was that experience like?

SOLANGE: The experience was one I will cherish for the rest of my life. I remember telling you years ago that I wanted to work with him, but I was scared because I felt like our relationship, by the grace of God, is the one thing that I can count on to be intact and to be solid. When I go out in the world, I know that when I come home, I’m going to find peace with him. And I didn’t want any variable that could interrupt that. And you actually encouraged that and said, “I swear, you guys are going to be just fine and will probably make the best work that you have ever made because of the way that you love and respect one another and each other’s vision.” And through the process of making this record, every time I would come home from the studio, I would be really depleted. And it was Alan who would encourage me and help lift me back up and give me that coach speech to go back into the studio and start a new day. So he knew these stories better than anyone did. And when it came time to talk about the visual aspects of the project, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he had to be the person to help bring the vision to life. And he really saw this through in every single detail that he possibly could have. Only a person who loves me would say yes to shooting 21 scenes in one week and climbing mountains and literally crossing waterfalls with million-dollar equipment strapped to his back. 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.” I was so happy to have a partner in crime, because visual storytelling is just as important, if not more important in some ways, to the overall storytelling of my projects. It’s really a meditation for me when I’m coming up with these concepts and painting these pictures—that is one of the few times that my brain shuts off in that way. And Alan was there to say, “Hey, the light is fading. Everybody is telling us that we can’t get this much light in the aperture. We need to wrap. But I think that this is when the light is just beginning. This is the color the sky needs to be.”

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