Star Wars meets soul on new CD

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ARTS & LIFE - By Mesfin Fekadu

NEW YORK — Janelle Monáe fi­nally gave birth this week. No, it wasn’t a lit­tle baby, but a bun­dle of mu­sic she says was just as labour-in­ten­sive.

“I just feel like this is a baby and I’m ready to have a C-sec­tion or this baby is ready to come,” Monáe said of The Elec­tric Lady, re­leased Tues­day.

Monáe’s sopho­more ef­fort comes three years af­ter her crit­i­cally ac­claimed full-length de­but, The Ar­chAn­droid.

The new al­bum is a de­par­ture for the 27-year-old, who col­lab­o­rates with Prince ( Givin Em What They Love), Miguel ( Prime­time) and Erykah Badu ( Q.U.E.E.N.) on the 19-track set.

“None of it was for pol­i­tics,” she said of the guest artists, who also in­clude Esper­anza Spald­ing and Solange. “These guys are writ­ing their own mu­sic, in con­trol of their fu­tures… they do what they feel on their own terms and time.”

In an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press, Monáe, who is based in At­lanta, talked about how her paint­ing helped her create the songs that make up The Elec­tric Lady, co-ex­ec­u­tive pro­duced by Diddy and Big Boi. AP: Your al­bums fol­low the story of Cindi May­weather, an an­droid who falls in love with a hu­man and she’s be­ing pun­ished for that. What’s hap­pen­ing with her on Monáe: This is her life be­fore she be­came the Ar­chAn­droid, what the com­mu­nity thought about her, what her thoughts were, what got her into trou­ble (and) why they wanted to dis­sem­ble her. AP: Are you Cindi? Monáe: We share the same DNA. AP: Who influenced the al­bum? Monáe: Ge­orge Lu­cas. I per­formed at his wed­ding re­cep­tion... I met him and I got a chance to speak with Steven Spiel­berg, and these are peo­ple whose ideas, you know, if they weren’t able to make their movies, I don’t think that I would have been able to ar­tic­u­late my thoughts on Cindi. They kind of showed me how to do that; I just wanted to do it with mu­sic. AP: How did you come up with the songs for the new al­bum? Monáe: The con­cept for that al­bum didn’t come to me un­til I went on tour and I started to paint, and I would sing and paint at the same time. I would paint the sil­hou­ette of this fe­male body… and I didn’t quite un­der­stand why I was paint­ing this woman. I ac­tu­ally was a lit­tle freaked out by it. So I went back to At­lanta and I talked to my therapist, and she en­cour­aged me, she said, ‘You should name her. Name her.’ And I did. AP: Were you in ther­apy for a spe­cific rea­son? Monáe: All around. I find it very help­ful. It helps with my song­writ­ing, be­cause once I am talk­ing to some­body and I’m get­ting it out and it’s not in my head, I’m able to just write it out. AP: How long have you been in ther­apy? Monáe: Since I was a one-year-old I’ve had a therapist, some­one to talk to. They might have not been cer­ti­fied, but I’ve al­ways talked and been very open about where I am in my life. AP: What was it like to work with Prince? Monáe: It was very or­ganic. Prince… reached out to me when I re­leased Me­trop­o­lis... and I was do­ing that al­most in­de­pen­dently. He and I have been friends ever since and he’s al­ways re­spected me as a busi­ness­woman and he thought it was great that Puffy wasn’t telling me what to do and that I was in con­trol of my cre­ativ­ity. And he al­ways said, ‘If you ever need any­thing, I’m al­ways here.’ AP: You’re stick­ing to your black-and­white fash­ion style, but your hair is straight in the mu­sic video. What hap­pened? Monáe: That wasn’t me. That was prob­a­bly Elec­tric Lady 57821. Lots of clones. AP: Are you in the video? Monáe: Only on half of the video. The rap part. I have clones. AP: How many clones do you have? Monáe: I can’t tell you, but that def­i­nitely wasn’t me.


Singer Janelle Monáe claims clones per­form in her videos.

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