Tinashe - SXSW 2017

Tinashe: “I don’t understand artists who don’t like the spotlight”

Ahead of the release of 'Joyride', Tinashe speaks to NME about her career so far

Tinashe couldn’t quite believe it when she was told she’d be collaborating with Britney Spears, let alone snuggling up with her in the accompanying music video, for ‘Slumber Party’. “That was probably the most surreal part,” she says. “I was like: ‘Oh my god, it’s Britney Spears, one inch away from my face’. Fan goals right there, seriously.”

That was only last year, but Tinashe Kachingwe has been in the limelight for most of her life. The 24-year-old former child actor – she featured in The Polar Express aged 11 – graduated to Two and a Half Men before deciding to make music her primary focus. “When I was on Two and a Half Men,” she recalls, “that was a crucial turning point, because I was about 16 years old and that was when I really decided to go for music fully. I felt I needed to focus on one or the other for people to really take me seriously. So I decided that I was going to 100 percent do music and let people know that that was really what I was about.”

Up until 2011 – when she was just 18 – Tinashe was in a girl group called The Stunners. Alongside them, she toured with Justin Bieber on his My World tour, and since her solo career took off in 2012 the star has toured with the likes of Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. “This year I was on tour with Maroon 5,” she adds. “It’s been really cool to have those cosigns from different artists. I think that’s probably been the most meaningful part of touring with other people – just knowing that they recognise and appreciate your art.”

But as someone who regularly interacts with megastars – and who’s well on the way there – does she find the prospect of megastardom a bit scary? In simple terms: no. “I don’t find megastardom scary,” she says, “I find it the goal, the ultimate goal! Obviously there are elements of it that are not great: potentially dark, destructive, intimidating. But not scary. When it’s something you’ve been planning for or hoping to achieve your entire life, it’s not necessarily something where you’re like: ‘Oh no, I don’t want people to look at me.’ I don’t understand artists who don’t like the spotlight. That confuses me.”

These days Tinashe is taking a leaf out of her tourmate Katy Perry’s book – like the Californian star she drove a massive vehicle round New York City to promote her new single ‘Flame’. (Appropriately, Tinashe’s was a fire truck, and she spent her time speaking to slightly perplexed passers-by with a megaphone.)

So what’s next? Last year she put out ‘Nightride’, the first of a pair of albums: “I wanted to show a different side of the spectrum, another layer of his puzzle that is the Joyride,” she says. “To me Nightride embodies stuff you’d want to listen to at night, a more sensual, emotional, toned-down side.” Its companion piece, ‘Joyride’, arrives “towards the end of this summer, early fall.”