The Kansas singer’s second album is released tomorrow (September 9) and features a host of guests, including Prince, Miguel and Erykah Badu. Monae opened up to the publication’s Jacki Lynden about her relationship with the latter, explaining their daily phone calls built the foundations of the song ‘Q.U.E.E.N’.
Erykah was one of the first female artists to reach out to me. It was when I had my first EP out and not a lot of people knew about Janelle Monae, and she discovered me online. She said ‘I want you to come out on tour with me’. So we talk on the phone together daily and ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ was really inspired by private conversations that she and I have about our community and how we can uplift them, and how we deal with those who feel marginalised and don’t often have people standing up for their rights – whether that be gays, lesbians, immigrants. Women are often marginalised and we wanted to show that two strong women can work together and create something great.
Monae also divulged that she wanted to “go through R&B music that ranges from people like Bo Diddley to Jimi Hendrix to classical music” on the record. “That’s what I love doing, is playing with all these different styles of music and creating something that just has not been heard,” she said. She also stated the single ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ was inspired by Diddley, whom she described as an “innovator” and “originator”.
During the 10 minute interview, Monae also discussed her background, openly talking about her parents’ jobs in their community and asking her pastor to pray for her to get a job so she could afford to move to New York to study. She also briefly spoke about her contract with Covergirl cosmetics, explaining that “one of [my core values] has always been to encourage and inspire young girls to embrace the things that make them unique, even if they make others uncomfortable.”
On Friday night (September 6), the singer performed at New York Fashion Week, as part of designer Rebecca Minkoff’s runway show at the Lincoln Center. Speaking to Billboard afterwards, she said: “Art, fashion and music are all one. With my style I try to be consistent and classic. I feel as though I’m a time traveler, so I like to dress appropriate at all times. I think labels are boring.”