Friday, October 2, 2009


Whenever I’m asked to define today’s Honey girl, my quick, canned response is: “We’re more Solange, than Beyonce.” Now don’t get me wrong, Honey hearts Queen Bey (the supernova keeps us perpetually entertained and inspired) but we tend to identify with the 23-year-old rebel — the adventurous, outspoken, risk-embracing, cuss-you-out-if-you-even-try-to-diss-her-sis, outrageous-ensemble-rocking singer/songwriter. And the list goes on:

  • Her tweets inspire countless midday outbursts of laughter (and plenty of RTs)
  • Her fashion-forward ‘fits send us into fits of envy (and reckless shopping sprees).
  • During our photo shoot, she insisted on climbing into an abandoned shopping cart (in sparkly leggings and a Gordon Gartrell-esque top).
  • Even though the sun called it quits, she refused to leave until the last shot was perfect. (There was no way she was bouncing before rocking the vintage Christian Dior party frock!)
  • Her playlist had us jamming (and Googling names of the bands we didn’t recognize like the beguiling Grizzly Bear, of Montreal, Chairlift, and Theophilus London).
  • She was actually amused (and slightly interested) when she detected the pungent smell of “mixed greens” wafting from someone’s bag…

We hope you enjoy gawking at her gorgeous, weave-free mug as much as we enjoyed shooting it.

(faux fur coat, Topshop; tank, American Apparel; necklace, Custo Barcelona; leggings, Christopher Kane for Topshop; rings, Lia Sophia; shoes, Walter Steiger)

Let’s just start with the question that’s on everyone’s minds: the big chop. We fell in love with the cut right away. We wanted to shoot you before the cut, but we were really excited when we saw it because we could really get fashion-y.

I guess you just go through different phases in your life. I was pretty much at the point where I needed the change and I needed to focus my energy on more productive arenas. I was putting too much into my appearance and I needed to make this about growth and going to the next stage of my life. I felt like I was being distracted by something as simple as hair. I’ve always been really fearless about change. I’ve cut my hair the same way when I was 16 and again when I was 18. This was my third time.

I saw a picture. That was really cool. I didn’t know you had done it three times.
Yeah, the picture that I supposedly Photo-shopped (laughs). A friend of mine was like ‘People are so stupid. I read somewhere that it was recent and you Photo-shopped the color.’ I was like ‘Yeah, because it’s that crucial.’

Because you have nothing better to do, right?

One thing that’s kind of been confusing me is that I keep hearing people say ‘Oh, great you’re going natural.’ Does that mean weave-free or does that mean perm-free? Because I haven’t had a perm since I was 13. It’s interesting how much hair plays a role in your life and character and schedule. I remember when I was 13 I went through my ‘I-am-Miss-Natural, incense-burning, Bob Marley-playing, only-vintage-shop-wearing Solange.’ So of course that included cutting my perm off, being a Vegan. I didn’t quite understand yet that my hair did not define me. Then I remember being 16 and being like ‘Okay, I can still be smart and I can still have the same beliefs that I have, but I did not have to have red Rasta braids. I can do that with straight hair. I can do that with a ‘fro. I can do that with a weave down to my butt.’ That was when I first cut my hair off. When I was 18 I got a hot flash because I was pregnant with [Julez] and I was like ‘It’s hot as hell so I’m cutting this shit off.’ But this time it was definitely more so about the growth and the energy and the time I was spending. It was about to be summer, and I didn’t want to have to worry about swimming or going to the park with my son or how hair was going to fit into my life. It was too much.

Obviously, it’s a different reaction with you because of who you are, but have you found that you’re received differently by the general public than you are with the long hair? How does the outside world treat you?
The first picture of me when I cut it off — I had no idea that there was any photography going on. I was looking like someone taking their kid to school at 7 o’clock in the morning in jeans and a top and no makeup on, no earrings, no nothing. That reaction was very harsh, very negative. I think it was the initial thought of change in someone that freaked everyone out. As a society we equate beauty with the images that have been placed in front of us since we were little kids. Every Disney movie, every fairy tale, every pop star typically has a certain aesthetic and look. I think that anytime we see something different, it freaks us out. The more people warmed up to it, and they saw more images of me with it and dressed up with my earrings and a little something, something on my face, I think then people were more willing to conform and accept it. Now, it’s interesting how the first day I had it, I had nothing but negative, evil, cruel things in my inbox and then yesterday [after Oprah aired] I had 300,000 people saying ‘Oh my God, you looked amazing, so beautiful, and you made us proud.’ People were able to hear my reasoning, which is good and bad because we should be able to just express ourselves.

Do you even care? Does it bother you at all?
Obviously not (laughs). I knew what the reaction would be before it happened. I’ve always been in-tune with what physically and emotionally makes me happy. I was that little girl that wanted to wear the tutu and tap shoes as my nanny is sitting next to me shaking her head ‘Yes, yes.’ All through high school I got made fun of because of what I wore and what music I listened to, so this is just junior high for me all over again. I don’t care, and I don’t think I ever will because at the end of the day, these are not the people who are going to be there to change a flat tire or who help you in ways that you really need it. This is a really fickle and materialistic and narcissistic industry. I try not to put too much into that because it will eat you alive. The people that I love and that I really care about — their opinions matter. Those are the people that have nothing but positive things to say.

(faux fur coat, Topshop; tank, American Apparel; necklace, Custo Barcelona; leggings, Christopher Kane for Topshop; rings, Lia Sophia; shoes, Walter Steiger)

Let’s talk about the Honey shoot, you coming in and seeing all those crazy clothes that you fell in love with. How was your experience shooting with us?
It was amazing. You guys had the best energy of a shoot to me — I was just talking about it last night on Twitter. I really admire and study and respect the brilliance of fashion. I don’t live, breathe, eat, drink and depend on fashion to be more than what it is. I think when you have that frame of mind you really can go there. You really have no resignations about putting looks together that are just fun and fearless and that’s what you guys provided and allowed me to do so I was really happy.

Good. Who’s closet would you raid if you had the chance to do it?
Probably Björk. It would be a tie between her and Grace [Jones], but I think I’d have to go with Björk because over the years there have been so many different phases and extremes and color. I am a person who loves color and I think it’s the most beautiful backdrop for life.

You talked a little bit about your stages for fashion and philosophy but what would you say this stage is in your style evolution? What are you looking toward for spring 2010?

I think right now, I’m learning how to incorporate completely different extremes as to my last record, it was just like an overstimulation of extremes, which I love. Now, I’m learning how to have one more simple extreme or one more statement extreme, and learning how to blend those together. But you probably will still see me rocking animal print as I did the other day. Someone cracked up laughing and was like ‘Where the hell do you think you’re going with flannel, leopard and stripes?’ I was like ‘I’m going to tackle my day.’

(sweater, Topshop; boots, Cesare Paciotti)

I love it. Let’s talk about Julez. We are big fans of your Twitter here. A lot of your conversations revolve around your experience as a mother, your son, and your family. I think that it’s really cool to see a young mom still being herself, taking care of her child, and sharing these hilarious stories with us.
Thank you.

Do you have any advice to industry moms in particular, or just young working moms who still want to be themselves?
I think balance is the essential key to motherhood. I think it’s a really hard rhythm to find, but if you learn how to capture it, it makes the rewards so beautiful. I try not to ever be away from him unless he’s with his dad. We have equal custody, so we work together on it, but it definitely gets hard when I have all these opportunities coming at me. I have to say no to a lot of things because at the end of the day I know that no matter how many awards or accolades or praise or money I get, the one thing that really is a judgment of me is what kind of mother I am. A lot of people feel like their life has to stop because of the child, and they have to let go of their interests. You definitely have to compromise some of them, but I’ve been really blessed. When I went to see Grace Jones, Julez was right there with me. Julez is right there with me when I go for my bike rides. And when I go on tour, he’s with me. And I feel so blessed to be in the position to do that.

Does he realize when he’s doing these things that Mommy’s not the average mommy — going on tour, going to do this and that.
He does now. I don’t think he realized it in the beginning, but the good thing is that he’s humble about it. If I ever see that he’s not, he will get snapped back before he can blink his eyes.

(Laughs) I don’t doubt that. During the shoot, you said a lot of people ask about your dad and make that assumption that he’s the strict one and you said it’s really your mom who doesn’t play.
It’s interesting that people think that my dad is the one who’s all strict. They build up quite a character with that guy, and at the end of the day it’s my mom who’s going to give you the neck roll.

How is it in your immediate family? Do you play the role of disciplinarian? Because you guys split custody. Is it defined in that same way?
It definitely has its challenges because there are some things that I’m a lot more strict about. I won’t let him own a video game. No TV in the bedroom — he can only watch a few hours a day. I’m really strict about what he eats. He comes back and tells me these stories about the Wii, and I have to be like ‘It’s just a Wii, calm down.’ I think it’s a good balance. I feel really good that we’re able to do it together because there are some things that I don’t understand, and as much as I try to get out there and throw the football, I always get hit in the head with it.

(blouse, vintage Versace; leggings, Custo Barcelona; all jewelry, Lia Sophia; shoes, Walter Steiger)
It sounds like you guys have a good situation worked out there. I have to ask about dating. How’s that going?
It’s going… umm… that is definitely where I become the typical industry girl that says…

I’m married to my work!
(Laughs) I’ve been in this game way too long to expose that part because even if you have something good, it can be criticized and massacred, dissected. It may even start tension that wasn’t there. It’s really easy to assume with this new-age blog thing and Twittering. It’s just a tough situation.

Well, speaking of assumptions. I think a lot of people have been zeroing in on Twitter convos between you and a certain Mr. Wale, automatically linking the two of you together. Then we see Central Park photos…

Whether we’re rooting for it or not… we just want to know.
Well, he’s definitely not my boyfriend.

Well, we can cross that off the list.
No, I just stated that he’s not my boyfriend, but we are good friends. I have worked with him in the past and I think he’s uber-talented. I think he’s really smart and really creative. And I respect his art. We have a mutual thing. We’re on the same record label and yeah…

We’re really excited about his album.
Yeah, I am, too.

I’m wondering can we expect any Solange appearances?
No, we had a song entitled “Fuck the Industry.”

Yes, one of our faves.
But no, we don’t have a song on each other’s record. We worked together on the VMAs. That went really well. We were trying to find the damn footage. Everyone only got to see a sni… not a snippet, I call it a ‘sni’.

(blouse, vintage Versace; leggings, Custo Barcelona; all jewelry, Lia Sophia; shoes, Walter Steiger)

Your album is critically acclaimed and I’m wondering how much you care about what the critics think. What kind of sales expectations, if any, did you have? Are you happy with the album?
I mostly feel proud that I literally, everyday, come in contact with somebody who was affected by my music because it was so personal and honest. I can’t even explain to you how many people are like, ‘I have a “T.O.N.Y.”’ I’ve had people tell me they used “I Decided” in their wedding. Those are the moments where I feel really proud that I followed my heart and made something that I was really proud of instead of conforming to expectations. There were definitely fights along the way about not getting the radio or video support, but I would much rather be in a marketplace full of really smart, intellectual, and cultured young people who I can grow with. I feel like I can have a longer lasting and less gimmicky and for-the-moment response. It makes me feel very secure in my career, because I know I make music that may not matter to an astounding number of people, but the people that it does matter to are more like me. They have the same interest as me. They are people who want to be exposed to different things. I feel really good being in that space. It was never my intention to have this huge commercial success because otherwise, I would have made other kinds of records. I know how to write pop [and radio] records. I’ve written them for other people. But that isn’t the music that inspires me. It isn’t the music that I feel good about performing or that makes me want to get up and push every morning and be in 10,000 cities in one month promoting. I think people are the ones to put expectations on you. I never really put expectations on myself. I know that it’s a business and the record label has to make a profit from it. I understand that side of things, but at the end of the day it was always my goal to do exactly what I was able to do. That makes me feel really good.

I think that’s why people are so dedicated to your music. The people that are fans are hardcore.
They are. That’s what I’m saying. I would rather have that than make a record that I know will be cool for a short period of time but those fans will move on from the trendy, pop sound when it changes.

(dress, vintage Patrick Kelly; shoes, Walter Steiger; rings, Lia Sophia)
Now, you have your new album.
Yes, I’m working on it now.

I’m assuming you’re going in a new direction or at least evolving with your sound.
I am definitely evolving. The interesting thing about my record is that I did it so long ago. I started writing and experimenting with that sound when I moved to Idaho. It took a few years before it actually came out. By that time I still loved it. It was definitely a concept record. I was really inspired by the ’60s and ’70s sound, mixed with electronic sounds and how to mash those together. With this record I am experimenting more with a really interesting mix of music. My describing it probably sounds crazy but I’m kind of working with tribal, Native American drums and mashing them with weird ’80s and blues. I have been exposed to so many different great forms of music. It’s definitely going to be an experimental album. I’m working with so many great people on this record, so many different bands and musicians.

Can you name a few of them?
I’ve been working with Kevin Barnes from of Montreal, an incredible band. I’m about six songs in and maybe four of them will make it. I’m still establishing the sound, but what I’m really focusing on is doing everything independently. I’ve been A&R-ing the project and staying on top of the budgets. I’ve been producing myself, and learning the backside of making the record financially because I didn’t do as much of that the last record. I really want to be in a place where I feel no pressure with my record sales. I really just want to have the experimental space to make a record that if 30,000 people like it, I’ll feel really proud — even more than the last one. There are so many adventurous artists — a good friend of mine, Janelle Monae, who’s incredible, and Santigold and some of the more popular indie artists who are opening up the doors to people’s ears. I feel good about it. I hope that people are able to take this journey with me because it is a lot different than the last record.

Is there anyone that you want to work with that you have not had the pleasure of working with yet for your own music? I hate asking this question because it’s so cliché but I feel like you would give us a cool list of people.
Yeah! It’s a crazy list. I want to work with Grizzly Bear. The thing is, I’m really wanting to — I’m so super honest, I probably shouldn’t even say this — but there’s a lot people I want to work with but they charge an arm and a leg. There are so many talented kids around that are so experimental. I would love to work with Pharrell or Kanye West because I think they’re incredibly talented. They could probably go as left as they want to and I would be that artist that would say, ‘I don’t care.’ I want to work with a lot of lesser known bands. I work with a guy, Theophilus London, who’s sort of like a rapper, but he does a lot of Afro-beats. There are so many great people now, I’m really excited to get in [the studio] even if doesn’t work out, just being able to get in there and experiment. It’s a great feeling.

(dress, vintage Christian Dior; all jewelry, Lia Sophia; shoes, Walter Steiger)

Five words to describe yourself?
Water, blood, melanin, bones, and ... vajajay.

Five words that the public would use to describe you?
The general perception is that I am crazy, maybe? That I am attention-seeking. But I think everyone can say that I’m smart. At least I think I come across smart. I don’t really know (laughs) because I don’t really care.

What is your favorite hangover cure?
I’m typically one of those people who’s never hung over. I really try to be responsible with my drinking. I just kind of deal with it.

Would you describe yourself as a rebel?

I think we covered all of the bases. Thank you so much! Let us know about the album.
Of course. Thank you so much for all of the support and representing black women in a more diverse way. Ya’ll do a great job of that.


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