Janelle Monae is in Love with A Robot: The New Gay Interview
Cooly androgynous and overwhelmingly cinematic, Janelle Monae‘s style and music have never been at odds. The Kansas City native’s 2007 concept album Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase began the story of a community of androids, and this May’s upcoming The ArchAndroid will continue with suites II and III as Monae’s alterego Cindi Mayweather becomes a surrogate messiah for the city’s residents. This frenetically high-polished genre-hopping often calls to mind the peaks of Outkast’s career, so it is fitting that Monae’s newest single Tightrope features guest turns from Big Boi.
For those who missed out on her ongoing tour, or are eager to hear more Monae-lian pearls of wisdom, the below interview will hopefully last until she makes it back to a city near you.
Zack Rosen: How would you describe own musical style?
Janelle Monae: That’s something I don’t even know myself, I’m still asking myself every day. It’s very organic and free, I will say that much. And it’s growing.
ZR: It seems like everyone has some kind of opinion on the matter, though. How do you feel about trying to be boxed, genre wise?
JM: That’s very natural, as people always try to categorize. If we love it, we want to find as many adjetives to describe it as possible. It makes us feel smarter if we can pull out influences, like “I know what that is, it’s a square or a circle.” I don’t get caught up in it, I just create arts and describe it as I want. It’s a free country, that’s how I think of this.
ZR: I think as you continue to make music there will be a tug of war for you between the indie and hip hop communities…
JM: When you’re the writer and creator of something you don’t have time, you focus on ideas. I think it’s cute. I’m flattered by it, I think people mean well. That’s all I can really say about it.
ZR: Then that’s the last I’ll ask about it. Let’s talk about the world of Archandroid instead. Is it a comment on the world of pop music creating these interchangeable androids?
JM:Depending on how you look at things and how things are going in your life. I’m just intrigued with the unknown, and I like androids. I’m fascinated with them. I think there are lots of parallels, humans and andriods, Metropolis, archangels. I like to leave it up to the listener and imagination to pull out what they think this piece of work is saying to them.
ZR: What about your androgynous style, does that come from the same love of the unknown?
JM: I’m attracted to a classic look, one I don’t deem as male or female. I try not to categorize it. We can just know what we love and we like and not worry about what it means and all those things. I don’t even think about that.
ZR: What are you attracted to in people?
JM: I love when I’m surrounded by very fearless individuals that don’t worry too much about how others may perceive them, their artistic vision or sexual orientation. I like people who are aware of stereptypes but they don’t care too much about it and they live their life very free. I like givers, lovers, imaginative minds. I just really like artists.
ZR: How do you identify in terms of sexual orientation?
JM: I’m actually attracted to androids.
ZR: Ok, then. What movies went into creating Janelle Monae? Your videos and music have very cinematic influences.
JM: We are deeply inspired by Disney, especially the collaboration with Dali. Star Wars, John Williams, we do love to think of the music as an emotion picture, a cinematic experience for the mind. Alfred Hitchock helped inspire that, then Metroplis. That spoke to us in so manay ways to create an album dealing with those parallels.
ZR: As someone interested in doing things differently, do you find you have a big queer following?
JM: Absolutely, those are the cool people I love being around and that’s awesome. I haven’t really thought about it, i look at people as people, not “Oh, he’s queer.” What is queer, what does that mean? I don’t believe in categories. I respect people for who they are, I’m attracted to that more than anything
ZR: Are you dating anyone right now?
JM: I was in a relatioshp with an android who could not gather all his thoughts together, I had to dump him. Now I’m focused on the Archandroid, that’s really it right now.
ZR: Anything else you wanna tell all our readers?
JM: Let love always be the undertone in your life. And I am just excited to have your support, thanks for really believing in me at the beginning of my career. I hope to meet you all soon and give you so much of me that you’ll feel compelled to give and return to others. TNG
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