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Q&A: Janelle Monae on new album, Prince, therapy

 
 
Monae
Monae
Jason Kempin / Getty Images for BET

Janelle Monae is riding the high of a happy buzz. The Electric Lady is doing better than her wildest dreams.

The album charted at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 and at No. 3 on Billboard’s Top R&B and Hip-Hop albums in September. Come December, she will be honored with Billboard’s Rising Star Award.

Catch the Kansas City native in action at the Fillmore Miami Beach Saturday night.

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

The latest album (co-executive produced by Diddy and Big Boi of OutKast) is a departure for the 27-year-old, who collaborates with Prince ( Givin Em What They Love), Miguel ( Primetime) and Ery kah Badu ( Q.U.E.E.N.) on the 19-track set.

The Atlanta resident recently talked to the Associated Press:

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 “The Electric Lady”?

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 disassemble her.

Are you Cindi?

We share the same DNA.

Who influenced the album?

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.

How did you come up with the songs?

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.

Were you in therapy for a specific reason?

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.

How long have you been in therapy?

Since I was a 1-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.

What was it like to work with Prince?

It was very organic. Prince … reached out to me when I released Metropo lis … 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 [ Sean Combs] 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.’

You’re sticking to your black-and-white fashion style, but your hair is straight in the “Dance Apocalyptic” music video. What happened?

That wasn’t me. That was probably Electric Lady 57821. Lots of clones.

Tickets: LiveNation.com

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