Solange Discusses Her Writing Process, Style and Upcoming Museum Tour With Kimberly Drew


Our beloved boss lady Solange Knowles continues to blaze her own trail while using her music, style and grace to navigate the spaces in which she feels the most free. Since the release of her Grammy award winning album, A Seat at the Table, we have seen Solange stretch beyond the limitations that are often placed on Black creatives. In other words, she reminds us all why the caged bird sings.

At this year’s Coachella, Solo and her band mates ditched the trendy, hippie attire and opted for monotone colors and fabrics that flowed almost as smoothly and freely as their harmonies. She also traded in the traditional stage for an intimate waterfront view at the Reebok Classics Crib event. After her performance, Knowles joined Kimberly Drew, the creator of the Black Contemporary Art Tumblr and current social media manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to discuss her musings. Its evident that Solange’s creativity transcends traditional boundaries, but many cannot help but wonder where all of these ideas stem from. View a few highlights from her discussion with Drew below.

On the process of writing A Seat at the Table:

“For this album, I went to my grandmother’s birth town and Iberia, Louisiana. In terms of the writing process, it was a hell of a journey. It was draining at times, and I lost perspective and context many times. I’m also a mother, and so I don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘I’m going to go away and write this album.’ I had to be conscientious about both of our times. That is something I wish more female/women/mother artists would talk about; that balance is really difficult.”

On combining her passions:

In this generation and climate, it’s much more acceptable and encouraged for artists to be able to say, ‘Hey if I’m good at another thing, why can’t I try it, explore it, and have hiccups?’ I think one of the things I’m most proud of in myself is that I’m okay to fail in front of the world; I’m okay to make mistakes and get back up and try again. You have to have that attitude when you want to experiment with different mediums.

On developing her own style and voice at a young age:

I grew up in a house with three older sisters. Kelly Rowland moved in when I was 5, so my sister had a built-in best friend and that was just really unfair to me. And then my first cousin Angie, who I call my sister, also moved in and she was ten years older than me. So I was always really trying to make sure that my voice and my perspective was heard in a house of four older girls, two of which were BFFs and in a band together. Looking back, I hear these stories that even at 2 I was doing the most. But I do think that part of that was me trying to communicate and carve out a way to be heard.

On styling the costumes for her festival shows and museum tour:

I’m touring two shows this spring/summer/fall, and one takes place in museum lobbies. For me, Donald Judd‘s idea that we take on our surroundings as a part of the art itself really, really punctured me in the way that I look at performance art. It’s really rare that an artist gets to perform in daylight, unless it’s at a festival. So I really wanted to play with creating a strong color palette. I’ve been playing around with a lot of neutral tones since the record came out and Issey Miyake has been a huge influence. We’re also wearing a lot of Phillip Lim and really comfortable, moveable fabrics. On stage, I’ve really been empowered by the color red. I think it’s associated, especially with women, as this fiery, super volatile, and strong-willed color. Almost stubborn, if you will. So we’re wearing all-red for our festival shows and playing with the lighting for all the moods red can express. Color theory is this really nerdy side of me that I’ve been wanting to explore more of.

On embracing the weight of her influence:

I remember when I first cut my hair, women would come up to me all the time and say, ‘You inspired me to cut my hair and go natural.’ The weight that that put on me and the weight that I possessed—I internalized a lot of that. It was really a journey for me to appreciate and love that, and embrace it and learn how to deal with it. Even with this album, it was really a concern for me: Can I handle the weight of what this might mean to people, the good and the bad?

Check out the full interview here via W Magazine.

Photography Credit: J. A. Bilhan

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