Solange, a multi-faceted artistic force to be reckoned with, has been mostly in the shadows for the last year. Aside from performing at Coachella with her lesser known sister and promoting her upcoming line with IKEA (because the range of her talent knows no bounds), she’s been idly lurking on social media, providing us with some light poetry and a few sudden performances whenever the urge strikes.
She invited T Magazine to her light-filled, hole-in-the-wall studio in Los Angeles to give us a few updates. First and foremost, what we can expect from her upcoming, yet to be named album—set for fall 2019:
The record will be warm, she says, fluid and more sensual than her last one.
Wait, there’s more:
“There is a lot of jazz at the core,” she emailed me a few days after our meeting. “But with electronic and hip-hop drum and bass because I want it to bang and make your trunk rattle.” The sound and feel of the album are set in her mind, but this project, so close to being finished, is still very much in progress — and will be until the very end. “I like to be able to tell the story in 13 different ways, then I like to edit,” she says of her process.
But when, exactly, will it drop?
The album’s release is imminent this fall, probably sometime soon. But, even within this studio, Solange keeps these details close: The record will likely arrive into the world fully formed at some mysterious and unexpected moment, like a meteor cratering into the culture. But she will not be rushed.
Relax, everyone: it’s coming! And yes, she gets nervous too. On her trepidation when it comes to releasing new music:
“I have this fear living in my body about releasing work,” she says. “I don’t know any artist that doesn’t feel that before they hit the send button.”
On her commitment to honoring the greats that came before her:
“There are people before me who have done the work,” she finally responds. “Grace Jones did performance art and navigated between those worlds decades before I was even a thought.”
So, she’s been spending some time leaning on some of the greats she admires in preparation for her next iteration of self, and to continue to grow as the self-titled performance artist she is, and in an effort to continue “activating” spaces, as she told Billboard earlier this year.
Her instructors are wide-ranging and eclectic: Joni Mitchell, in whom Solange found lessons in balancing a career as a musician with the demands of visual creation (Mitchell’s first, never abandoned love was painting); Missy Elliott, whose music videos are genre-defying and imagistically striking. Solange is drawing sonic inspiration from the ’90s singer Aaliyah, the experimental 20th-century musician and composer Sun Ra, the ’60s psychedelic soul band Rotary Connection and Stevie Wonder’s 1979 album “Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants.”
When it comes to her personal life, and the layers beyond the personal depth that her music and work provides—particularly when it comes to the earlier days of her career:
She herself has not commented on these aspects of her life, making it clear that we will not know what happened, exactly, or even the extent to which she wanted to make that first album when she did. These are family matters. And perhaps it is none of our business.
Yup, perhaps!!! Now, I’m going to go listen to A Seat at the Table and attempt to relive the experience that was seeing her live in my head until her new music drops and takes us to an alternate universe once more.