It’s been a journey getting to where Solange is now, and it appears each stepping stone proved to be a building block in creating the artist we’ve all come to revere.
For the 2018 Greats issue of the New York Time’s T Magazine, writer Ayana Mathis sat down with the singer, songwriter and activist to discuss everything from her humble beginnings to her next album. Here, we highlight some takeaways from their conversation, which can be read in full here.
Grab your physical copy on Oct. 21.
The Recording Process for This Album Is Similar to that of A Seat at the Table.
Mathis met Solange at her Los Angeles mixing studio, which was far from the “full-throttle celebrity glamour” she expected. Instead, she stepped out of her car and was guided through your everyday lawn—and then, she stepped inside.
“The glossy studio of my imagination is instead a sparsely furnished room with white wooden floors and white clapboard walls,” Mathis writes. “Solange, 32, rises and greets me, not with the cool magnanimity of a mononym, but as one curious soul encountering another, one black woman meeting another. She has come to this spare, meditative place to put the final touches on her album.”
Sound familiar? That’s because Solange took a similar approach to recording ASATT. Check out behind-the-scenes footage from that album’s recording sessions, which were also minimalist, relaxed, and lowkey.
While Her Sister Was Rising to Fame with Destiny’s Child, Solange Aspired to Be a Dancer.
Solange revealed to Mathis that her dream was to go to Julliard.
“Dance was her first aspiration and introduction to performance,” Mathis shares. “As a child, she spent hours watching clips of Allen on the ’80s television show Fame. She went to see Lauren Anderson — one of the first Black ballerinas to become a principal dancer in a major company — glissade across the stage at the Houston Ballet.”
You may recall Solange touring with Destiny’s Child back in the day.
An Injury Sparked Her Music Career.
A year into touring with Destiny’s Child, Solange tore her meniscus. She used her healing time to pen some songs, “which ‘came out of a need to express another facet that my body couldn’t,” as she describes.
She Was Exposed to Visual Art at a Young Age.
According to Mathis, “Solange’s first exposure was in the Knowles home: Her mother is an avid collector of work by African-American artists; her holdings include work by the 20th-century Abstract Expressionist Romare Bearden and the Harlem Renaissance sculptor Elizabeth Catlett.”
She also visited the Menil Collection regularly. Yes, the same Menil Collection that would later exhibit her “SCALES” performance piece.
She Wrote Most of the Songs on Her First Album, Solo Star.
And while critics weren’t thrilled by the album, it proved to be a major stepping stone for Solange. For one, she realized what kind of artist she didn’t want to be. For two, it gave her a taste of artistic freedom, opening the door for later projects like True and, of course, the acclaimed ASATT.
ASATT Is Her “Punk Album”.
“I constantly called it my punk album because it was like, this is my time to shake things up and be loud,” Solange told Mathis.
Let’s revisit “F.U.B.U.,” shall we?