this interview is straight from honeymag.com:
Honey Magazine: What was the inspiration for the “Tightrope” video?
Janelle Monáe: The song is about balance. I’m an artist and I think it’s important that we don’t think too high or too low about anything, whether it’s praise or critical advice. Everyone thinks they’re a critic. I wanted to empower individuals but in a fun and funky way. Not a preachy type of way. We had a lot of fun shooting the video. It takes place at the Palace of the Doges. I’ve heard great things about this place, Jimi Hendrix [and] Charlie Parker [performed] there. I got the opportunity to go there and really study the vibe. This was a time when dancing was forbidden, so I re-enacted a particular rebellious scene that happened. You will get more narratives of my experience at the Palace of Doges as we continue to finish the visuals. It’s an introduction to what it was like staying at this historical building.
The feel of the video portrayed the vibe at your listening experience in NYC. Did you conceptualize the event?
I have a wonderful team at my record label, which I co-founded, The Wonderland Arts Society. They’re very smart thinkers, forward thinkers, survivals, artists — from visual art to performance art. We try to help preserve that and come with new content and ideas. We look to the past for inspirations but really focus on the future, using our super powers for good. We all sit at round tables and discuss ways to reintroduce music to the world, transforming music and experiences. We like to think of what we do not just as one event. We want people to experience and be moved, so they can remember that experience for the rest of their lives. We think of the album as an emotional adventure for the mind, just coining new terminology and allowing the listener to be taken on a journey. As artists, it’s our responsibility to take people on a journey. We have the opportunity to see things that the everyday person cannot see. We see beauty and we see art in so many things and we have the opportunity to share in it in a thought provoking and clever way and hopefully they can be more inspired.
Where did the inspiration for the cloaked guys and mirrored faces come from? Was it the Yeasayer video?
No, I did see that video but I’ve had that idea for a long time. I thought it represented a significant idea. Sometimes when we see ourselves, we are scared of ourselves and we run away and hide. Some people are afraid of the mirror cause they are afraid of themselves, but I’m not.
I can’t help but compare this time for you to the moment when OutKast crossed over. The world was ready for something different and it feels like we’re experiencing that with you. Do you feel that way at all?
I know I’ve grown. I was at a boarding house with five girls in Atlanta, GA. I was playing in dorm lounges. I wouldn’t get paid for anything, I just wanted my music out there. I was pressing my own CDs independently. I know I started off as a little seed and I am growing as a flower. I’m just getting started and I feel like I was preparing myself. It’s like taking a hiking trip up a mountain. You condition yourself. You eat properly. You go shopping for food and essentials that you need. You get yourself together spiritually; you get your endurance together. That’s what I felt like I was doing all these years. I needed that time to grow; I needed that time to understand myself and appreciate myself and to be more confident in myself as an artist and a person. And to understand my superpowers more.
Has the sound of your music changed significantly?
I wouldn’t say my music has changed significantly. I’ve always been a music lover of great albums: Stevie Wonder’s Music of Mind, Innervisions, to David Bowie. It’s always been in me to pull from these inspirations and to come up with something unique and to pull from myself. I just needed time to find that, and in terms of actually putting what was in my head and mind, to see that come to fruition is a beautiful moment. It was always in me. I just had to test the water, be safe, don’t jump in, put your feet in and see how cold the water is. Now it’s time to do back flips and handstands.
Describe the sound of the new album?
I like to think of my music as very trans-formative. If you listen to the album from the beginning to the end, you will be transformed. It’s an album that’s deals with self-realization as well. You start to realize things about yourself you didn’t know. One big emotional picture for the mind.
Take us through one of your typical days.
It’s hard to imagine myself not working on any art. I do enjoy Tim Burton, so I do enjoy him and I like watching his movies. Edward Scissor-hands is one of my favorite movies. I draw inspirations from Nightmare Before Christmas. I am a visual artist as well, so I enjoy painting and I enjoy getting in touch with my spiritual side a lot. And I like riding horses, I haven’t gone in a long time but I do enjoy that. I love laughing, I enjoy eating candy, I love reading, from George Orwell’s 1984 to listening to a Brave New World by Aldous Huxley on audio book. I enjoy feeding myself knowledge when I’m not recording, I enjoy learning and expanding my mind a little more and doing things that are therapeutic for me. I love my family; I love talking to my mom, my sister and my nephew.
What does your closet look like? Is the tux really your daily uniform?
Exactly like that. I bathe in it, I swim in it, and I could be buried in it. A tux is such a standard uniform, it’s so classy and it’s a lifestyle I enjoy. The tux keeps me balanced. I look at myself as a canvas. I don’t want to cloud myself with too many colors or I’ll go crazy. It’s an experiment I’m doing. I think I want to be in the Guinness Book of World Records.
What does your creative space look like?
My creative space is the headquarters for The Wonderland Arts Society. We have floating bookshelves, green grass, very beautiful pianos that we write songs on. We have lots of fish mounted on the wall, more importantly we just have really interesting people. It’s a headquarters for artists, who have super powers. We come up and try ideas. We wear black and white and we try to lead by example and try to change the world. It’s a very peaceful environment. Sometimes when we create music it gets very rowdy, it feels like an African tribe. When your artist, you don’t go home, you stay and you create all day and night.
Do you find time to date?
I do. I think that love is very beautiful and it’s an energy that I love having. I do date and I do have someone that I love. Someone that understands me very well and encourages me to be the best person and artist I can be. I couldn’t ask for a better android.
Describe how you felt when Diddy approached you?
Big Boi from OutKast called me and said that Diddy was trying to get in touch with me. He said that [Diddy] loved what I was doing online. During that time I was releasing my own material independently, so he flew down to my release party and saw my performance. He said “Whatever it is that you need me to do from a business standpoint to a promotions standpoint, I will do.” He said he loved the art that I was creating and he just wanted more people to know about it. And he was a man of his word. It’s a partnership. I already have a record label, my team. We are self- contained, so that was the one thing that worked with us to be able to creatively remain in control. I don’t have any horror stories; I think he is a wonderful guy, very supportive. He is a believer and I love him for that. He is an Archandroid.
Were you surprised that Diddy took interest?
There was a part of me that says why wasn’t he? I don’t think he is a stupid guy at all, very smart.
What are your plans for album, The ArchAndroid?
We are shooting a video for every song on the album, The ArchAndroid. We are creating a very strong narrative. We have a graphic novel coming out at the time of the release. This is a very special project. I’m very excited about the future and I have no idea what is in store.
Any plans for other artists on the compound?
We have screenwriters, authors, and graphic designers. Deep Cotton, will be out very soon. I’m excited about them. They are a duo. They wear tuxedos, and they have life changing music. I’m excited to see them blossom. You will be exposed to everyone in our collective.
What new artists are you feeling?
Montreal, Solange, Erykah Badu, Deep Cotton, George 2.0. A lot of Atlanta artists that I want to expose to the world. I like listening to artists who care about the art and aren’t concerned about who is watching them.