In the four years since her last album Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams was released, Solange has parted ways with Interscope Records, found love with music video director Alan Ferguson, become an aunt to Blue Ivy, and recorded a brilliant new EP True. The 7-track collection, a collaboration with British composer Devonté “Dev” Hynes (Blood Orange), has been receiving rave reviews since its release last month.
Rap-Up.com caught up with Solange and Dev at a listening session for their EP in Los Angeles. In our exclusive interview, the 26-year-old singer chats about her return to music, new label, next album, and what her big sis Beyoncé thinks of her new sound.
How long did the recording process take?
Solange: We actually started roughly two years ago. But I really do think that the first six months was just about establishing the sound and making it a cohesive project because we probably worked on about 30 songs.
Dev: I don’t know if any of them are on True… “Locked in Closets” is. “Don’t Let Me Down” I think was the first time, just us together with no one else really around, like actually just working on a song.
How did you connect with Dev?
Solange: Dev produced “Flying Overseas” for Theophilus London. Theophilus called me and I was actually coming from the beach with my son, and he told me that he was working on this really amazing record and that he wanted me to be a part of it. I came over fresh from the beach with my son. I didn’t have a babysitter or anything. I explained to Theo like, “I don’t have a sitter. I don’t know if I could do it,” and he was like, “No, you have to. The record is that good.” So I came over and it was just one of those things where I met Dev, I heard the music, and I think in any friendship, relationship, working relationship, there’s just a chemistry that’s there or it isn’t and it was definitely there.
Did you always intend for True to be an EP?
Solange: We were in Santa Barbara, which is the first place that we started to work. We were just kinda experimenting with different sounds and different sonics and different collaborators. There were other producers who were working with us as well and it just became really clear to me that the music me and Dev were creating together was very special, and from then I just transitioned into wanting Dev to produce the record.
You were in the studio with Pharrell at one point.
Solange: I worked with a few different producers on a much different sound and a different project, which will still see the light of day.
Dev: There are songs that she recorded with different people that are my favorite songs. There’s a lot that could come out.
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ influence can be heard on True. Was that your intention?
Solange: That was definitely the musical space that we were in. I know at the time I was listening to a lot of SOS Band and Chaka Khan, the records that were produced by Jimmy Jam. I think the part of that that really inspired both of us is that these were really, really great solid pop songs that made you feel great, but they were still very interesting and they had very intricate nuances that made them really special. I think that was a huge source of inspiration for us.
Do you have a favorite track?
Solange: I think “Don’t Let Me Down” is my favorite because it really encompasses a few different elements for me that are really personal. When I was writing the song, I was just thinking about a certain space in my relationship. And what’s really interesting about the record is that, previous to Dev coming and being a part of it, I was having a pretty difficult time writing because it was my first time writing in a space of content and being in a settled and stable relationship. Pretty much all of my other writing experiences were coming from a place of sadness or anger or confusion, and so that song is really special because it was in my own little way being able to express that but it still has a hint of confusion to it as well.
Dev: I think either “Losing You,” “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work,” and “Don’t Let Me Down.”
Are you going to tour?
Solange: We are. Not very aggressive touring because my son’s in school now and I really try to create an infrastructure of stability and being there. But we are going to do some spot dates. We’re gonna do shows in New York, London, Paris, and Berlin in a couple of weeks.
You mentioned that you are working on another project…
Solange: There’s just so much material that I started to work on and started to write and started to develop that was never completed and sonically it is a very different sound from [True], but it’s something that I definitely want to explore a little bit more. However it comes out, it will come out.
You’re now on Terrible Records. Is the next album going to be released through Terrible as well?
Solange: More than likely yes.
What made you sign with an indie coming from a major label like Interscope?
Solange: I think I just wanted the easiest approach and I wanted to just get the music out there as easiest and as most pleasant as it could be. I know that just based off this week alone and four years ago when I put out a record, the release week has just been night and day, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we’re all friends. [Terrible Records co-founder] Ethan [Silverman] is a really good friend of mine; he has been for four years now and it just felt natural and easy and fun. It’s really such a fun experience for us all to be here together and all kinda embark on this journey together. Everybody who is pretty much involved with this project from the video director to the photographer, we’re all just friends and it just makes it a much more pleasant experience.
What does your son Julez think of the music?
Solange: Julez texted me earlier. It made me feel like no matter what happens with this record I have won. He basically said he was very proud of me and he loves the album and that he’s so happy that I’m his mom—more valuable than anything else I could experience in this process.
Have you played the record for Beyoncé?
Solange: I have. She actually came to the listening party that we had in New York and she’s been an incredible support for me embarking on this for two years. There’s been a lot of ups and a lot of downs and it’s just great to have that support and sisterhood, especially with someone who understands what it feels like to be an artist and all of the things that go along with that. It’s been wonderful.
Do you still listen to what’s on the radio?
Solange: Oh yeah, for sure.
Any hip-hop stuff?
Solange: I love [Kendrick Lamar’s] “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.”
Dev: I love “m.A.A.d city.”
Solange: Pretty much hip-hop is all we listen to. Dev is an awesome DJ and he pretty much traps us all out for very long periods of time [laughs].
True is now available on iTunes. A physical release will follow in January.