Everything about Janelle Monáe rocks. She even wears the same outfit every day. The Kansas-born, Atlanta-based R&B musician with a distinctive voice and musical style is described something like the female vibe of Andre 3000 meets the entertaining powerhouse of Sean Combs with mega moves like James Brown. Far left? No, she’s just right. Monáe is the fiercest android on the block.
Your album is finally out and it’s getting great reviews.
I feel very blessed, very emotional and excited because I worked very hard on this project and it’s very special to me. It’s a message and songs that I’ve written for the people. We’ve been getting such a positive response and that always means a lot to know that people are being moved and touched and inspired by the music.
People who don’t get you, your music, your style…What do you tell them?
I think it’s not so avant-garde that you can’t understand the messages. I mean, I don’t get everything that I’m doing, but as an artist, I have to listen, I have to take those risks. Even if I don’t understand myself, that does not mean that I should not take those chances and write down or sing or perform what my maker is telling me that I need to do.
I’m really satisfied and I don’t try to be different for the sake of just being different. That’s not my goal. That’s not even anything I’m interested in.
On stage, you look fearless. Are you fearless?
I try to be very fearless. I’m unafraid to make mistakes and try out knew stuff. It’s okay to make mistakes. You grow, you learn and we’re not perfect. We’re fallible and that’s okay. I just want the music to be great. The music is the most important thing as long as people are being moved by that. I didn’t choose music; music chose me. I do think I was given a gift to send a message to the people. I wear black and white as a uniform. It’s paying homage to the working man and woman and it keeps me connected to the people. I just want to do what’s right with it.
Tell us about your relationship with Big Boi and Sean Combs.
Outkast has opened the door for artists like me to come up with new concepts and ideas and remain innovative, so I think Big Boi is like family. Whenever I need advice he’s always been there.
Sean Combs is very supportive of who I am. He says I’m inspiring to him and he encourages me to remain fearless and not to comprise who I am.
How do you personally feel about the music you’ve created?
You know, it’s weird because with this particular project, I feel like I didn’t even have anything to do with it and I’m on every song. I’ve written, I’ve produced and I definitely recorded everything, but when I listen to it, I almost feel weird saying thank you. I feel like the spirit was really moving through me. I knew my maker, my creator was speaking to me, and it was not just all my doing.
It’s transformed me, like it has evoked emotions that I didn’t even know existed in my body and I really need this album myself. People ask me all the time, ‘Who are you listening to?’ I’m actually listening to the “The ArchAndroid,” like I really do need this music in my life.