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Tinashe

May 10/2016
WORDS BY Erin Lowers PHOTOGRAPHY BY Neil Mota STYLED Rima Chahine MUA + HAIR Nisha Gulati PHOTO RETOUCHING Saeed KHALIFA

 

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“I’ve never seen it snow while sunny,” Tinashe says as she looks out the window of the Phoenix Concert Theater during the Toronto stop of her Joyride tour. After completing a set of video interviews, Tinashe and I, two of four women in the male-dominated room, cozy up on a couch where we start discussing some of her recent accomplishments – including two cover stories for Complex and DAZED, r espectively.

When asked why she doesn’t have a new album or album release date despite her current tour and its accompanying interviews, Tinashe replies: “Honestly, the album is probably the only thing I can’t control. I can do all the other stuff, but it’s kind of out of my control as to when [the album’s] released or how it’s released. The tour and all the stuff was created with the intentions that the album [would be] out. It was supposed to come out at the end of [last] year, slash the beginning of [this] year, slash now who knows – but in the meantime, I’m just trying to do all I can to stay busy and connect with my fans. I’m still releasing new music and I’m previewing some of it in the show tonight, so it’s fun for me to just get people more excited that it’s coming.”

Tinashe goes on to explain that her album is finished, but just missing a couple of crucial pieces – like the legal process of releasing an album, which is hardly a joyride, and seemingly a headache. Regardless, Tinashe’s positive outlook pours out as she discusses the forthcoming album.

Joyride, to me, it’s supposedly just a snapshot of where I am in my life. I feel like I’m on a joyride currently, just going to new places, trying new things, meeting new people and having new experiences, and it’s that time in my life where I feel like, ‘I don’t know what’s gonna happen next’ and everything is an adventure. I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can for what it is,” she says.

At just 23 years old, the prime of her young adulthood, Tinashe reflects on how her age has affected the new album: “I think that’s a time of your life where you just change a lot. You’re not a teenager anymore, you’re not exactly who you’re going to be forever yet, and you’re just in the process of growing and evolving, and I think there’s a reflection of that in my music as well.”

While Tinashe has always exuded a sexual confidence in her music, her first release of 2016, “Ride of Your Life”, highlights a maturity that comes with age. “It feels like the same Tinashe who’s always been there, but there’s an evolution and there’s growth. I’ve been inspired by a lot of new things and you can hear it in the music,” she continues.

Spearheaded by producers like Illangelo, Max Martin, Metro Boomin and more, Tinashe emphasizes the importance of chemistry between producers and artists, highlighting a special relationship she has with Toronto’s Boi-1da. “We first worked together a long time ago, maybe 2013. I think we have a lot of good personal chemistry, which is really important when you’re creating music – that there’s chemistry between the producer and artist. They can be the best producer ever, but if you guys don’t gel, then it doesn’t matter; it’s neither here nor there. Boi-1da is just a really sweet guy and a really cool person, so we gelled on that level and continued to work together,” she says. But despite working with these celebrated producers, Tinashe is still producing her own music from her bedroom in her parents’ home. “I love that home studio! It’s just super comfortable there and it feels like home, no pun intended,” she laughs. “It’s important for me to keep that essence, but I’ve obviously recorded in major studios as well with other people and collaborations, but every once in a while, it’s just nice having it be me, myself and my PJs.”

In every respect, Tinashe, despite her fame, is a “hair tied, sweatpants, chillin’ with no makeup on” kind of girl, especially around her family. “Just growing up in the house, there was always music happening and people were always singing, so no one ever discouraged me from singing. I give that a lot of credit,” she says. With a father from Zimbabwe, Tinashe attributes at least part of her musical identity to her Zimbabwean heritage. “I think they’re a very musical culture and I think that has had something to do with my love of music,” she suggests. “As far as the culture from Zimbabwe, I really want to experience more of it firsthand since my dad moved away from there when he was like, seven years old. So it’s not really like I have that much firsthand experience with the culture, but I’m trying to go ASAP.”

Creativity and comfort seemingly go hand-in-hand for this artist, but this combination isn’t an option for everyone, as seen in recent music business news. “Free Kesha!” Tinashe posted on her Periscope account shortly after fellow Sony singer Kesha was denied an injunction to terminate her contract with her alleged abuser Dr. Luke, a producer Tinashe has also worked with in the past. “I don’t know exactly the specifics about everything that goes on with it, but as a general message, I think we women should support each other – you gotta stick up for your girls!” Tinashe affirms. “That’s the thing about business and contracts, when people are obligated [to work] with people who they just honestly don’t feel like they can work with as a creative person, that’s very, very limiting and that sucks. I hope she’s just able to express herself as an artist still, because that’s the most important thing.”

While the justice system may be failing artists, Tinashe has stated that for her own career, ‘failure is not an option’ – a phrase that’s not only subjective, but a hard pill to swallow for any bourgeoning artist. “Failure is giving up,” she says. “I don’t think that I’ve failed yet because I haven’t stopped. That’s really where a lot of people in music, in entertainment, in life, falter. Things get hard sometimes, shit gets real, stuff gets pushed back, things don’t work out the way you thought they were going to, your plans don’t work out the way you thought they would, and people quit and get down on themselves – you can never let that happen. Even amongst all the adversity and the disappointments along the way, you can’t stop, you gotta keep going.”

Perhaps that’s the true essence of the term “joyride” – one that’s unwavering in its creative choices, is rooted in determination, and is fastened by strength. Or, perhaps, that’s just Tinashe.

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