Although the first cut on Solange’s sophomore album, Sol-Angel & The Hadley St. Dreams, is called “God Given Name,” the singer says she doesn’t want to talk about her family. However, on the song she addresses comparisons to Bey (”I’m not her and never will be / two girls gone in different directions, traveling towards the same galaxy / let my star light shine on its own / No, I’m no sister, I’m just my God-given name”), and she even may have recently released a street track entitled “Fuck The Industry (Signed Sincerely),” which begins, “I’ll never be a perfect Beyonce…” Thank God for us, if you ask Solange about the super-stardom rivalry between her and her big sis, she’ll definitely tell you why she’s mad, son.
Parlour: Why’d you pick the Pharrell-produced, “I Decided,” as your first single?
Solange: Instantly after we finished song, I listened back and it felt good. Whatever emotion it evokes, most of it has to do with the way we recorded the song. We wrote it, I went in to test the mic and did a run through. Then Pharrell said, “OK come out, that’s the song. We just need to build a few backgrounds.” As a vocalist, I thought he was insane because some notes were sketchy. But he said, “Ignore your ear and hear the emotions behind it.” I definitely felt like I captured the soul probably because I wasn’t trying.
P: Who else did you work with on Sol-Angel?
S: People who inspire me like Cee-lo, who was probably the most influential. I wanted to merge 60’s and 70’s music with hints of electronica. He and Danger Mouse have been the first to popularize the merging of the two. I had to track down Boards of Canada to work with them, like literally stalk them, but I’ve been a fan of them forever. I also worked with Mark Ronson and Q-Tip is on the second single, “Sandcastle Disco.”
P: How’s Sol-Angel different from your 2003 debut, Solo Star?
S: Then I just didn’t know how to execute what I wanted. I was 15, and made a record with no identity. I was at a label [Sony] that didn’t develop me, they just got all the big heads together and hoped to formulate a big song. I started writing all these Sol-Angel records three years ago but no other artists wanted to cut them. It wasn’t cool yet because it was before Amy Winehouse, Adele and Duffy. A few people asked, “why aren’t you cutting those records yourself.” Geffen gave me the opportunity to record, turn it in and sign when I was done. I thought for sure I’d do an indie record, where I am happiest, but the key and the challenge now is trying to work with label and get them to know me.
P: Do you think people will get your music?
S: I have never felt at home in one demographic. That’s my struggle with management and my label, getting everyone to identify that just because I’m African-American, that doesn’t mean that I’m an urban artist. I make music for people that have a sophisticated ear and are brave enough to support something non-traditional. People complain about the state of music, but there are alot of diverse and talented artists with people that support them. But their fans aren’t the ones calling the radio station, they just want to see a good show. So I said, we should just do a tour and all of the artists that are going to be a part of it will have the same voice and stance on music. So, we, Janelle Monae, Chester French, the Knux and I, got all of our managers on the phone and started making a tour happen. It’s in the very early stages, but we’re trying to put something together.
P: You’ve already been married, divorced and become a mother, do you think those experiences have helped or hurt you?
S: It helps. People expect women, especially in R&B, to be very prim and proper and this sort of model. The artists with the best albums have been inspired by situations of pain and growth. I’ve definitely been through a lot in the past few years, so I’m very proud to say that I’ve matured. A marriage, a divorce and having a baby will do that to you.
P: How do you deal with the comparisons to Beyonce?
S: At first I didn’t want to make people uncomfortable in interviews, I didn’t want to come off rude or arrogant. Now, I just really don’t care.
P: Closing words?
S: I want to do things on my own terms and only want to do media where people respect the art form and understand what being an artist is about, without talking about irrelevant things. Those are the outlets I want to be a part of, but right now I have to play the game. I still have challenges because some people feel you only have one shot. But I’m going to continue to make music, no one’s going to tell me this is my last shot.•
Sol-Angel & The Hadley St. Dreams hits shelves on August 26.