Janelle Monae is featured in the September 2012 issue of Vanity Fair. Inside of the mag, the unconventional artist talks about her outfit choice, music influences and what is she proud of the most.
Read the highlights of the interview below.
On why she wears black and white only:
“It’s part of having something that’s transcendent. You could time travel, you could go all over the world, it won’t ever go out of style. It’s just a part of a ‘brand’ that I created, even if nobody was watching. I know what I like: if you go to my closet, I have at least four of everything. Once you find what you like, it’s like it worked yesterday, it works today, it’ll work tomorrow.”
On her music influence:
“Lauryn Hill, P-Funk, Marvin Gaye, Public Enemy…I have a very diverse palate for music. I can go from Judy Garland to Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Wonder to Rachmaninoff. I just love great music.”
On when did she know she wanted to be a performer:
“I don’t even know what age I started, because it’s always been there. Performing…creating… it’s always been in my DNA. I grew up in Kansas with two parents who were janitors. My father is clean now but he was on drugs before. We were not extremely poor but at the same time my mom had to work really hard, and I had to help out. I was working as soon as I could – as a maid, at Office Depot…
And given the things I saw growing up, statistics would say that I should be somewhere else. A lot of people don’t make it out.”
On what she’s most proud of:
“I started my own label (The Wondaland Arts Society). I’m able to be in control of who I am as an artist. I got a record deal. I performed at the Grammys and at the White House two times. I would have never known that these are things that would happen.”
On how she was signed to Puffy’s Bad Boy Records:
“I was fairly well known in the Atlanta Underground scene. I put out an independent single (‘Violet Stars Happy Hunting’) on Myspace- Puffy heard it and contacted Big Boi at four in the morning. Big Boi called me at 6AM, woke me up and said Puffy is trying to get in contact with you, you need to call him. I said, I’ve got to go back to sleep – when I get up, we’ll deal with it. I woke up, contacted everybody on my team and when Puffy called me, I had my lawyer on the phone. I may be new to this but I wanted to make sure things were cool.”