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Digital Cover Story, September 2016
Writen by J RIVERA / DIRK DIGGLER
Photography by DENNIS LEUPOLD

The Los Angeles metropolitan area is populated by more than 12 million people. The most popular city in California has seen its census grow in the last few years, not only with dreamers in search of Hollywood stardom but also with musicians and producers who see the city as the new Mecca for pop culture. “It’s the best place to be creative musically. There are so many awesome artists in this city, and everybody can collaborate with each other. It’s a great environment for collaboration, I’d suggest every artist to move to LA”, Tinashe (who was born in Lexington, Kentucky, but has been living in the West Coast since she was 8) says. “The weather, probably. I grew up here, this is home to me, my family is here. It’s always sunny, it’s beautiful… and laid back”, she answers immediately when we ask her what she likes the most about LA.

 

 

Tinashe (February 6, 1993) is a natural born entertainer: singer, songwriter, dancer and occasional model. She started taking dancing classes at a tender age but singing was, in a way, her first choice. “I started entertaining at a really young age. I was always singing around the house, I started training and dancing when I was four years old; dance has been a huge part of my life because I really connected with the music. Being able to sing, being able to dance, to perform… I really loved that.” Her first mixtape, In Case We Die (2012), showed off her dance capabilities with visuals like “Can’t Say No” and “This Feeling”. She always works hard on her coreographies, helped by expert JaQuel Knight (who also worked with Beyoncé). “Growing up I really loved ballet and tap, they were really fun for me. Tap was so much fun with the rhythm and I started with ballet when I was really, really young… I’ve always loved that and continued with it up until now.”

Her teenage years were not easy. She was bullied in school while attending 8th Grade. “It affected how I felt about school, I didn’t like being around my peers; it was really unfortunate but at the same time really pushed me to focus on what I really wanted to do. It gave me an advantage because I started getting all my time and energy into my music.” Every cloud has a silver lining and Tinashe turned around a situation that many kids have to face nowadays. Today, she has become a role model for many teenage girls, for whom she has some important advice: “I think that, at the end of the day, the biggest thing that I can teach young women is to make up their own minds and think for themselves, to not wait for someone to do something for them and to go about trying to accomplish their dreams. That’s what I try to demonstrate every day, and also encourage women to get involved in music as much as possible.”

“‘JOYRIDE’ IS ABOUT MY JOURNEY, THE HIGHS AND LOWS, THE ADVERSITY AND BEING ABLE TO COME BACK FROM THAT TO FIND JOY; IT’S ABOUT BEING ON A RIDE, ON AN ADVENTURE, IT’S WHERE I FEEL I’M AT RIGHT NOW”

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She released Aquarius (RCA Records/Sony), her debut album, in 2014. The record not only launched her career as an artist but also earned her comparisons with Aaliyah. “I’m a fan of her music, I think it’s amazing. The comparisons are a compliment because she is an amazing artist.” “2 On”, featuring ScHoolboy Q, went viral and was a smash hit that reached number one on Billboard’s Rhythm list. When your  first record is so successful, all eyes are on you and expectations are high; but that is something Tinashe is not worried about because she is confident of what she has in store. “People are expecting things of you whilst on the first album there were no expectations. Surprisingly, most of that pressure comes from myself because I really want the album to be an amazing body of work. I’m really proud of what I’ve created”, she says of Joyride, her latest project due next fall.

 

At the beginning of 2016 she announced a world tour (Joyride World Tour) without her second album being released and without a release date for it. The tour ended in May. It was a thought out decision, with a convincing explanation: “I decided I needed to revisit the album and add a couple songs. I went back into the studio and continued the creative process for awhile, and now I’m very confident in where it’s at. I think it’s a great representation of my life and I’m excited for everyone to hear it.” Joyride is a personal record that reflects the changes she has been through these last years, and she hopes it connects with the audience. “This album is about my journey, the highs and lows, the adversity and being able to come back from that to find joy; it’s about being on a ride, on an adventure, it’s where I feel I’m at right now. That’s what life is about and I think everybody can relate to that”, she emphasizes.

 

At the end of the day, it’s always about the music. Music is the most important thing of being an artist, especially a great artist. The other things are frivolous”

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“Party Favors” (featuring Young Thug), “Player” (with Chris Brown) and “Superlove” are the only three (official) advances from her upcoming LP that we have had the chance to listen to. The latter, produced by Tricky Stewart (Rihanna, Ciara, Mariah Carey) and The-Dream sounds different from everything Tinashe has done before, with a 90’s twist to it. And she agrees with our opinion: “Totally. I always wanted to do something unexpected and keep people on their toes. Like I said before, I don’t like to be stuck in a box or one particular genre, don’t wanna be limited to just one type of music. I wanted to do something that was fun, that I could dance to, positive and happy… That’s how ‘Superlove’ came.” The video for the song smells like summer and pays homage to the TV show ‘Baywatch’, where Tinashe reminds us of the sexy CJ (originally played by Pamela Anderson). It was shot in one day in Malibu and directed by Hannah Lux Davis (Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande), with whom she already worked on “2 On”.

 

 

Her second musical project is very important to her career. It could mark a turning point and put Tinashe in a favourable position among contemporary RnB divas. As of now, Joyride is in its final stages of mixing and mastering; all songs are already recorded, as the singer points out. “I’ve worked with a lot of really cool people, like Metro Boomin, Ritz Reynolds, LULOU, Alex Purple… I’ve collaborated with Boy Wonder again. It’s been a very fun of an experience to create this album, being in the studio with everyone has been such an inspiration with all of their different styles. It’s been a learning experience as an artist, being able to see how different people work, record… And feel their energy”, she confesses. The album has been recorded in her home studio in LA, and even in ‘her bedroom’. Also, there have been sessions in NY and Atlanta, but most of the work has been done in LA.

 

The blood flowing through her veins contains up to four different nationalities: zimbabwean on her father side, danish, norwegian and irish on her mother’s. That multicultural background reflects who she is, and she feels proud of it. “I’m a very diverse person who doesn’t want to be labelled as one thing or another, living as an example of not trying to fit into a mold. For me, that’s been an important theme throughout my life.” Her constant travels, solo tours or supporting other artists such as Nicki Minaj or Katy Perry, has made Tinashe see the positive effect her music has on other people regardless of where they are from. “Being able to travel opens up my eyes. I’m so far away from home but I can connect with the people. It means so much to me to know that my music is meaning something to people all over the world. That’s a very profound feeling and it’s inspiring.”

 

“MY STYLE IS ALWAYS EVOLVING AND CHANGING. THAT’S THE BEST PART OF BEING A YOUNG PERSON, YOU HAVE ROOM TO GROW, EVOLVE AND GET BETTER. WE’LL SEE WHERE LIFE TAKES ME, THAT’S WHAT LIFE’S ABOUT, REALLY”

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The 23 year old Californian artist also appears regularly on fashion magazines (Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle…). She loves to innovate with her fashion sense and she has even worked as a model despite being only 5′ 5″. Red is the color that suits her the best, like we had the chance to see at the last ‘MTV VMAs’ award ceremony, where she wore an spectacular outfit by Juan Carlos Obando. “I think my style is always evolving and changing. That’s the best part of being a young person, you have room to grow, evolve and get better. We’ll see where life takes me, that’s what life’s about, really.” In the fall of 2015 he appeared on Ralph Lauren’s Denim & Supply campaign, and worked for M.A.C. cosmetics last February. Upcoming projects on this field are a collaboration with designer Alexander Wang on his new collection, in which some other relevant figures, such as Zoe Kravitz, producer Skrillex (Jack Ü) or it girl Kylie Jenner, are also involved.

 

On her personal side of things, she has been linked to scottish hitmaker Calvin Harris, but Tinashe has her priorities straight. And love is not among them… At least for now. “It’s not that feasible for me right now in my life. I’ve been focusing on getting this album out, music comes first for me and I’m trying to put all my energy there.” It also seems that she will not come back to acting in a near future, we will not see her following the footsteps of other artists such as Lady Gaga, Rita Ora or Rihanna. “I used to do a lot of acting when I was younger and I’d love to get back to it in the future but obviously, I’ve been focusing on music recently because that’s my main objective right now. Maybe later on I’ll get more involved in acting again”, she admits.

 

Next November will be a very crucial month for all americans, a new president will be elected. Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton could be the first woman to reach the White House. That is a very important fact for Tinashe. “I think that a female president is another example of the fact that women can do anything. I think that’s amazing. Even the fact that she got this far it’s an example for women and we should celebrate that.” Tinashe is a person that doesn’t put any barriers in front of her and uses a song from Biggie (“Sky’s The Limit”) to put and end to our interview. “I want to continue to grow and evolve. It’s hard to put a timeline on things because they always change. I wanna be happy, I wanna be successful, whatever that is… I wanna make music, tour the world, release new albums and do whatever I wanna do, whatever that inspires me. Sky’s the limit!.”

 

Tinashe’s sophomore album ‘JOYRIDE’ (RCA Records/Sony) coming out next fall.