I WANT TO FLY TO THE MOON
Janelle Monaé wears many hats
The American Grammy-nominee and (let’s just say it) superstar Janelle Monaé won’t stop showing her audience more of her facets. Whether it is through music, art direction, acting in movies or her political voice – one might discover more aspects of the mulit-talent every single day.
Janelle Monaé also shows her stance through FEM THE FUTURE – a political movement she established in order to support the inclusion of women through arts, music and mentoring. In Berlin, Janelle Monaé presented her idea of a beautiful future – a vision FEM shares with Belvedere Vodka. Therefore the both teamed up and created a special edition of the prestigious spirit’s bottle.
During the festive presentation, Janelle took the time and met with Interview in the glamourous Hotel Zoo in Berlin. She revealed her plans of traveling to the moon, her idea for creative freedom and talked about communicating as a public person.
Julia Deutsch You are a woman who wears many hats, quite literally when thinking of your Met Gala outfit. Which one would you say fits you the best?
Janelle Monaé It’s not a choice. I don’t have to choose because it’s all storytelling and art to me. It depends on the story I want to tell and how I want to tell it. I just hang up a hat when I am not using it and put on a new one when I am ready to go off and I have something to say.
JD You got strongly influenced by the German expressionist Movie Metropolis, how does it feel to be Berlin today?
JM I love Fritz Lang and I love Metropolis. I feel a deep sense of connection as the result of it. I love the art, the culture and community here. I hope the people will continue to support Science Fiction and bring forward new ideas for the genre.
JD You also said, that as an artist, freedom is never free. When do you feel free?
JM I feel free when I don’t have a lot of expectations around what I am going to do. Expectations from people that listen to my work and even from myself. When I am in the time of gathering and wanting to create just for the sake of creating. Not when I have the pressure of knowing that I have to put out an album in a year or so. Then I don’t feel free anymore, I am calculating and trying to put together the missing pieces. I love the stage of just merely creating, that euphoria.
JD You talked about being timeless, can you elaborate on that?
JM It means exactly that. Time is a social construct.
JD Did the social construct around age ever pressure you?
JM No, I was born this way. I think that this is put on you exactly like the gender is put on you before you can talk. People place age and all these labels on you before you can even speak up for yourself. So this is me speaking up for myself.
JD Your performances are strongly supported by dance. Would you say that dance is an important key element to make popular music iconic?
JM I wouldn’t consider my music pop or popular. I think people are still discovering who I am, which is great. I feel like there is so much unchartered territory and I think that dance is about freedom of expression too. I also feel free when I am dancing with friends. When I am dancing alone, when I am dancing child-like. I appreciate those moments the most.
JD I saw that you recently did a Moon Walk at your show at Glastonbury Festival…
JM Haha, yes – I really want to fly to the Moon. That’s what I am really excited about.
JD Are you actually planning on going? Did you sign up for Elon Musks endeavor?
JM You know, I actually signed up for a more exclusive package. Not with Elon but somewhere else, I can’t say.
JD So how are you preparing for your journey to the moon?
JM Just right now. Like giving interviews, once the red carpet is going to be there. You have to be prepared, get an outfit together and everything.
I love the stage of just merely creating, that euphoria.
JD Haha, okay. You also play with the concept of alter egos. What draws you to that? When are you most Janelle?
JM It’s not a question I can answer honestly because we morph into different versions of ourselves. We can be any one of our personalities depending on what day or time it is or mental state we are in. I think that one’s true self is also a social construct. Also when I am on stage it is all still under one umbrella.
JD What does acting give you creatively that music can’t provide?
JM I get introduced to new characters because most of the work I have done in acting, I didn’t write. I am in movies that other writers have written and I obviously belive in the things that are narrated. But it is me bringing their vision to life. And that’s a great thing to being able to make someone say, wow, finally I am able to see this idea that I had in my heart for so long being brought to life. I feel like there are no expectations there for me because it’s not under an album I have to put out under my name. I don’t have to do the visual concepts and other things, so I get to let everybody else work and then I come in and do what I am supposed to do. Which is snap right into character but to access this character and only this.
JD What helps you to get into and stay with a character?
JM I think clothing, Make-Up, Hair. The spirit of the person because I start reducing myself and start highlighting, amplifying the voice that is on that paper. That page is the spirit.
JD In your great video for your song PYNK, you are wearing Vulva pants that were designed by a dutch designer. What does the colour pink mean to you and how did you bring the idea of the pants to life?
JM Pink represents the heart chakra, the love. I have always wanted to represent the heart between the mind and the hands. So that’s what the visuals and the video stood for. And that’s also what the pants underline. I came out of my mother’s womb, we all did.
JD That’s what unites all of us.
JD You are a very strong communicator, through your lyrics and through everything you put out. When do you feel like having difficulties communicating or connecting with an audience?
JM I feel that at airports and cafés in the street. I need to spend time with myself sometimes and some people, when they see me, they want to spend time with me. They want to connect and get to know me and they may think that this is a great time to connect but maybe I could be going through something. Maybe I could be dealing with anxiety issues, maybe I could be dealing with becoming or trying to figure out the next idea. Sometimes when we interact, those interactions can be more interruptions than invitations. That’s where the misunderstanding can come and someone says: maybe she is mean or she doesn’t like me. Or I feel like this person is being inconsiderate and not respecting my space. So we are trying to connect but life sometime doesn’t allow that.
JD Yes, because you don’t know where the other person is coming from.
JM You have to figure that out in a matter of fifteen seconds and that’s just unfair.