A lot of people of color in the music industry are still more interested in embracing things that are considered white canon, and looking radical. Like when people point to punk in the indie world: If you point to the history of punk as what you see as your legacy, that's more prized and praised.
The assumption is simply that I hit on all the things I've hit on so far by accident, that my talent is just this raw thing that pours out of me, and then white people feel like they have to come in and contain it, refine it, and bring it to the place where it can been released.
In Maryland, I didn't grow up around poor white people. Where I grew up, the white people were middle class or upper-middle class. It's interesting how screwed up it is in reality, because most people who receive assistance from the government are white, but not in my head or in my experience.
It's such a challenging time, and in my small way, I will make it so that other younger women, and maybe older women, will be able to do the things they want to do, and accept themselves and their experience.
I'm interested in bridging and filling in space that hasn't already been filled, so when it comes to making music, I've just always wanted to be able to reference things that producers in the big pop major label context do, without compromising the entire sound of the record.
I remember the day I first heard what Timbaland and Aaliyah did - that intersection of her pretty voice and his weird, resonant production. I remember where I was and what I was doing. It was a major situation. We're trying to continue that legacy.
It is very rare that I am just coming up with melodies off the top of my head. I usually am responding to something - it could be chains dragging on the floor - but I am usually responding to something.
When it comes to melodies, production, and sound in pop music, people try to be formulaic and solely concerned with what's resonant in a way that is so cheap and ugly. It actually just devolves culture, ultimately.
My first reaction to being pigeonholed or pushed into certain confines is to be like, 'No, I'm the opposite,' you know? Like, don't put me in a stereotypical black-girl category, because I'm not like that; I'm doing this thing over here.
After it became clear that I was not going to graduate, I had this moment where I was like, 'I need to not sulk. I need to pursue - at least try - to pursue music. But if I don't try, I'm going to be a really bitter middle-aged lady working in a cubicle.'
Anyone who understands anti-racist work, a white person specifically, understands that it is not black people's responsibility, or any person of color's responsibility, to dismantle the structures that keep white people in positions of power. We do our job to thrive, to survive. To protect ourselves, to sit together and feel better and to heal.
How much closer can I get to the common ear, the mainstream, and how much it can still be from this other world, this other place? That's the line I keep trying to tread but have my wings extend more on both sides.
Most artists are going into the studio for a fixed period of time, and they say that's their album. I can't relate, because I've never made music in that way. I come from a culture of editing and remixing.
I want to speak in the tradition of rhythm and blues and soul music, but also push how it's dressed and how it's delivered to the audience. And hopefully that gets embraced by as many people as possible, but the goal isn't necessarily to speak to everyone. The goal is to get it out as exact as it is in my head.
I'm finding out what part of punk culture or white indie culture I actually still want to hold onto - What are the values? What are the contributions that I actually like? - and it not coming from a place of desperation or wanting to be embraced or wanting approval, essentially.
Something that I think extends to a lot of African cultures is that the line between performer and audience is blurry. My mom would lead the wedding song regularly, and she isn't a professional singer. Even as an audience member, you're expected to clap and sing the response to the lead.
When I called 'Cut 4 Me' a mixtape, I was thinking about a few elements: One is used instrumentals. The project is more centered around introducing you to an artist; it's not meant to be seminal. It's 'Hi,' 'Hello,' a thing that you first hear.
I was in school studying International Studies and Sociology. I was really into what was going on in school. I was affected by the ideas and engaged as a student, but not disciplined or motivated enough to do the work. That was a fear of mine for a while, that nothing was motivating.