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Beyonce's Interview With Solange January 2017

Beyoncé Interviewed Solange, and We Just Learned So Much

Because no one knows you quite like family, Solange recruited her sister, Beyoncé, to question her for a piece in Interview magazine. It's packed with interesting tidbits from their childhood together ("You did a kickass job," she told Beyoncé. "You were the most patient, loving, wonderful sister ever. In the 30 years that we've been together, I think we've only really, like, butted heads . . . we can count on one hand."), but it's mostly focused on Solange's album, A Seat at the Table, which was released to critical acclaim in September. She got real about the very personal inspiration for the tracks, what she was going through while writing them, and what you may not realise about her Grammy-nominated track, "Cranes in the Sky."

  • Why she wanted her whole family involved: "The album really feels like storytelling for us all and our family and our lineage. And having mom and dad speak on the album, it felt right that, as a family, this closed the chapter of our stories. And my friends' stories — every day, we're texting about some of the micro-aggressions we experience, and that voice can be heard on the record, too."
  • "Cranes in the Sky" is more personal than you realise: "I was just coming out of my relationship with Julez's father. We were junior high school sweethearts, and so much of your identity in junior high is built on who you're with. You see the world through the lens of how you identify and have been identified at that time. So I really had to take a look at myself, outside of being a mother and a wife, and internalise all of these emotions that I had been feeling through that transition. I was working through a lot of challenges at every angle of my life, and a lot of self-doubt, a lot of pity-partying. And I think every woman in her 20s has been there — where it feels like no matter what you are doing to fight through the thing that is holding you back, nothing can fill that void."
  • But it's also very literal: "I used to write and record a lot in Miami during that time, when there was a real estate boom in America, and developers were developing all of this new property. There was a new condo going up every 10 feet. You recorded a lot there as well, and I think we experienced Miami as a place of refuge and peace. We weren't out there wilin' out and partying. I remember looking up and seeing all of these cranes in the sky."

  • Missy Elliot's career encouraged her to be more than a singer: "One of my biggest inspirations in terms of female producers is Missy. I remember seeing her when you guys worked together and being enamoured with the idea that I could use myself as more than a voice and the words."
  • She was a mess the week of the album's release: "I was breaking out into hives. I could not sit still. It was terrifying. This was going to be such an intimate, up-close, staring-you-right-in-the-face experience, the way people would see me and hear me. It was one thing to make the record and have those reservations; it was another to finish it and actually share it."
  • She knew the exact tone she needed to convey: "It was very intentional that I sang as a woman who was very in control, a woman who could have this conversation without yelling and screaming, because I still often feel that when black women try to have these conversations, we are not portrayed as in control, emotionally intact women, capable of having the hard conversations without losing that control."
  • She has a great appreciation for the South, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta: "Culturally, it was as rich as it gets. People were warm. People were friendly. But the biggest thing that I took from it is the storytelling. I feel like, in the South in general, but specifically in our world growing up, people were expressive and vivid storytellers. In the hair salon or in the line at the grocery store; there was never a dull moment. I feel so happy that I got to grow up in a place where you could be the pastor's wife, you could be a lawyer, you could be a stripper on the side, you could be a schoolteacher — we saw every kind of woman connect on one common experience, which was that everyone wanted to be great and everyone wanted to do better."
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