Gallery > Photoshoots > 2014 > LADYGUNN Magazine by Koury Angelo (+9 HQ photos)
Like a zephyr of air, the element that Aquarius cosmically represents, Tinashe cannot be contained. Last January, the 21 year old singer-songwriter dropped “2 On,” a rhythmic club thumper featuring a rap interlude by Schoolboy Q. The track quickly became one of the year’s most infectious radio hits.
“It’s been an incredible journey ever since it’s come out,” the artist explains. “I’ve always hoped it would be successful, but never really had expectations. It has gone above and beyond. It’s been a wild ride!”
A few months after its initial release and unknown to Tinashe, Drake got his hands on the track. He released a remix of the song in May, quickly thrusting the profile of both the track and Tinashe.“I found out about the remix on Twitter after it already came out,” she reveals. “I had no idea he was gonna do it. It was a complete surprise, but it was cool. I don’t necessarily know why he did it,” she adds, amused. “Well, other than the fact that he just probably liked the song. That’s a great compliment.”
By summer and perhaps thanks in part to Drake’s golden touch, the song had crept its way into the Billboard Top 40, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Rhythmic Charts for four weeks. Meanwhile, the track’s highly choreographed video continued to garner tens of millions of views, with viewers and critics likening her early millennium home-girl swagger to artists like Ciara, Aaliyah, and a Destiny’s Child-era Beyoncé.
The high-energy video showcased a palpable superstar quality just bubbling under the surface of a freshly minted pop princess. She had the look, the voice, and, most necessary perhaps, the moves. “I started dancing when I was about four taking ballet, tap, and hip hop,” she says. “I continued to dance until I was about 18. It was a big part of my life, and now I definitely like to incorporate it into my live shows, videos, and performances.”
Some stars burn bright and fade fast. It would have been easy for Tinashe’s meteoric trajectory to culminate into a sort of one-hit-wonder supernova, especially with a big, thumping club jam. But despite the pop sheen of “2 On,” Tinashe is so much more than just one song. “The music is definitely rooted in a place of R&B but there are a lot of influences from hip hop, alternative, pop… There are different things mixed in and genres blended together. I think that makes it a little harder to define than just black and white R&B, you know?”
This genre-bending and experimental spirit is highly evident on Tinashe’s debut LP, the aptly titled Aquarius released back in October. Unlike most pop stars, the ambitious, DIY artist is also a producer and has a studio in her LA home. “I don’t like to sit around and wait for people to get things done for me,” Tinashe claims. “I like to take things into my own hands and figure it out for myself. That was the inspiration behind creating my own home studio and creating my own music there. It’s important for people to know that if you want to do something, just dive in and pursue it.”
For Tinashe, maintaining control has always been crucial, another imperative for having her own studio. “I think that’s really important,” she says, “because I want to make sure it comes from a genuine place. It always has to be a reflection of who I am as a person and as an artist.”
Born in Kentucky to a Zimbabwean father and a mother of Swedish/Irish descent, Tinashe grew up in a joyful, musical household. “My family was always singing in the house. That was a big part of growing up. All my extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins – would come over to sing together.” After she moved to LA, this sense of diversity and community stayed with her, and she found ways to express and celebrate it within her music. “I do think it’s a representation of my sound and who I am as an artist and as a human being. We have a lot of different sides to us. There are a lot of different colors, feelings, and moods I get to express through the music.”
From an astrological view, Aquarians are said to be independent, brilliant, and humanitarian people. And while Tinashe says she doesn’t necessarily prescribe to astrology, it’s difficult to separate the enigmatic artist from her star sign. Then again, she really is full of surprises and proves that on her album.
“I just want to give people who are only familiar with ‘2 On,’ who think that’s my only piece of work, a chance to see who I am as an artist,” she explains, thoughtfully. “And I’m excited for people to get to know me better.”
Photographer: Koury Angelo / Story: Erica Russell
Styling: Matthew Hensley / Makeup: Josiah Cracraft / Hair: Courtney Housner
(Source: LADYGUNN Magazine)