“It’s only embarrassing if the guy sees this.”
Tinashe first broke out last year with the hit “2 On” and her near-perfect debut album Aquarius, but since releasing the instantly viral video for “All Hands on Deck” in April, the 22-year-old is well on her way to becoming the whole world’s new obsession. Earlier this spring, she released the excellent mixtapeAmethyst (recorded in her childhood bedroom over Christmas vacation), and this summer, she’ll join Nicki Minaj on her massive “Pinkprint” tour along with Meek Mill, Rae Sremmurd, and DeJ Loaf. Tinashe recently sat down with Cosmopolitan.com to talk about music, virginity soundtracks, and what it’s like when Kanye publicly admits he likes you.
Has anyone asked you to teach them the “All Hands on Deck” dance yet?
People have come up to me and shown it to me, but no one’s asked me yet to teach them directly. People have indirectly asked, like Lena Dunham tweeted about it.
You have a lot of celebrity fans. What’s it like when you see those tweets?
Lena had tweeted about my album before, so I already knew that she was a fan. I think Lorde tweeted about it. I’ve been a fan of hers and I guess she’s a fan as well so that’s really cool. [With] Kanye, my brother sent me a screenshot of the tweet. My brothers were freaking out, like, screaming like a girl. It was exciting. I think that’s a big cosign, because he doesn’t necessarily cosign people that often.
Yeah, he mostly just tweets photos of Kim. How old are your brothers?
Eighteen and 16.
How do they feel about their sister being famous?
They’re stoked. They get perks. I get to hit people up and be like, “Can my brother get into this concert?” Just things like that are super cool [for them]. Being in high school and [having a] sister who’s relatively relevant in music is probably gonna give you some type of brownie points, I would hope!
With the “All Hands on Deck” video, people immediately latched on to the fact that you had no harnesses up there, and none of it was CGI. How terrified were you?
I’m not afraid of heights, so I wasn’t terrified. It was scary, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t have a panic attack or anything. Everyone pretty much kept it really cool. The dancers all handled it really well too, because it was very dangerous. So that was really good and professional of them that they kept their fear in line.
Do you still live at home when you’re in L.A.?
I do. I live with the fam. It’s awesome. Obviously I’d like to [get my own place] at some point in the relatively near future, but when you’re on tour and you’re never there anyway, it’s very hard to justify purchasing a place that you’re never in. But I’ll get there eventually.
Plus you get to come home and hang out with your family.
It’s nice! When you’re on the road all the time and you’re by yourself traveling and going everywhere, it’s cool to just come home and not have to worry about anything. Like my mom does my laundry, cooks the food. You don’t have to think about those types of things, so it’s nice. And companionship, obviously. I actually like them, so that helps.
Between “2 On,” Aquarius, and now this video, you’ve really blown up in the past year. How have things changed for you, day to day?
Things have changed a lot. Every day it’s like an adventure; you never really know what’s gonna come up. I’m very busy. I could probably count the days off I’ve had this year on one hand. [There’s] a lot of press, I’m in the studio all the time. A ton of traveling, playing shows all the time. So it’s a change, but it’s good.
You’ve done a lot of producing and writing yourself, but as you’ve started working with more collaborators, have you ever been talked down to because you’re so young or because you’re a woman?
Yeah, definitely, especially a lot at the beginning of creating my first album. It took a long time to establish that respect, because people didn’t want to take my opinion seriously. They didn’t care. They probably just assumed, “Oh, she’s a cute girl signed to a record label. Why should I listen to what she has to say about music? That’s clearly why they signed her, not because she has a perspective.” Which is very far from the truth. This time around, creating the second album, has been completely different.
What about creating a persona for yourself? Has anyone tried to make you into more of a Gaga type?
No. Luckily my record label is very supportive of my artistic perspective, so no one’s ever really tried to shift my persona in a major way or anything like that. Maybe little things like, “You should wear this versus that,” but not more like, “You should be more like this or less like that.” So that’s pretty lucky.
Last month Complex did a piece about how you’re as “close to Janet Jackson as we’ll ever get.” What did you think of that?
It’s a huge compliment. But you never really want to be compared to people, because it’s usually a setup in multiple ways. At the end of the day, you want to be known as yourself and be able to [create] your own persona, but being compared to someone that iconic and that incredible is obviously an honor.
Nick Jonas recently did an interview where he said he wishes he could change the musicthat was playing when he lost his virginity. Do you remember what was on during your first time?
Oh my god, I can’t say because it’s too embarrassing. It wasn’t a song, it was a movie, and it’s, like, the worst movie ever. It was fucking Napoleon Dynamite. You can’t make this stuff up! Fucking Napoleon Dynamite. Good times. It’s only embarrassing if the guy sees it. I hope he never reads this interview.