featured | The musical stylings of Janelle Monae

February 1, 2013

on the web | essentials

Janelle Monae | main
Janelle Monae | YouTube

Wikipedia | Janelle Monae
Wikipedia | Janelle Monae album: The ArchAndroid
Wikipedia | Janelle Monae album: Metropolis

publication: Elle
section: Culture
column: Celebrity
label: Elle interview
story title: The musical stylings of Janelle Monae
author: by Kathryn Hudson
date: January 8, 2013

quote | no. 1

quote: from Janelle Monae
bio: musician, singer + song-writer

Growing up, Janelle Monae always wanted to be a musician. She wrote her first musical when she was 11 years old. It was about plants — inspired by legendary star Stevie Wonder and his album Journey through the Secret Life of Plants. Monae was desperate to leave her hometown and attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

She co-founded the Wondaland Arts Society, a co-operative of artists, musicians, writers and performers. She said with  a smile: “We were literally just going from campus to campus — performing and selling CDs out of our trunk. We were doing it grass-roots.”

It wasn’t long before her powerful funky vocals, spell-binding dancing and regular stage dives caught the attention of music producers. In a flash, Monae was signed to Bad Boy Records and working on her debut album: The Arch-Android. Released in 2010, the record introduced her blend of soulful, funky rhythm + blues.

In (YEAR) she was nominated for a Grammy Award and performed on stage with Stevie Wonder. (This year, she’s up for multiple Grammy Awards. She doesn’t really party at clubs anymore. She doesn’t seem interested in the pop star world — she’s too preoccupied with her responsibilities.

She said, “I have a responsibility to my community — to tell a story in an unforgettable way.” Her album The Arch-Android told a mesmerizing story. Inspired by far-out theorists like Ray Kurzweil — Janelle Monae used science fiction imagery as a metaphor for the African American experience. She created a trippy, captivating musical message: “come together to create something with imagination and acceptance.”

She said: “I’m always thinking about how I want to speak to people. I want to open doors for people starting to have their voice. I want to speak to my cousins who feel like they don’t have anyone. I want to speak to the young lady who trying to follow her dreams living in a disadvantaged environment.”




about | the Wondaland Arts Society
A co-operative of artists, musicians, writers + performers.

— the formula —

Here at Wondaland we’re inventors. We wear tuxedos everyday and jump in pools during performances. We wear Civil War hats and rock vintage Jordans. We believe truth can be broken down with the formula: truth = love x imagination.

We believe songs are spaceships and books are stars. We feel music is the weapon of the future. There are only 3 forms of music: good music, bad music and funk.

— on cities —

We’ve created our own state — our own republic. There aren’t any laws just music. Funk rules the spirit. And punk rules the courtrooms and marketplace. Who needs drugs when you feel good? We believe women are much smarter than men.

We’ve built several cities. We’re always looking for a new city to live in. We recently moved from Atlantis to Metropolis, a city of our own design. It’s the largest city in the world, but you can only see it by closing your eyes.

— on technology —

We’re watching Steve Jobs the way Berry Gordy watched Henry Ford. We believe in Moore’s Law, in time pacing, in micro-chunking, in nano-fying, in monetizing, optimizing, and shipping products. We’re like a cross between Guy Kawasaki and James Brown.