Ones To Watch - Janelle Monae

Diddy signed whirlwind
Janelle Monae
“A lot of songs come to me in my dreams, while I’m asleep. I have a recorder by my bed,” explains the twenty-four year old Janelle Monae. “Everything from images, string arrangements, bass lines, drums, synthesisers, video concepts. It varies.”  

Born and raised in Kansas, Monae moved to New York and, soon after dropping out of drama school, founded her own label and artist collective: the Art Wondaland Society, enabling her to release her EP, ‘Metropolis: The Chase’. 

What ensued has been nothing short of meteoric: underground success found her on the radar of a certain Sean ‘Diddy’ Coombs who promptly signed her to Bad Boy - giving Monae the platform she needed to reach a wider audience - and the much coveted support slots for No Doubt and Erykah Badu. More recently, a triumphant performance on Late Show With David Letterman has become a YouTube sensation.

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Has signing to a major in any way confined her independence? “No, I’m free, it’s more of a partnership and he [Diddy] is very respectful of my creative self,” she explains. “He’s a project campaignist - he exposes what we’re doing to the mainland.” 

Signing to Bad Boy has also been a catalyst for the release of Monae’s debut LP, ‘The Arch Android’, a record that is littered with disparate featuring artists perpetuating its evasive genrefication. But why ‘Arch Android’? “I like androids,” Monae asserts. “For me androids represent ‘the other’, a future other. The ‘Arch Android’ however is the mediator - he connects the majority and the minority; the haves and the have nots; the oppressed and the oppressor. I consider myself the arch: I want my music to bring people together”. 

Words by Sam Ballard

Where: Kansas
What: Transformative
Unique Fact: She lists her influences as Salvador Dali, food markets, car washes and Kansas.
Get 3 songs: ‘Tightrope’, ‘Dance Or Die’, ‘Cold War’

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Clash Magazine Issue 52




This article appears in the 52nd issue of Clash Magazine. Pick it up in stores from July 1st.

Find out more about the issue HERE. Subscribe to Clash Magazine HERE.


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