Known for not doing any press these days, Beyoncé broke her little rule to sit on the other side of the table to interview baby sis Solange, who recently dropped her soulful, powerful third record, A Seat At The Table.
Conducted by Interview Magazine, it's a rare, enlightening look at the relationship between the two talented sisters. Solange is asked by Bey about inspirations growing up, what being in the studio was like, working with her husband Alan Ferguson on the album's visuals and being "a strong woman", and it's honestly a lovely read between two musical auteurs.
Here are six things we learnt.
first and foremost…
Beyoncé is a fantastic interviewer. Not only does she ask interesting questions of her sister's new record, the focus remains on Solange's new outing, one that has received critical acclaim and even a Grammy nomination (Best R&B Performance), instead of circling back to Beyoncé's own obviously illustrious career. The exchange isn't littered with too many inside jokes or references (though let's be honest, we'd probably love to read those too) and Bey asks genuine questions of Solange's work that seem like they might be too "serious" to ask when just hanging out together on the couch.
We love questions like, "Your voice on the album, the tone of your voice, the vulnerability in your voice and in your arrangements ... what inspired you to sing in that tone?' and "What are some misconceptions about being a strong woman?", allowing Solange to really get personal with us as readers.
solange loves the real housewifes of atlanta
The Real Housewifes Of Atlanta TV show comes up twice in the interview — first, when Solange is asked by Bey what growing up in Parkwood in Houston, Texas is like. Solange describes people in Houston to be "warm", "friendly" and "expressive and vivid storytellers". She says, "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," and says The Real Housewifes Of Atlanta reminds her of this childhood experience. Later, she surprises Beyoncé by admitting the show makes her "laugh the hardest".
solange co-produced and wrote her songs, and played drums and keys on the record
Beyoncé rightly notes that Solange having such a strong hand in producing and creating A Seat At The Table is "something to be celebrated", in such a male-dominated world of music production. As Bey notes in one of her questions, Solange worked on "the live instrumentation, with you physically, on the keyboards, on the drums, producing not only the vocals but also co-producing the tracks". Solange explains it was a new experience and came from the need to fill "holes that no one else could really fill for [her]".
a seat at the table is heavily based on the knowles family experience
Solange says having her sister interview her made sense because "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". Aside from her family, Solange was inspired by her friends' experiences, the desire to be "a better wife and a better friend and a better sister".
Solange breaks out in hives when she's nervous
Bey notes that leading up to the release of A Seat At The Table, Solange was incredibly nervous — moreso than other artists — and Solange admits she was breaking out in hives. "I could not sit still. It was terrifying," she says. Later, Bey jokes that it was funny to see "Mrs Too-cool-for-everything" get starstruck when she met rapper Nas. Solange says Diana Ross would get the same starstruck reaction from her — and yep, she broke out in hives again. "I broke out in some hives when I went to her concert. Alan was like, 'Uh, you're breaking out into hives. Calm down.'"
her musical inspirations include aaliyah and missy elliott
Solange names Missy Elliott as "one of her biggest inspirations" in terms of female producers and discovering that she could do more than just sing and write lyrics. Minnie Riperton, Alanis Morrisette and Syreeta Wright are also cited as women who shaped her music — Wright's sweet singing while "saying some really tough shit" directly inspired A Seat At The Table. The late Aaliyah's "vocal arrangements with Static Major" also scores a mention.
You can read the full interview for Interview Magazine here.