How have you evolved as a producer?
When I was younger, I was obsessed with doing it all in the computer; taking something like the Tempest, playing it live and then going to the computer. On this album, I feel less precious; I’ve tampered with the sounds less, because I feel a bit more at peace with a song telling a story and having the music as a supportive element. I also worked with so many collaborators [like Nicolás Jaar and Benny Blanco] who have brilliant sounds, and I’m less afraid to pick apart what they’re doing, take a little aspect and sew it together like a patchwork quilt. Editing is key to the type of music I make. It can get quite busy quite quickly.
How has your songwriting changed?
When I wrote my first album I was 23, and when I wrote my second album I was 30. I think I’ve always been truthful, but I’ve been digging deeper for Magdalene; I knew I didn’t want to release any new music until I’d found the bottom of the well.
On “Home With Me,” you rap the line “I’ve never seen a hero like me in a sci-fi.”
I wrote that with CY AN and Ethan [P. Flynn]. It came together in one go. I was feeling frustrated that day and was messing with my voice on the Helicon voice machine, creating this distortion and echo. I was thinking about the feeling of coming from a very loving and creative, but quite beautifully broken family, and as I’m getting older and people are depending on me, what is my example to look to, as a young woman of color? I look at a lot of strong women who maybe I’m supposed to model myself after, and they seem too majestic. I don’t relate to that. My heart lies in something that’s far more vulnerable.
You’ve done significant work with Red Bull Music Academy, including your recent show Magdalene at the Park Avenue Armory. What do you think about that program coming to an end?