With the release of the Some Day This All Will Make Sense pre-order, it's the official launch of Slug Records. How did that partnership come about?
I am my own artist, under my own label. I wanted to take back my shit and hone that. I was looking for a distribution partner. Tyler, the Creator is one of my biggest inspirations, what he's done with Golf. The place I thrive is in the environments that I create. I really didn’t want to be under another label; I wanted to stay in my world. I felt supported and I felt love. I’m just going to be my own artist under my own label. I was trying to find a partner to go into this with me, and EMPIRE came and said they love what I do. There’s this synergy that you’re not just a musician but you're well versed in all these other things and we want to be behind. I’m like, ‘for real?’ I’m so happy. It’s a blessing for people to see what you want to do and want to get behind it.
I’m going to do my own thing. I’m not going to “sign” artists. We do things with artists. We do showcases, release parties, listening sessions, marketing, content...maybe we’ll talk about signing people, like single releases. We’ll do content deals, 'cause that's where we thrive. Standard deals are outdated and people need engaging content, and that’s what we do. Slug Records will be putting music over there.
It’ll be Slug Global, and under the umbrella will be Slug Records and Slug Agency. We’ll keep building from there and putting people on. We’ll keep doing it for the culture. We are an art collective, so we have illustrations, artists, and motion animators. The label for me, gives me leverage, 'cause I can still own my own universe. I want to move into content licensing, content is not just equity. It’s data. It’s intellectual property. We want to work smarter, be ahead of the curve, and be on that wave.
That does seem to be the new wave, where content is now the focal point not necessarily an added menu item. There’s a shift on the focus or purpose of labels. Have you been thinking about this for awhile?
Having something like this has always been in the back of my mind. I always wanted an agency so I can put on multimedia artists. We aren’t a music label who are putting on or signing artists. We are a label who are putting on people who are special and have a lot of skills. There weren't people like me 10 years ago who were celebrated and were welcomed to the industry. I’d hear, “You are doing too much.” We are the home to the n---as that are doing too much. That’s where the home is. I’m trying to shake shit up. I’m trying to revolutionize how people experience music, design and culture. I’m over traditional rollouts. We have to keep pushing. That’s what I’m aiming to do with Slug Records.
You’re about to be the person you wish you had, years ago.
The part of a creative’s journey that’s hard to experience is feeling that you have to choose one part of you over the other, one discipline over another: music, creative, art. Did you ever feel that way? If so, how hard was that feeling?
Absolutely. I always felt that way, but I always fought against it. People have always been like, “You need to focus on one thing. The reason you’re not poppin’ off is because you have your hands spreaded across so many things. You need to focus on one thing.” For a long time, I started to believe it. I thought, 'Why would the universe, or universe God or whatever you believe in, why would the universe God give me all these gifts and all of these skills to just hone in on one thing?' My purpose in life was to show others that sometimes taking the longer road is worth it. That’s why the name of the project is Some Day This All Will Make Sense.
In the beginning, I didn't know...I just knew I had this burning desire to create beautiful things, whether it be visually or sonically. I knew there were other girls that looked like me, young men, and other people who weren't just musicians or just into graphic design or just an illustrator or just a computer animator…We as a people, especially people of color, were built for more. I really had to fight against that and silence the noise and stay focused. I was like, “Yes I’m a singer; I’m still a damn good artist and designer. I should be able to explore that without feeling guilty or without feeling like I have to compromise or choose.” I played the game of diligence. I played the game of patience, until the world was able to catch up with the information and technology that really sustains the artists of today.
Is that where the album title came from? That moment where you said, “I’m just gonna do it all?”
Everything I’ve done in my life has led up to this moment, whether I knew it was going to work or wasn’t going to work. I had this faith in me that, at the end everything will make sense. The reason people don’t make it is because they stop. They don’t allow themselves to experience failure. I can say, looking back, that failure has been a great teacher. I would put things out on the Internet that wouldn't do good. I would think, 'Now imagine if I wouldn’t have tried that; if I would've waited now to try these things.' I’m glad I failed successfully. I didn’t fail with defeat. I had an awareness within myself and resilience with my vision. Now being a multidisciplinary [artist], and doing all this, is the wave. I would tell anyone, 'you have to stick to your guns and continue to do your thing, no matter how many nos, even if they don’t believe.' You believe.
You’ve briefly shared that self-realizations are woven throughout this EP. What realizations fueled this project?
What made me realize that I was doing something right was when I had the work to show and to prove my track record. I was like, “What is it gonna take this time for me to challenge myself and elevate myself without outside pressures and without other people’s money?” I realized when looking at other people...even Kanye -- before Kanye was with Kim -- Kanye invested all of his production money into his music. I thought, I’m going to take all my freelance money, all of the stuff I was working on on the agency side, all the jobs and influencer things I didn’t want to do, and take that money and flip it. I need to put myself in a position to show people, if I can invest in myself, then you should. Kanye’s story inspired me. He was like, ‘y'all wait.’ Sometimes you have to throw up all your chips in. I’m going to pay for my own project, shoot my own visuals, do all of my artwork, then take meetings and pitch it like that. That was the leverage that I needed. I needed to prove it to myself that I can do it. I needed to learn patience that you have to stick to it and see the vision all the way out. You have to rely on your team. I think because the music market is dissipating, no one is investing in you off the top. You have to put your chips in to play. What are you gonna do to leverage the situation? Content is key. That’s been one of the things I’ve used as leverage. Let me get on my shit and present a package. I took two to three years to work on projects, and build up my repertoire on the creative side. I think people wanted to see a little bit more. It was hard to be disciplined to stay in the race to get to where I needed to go.
Did you not know you felt that way for a certain time? What was it that made you finally say “f-ck it?”
I felt like I needed to do more. I felt like I needed something to separate me. As an artist, creative, or whatever discipline you’re in, you get to a point where you want to have full ownership of yourself. That was a breaking point that I had come to. It wasn’t enough for me to be an artist or to be a label. I was tired of not being able to own my voice. I was tired of not being able to flex different skills I knew that I had, that I may have once let fear get the best of me. I was tired of being seen as just “this type” of artist. I wanted something to move me towards being a visual musician. It had to take me doing something I've never done before, and with that it takes time and a lot of patience. A lot of staying in so your spirit doesn’t get weathered by seeing other people’s stuff. A lot of saying, “No, not right now.” That was the breaking point, when I knew there was more that I needed to say. I want that respect. I want that respect from my peers, from the industry, because I feel like once you have all of those tools people have no choice but to respect it. They know you did it from the ground up. You didn’t have a hand-out. It was a good, clean win.
Was it you not being ready or outside voices putting you in a box?
A little bit of both. You always have naysayers. You always have people who question your consistency. People don't realize the amount of funding and energy that comes into play. I lost my best friend, not this Christmas but the Christmas before. I had a lot of personal shit that happened to me that knocked the wind out of me -- family stuff, things I don't really talk about, but people would want to be like, “she is doing this, she ain’t doing this.” On the other end of it, y’all don’t know that my 15-year-old cousin got shot in the head in a drive by shooting. Things people don't know about because I don't post my whole life on social media. That shit affects. I see shit. I hear stuff. I can’t let that get the best of me. I have to use it as fuel and motivation, but also I have my own personal, internal conflicts that I have to fight off on a daily basis. I would say it's a mixture of both. You have to allow life to happen to you, whether it's good and bad. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop even if you’re an artist, musician, or creative. Death and time have no respect for a person. It’s a huge reality check. 2018 was very rough for me, personally. I would work on the project, stop it, have doubts, come back, but that was all a part of the journey. I had to be gentle with myself. I had to be really soft. I had to allow myself to be malleable to the things that were happening to me but were also shaping me for the future.
Some Day This All Will Make Sense is a visual album: seven songs, seven videos. The videos though are short-length, one minute each or so. What was the thought process behind that? What was the creative process behind it?
I was really inspired by movie trailers and '90s perfume commercials. It’s also a social experiment. We are in an age where people only digest things in a minute. If you see the analytics and algorithms of social media, you can’t post anything that’s past a minute. They're giving you something your brain can hold, but also give you a sense of wanting more. I gave people a vision and mood of the song, and I allowed them to be in it with me, but also want more. I’m running a social content experiment. I’m seeing what visual resonates with my demographic the most, and we’ll then unlock the visual eventually. I don’t feel like I need to put out whole visuals right now, and I also love real good thoughtful movie trailers. You only need 30 seconds to a minute. I’m just giving you a world to put the song in. I’m not necessarily trying to give you the whole thing and impose my thoughts on you. I’m treating the visuals more like a commercial to the song, than a video.
I shot the photos in one day, and all the videos the next day. Girl, I would never do that again. I would never, never, never do that again.
Where did the stress come from?
My hair is different in every scene. My look is different in every scene. Moving people around. People getting cranky. I’m cranky. Thinking, 'Oh shit, we left the light. Someone needs to go get the light in Culver City that we left at the location in Culver City.' 'Oh shit, I forgot to get lunch. Pick something.' [Laughs]
We still need to shoot ”4th of July.” We’re going to shoot that one soon, because we’re partnering up with someone for that. It’s a special song on the album. That will be a whole video.
Why is that one the standout one?
That’s a standout song ‘cause that’s the last song that made the album, the last song I made and it completed it. It felt special. It felt right. By that time, we ran out of money and everything else was done.
Something I hear throughout the EP is this honesty and openness, you letting yourself be with your partner, with yourself, and with other close people. What were some topics you wanted to explore, lyrically, on this project?
I was talking to myself a lot on this project. As an artist, we don’t say when our shit stinks. We don't admit to f--k-ups. We don’t take accountability for things. We don't own up to a lot because we aren't made to, because we cover it in art, design, culture, videos, and things like that. It was important for me to talk to myself. With “Petal,” I wrote that song after getting in an argument and feeling defeated that day. I was just really in it, in my feelings. I wanted to write a song as if I was looking at myself, encouraging myself, but also being very honest with myself. It ended up being one of my favorite interludes of the project.
“Piano Song” was dedicated to all the relationships, family and friends, that I chose my career over. These are open letters to myself, to my family, to ex-lovers, to my current lovers. Certain things, as artists, we can’t take back. We can’t get those moments back. Sometimes it’s fuckin’ hard to cope. It’s hard to cope when you've been away from people you love and they die, or you miss your brother’s graduation, or your niece took her first steps, your grandmother's in the hospital. As an artist it’s supposed be that you give to the world, but in hindsight, it’s the most selfish career. I wanted to talk about shit that I was dealing with, that I never dealt with or uncovered before.
Was it hard for you to be vulnerable?
[Exhales] One of the lyrics to one of my songs [goes], “these the seeds you sow when you want to grow. It can be golden, but you’ll be smiling at the sun when you get up.” You gotta put something in. You gotta put yourself out there to release. Another lyric goes, “Pick me a rose, seven scenic roads, but when you go, I go running with you.” You can tear me down. The troubles may come. It may be hard, but I’m still out here. Another lyric is like, “Sorry for the times I’ve been away. The moments I can’t erase. Now you say 'I love you,' but how can you say that you do, but yet we hide our truths.” That’s me talking to my mom. She always wants me to be around for her things. It kills me when I can’t because I have to do this, I have to do that. “Paid in Full” is a tribute to all the people that have affected my life. At the end of the day, if this shit doesn't go, I got my n---as. I’m just trying to pay my bills. It’s a matter of fact, upfront conversations. This is where I’m at, where I am in my life. Maybe its age or maturity, but I got tired of talking about the same shit and I wanted to free myself. The key to my freedom, this time around, is accountability and being honest with myself.
You’ve mentioned having a purpose to your journey. We can have different definitions about purpose, but I think how clear or solid our purpose is depends on if we are honest with ourselves and if we hold ourselves accountable. How would you define purpose, and what is your purpose?
Purpose is knowing your journey, knowing your goals, and knowing your God-given talent, and being responsible and accountable enough to finish the journey. Purpose for me is having the burning desire inside of you that quitting in failure is no longer in your vocabulary. Purpose for me is being selfless with my intentions. Purpose for me is not letting up on what I know now I was put on this earth to do. My specific purpose is to be a light for others and a gateway, or passageway, to show them the possibility of what you can do when you really believe in yourself, and when you're patient and disciplined. I believe my purpose is to give back. My purpose is to share, share my story. My story can help the next person get to their goals and to their destination.