The neo-soul sensation spoke with New York magazine recently about her album, her influences and her look.
On the album concept:
It was heavily influenced by Fritz Lang’s 1927 iconic silent film Metropolis and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. “(Metropolis) talked about a constant struggle between the haves and have-nots, the ‘other.’ Androids will be the new other. I feel we’ll be living with them soon.”
On her concert alter ego:
Monae apparently performs The ArchAndroid as Cindi Mayweather, a character inspired by Neo from The Matrix. “She’s the mediator between the haves and have-nots, the chosen one to help restore unity and balance.” But can she dodge bullets?
On her musical influences:
She grew up listening to classic musicals from Rodgers and Hammerstein as well as Nat King Cole, Lauryn Hill, Jimi Hendrix and Salvador Dalí’s painting Portrait of Gala With Two Lamb Chops. “I’ll refer to my music in color, like ‘This song needs to be bright red.’ ”
On her signature look:
Screen great and tuxedo aficionado Marlene Dietrich inspired Janelle’s trademark skinny tuxedos. She calls her look a tribute to “my mother, who was a janitor, and my father, who drove trash trucks. It pays homage to how they put on a uniform every day and turned something into nothing.” The hair, however, comes from experimentation. “Some people call it a pompadour or a wompadour, but it’s a Monae.”
Metropolis, The Matrix, musicals and Marlene — what can I say? The woman has impeccable taste.