For some reason I was really interested in reading this interview. There’s nothing like sisterly love and it is clearly felt in this issue of Interview Mag. Though the conversation between the two is a bit on the dry side, you get a glimpse of the dynamic of the mysterious Knowles siblings as big sis Bey probes Solange with questions about the making of A Seat at the Table, her family life, womanism and inspirations.
“Solange was, of course, born and raised in Houston and fell in with the family biz (managed by her father, filling in from time to time with her sister’s Destiny’s Child). Since then she has ranged further afield, living in Los Angeles, in Brooklyn, popping up in the odd movie and TV show, even performing on Yo Gabba Gabba. For the past few years, she and her husband, the director Alan Ferguson, and her son, Julez, have lived in New Orleans, where she runs her record label and online cultural hub Saint Heron. In December, Solange brought it all full circle, getting on the phone with her big sis to talk about the challenges and achievements of a lifetime.
BEYONCÉ: Are you exhausted? I know you had a parent-teacher conference …
SOLANGE: Yeah, I actually had to fly to Philly because there were no flights left to New York. And now I’m driving from Philly to New York. Well, I’m not driving, but …
BEYONCÉ: You have to drive? From Philly?
SOLANGE: Yeah. But it’s not bad. It’s only an hour and 40 minutes.
BEYONCÉ: Oh my God! Rock star. Well, it is a bit strange, because we’re sisters and we talk all the time, to be interviewing you. But I’m so happy to interview you because, clearly, I’m your biggest fan and I’m super proud of you. So we’ll start from the beginning. Growing up, you were always attracted to the most interesting fashion, music, and art. You were obsessed with Alanis Morissette and Minnie Riperton and mixing prints with your clothes … when you were only 10 years old. You would lock yourself in a room with your drum set and a record player and write songs. Do you remember that? Of course you do.
SOLANGE: I do. [both laugh]
BEYONCÉ: What else attracted you growing up?
SOLANGE: I remember having so much perspective about my voice, and how to use my voice, at such a young age—whether it was through dance, poetry, or coming up with different projects. I guess I always felt a yearning to communicate—I had a lot of things to say. And I appreciated y’all’s patience in the house during all of these different phases. They were not ever very introverted, quiet phases.
BEYONCÉ: No, not at all. [both laugh] I remember thinking, “My little sister is going to be something super special,” because you always seemed to know what you wanted. And I’m just curious, where did that come from?
SOLANGE: I have no idea, to be honest! I always knew what I wanted. We damn sure know that I wasn’t always right. [both laugh] But I’d sit firm, whether I was right or wrong. I guess a part of that was being the baby of the family and being adamant that, in a house of five, my voice was being heard. Another part is that I remember being really young and having this voice inside that told me to trust my gut. And my gut has been really, really strong in my life. It’s pretty vocal and it leads me. Sometimes I haven’t listened, and those times didn’t end up very well for me. I think all of our family—you and mom—we’re all very intuitive people. A lot of that comes through our mother, her always following her gut, and I think that spoke to me really loudly at a young age and encouraged me to do the same.
BEYONCÉ: You write your own lyrics, you co-produce your own tracks, you write your own treatments for your videos, you stage all of your performances, all of the choreography … Where does the inspiration come from?
SOLANGE: It varies. For one, I got to have a lot of practice. Growing up in a household with a master class such as yourself definitely didn’t hurt. And, as far back as I can remember, our mother always taught us to be in control of our voice and our bodies and our work, and she showed us that through her example. If she conjured up an idea, there was not one element of that idea that she was not going to have her hand in. She was not going to hand that over to someone. And I think it’s been an interesting thing to navigate, especially watching you do the same in all aspects of your work: Society labels that a control freak, an obsessive woman, or someone who has an inability to trust her team or to empower other people to do the work, which is completely untrue. There’s no way to succeed without having a team and all of the moving parts that help bring it into life. But I do have—and I’m unafraid to say it—a very distinctive, clear vision of how I want to present myself and my body and my voice and my perspective. And who better to really tell that story than yourself? For this record specifically, it really started with wanting to unravel some truths and some untruths. There were things that had been weighing heavy on me for quite some time. And I went into this hole, trying to work through some of these things so that I could be a better me and be a better mom to Julez and be a better wife and a better friend and a better sister. Which is a huge part of why I wanted you to interview me for this piece. 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. And my friends’ stories—every day, we’re texting about some of the micro-aggressions we experience, and that voice can be heard on the record, too. The inspiration for this record came from all of our voices as a collective, and wanting to look at it and explore it. I’m so happy I got to take my time in that process. And the end result feels really rewarding.
Read more of the interview here.