Page 3 of 3
From the moment we met, Solange was immediately disarming and funny, joking about losing a babysitter to the siren call of New York’s improv circuit, and talking about a late night in the recording studio that had lasted until four or five in the morning: “I’m working on my next record. I started writing about three months ago. I’ve been so lucky to meet such wonderful and beautiful inspiring friends, and we have all these experiences that only could have happened here. Even last night we all went to see Flying Lotus and Erykah Badu at Music Hall of Williamsburg and then we all went over to my studio in Red Hook and we just hung out till literally the sun came up and recorded and talked. They inspire me. Just having that energy around is so important.” What’s quickly apparent from seeing Solange and her friends together is that they feed off each other’s energy, talking and laughing easily, always close together with the casual physical intimacy that the best girlfriends have.
It’s clear that Solange has found here the community she sought when she left Los Angeles. Always in tune with the independent music scene (I was at the Grizzly Bear show at the Williamsburg Waterfront to which Solange brought Beyoncé and Jay-Z, way back in 2009, and remember how excited everyone was when we realized who was in the audience), Solange recorded her last album, True, with producer Dev Hynes (Florence + the Machine) and had a hit with the compulsively danceable song, “Losing You.” With plans to tour this summer—once Julez is out of school and can accompany her—she continues to move full-speed ahead, establishing a distinctive musical identity that is inescapably her. But, while she is busy doing that, she continues to live the life of a Brooklyn parent, the kind of Brooklyn parent who moved to an apartment specifically so that she would be zoned for the public school of her choice—and then visiting that school’s office every day for two weeks until her son was guaranteed a spot. So while Solange definitely has nights of recording till the sun rises, she also tells me what a really crazy weekend looks like for her now: “I played BAM on Friday, and the following morning I had to pick Julez up from a sleepover and take him to parties, one over in Flatbush, one over in Red Hook. And luckily I have a car here, but sometimes I feel like nothing more than a next-level carpool driver.” Solange flashes a huge smile when talking about one of the most intense parts of her life now. “It’s the birthday parties here. The birthday parties are so, so real.”
Many artists seem to construct more and more layers of their identities as their careers grow, protecting their true selves and only revealing a façade to the rest of the world but Solange has successfully done the opposite. She has shed the image that was thrust upon her at a young age, an image that was based on the family she came from and the music she was supposed to be making. In her music, in the way she lives her life, and in conversation, she is undeniably herself—effortlessly discussing everything from her son’s French immersion program to playing Glastonbury this summer to the guilty parental pleasure of sleeping past noon, before wrapping me up in a warm hug goodbye, and heading back into the studio to make music.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen