Janelle Monae sought out Stevie Wonder to help make sense of her dark thoughts about the political situation in America.
The singer and actress released her new album, Dirty Computer, last month (Apr18) and tells Australian radio station Double J that she was in a “dark space” when writing its songs – but wanted to make a hopeful record.
Janelle, 32, says that she reached out to Stevie and political activist Angela Davis about their own struggles in the movements of the 1960s and 1970s in order to address her unhappiness at U.S. politicians’ disregard for minorities and women’s rights.
“I’m a solution-oriented person, I understand that studying movements and speaking to people like Stevie Wonder and Angela Davis and so many other people, that love has to be at the centre of the revolution,” the musician explains.
Since he launched his successful campaign for the U.S. presidency in 2015 with a speech in which he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” President Donald Trump has caused outrage with his controversial comments and policies – while lawmakers from his Republican Party have moved to end government funding for Planned Parenthood, America’s biggest women’s health organisation.
Explaining her fury at Trump’s effect on her country’s politics, she says, “When you think about the way women’s rights have been trampled on, the constant disrespect that minorities in this country have. When you think about those divisive tactics – people that want to divide us and try and make sure we know how different we are – when those in positions of power want to remain in power by division, all those things are upsetting to me.”
However, the Cold War singer wanted Dirty Computer to embrace “empathy” and “love”, but adds, “I had to really think about who I wanted to celebrate and who I was okay with p**sing off.”
Janelle has already created something of a stir with one of her new tracks, PYNK – as in the video, she and her backing dancers wore trousers resembling female genitalia.