Singer-songwriter Tinashe has made a name for herself lately and buzz surrounding her name is as fierce as a buzz symphony from a beehive. With three mixtapes under her belt and a fresh debut top 20 album on the Billboard 200 chart inked on her résumé, the California native seems to be crafting a career made for success.
The young starlet has developed her strong fan base built on consistency and pure work ethic. In just a span of three years, the 21-year-old released four consecutive solid projects–2011 mixtape In Case We Die, 2012 mixtape Reverie, 2013 mixtape Black Water and her 2014 debut studio album Aquarius. The latter spawned two lead singles “2 On” and “Pretend” featuring rapper A$AP Rocky, serving as a launch pad for her career.
Tinashe’s debut single “2 On” was crafted by one of the most prominent urban producers today in music, DJ Mustard, and became an instant anthem by not only fans, but industry peers as well–even rapper Drake couldn’t resist creating his own version of the hit. The lead single steadily climbed the charts and peaked No. 1 on the Billboard Rhythmic Chart for four weeks showing that the star’s driven work ethic paid off.
Rated R&B sat down with Tinashe to get her take on her garnered success thus far and what lies ahead for her. The pages of her book are just being written and she has many more chapters to unfold. Read the interview below.
RR: Congrats on your debut album. Critics and fans have deemed your album as one of the most consistent and cohesive works of 2014. What steps were made during the recording process to make sure you delivered a memorable first album?
TINASHE: For me, the biggest thing is just trusting my instincts and I kind of make songs that I want to hear or something that I feel like I would purchase. And if I do that — if I make sure that is on point, then typically someone else would like it I hope (laughs).
RR: You recorded nearly 200 songs for “Aquarius.” How difficult was it to select songs to be placed on the album?
TINASHE: Again, like I said, it’s kind of about instinct. It’s about picking songs that make me feel some type of way. I had created a lot of songs — some were a lot more true to who I am as a creative person than others. Also, at the end I really kind of re-wrote a lot of songs.
RR: Which song on the album would you say reminds music admirers that you’re an artist before an entertainer?
TINASHE: I think songs like “Cold Sweat,” “Baited Breath” — songs that have a little bit more emotion or depth to them as opposed to like “2 On,” which obviously is a place and time for that as well.
RR: One thing we don’t really see anymore on album is interludes. However, you placed a few of them on your album. How important are interludes to you?
TINASHE: Interludes are about setting the tone. I really want, when people listen to my album, to feel like a movie. I want it to be visual. I want it to just put you in a different mind state and those interludes kind of help you get into that mindstate when you listen to that next track.
RR: So far you’ve released two singles from Aquarius (2 On, Pretend). Will there be a third single?
TINASHE: Yeah, absolutely.
RR: Do you have an idea of which song will be the next single?
TINASHE: Yes, but it hasn’t been confirmed yet. It’s kind of secret, highly classified (laughs).
RR: You just received your first platinum plaque. What thoughts were going through your head when you first heard the news?
TINASHE: This is fucking awesome. It’s a dream come true, you know? It’s a landmark that I’ve been waiting to achieve my entire life. So when you hit those kind of landmarks, it means a lot for sure.
RR: Before you dropped your debut album, you already had three mixtapes out. How have you evolved as an artist?
TINASHE: I think I just grew a lot as a person and experience a lot of new things in my life — traveling, in this entertainment industry I’ve become more popular and been on the road more. I think when you’re in a different place in your life, you have different inspirations and different things to write about.
RR: 2014 was a great year for you. You had a hit single, multiple noteworthy placements, performances and the list goes on. Now that 2015 is here, what are three things you’d like to accomplish or do?
TINASHE: I would like to continue to tour, meet fans around the world and expand my fan base. I would like to release another project whether it be a mixtape or an album — just release more material. I would like to collaborate with more artists.
RR: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
TINASHE: Right now, at the top of my wish list is Andre 3000. That would be fire.
RR: You will be joining Iggy Azalea and Nick Jonas on tour this year. What can we expect?
TINASHE: I don’t really know (laughs). I’m assuming my set will be similar to how it is now with a lot of energy and a lot of dancing. That’s probably what I’ll bring to the table at the tour.
RR: As a new artist how do you feel about being compared to other artists while you’re establishing a name for yourself?
TINASHE: I think it’s something that you kind of just have to deal with because people automatically do it no matter what. Obviously, I would like to be known as myself so I try to keep the comparisons to a minimal. But you have to take it as a compliment for sure, especially when you’re compared to people that you respect musically.
RR: You’ve mentioned that Janet Jackson is one of your musical influences. What’s your all-time favorite album by her?
TINASHE: “Velvet Rope.”
RR: Acting is another talent that you have. Are there any current plans for Tinashe to be on television or on the big screens?
TINASHE: Yeah. I hope to get back into it eventually. I kind of took a break during the last few years because I wanted people to understand, for me, the music comes first. I want people to know that is something that I take very seriously.
RR: What do you want your legacy to be?
TINASHE: I think the biggest thing I want to be a part of my legacy is people to realize that I’m just driven and use that as inspiration to go about pursuing whatever their particular goals are. I’ve had tunnel vision for a very long time and I hope to continue to grow, grow, grow! I want to help inspire people.
GET “AQUARIUS” ON ITUNES NOW!