From her first release in 2012, See.SZA.Run, we have been mesmerized by the soulful voice of Solana Rowe, better known as SZA. Since that debut, we have received S and Z, EPs that have followed in 2013 and 2014 respectively which leads fans to clamor over the release of A in the final installment of the three-EP series. If you’re familiar with her music, you know that SZA makes the type of sounds that you can’t exactly describe but can instantly connect to. Rather you call it chill-wave, neo-soul, alternative R&B, or something else, you know that SZA is taking her time to give the best quality in her work. I had the chance to sit down with Top Dawg Ent.’s first lady after Raurfest earlier this year and pick her brain a bit about who she is, what inspires her and more. Check out the interview below.
SZA, what don’t we know about you?
Uhhhhm, I don’t know. It depends what you know about me.
What is SZA doing on a rainy day?
I’m probably smoking and watching a lot of Broad City and Living Single. Broad City is the best show on television.
What about on a sunny day?
On a sunny day, I’m swimming or hiking or both.
SZA, we’ve been listening to S and Z and we’ve been hearing little about A—
It’s soon. It’s soon.
I won’t ask the date but what I will ask is, besides A and its release this year, what else are you looking forward to?
I’m working on a lot of cool visual projects. I’m directing a lot of projects, some pretty big ones. So, I’m really excited to make that debut for directing. My father was in film for a very long time so, I’m stoked about that for sure. And then getting my live show together, I’m kinda stoked to get all of that sorted out. Just excited to break in to another level of my craft because you know everything has steps in an organic way. So you’re not going to be in the same place that you were last year, naturally—well, you shouldn’t be—naturally, I don’t think anybody is. You’ll be a little older, regardless, if nothing else changes. But, I don’t know. Like, I never had a vocal coach and I never sang live before. So, I went on a full tour and I still never had a vocal coach but I still had a chance to sing full voice every night with a 5-piece band and really hear my music, learn music theory, learn jazz—just all of these things. But that was it.
So, outside of you, what are you looking forward to? Maybe movies, books, other music?
I want to direct film; I want to really delve in to that. I love visual art in general, but I don’t want to be a debutante about it and disrespect the craft. So I want to explore but I don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. So, I’d rather hone in on music even more and then build on film because I’m a visual learner and a visual person.
Because you’re big on film, what movies are you looking forward to or what movies have you enjoyed that are already out?
Rosemary’s Baby is probably my favorite movie. I was really big into horror when I was younger but I love vintage horror because it’s very implied. It’s a lot of subtlety. It’s very eerie. It’s creepy. It just makes you feel like, “F*ck!” You feel heavy but you may never see the culprit, you may never see the actual demon or monster but it’s the whole movie. They take you through all of these emotions and I love the fact that it forces you to think. Nowadays I feel like they just through blood and gore on everything and call that sh*t scary, or call it film and I think subtlety is beautiful. And there’s an art to subtlety. That’s really how you can see a director. If you’re looking at Tarantino, like watching Django, one of the most beautiful frames is when there’s that white horse with blood splattered on it. Or the slow frames when there’s cotton with blood everywhere. It’s just tender; I respect that.
And you practice it. We see that with the lack of appearances you make. The little music that you share—we see the appreciation.
That’s more so me being… I don’t know.
Well, it’s something that you notice and appreciate so likely so you emulate it whether it’s intentional or not.
I wish I were more subtle. Like, if there was something that I could change about myself, I would wish that I was more subtle but I’m naturally a little hyper-active. I don’t know, my chemicals are just funky like that. My mother’s very subtle, eloquent and graceful. Like when she walks in to the room you can feel the air get warmer, she’s just one of those so I’ve always wanted to have her regal-ness. And I think sometimes that comes from pulling back a little bit in saying less but I’ve always been like, “Throw all the paint at the wall! Right now!” I’m just like that I have to embrace that.
So, if we had to end it all, along with everything else that we’ve learned about you, what inspires you the most? Not just as an artist, or a young woman but overall, what inspires you and why?
Failure is God’s greatest gift. One, it’ll let you know when you’re not ready for something. Most things that you’ve failed and reassessed, you’ve done some serious reassessing and you go back in and get doper. But it’s like, you ever notice like those kids in high school that were like mad bomb and popular, it’s that they’re trash now but it’s where you thought that they would go. In high school, you felt like “F*ck, they life gon’ be more dope than mine?!” but it’s not like that but I think because there’s a low level of failure. But when there’s a high level of failure, there’s usually a high level of excellence as well. So I just pray to fail more and fail fast. I don’t want that sh*t to take too much time.
That’s real. Once you get that failure it’ll lead to the success rather that be personal growth, knowledge turning to wisdom, better music or whatever the case may be. So, that’s definitely understandable.
I’m in a place of failure and rebirth right now and I’m very grateful for it.
P.S. A is set to release “soon”. “It’ll still be hot when it comes out,” SZA said. That could mean very soon for some places or who knows when for others depending on where you live haha.