When it comes to pop stars, it can be tough to figure out who’s the real deal and who’s just coasting along on hype and marketing. But Tinashe has been working in the music industry for a decade now, and it’s become clear that she’s here to stay. From “2 On” to “Flame,” her songs are actual bops that will get stuck in your head for hours. Not to mention, she’s an incredible dancer who’s totally bringing the choreographed music video back.
And with her adorable R&B throwback style, it’s no surprise that fashion kingpins like Alexander Wang and Karl Lagerfeld have taken notice of her. Galore recently caught up with Tinashe and talked all about sexism in the studio, what it’s like to date while famous (hint: not easy), and where she gets her signature style.
I feel like I never see your dating life in the tabloids or blogs. Do you keep your social life private on purpose?
Yes, and I also don’t really have much of one. I guess I don’t necessarily try to be part of the Hollywood scene.
You can easily avoid it or easily make yourself part of it, as far as going to the Hollywood hot spots where you know TMZ will be and you know people will photograph you. It’s kind of a decision you make. You can go to different parts of the city and those people aren’t there.
As far as my personal and dating life, it’s relatively nonexistent. Half because I really don’t have the time and don’t make it a priority. Whenever I do get involved with someone, I don’t wanna just sabotage it right away [by going public]. Like it’s gotta be a real thing for me if I’m gonna get involved.
Do you ever feel pressure as a musician to be public with your relationships to gain more visibility?
Yeah, 100%. I’ve definitely heard over the years a lot of people being like, “Why don’t you date this person?” “Why don’t you date that person?” as if it’s a built-in career move that everyone needs to do. You’d think that shouldn’t matter to people, but it does.
I think with a lot of these industry relationships, it’s beneficial for everyone involved to be public because it is such a huge HUGE talking point. So I don’t knock people who are public, because I understand it. There is a lot of press associated with being in a public relationship. But I don’t necessarily try to do it. That’s not like my goal but I understand where they’re coming from.
Have you ever experienced sexism in a work situation?
Absolutely. More so towards the beginning of my career, and now it’s more like in smaller ways. It’s hard to point your finger, like that was sexist, because it’s a little bit less obvious as far as privilege that male artists get over female artists, whether it be at shows or how people treat them in different work environments.
The most blatant sexism I received was more toward the beginning of my career when people thought of me more as a cute girl who got a deal who didn’t necessarily earn her place here. It was an attitude of, “okay, this girl is hot,” and a lot of people just really objectifying me in studio situations when I’m trying to make a song with a producer or writer.
Especially because I was only like 18, 19 at the time, there were a lot of older guys seemingly more interested in the physical aspect or the sexual aspect of potentially working with me rather than making a good song. Which is obviously frustrating and a little bit upsetting. But as I gained respect as a songwriter, [and] as someone who deserves to be here, it happens to me less. At least to my face.
Do you think guys get away with behavior women would never get away with at work?
Yeah for sure… like being in studio situations. When I make a song, I’m going there to make a song. I never bring people with me or a posse, I wouldn’t bring friends. I just would roll up to the studio solo, because when I make a song I like to be in the zone. The least amount of people the better.
[But there] would be situations where I’d pull up and be there for the music and the right reasons, and [guys who brought big groups of friends would] deflect the session into like, how many one night stands have you had? How many threesomes have you had? Really inappropriate things.
Or people wanting to take me out. We were in the studio together and they were like, “Come to my house,” and tried to get me to get in their car and leave with them, different things like that.
It’s been a process but I think again the more respect I’ve gained, the less that’s happened.
“Flame” is such a cult favorite, people are obsessed. Was there a moment when you knew it was gonna be a hit?
I’m excited about it, thank you. I don’t think you ever know. You have high hopes for every single you release but it’s so competitive. And the thing is you’re always so emotionally invested in every single song that you almost don’t wanna set expectations because it can be extremely emotional.
It can be devastating if it feels like something you really put your heart and soul into gets overlooked, because each song is such an important, personal thing.
How can you tell when someone doesn’t have the flame for you anymore? Is there a telltale sign?
I feel like you know deep down. It’s just the little things, really, like when they stop responding to messages as quickly as they used to. It’s all about the little nuances. If they don’t seem as sensitive as they did before, or you go out with a group of friends and they don’t give you as much attention as they did before… You always can tell when someone is pulling away from you and you can tell when that initial energy is not the same anymore.
It’s always really hard to deal with because you think, “this is in my head, I’m overreacting, maybe I’m making this up… did I do anything wrong?” And that kind of questioning feeling and confusion is what “Flame” is really about. It’s when you’re in that questioning period and hoping things could still work out but deep down, you know. You always know.
When you’re recording, how do you keep from getting sick of finessing the same material day after day?
It becomes an obsession. It becomes something for me that I think about all day long. I go to sleep thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it. All I wanna talk about it is the music. I listen to the songs over and over and over and over again and the ones that I still find myself coming back to, I guess those become the ones that are more timeless and fit the album better.
So I guess the ones I get sick of just don’t make the final cut. It just becomes an obsession, like I don’t ever think I’ve listened to this music enough.