Janelle Monae is in the thick of a fierce rollout for her upcoming album "The Electric Lady," which has now received a Sept. 10 release date. Her signature style -- heavy on black-and-white outfits, funky dance grooves and optimal use of her wide-eyed facial expressions -- is on full display in the Erykah Badu-collaborating video for "Q.U.E.E.N." as well as her newly released song "Dance Apocalyptic."
The fresh track is one of Monae's most high-adrenaline offerings, combining a Jackson 5 vibe with a chorus that's reminiscent of Mark Ronson & The Business Intl's 2010 hit "Bang Bang Bang." It makes sense that "Apocalyptic" would sound Jackson-esque, as the singer is clearly in that sort of mood: The deluxe edition of "Electric Lady," released via an exclusive partnership with Target, will feature four additional tracks, including a cover of "I Want You Back." (A pre-order of "Lady" is available now.)
While no plans for a new round of Monae's mystic onstage presence have been announced, it seems inevitable that the 27-year-old singer will tour. In the meantime, she'll take the BET Awards stage on Sunday night and hold court as a performer at New Orleans' Essence Festival on July 7.
HuffPost Entertainment snagged a few minutes with Monae on Friday evening to discuss her Target partnership and how the singer feels about the inundation of album leaks that have punctured the music industry.
Hi, Janelle. Where are you calling from?
Los Angeles, Calif.
I know you have a ton of stuff going on right now. How did the Target partnership come about, and how you are feeling about its progress?
I’m honored. I’m thankful that I get the chance to partner with Target. I’ve been a business owner for the second time, and I produced my own CDs and I used to sell them out of my boarding house in Atlanta, Ga. People would literally knock on my door and buy my CDs for $5.
How old were you when this was going on?
I don’t believe in age. I was 50 years old. So what that being said, I am just grateful I can get the music to my fans who live in different states and they don’t have to fly and knock on my boarding-house door to get a CD. They can go directly in Target. My family, who live in Kansas, they can go directly in Target. Plus, as a business owner and someone who wants my music to reach as many people as possible, it’s an incredible partnership with Target.
These elaborate partnerships with places like Target and iTunes seem to be a big trend in the music industry right now. Jay-Z is doing Samsung right now. What do you think it adds to the business and how the album will play out commercially to adopt one of these partnerships that so many artists seem to be doing?
I’ve always been about partnering and figuring out the best way to serve the customer, and, you know, people shop at these places. The benefit of Target -- and I can only speak for myself -- is everyone goes there. It is a place where people go and they buy not just CDs, but lotion and so many different things. So I think times are changing, and as a businesswoman I own my own recording label and I want to have all of our music available in stores. And I think the great thing is I get to be who I am. Target doesn’t ask me to change who I am, or I haven’t felt the need to change who I am. I’m exactly Janelle Monae. We’re partnering to get my message out to as many people as possible, which is exactly what it’s all about.
We have a few months to go until the album hits stores, and over the past few years we’ve seen a huge proliferation of albums leaking. Is there anything you’re doing to hopefully prevent that between now and September?
Well, I have a patrol in from the future watching everyone in the present. All eyes are watching. And I mean, if that does happen, again, my goal has always been to get the music to the people, to inspire them, to uplift them. And everybody can’t afford music; it’s my gift. It doesn’t belong to me once it’s out there. It’s not mine anymore, it’s yours.
What do you think it says about the state of the music business and the digital world that people are leaking albums and jumping the gun on artists’ work?
Some artists wants their music to be leaked, honestly. I’ve heard stories where people do it; they’re professional leakers. Some artists want that to happen, I guess. But I’m not one to wish that or want that to happen. If it does, then it’s in the cards. I believe that things are gonna happen; they’re already predestined. I have very respectful fans and I just feel like this is my project. You’re cheating yourself if you don’t go through the full experience, the one that I’ve prepared, because I know from the beginning to end what is going to happen. So if you jump the gun and you go out of order, you won’t be able to fully enjoy the movie, if you come in on the middle of it. So I would just give a warning: You are not going to be able to maximize your full experience, and you should wait for what the artist says to do and when he or she releases the music.
Check out a video preview for "Dance Apocalyptic":