By Dana Mathews
There's one album that's been on replay for us nonstop this month -- and it's Ariana Grande's debut album, "Yours Truly." Soaring to number one on iTunes within 19 minutes of its debut, Ariana's powerhouse voice and talent is unlike anything we've seen in a long time.
We stole a few moments with the 20-year-old singer-slash-actress, and she shared the details of her very charmed life with us. Check it out!
How does it feel to have your debut album at number one?
Unreal! I worked on it for three years so it's a dream come true. I've dreamed about doing music since I was three or four years old. My goal was to make an album that people would listen to from top to bottom and not want to skip over any songs, you know? The fact that it's doing so well, and that people are responding well to it and enjoying it, it's made my life. I'm so happy.
Your sound is really different from what's out there right now. How would you describe it in your own words?
Throwback R&B pop with an underlying theme of doo-wop!
And what's your favorite song to perform off the album?
"Tattooed Heart," because I like singing ballads. It's easy, and I don't have to dance around. You get to stand there and close your eyes and sing. And "Lovin' It," because it's fun.
And what was it like managing Sam & Cat and recording the album?
It was crazy. I would have a full day on Sam & Cat -- wake up at 6 a.m., go to work and then get done around 6:30 p.m., and then I would have dinner in the car and go to the studio until midnight. Luckily the studio I record at is a mile away from my house so it worked out well. It was exhausting, but I was lucky enough to do two things that I love and live for.
Did you record "The Way" with Mac Miller in the studio with you?
I was with Malcolm at his house when we recorded it. I was like, "Mac, you have to be on this with me," and he was said, "Yeah, absolutely, let's do it, come over!" We were hanging out every single day anyway.
Is he a friend of yours?
He's one of my best friends in the world. We had been making really weird experimental music every night, and I was like, "We have to take a break, I need you to do a feature on this song tonight." He said, "Sure, I'm down but let's finish this other song first." And I said, "No, we're going to do 'The Way' first. I brought cookie dough and I'm going to bake you cookies." So he got in the booth. By the time the first batch of cookies was ready, his intro was done. And by the time the second batch of cookies was done, he had finished his second verse. I produced his session, basically.
And with "Right There" with Big Sean, did he do his separately?
I wasn't with Big Sean when he did his verse, but it was perfect. I was so happy when I heard it.
Is there any song that kind of makes you emotional when you perform it?
"Honeymoon Avenue," for sure. It's very sad. It's about a relationship going sour and regretting so many things and wishing it could go back to the beginning.
And how did you and Nathan Sykes come together to collaborate on "Almost Is Never Enough"?
It was actually a surprise. I recorded "Almost Is Never Enough" as a solo ballad for my album because we wanted another ballad on the album. Then a few days later, I got an email from my manager, Scooter Braun that said: "Check this out." It was "Almost Is Never Enough" with Nathan on it. I was dying, it was perfect, and he's amazing.
What was it like opening for Justin Bieber? What's life like on the road?
It's exhausting, but it's so much fun! I have the best bus. It's me; Isaac, who's my choreographer, trainer, dietician, everything in the world; my manager, Allison Kaye; my other manager; my best friend Aaron, who was there for the majority of the tour; and Tyler, who's my assistant -- but we grew up together, so he's also one of my best friends. Oh, and my brother Frankie was there for a while, too. We would stay up and watch scary movies.
Who do you go to advice?
My mom, my brother, and my Nonna. And my grandpa always offers me advice, but it's always kind of weird. Before my VMA performance, he told me to say, "This is America. We are the people." And then start "Baby I." I was like, "Grandpa, what's wrong with you?" He's so weird! He's the weirdest. But he's my favorite man in the world.
Have you met any of your musical inspirations and have they given you advice that you take with you?
I met India Arie, who is one of my favorite artists of all time. It was really sweet, I was broken up with a month before, and she stayed up texting me all night and was helping me through it. Her text message looks like a song of hers. She's sort of become my fairy godmother. She said, "Princess, I hear you're sad, tell me what's up. Man troubles? Mmm... let me tell you."
Did starting on Broadway in "Thirteen" train you for the industry?
It trained me for the performing and the tour because doing eight shows a week is very demanding. And doing a television show and recording an album at the same time is also very demanding. It requires the same kind of stamina because my character voice for Cat is so demanding vocally.
How do you shoot the show and save your voice to sing?
It's hard. I was having to get scoped at the end of the season just to check out how things were going. And my doctor said, "You have to stop talking. Unless you're talking as Cat or singing in the booth, I don't want you peeping a word." I was just trying to mouth things, and for rehearsals, I had to have a stand-in talk for me. But vocal chords are such little muscles. Do you know how tiny they are? [Shows one strand of her long hair] That's how thin they are. Nathan had a vocal hemorrhage. It's awful -- so scary.
You interact a lot with your fans, which is awesome. How much time would you say you spend talking with them on a daily basis?
I don't know, I go on and I try to tweet as much as I can and I always creep on their tweets when I can. It gets hard on some days because I'm busy and I work hard -- but I work hard for them. We have an opportunity to have an intimate friendship with our fans. I love talking to them.
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