It’s no secret that Solange and older sister Beyoncé are as thick as thieves. They’re so close, in fact, that Beyoncé interviewed her younger sister for the latest issue of Interview magazine.
During the Q&A-style piece, the two discussed Solange’s critically acclaimed 2016 album A Seat at the Table, the fan-favorite track “Cranes in the Sky” (which secured Solange her first Grammy nomination), what makes her laugh hardest (spoiler alert: it’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta) and more.
Check out a tidbit from the interview below.
BEYONCÉ: It was a three-year process to create A Seat at the Table. You took your time, and it’s still so fascinating to me the amount of production you did for this album, the live instrumentation, with you physically, on the keyboards, on the drums, producing not only the vocals but also co-producing the tracks. It’s something to be celebrated, for a young woman to be such a strong producer as well as a singer-songwriter and artist.
SOLANGE: Thank you! One of my biggest inspirations in terms of female producers is Missy. I remember seeing her when you guys worked together and being enamored with the idea that I could use myself as more than a voice and the words. On my previous records, I contributed to production here and there, but I was always really afraid to really get in there and … I guess I wasn’t really afraid, I was just really comfortable writing the songs. I felt like my contributions as a producer were enough. But when I started to work on the sonics for this record, I realized that I had to create such a very specific sonic landscape in telling the story. I had these jam sessions, and there were holes that no one else could really fill for me. It really came out of a need for something outside of what I could articulate and lead someone else to do. And it was scary. It was really scary, and a lot of times I was frustrated with myself and feeling insecure because it was new to operate in that space and be in front of people at this age, learning something on this level. But I feel so grateful and excited that there’s a new phase that I conquered as an artist.
BEYONCÉ: What does the song title “Cranes in the Sky” mean?
SOLANGE: “Cranes in the Sky” is actually a song that I wrote eight years ago. It’s the only song on the album that I wrote independently of the record, and it was a really rough time. I know you remember that time. I was just coming out of my relationship with Julez’s father. We were junior high school sweethearts, and so much of your identity in junior high is built on who you’re with. You see the world through the lens of how you identify and have been identified at that time. So I really had to take a look at myself, outside of being a mother and a wife, and internalize all of these emotions that I had been feeling through that transition. I was working through a lot of challenges at every angle of my life, and a lot of self-doubt, a lot of pity-partying. And I think every woman in her twenties has been there—where it feels like no matter what you are doing to fight through the thing that is holding you back, nothing can fill that void. I used to write and record a lot in Miami during that time, when there was a real estate boom in America, and developers were developing all of this new property. There was a new condo going up every ten feet. You recorded a lot there as well, and I think we experienced Miami as a place of refuge and peace. We weren’t out there wilin’ out and partying. I remember looking up and seeing all of these cranes in the sky. They were so heavy and such an eyesore, and not what I identified with peace and refuge. I remember thinking of it as an analogy for my transition—this idea of building up, up, up that was going on in our country at the time, all of this excessive building, and not really dealing with what was in front of us. And we all know how that ended. That crashed and burned. It was a catastrophe. And that line came to me because it felt so indicative of what was going on in my life as well. And, eight years later, it’s really interesting that now, here we are again, not seeing what’s happening in our country, not wanting to put into perspective all of these ugly things that are staring us in the face.
BEYONCÉ: I was with you the week leading up to your release, and it’s the most nervous time for any artist, but I know it was a nervous time for you.
SOLANGE: Yeah. I was breaking out into hives. I could not sit still. It was terrifying. This was going to be such an intimate, up-close, staring-you-right-in-the-face experience, the way people would see me and hear me. It was one thing to make the record and have those reservations; it was another to finish it and actually share it. I just feel so much joy and gratitude that people have connected to it in this way. The biggest reward that I could ever get is seeing women, especially black women, talk about what this album has done, the solace it has given them.
To read the full interview and see more photos of Solange from the issue, head over to Interview.