Was there ever a point, during the process of coming up with this album, where you thought "This next record needs to be a success" or "This next record needs to be really poppy with lots of hits"?
I could have made the same record again, the same record as last time. But when I made that record, no one liked it. D'you know what I mean? I mean, when Kala first came out, people had issues with it because it wasn't mainstream at that time. And then everyone in the mainstream started copying it and then the sound of it became mainstream. I mean, Christina Aguilera is making music that sounds like the stuff that's on Kala now. I needed to push myself forward as a creative person, as an artist. As somebody who's, like, evolving, I needed to evolve! And for me, what was going on with me was actually fucking insane. Like, yeah, I'm marrying this guy over here, and then I'm over here, and war's ending over there, and these people are dying over there, and my son is being born over here, and my sphere was bigger than anyone I'd known in my life. And I had no one to talk to about that, because there are issues that I'm going to have to, like, fucking deal with landing on my feet and running on my feet. And that's what my record is. I had to bring all those components together properly, but I wanted to put them out there and be like "These are all the fucking components: I'm in America, I'm living in the back alley of Silicone Valley".
I'm inspired by technology because that shit is right here, right now, and I'm connected to the world. I'm not going to make beats with, like, crazy drums from Africa because I'm not fucking there! It's intensely mechanical and electronical sounding because that's technology in America: sometimes it's pretty, sometimes it's ugly, sometimes it's harsh, sometimes it's hippie, sometimes it's insane.
Do you see your art as being inspired by antagonism, by bucking against expectations?
Not really — I don't think a song like "Space" is like, you know, "Fuck the establishment", you know? But it's interesting — I mean, everyone's all like "Oh my god, she's controversial for the sake of being controversial." And I don't get that — I mean, there's nothing fucking controversial on my fucking album, really. I mean, even a song like "Lovalot", it's just "Love a lot", it's not "Love Allah". I didn't sing it to be controversial, but people find it controversial because there's no one else doing that sort of shit, even just being that personal, just being like — I dunno, maybe it's just too giving, you know? And people aren't used to it, people would much rather that I made a shit-tastic album and became, you know, a star like a basketball player, d'you know what I mean? And then everyone would be happy because I'd just be shoving money in everyone's face and then they'd be like "Yeah, we love her." But that's not what I am and it's not what I'm gonna do. I just want to be a human — if that's a crime...