An Interview with Tinashe: ‘I’m saving up my skills for when someone really pisses me off’

Tinashe puts on no airs. At 19, she’s a straight-shooter and makes it clear that she’s just another girl making her way in the world. You might have seen the R&B singer touring with Biebs a few years back as a former member of The Stunners (an all-girl group founded by Vitamin C) or on Two and a Half Men, Sheen-era. Either way, she’s been a solo artist since 2011, and now she’s more eager than ever to take on 2013.

I catch her on the road via cell and after a few moments of listening to gargled elevator music, she picks up. “Hi, it’s Tinashe.”


7Deadly: Let’s start with the fact that you’re 19 but already have a kick-ass resume.

Tinashe: I think it’s very fun and exciting. It’s also difficult. It’s hard to come in and be someone young and try to make people take you seriously, to make your mark, and explain to people how you’re different, unique, and new. But it’s not fun without that kind of challenge.


7Deadly: Hardest part of breaking into the biz?

Tinashe: The hardest part is creating the music, honestly. It’s easy to make the videos and it’s easy to be a personality and gain fans, but it really comes down to music at the end of the day, and if you’re not making music that people can relate to or that is meaningful, it’s not going to resonate in the long-term.

I’ve always had a mature perspective for my age: In my writing, my music and in my creative process. I don’t think that’s necessarily an act of choice, I think it’s just who I am. I always try to create who I am and the different sides of me in my music, and I think that’s what creates my relatability.


7Deadly: How are you feeling about the transition into a major label like RCA Records?

Tinashe: It’s been a great transition into the major label situation. They’ve created a lot of opportunities for me and set me up with a lot of dope producers. It’s also difficult to go from being completely on your own and creating music by yourself to giving up the reigns a little bit and letting other people collaborate with you. But it’s a fun creative process to be able to work with people.


7Deadly: So what prompted you to become a supporter of the NO H8 campaign?

Tinashe: It stands for a couple of things: there’s the anti-bullying association and they also support the LGBT community. That’s really important to me, I’m very into civil rights and I think everyone should be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation.

As for the anti-bullying component, I was bullied a lot in middle school and high school, and I can relate to that. Having organizations that support kids and young people, that help them get through difficult situations — it’s an important thing.


7Deadly: Tips for young people struggling to make it in the industry?

Tinashe: You can achieve what you put your mind to, and it comes down to not waiting around for people to do things for you. I created my mixed tapes in my room and recorded those, and made a bunch of my videos myself. I think that’s an important message for young people, especially for young women — to show them that we don’t have to rely on all these other people, we can take matters into our own hands.


7Deadly: Upcoming projects?

Tinashe: I’m working on my album right now, it’s in the process—hopefully I will get it out at the beginning of this year!


7Deadly: So we hear you have your black belt…

Tinashe: Ha! My parents decided to sign me up for Tai-Kwan-Do when I was younger. After a year or so, I wasn’t that into it anymore, but they were always the kind of people who encouraged me to stick with things, so they made me continue until I got a black belt.


7Deadly: Have you ever had to knock someone out? 

Tinashe: I’ve never been in a real physical confrontation, which I guess is a good thing? But I don’t know, I’m saving up my skills for when someone really pisses me off…



Cristiana Wilcoxon

A writer and photographer based in Orange County. My patronus is a burger.