Solange Discusses Black Cowboys, Being Inspired By Stevie Wonder's 'The Secret Life Of Plants & More During 'When I Get Home' Houston Event
She spoke on everything from when she started working on the album to the inspiration behind its short film.
The event was streamed live on Apple Music and Solange’s BlackPlanet website. Among the locations was the SHAPE Community Center where, after the film was shown, she sat down with writer/art curator Antwaun Sargent to discuss both the abum and film.
houston u made tonight so special i appreciate u so much 🖤 pic.twitter.com/M3evQjPcMe
— solange knowles (@solangeknowles) March 4, 2019
In talking about the former, Solange said she treated When I Get Home “like a jazz album,” adding that the real joy of writing the album was in its jam sessions.
“The best for me is to invite people into the space and say ‘do you,'” she said. “It could be six hours before I hear the one ad-lib or the one thing where I think, ‘OK, that is how I can extend this into an expression of what I want to achieve.'”
She also spoke on her role as the album’s producer:
“Speaking my truth, it is rather difficult as a producer to be reduced to just the songwriter or just the artist when you spend 18 hours editing one drum sound. We’ve come a long way from that for women, but it’s still got a little ways to go — the way we’re able to have that conversation about Rick Rubin but we’re not extending that conversation to others.”
Elsewhere during the conversation she talked about how the album employs repetition and how she was inspired by how artists like Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane, and Stevie Wonder used repetition in their music. She specifically referenced Wonder’s album The Secret Life of Plants as being an influence on When I Get Home, adding that her album was “a tribute to that record and what it did for me.”
She also discussed the differences between A Seat at the Table and When I Get Home.
“Obviously with A Seat at the Table I had so much to say,” she said. “With this album I had so much to feel. Words would have been reductive to what I needed to feel and express. It’s in the sonics for me.”
Later on in the conversation, Solange discussed the inspiration behind the film, with a lot of the imagery highlighting black cowboy culture in Houston.
“All of he first cowboys I saw were black,” Solange said while also seemingly criticizing popular perceptions of cowboy culture, at one point saying, “I don’t know who John Wayne is, I don’t know what his story is.”
“I knew about a year and a half ago, it would be really, really important to me to tell a story about black cowboys,” she said. “I feel so privileged to meet so many of these cowboys and hear their stories and see them pray before they go in the bull ring and see what they’re willing to do to their bodies for the sake of entertainment, which is something I can relate to.”
Lastly, she discussed the feeling of being home in Houston for the album’s rollout, even sharing a brief anecdote about how Paul Wall picked her up from the airport and brought her to the SHAPE Community Center.
“It’s just joy everywhere,” she said. “It just feels good. That’s what home does for you. I could be anywhere in the world, but nothing is gonna make me feel like this place does.”