You’re a classically trained singer. Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I went to a performing arts school called ChiArts and was trained classically between 2013-2017. I learned about music theory, history, psychology, everything!
Let’s talk about your newest track, “4 Leaf Clover.” What was the inspiration for it and how did it come together for you? How do you think it makes new fans see you?
This was a special one for me just because I really had to channel my storytelling ability, in a way. This song came out because we were already working on the Crush EP. And then we kind of figured we needed a duet on the project, so we played this game where I told my story and he told his story back. That was a cool song for me.
Chicago is a new musical breeding ground. How does that inspire your work?
There have always been lots of amazing artists coming out of Chicago, so it was already inspiring. But the sense of community is really great for an artist coming into their own and trying to figure out what they want to do. There is always initial support if you’re good, and you can get that kind of validation. You think “OK, my music is sort of good.” I had that early on and I think it gave me the support I needed to be able to grow into the artist I really am.
Musically, did you approach this year any differently than last year?
Definitely. I think age has something to do with it. I wrote my first project when I was 15. And I’m 19 so a lot of things have happened since then. It shapes you as an individual and your perspective on certain things. The themes throughout my music have definitely changed based on my age.
What are you most excited about in 2018?
I’m excited about challenging my artistry. I feel like I’ve been doing that lately and I want to see how far I can push myself and my creativeness, whether visually or in my music.
"I think it’s important to have other women around you, whether it’s your friend or you mum. You just need someone who can look after you. I think that’s the main thing, being surrounded by powerful women and showing you know who you are and what you stand for"
What does “success” mean to you?
I measure my success based on the lives I’ve touched and how many people I’ve inspired. A lot of people want to be rich, but that’s more of a reward to me. If I get those main things then I’ll be fine.
How do you manage stress?
I cry. But I also try to pinpoint what’s actually stressing me out, like sitting and reflecting on what’s actually making me feel this way. And music has always been an outlet.
How can young, creative women make sure people don’t take advantage of them in their work?
First and foremost, I think it’s important to have other women around you, whether it’s your friend or you mum. You just need someone who can look after you. I think that’s the main thing, being surrounded by powerful women and showing you know who you are and what you stand for.
What’s it like touring with SZA?
It was amazing. It was a very different experience to everything I had been used to before. It was a very big tour, and I saw how many pieces have to go together to run it. It prepared me to be a headliner. I saw all her responsibilities and everything she went through in a day. And then she still had to get on stage and put on an amazing concert.
Some people said R&B is lacking certain traditional components. How do you feel about R&B today?
I can see why people think it’s lacking some of the traditional components, but music is something that naturally evolves. I love a few artists and there are artists I’m not really fond of. But they’re all part of my circle and I feel like we’re all bringing a very interesting and unique flow to R&B and hip-hop.