Solange Knowles reintroduced herself to the spotlight this week with the release of her new EP True, a seven-track compilation of pop-centric throwback jams.
Celebrating the record at Sonos Studios in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Beyoncé’s little sis talked about the range of influences on her latest work, as well as the creative shift from a major label to independent. Knowles acknowledged the generally positive experience she had this go around in contrast to times past, citing the day of her album’s release as prime example.
“We [herself and producer Dev Hynes] went to Hollywood Boulevard today, and took a picture of Michael Jackson’s star,” the 26-year-old told theGrio at the event, where she premiered the music for guests, including friend and singer Kelly Rowland.
“There’s a tremendous amount of build-up and work and promotion, and there is sort of a machine aspect to it even if you aren’t a part of that. It surrounds you,” she said. “The goal here was getting the music out and making it the easiest and [most] enjoyable experience for me. And it has been that.”
To create True, which dropped digitally this week on Terrible Records and hits retail in January 2013, Knowles recruited the 26-year-old Hynes (Florence and the Machine and the Chemical Brothers), also known as Blood Orange, and the two ventured to a variety of locales in Santa Barbara, L.A., Houston, New York and Germany to mastermind something classic, yet out of the ordinary.
Where Beyoncé often capitalizes on big vocals and high-tempo pizazz, the younger Knowles took an understated approach with her latest work, describing her inspirations as Jimmy Jam and Chaka Khan. The result is a collection of tracks featuring syncopated hooks, R&B undertones, and the slight finish of modern electronica, a nod towards the ‘80s and ‘90s pop heyday of Rhythm Nation, Aaliyah and Cyndi Lauper,
“These are just really, really strong amazing pop songs, but they still are interesting and they still encompass a lot of layers and nuances that have those intricacies,” Knowles pointed out. “I have learned that I’m generally attracted to albums and records, from as early as I can remember, that are produced by one producer; that are written by the artist; that is a true collaboration, which sort of transcends a moment in time; that is a real vibe, a real energy.”
Knowles debut record, Solo Star, was released in 2003 on Columbia Records when the singer was 16-years-old. She followed that five years later with 2008’s Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, and, in between, gave birth to her first child, Daniel Julez Smith, Jr. Now ready and focused on her third movement in the music world, she recognizes the many benefits to working with a smaller record company.