An Interview with Ciara About Growing Up, Janet Jackson, and Why Love Is All About Timing
"I think men are very simple. We are way more complicated beings, as females."
Ciara is the princess of pop. Since sashaying onto the scene with her debut single "Goodies" in 2004 - which is basically one giant shrugging off of male advances - Ciara has held it down as one of the few young women in the music industry who has singing, dancing, and songwriting all under their professional belt. Princess is, quite literally, her middle name.
Her new record Jackie has seen her come at 2015 harder than a freight train with no brakes going downhill on an icy day, bringing not only her sixth studio album, but one that's packed with dancefloor r&b, power hooks and a what feels like a personal tale of redemption that whispers through the lyrics. Well, we say whisper, but one of the lyrics is "Man, I just delivered a nine-pound, 10-ounce baby. I'm a bad motherfucker," so maybe it's more like a war cry.
I caught up with the one woman army to have a relaxed chat about how amazing Janet Jackson is, how irritating fuckboys are, and whether she'll ever do a rap album.
Hi Ciara! How was our shoot for you today?
I think we really played into the look. The styling was very presidential chic. Female candidate.
Would you ever run for president?
It definitely hasn’t crossed my mind.
Well, I'd vote for you. So, first off, please tell me everything about the Janet Jackson tribute video you were involved with, in intricate detail.
Oh, it was so fun. Everything about it was surreal, up until the point of being on stage like “this really happening?" Y’know, I just have so much respect for her. She truly is, to me, the best to ever do it when it comes to entertainment. I really wanted to make sure that I did the best that I could do, and honour her. It took tonnes of rehearsals, and I was also in for my video rehearsals as well as her rehearsals so it was just non stop. When I finally got to the stage, I was like “this is happening. It’s about to go down.” It was super exciting.
Did it go by in a flash or could you be present in the moment?
It definitely went by really fast, especially with the adrenaline, and the energy from the crowd. But that’s how you know it was good. That’s when you know you’re enjoying yourself.
Did Janet give any feedback?
We didn’t get to speak afterwards because it was a little chaotic backstage with all the other performers crossing each other. I did hear she was happy about the performance.
It occurred to me a little while ago that you're one of the few female artists under 30 who can and will dance serious choreography. I was wondering if you thought the level and quality of performance has been compromised lately?
Thank you! Well, I think that when there’s artists like Michael and Janet, because they’re so special, it’s hard to come across artists like that. What I love about what’s happening in music right now is that people are being very expressive and experimenting. With all the new emerging talent everyone is getting inspired creatively, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. I just appreciate good artistry. I can appreciate it when someone is killing the dance, but I don’t think that being a great artist means you have to dance.
The latest album is named Jackie after your mother and your previous album was eponymous. Is there any significance behind that?
With this album, it was named after my mom but it was inspired from the fact that I’m a new mom and I understand what it’s like to be in her shoes and see the world from her point of view. So I guess if you think about it, my last album was self-titled and now I’m naming it after my mom, it does have a progression and it makes me feel something really cool. I’ve been really in tune with my growth over the past few years, and I’ve been yearning to grow and to learn more and keep on discovering more about myself. In this case, with this album, I definitely feel like it’s my best body of work to date. I allowed myself to be the most vulnerable I’ve ever been and I was really in tune with what I felt. I thought it was really important to get lost in the music and not overthink things. That’s what these past few years have been about for me - growing and self-discovery. And also for my fans to get to know me more and to know that we’re all the same, we all go through the same things. What better platform than music to be able to share something that everyone can relate to, and help or inspire or just be able to relate with people. That was really important to me. That’s what this album is about. And I do feel like a mini Jackie!
It's interesting that you would bring up how focused you are on growth. I was thinking about how bold it is that you would call your second album The Evolution. How would you say you've evolved between the two records?
I think the biggest difference is that with the first album I was fresh out of high school, and the second album I was turning 21, which is when you start to enter the early stages of young womanhood. Fast forward to now, I’m fully into womanhood. I’m doing big girl things! The transition from album one to two, y’know turning 21, is a huge deal in a sense. It’s one of those special years in our lives. It’s a milestone.
If you could choose one track from this album that sums up the whole essence of what it's about, which track would you choose?
I would say "One Woman Army". I was going to call the last album "One Woman Army". It was definitely a part of my self-discovery. It represents my strength, it represents my story, it represents my point of view, on everything. On life, on love…
Let's talk about love. You have a lot of songs in your back catalogue that promote zero-tolerance on fuckboys. What have you learned about men over the course of your career?
I think that the one thing that’s important for a man when it comes to love is just timing. And that’s true for men and women. When it comes to love, females… we’re more likely to be more sensitive and allow ourselves to be more vulnerable. Guys, they’re used to being a little more fearful when it comes to love. I think when they decide to open up to love it’s really about timing, and what’s going on in their lives and when they want to. You can’t force anybody to love, they have to want to do that themselves. I think men are very simple. We are way more complicated beings, as females.
And finally, the question I've waited this whole conversation to ask: your track "Super Turnt Up", which featured you as the rapper, felt like the tease for a fire mixtape that never came. Will you rectify this in the future?
Hahaha! I don’t think I’d try to do a rap album.
Maybe just an EP? Like, four tracks?
I don’t know about that.
That's okay Ciara, I'd still vote for you anyway. Thank you for your time!
Photographer - Louie Banks
Stylist - Kylie Griffiths
Art Direction - Kylie Griffiths
Assistants - Bo Phoebe and Thomas Ramshaw
Set Design - Penny Mills
Hair - Sami Knight using Unite
Makeup - Adam Burrell using Mac Cosmetics
Photographer Assistants - Stephanie Galea and Charlie Coincoin
Special thanks to the Black Club