A highlight from The FADER Interview: Alicia Keys Part 2 (Bonus Episode)


That's keys career in miniature. From the songs in a minor ballad a woman's worth, through girl on fire itself, and the 2020 both are drive single a beautiful noise with Brandi carlile. Keys, as a songwriter, has always been looking out over her piano and towards the crowd. In fact, even when answering a question about her intent. Key sounds like she's trying to inspire her audience. Saying that she purged the word try from her vocabulary before Kanye West encouraged her to double down. And whether or not she's writing primarily for her self or others. It's clear that empowerment ballads like dead end wrote. From her new album keys out today, a written from firsthand experience. Having blown up in an industry that didn't have her or any of her peers as best interests at heart. She had to fight. He still has to fight with anxiety and doubt. Songs like dead and rota are ammo. In the second part of our fader interview, the first was released yesterday, so go back and listen if you haven't already. He's also discussed his Lil Wayne's verse on the unlocked version of Nat King Cole. Her collaboration with her eldest son, Egypt on a new cover of somewhere over the rainbow, and her first ever interview, which she gave to the fader back in 2001. Before we come back to keys, I don't know if you remember, but I think you may have given one of your I think it might have been your first ever feature interview to the fader, and it was in 2002 them one. I feel like that's probably right. Yeah. I was issue 7, I think. See, homecoming. That's what that's what keys is about a homecoming. I really, really, really see that and feel that on every level. And this is an exact other moment for it. There's a really interesting moment in that interview, and this is obviously a few months before songs in a minor comes out. So say my album is released and I do sell 12 million records. It's like what can you do after that? Can you set another 12 million records? That's creating an even bigger hype that you must then surpass, which is kind of crazy because as far as I know as long as they minor cells almost exactly 12 million records, I think, worldwide. That's a little coincidence, but I think it's also the snapshot of a young artist with the world in front of her and all this potential for joy and misery. And you obviously end up with a lot of both. Did you end up feeling after that? And throughout those earlier years, did you end up feeling that you did have to create and surpass this bigger hype? And if so, how have you managed to get off that train lately in order to create an album like keys where you feel a lot more at ease with yourself? Wow. What an amazing, amazing question. That's crazy that I said, what if I, first of all, I definitely never expected to be out the gate with that level of commercial success. You know what I mean? And critical success. Nobody knows that and nobody ever imagines that. I mean, I'm sure there were people that at that time were working very hard to ensure that it would go that way. You know, I realized that now, there's also a lot of that in the mix, but I was definitely unaware of whatever would happen. And I think in a way it was like kind of your favorite ignorance is bliss type of because the thing is is I just didn't know. I truly didn't. And even if it did sell, however many records at that moment I said that, I did not know what that would be like or feel like, you know what I mean? I could hypothesize what I thought it might to my point of like, what do you follow up after that? But I didn't know what that would be like. And so I think in a lot of ways, there was an ignorance there that just kept me driven. You know, it just kept me driven and just kept me hungry and excited and just wanting to create especially always being my own producer, always being my own writer. I always had to fight to be who I am because people never believed me. They never believed I was a producer. They thought I was just a little girl from Harlem from hell's kitchen. You know, to this day, I go in the room. I'm making those records. I am producing those records. I'm dropping a beat on those records. I'm putting music on the records and playing the mood on the records. I'll make it, I'm doing all the vocal arrangements. And if there's one guy standing in the room and the person walks in, they'll be like, oh, so you for just the record so that guy. It's just like, it's just like how it is. You know what I mean? But I think that in regards to keeping up with every entertainment industry and maybe it's every industry, if you think about it, but a particularly the entertainment world is always about the last thing you did. And it's always about kind of these numbers. And I think about this a lot because I think maybe it's the way the world is set up a little bit. You know, like if you think about grades for kids, they're forever chasing an a, you know? And if they get a C, they're made to feel like they didn't do good enough, but maybe to see was their best. You know what I mean? And so therefore, maybe the C was a triumph because last time they didn't even take the class or last time they didn't even try, or they got something they got some. So there's this numbers, hierarchy, thing that everybody's always trying to obtain. And it's fucking exhausting. It's like, nobody's ever telling you how about you try to be yourself. How about you just try your best? And if you actually did your best, you won. And so I think that there's unfortunately a lot of incorrect information that's taught to us from the data that we're born. And we do think we're supposed to sell 12 million records or we won't be relevant or we feel like we're supposed to get 5 rings or we didn't whatever or we're supposed to get all a's or we can't get into any college that's gonna get you a good job or whatever these things are, it's like torture. I have to say, I'm definitely grateful because things have happened that I never expected to happen. And that's why a lot of times I said, I spend I spend time looking at the past in all, like shit. How did that happen? How did I even go like that? Made that a line that way, but I also definitely have recognized that you can't compare yourself, you can't even compare yourself to you yesterday. You can't chase these kind of super fake alcohol accolades. You can't chase these fake accolades. You can't chase these fake numbers, these fake grades, whatever these things are that people somehow feel less than if they haven't superseded some record breaking fucking thing. It's too much pressure is not real and I don't think that you actually find your greatness doing that. You're going to change. You're going to switch who you are, you're going to become a carbon copy. You're going to copy everybody else because you're trying to do whatever they're doing. You're going to be too afraid to take the leap to skydive. You're going to be too afraid to actually do something that people won't like, which I personally feel likely have created the best things in the world. Something that someone said wasn't going to happen. So I just feel like I've learned that you have to have a healthy dose of bravery and you also have to have a healthy dose of balance. Because of course, you have to be able to see things from a few sides. But most important, you have to just make sure that you're listening to you because man, you're going to get lost and you're going to be sad and it's hard to feel fulfilled. If you can't hear yourself. One song that sort of tackles some of those ideas is one of my favorites on the record which is dead end road.

Coming up next