Meshell Ndegeocello Talks About Creating “Devil’s Halo”
When given the opportunity to interview a musician who has forged a career that contains a volume of work that any student of American music should deem as important, you don’t hesistate to take full advantage of that opportunity. Now, when what this musician has to say is on par with her musical genius it’s a serious no-brainer.
Such is the case with Meshell Ndegeocello and it is our pleasure to bring you this discussion in the only way we know how: unfiltered. Devil’s Halo the new album is out and you can read a review of it here. And now without any further adieu we present the interview!
Q: As an artist which process is the most cathartic for you? The writing, the recording or the performing?
A: Being in the studio. I love to record. Inevitably, I get to write, record, and perform all at the same time there.
Q: Can you point to a definitive flashpoint moment where you determined that music would be your calling?
A: When I heard “Soft and Wet.”
Q: What are you thoughts on social media as it relates to how musicians conduct business in the 21st Century?
A: Well, on the one hand it empowers the artist. On the other, I do not have the skills to “conduct business” there and I don’t think a lot of creative people do. It’s an incredible marketing tool but it’s also another extreme.
Q: Is there a character from a book, movie, or TV show that accurately depicts the feel of Meshell Ndegeocello’s bass playing?
A: Radar in MASH. I can anticipate things musically.
Q: How has playing the material live impacted your perception of the project?
A: It’s made me certain and grateful for the choices in musicians I’ve made. It’s the first time I play live with all the people I recorded with.
Q: Was there any particular catalyst that influenced you to record Devil’s Halo without the aid of the ubiquitous Pro Tools and click tracks?
A: I knew I didn’t want to get bogged down in possibilities, editing, and sounds I couldn’t make myself. It was better for me just to play. I just wanted us to play.
Q: What is the balance point that you would recommend to aspiring musicians between the automation/proxy of music technology and good old fashioned wood shedding?
A: I think both routes can lead to good music, but the most appreciation, possibility, and innovation lies at the crossroads. Learn both. Listen to both.
Q: Part B&C of the previous question: In your opinion, how has the scarcity of music programs in the schools and the elevation of the non-musician as the standard in pop music culture affected the music that is being produced and consumed in this era? How do you believe this will affect music that is produced and consumed in the future?
A: Music gets cut from public schools first and I think that’s led to some serious innovation in urban areas. I also think it has amounted to a lot of crap. It’s become more disposable + that makes me sad, but I’m also not precious about it. I’m hoping for and expecting a return to musicianship. But I do think music programs are essential to illuminating alternative intelligence and exercising the brain. I think gym is way important too. Gotta be well-rounded. This is a dissertation of a question.
Q: Finally what does the phrase “Grown Folks Music” mean to you?
A: Music for people who know how to handle their beeswax. Music for people who aren’t swayed by the nonsense. Music for people who think they’re more discerning and not just old.