Backstage With Tinashe: A Quick Chat With R&B's Breakout Star

She’s a true multi-threat singer, songwriter, producer, dancer and all-around powerhouse.
Publish date:
August 6, 2014
music, summer, Tinashe, r&b

In a summer where all of the biggest names in music are filling our radios with safe, bland pop and R&B, there is one breakout star with whose single “2 On” has experienced a steady rise up the charts and is currently sitting pretty at the number one spot on rhythmic radio.

Tinashe has been on her grind for the past couple years, putting out three mix tapes which all led up to her major label debut on RCA, "Aquarius," due out this September. She’s a true multi-threat singer, songwriter, producer, dancer and all-around powerhouse.

Her music has the mysterious allure that we got from Aaliyah, the dark, almost sinister beats like that of The Weeknd, and the no-fucks-given attitude of Rihanna. Yet, even while likening her to all those other artists, her sound somehow comes together to defy all comparisons and earn her the right, even at the infancy of her career, to be recognized on a first name basis: Tinashe.

Her single “2 On” was produced by the inescapable DJ Mustard with a foul-mouthed feature by Schoolboy Q, making it a sure-fire radio smash for summer. Amid all of the identical EDM tracks and the almost chorus-less pop songs, it's the sexy, summer turn-up anthem that has been embraced by radio and seemingly just about everyone else (the most famous rapper in the world right now/my husband, Drake even decided to remix the track.)

I was so excited to talk to Tinashe while she's still on the come up, because before long, she's going to less of an "artist to watch," and more of an artist we're all watching. A couple minutes before she hit the stage to give another electrifying performance, I was able to link up with her back stage and chat with her about her beauty regimen, life on the road, and what it’s like to be a new artist in a time when your image and Internet persona is considered just as important as the music itself.

“The response to my first single has really been amazing, since it's my first introduction to the world,” she says. “To be reaching more people, spreading my fan base, and seeing the direct reaction now, the shift, day to day, it’s so great.”

I was really curious about what it’s like for a young artist to be in the public eye so much, and how that ties into her beauty, what she does for her hair and makeup, and how she keeps her look so tight and flawless even when she’s out on the road and performing so much. I already knew that she is the face of Proactiv’s X Out but I wanted to know more about her day-to-day products. Turns out, Tinashe likes to keep it simple.

“I use X Out to wash my face, I actually do. I use Aveda products for my hair -- I love their stuff. For beauty products, I’m not very loyal to any specific brand. I like to try new things. If I run out of mascara, I try a different brand. I love to try different things here and there.

"I don’t usually have a hair and makeup team. If it’s a bigger deal or it’s a music video, TV performance, or an interview then someone will usually do it for me but other than that, the day-to-day interviews, radio interviews, studio visits, I do it all myself."

Though Tinashe stands just about five-and-a-half feet tall, her small stature commands a huge presence on stage. She’s been dancing since she was four years old and she makes sure you know it, with moves reminiscent of Janet Jackson in her prime.

With moves like that, I asked how she manages to keep herself flexible and strong even with her nonstop schedule.

"I do Pilates, I do barre method, I also run a lot. I live in LA and there’s a mountain by my house so I like to run up that a lot. Keep the cardio up."

We’re in a time right now where, thanks to social media, a new Instagram post or a Twitter feud is just as important as a new single. I wanted to know how, as a new artist, she balances taking part in ~the conversation~ while still keeping the focus on her music, as well being a young person making her own music and getting people to listen.

"I think it’s just making sure that people know that your music is something that you take seriously, that you’re not just somebody who wants to be famous just for the sake of it, and that it’s not something that you take for granted.

You just have to put yourself out there, and you just have to do it. You have to create content and find a way to get it online, talk to people, and just spread the word. It’s all just about putting yourself out there.

"As far as where I see myself in the future, I just want to establish myself as a legitimate source to be reckoned with, and eventually I would like to become somebody who is one of the main, go-to superstars of our generation. I feel like I have a lot to say, and a lot of years to do it."

ANTICIPATION, MUCH? I can't wait to watch Tinashe's career blow up, and hear just exactly what it is she has to say.

Grab Tinashe's debut single "2 On" on iTunes, her three free mix tapes "In Case We Die,""Reverie," and "Black Water," and look out for “Aquarius” with appearances by A$AP Rocky, Future, Dev Hynes coming this September.

Tynan is stanning for Tinashe on Twitter @TynanBuck.