"Girl, any day now," sighs Kelly Rowland down the phone from LA in reply to the most obvious of questions. "I feel like I've been pregnant forever." Not that that's slamming any breaks on the Houston-raised singer-songwriter's creative pursuits—she's in the middle of recording her new album, the follow-up to 2013's Talk A Good Game, and words like "creative energy," "new blood" and "refreshing" trip off her tongue at quite a pace. If there's a peppier-than-usual tang to Rowland's flow it's due in no small part to a new working relationship with LA electronic producer Tokimonsta. The pair were tweeting at each other this summer, dropping hints of a forthcoming collaboration that—if Tokimonsta's seamlessly undulating, strobe-lit productions are anything to go by—may well see Rowland venturing even further into the dance music realm. Here, the down-to-earth superstar shares her thoughts on what it takes to be an artist, and why she's hyped to finally have a woman behind the control desk again.
How did you start working with Tokimonsta? I heard different mixes when I was out and then, when we finally got a chance to meet up, we talked about doing a project together. It was organic, really, the way it happened. I like to do things like things that, I don't like for anything to be forced. It was really easy—she was super cool. I loved her style, and I love everything about her style of DJ-ing, the way she makes music, how she puts different rhythms and beats and melodies together. I just felt like it could be something special.
It feels like you've really embraced dance music over the last couple of years. Has that been a natural progression, or have you been reaching out to it? I think that spending a lot of time in Europe—and just in different countries, period—allows you the opportunity to hear all these different types of beats. Sometimes you really want to try it and everybody around you will think that you're crazy for wanting to try it, you know what I mean? [Laughs] "You're bugging, you're on some musicianship thing." But I think there's nothing wrong with that. I think that that's really being an artist: being creative and trying new things, and seeing what works and what doesn't. It's just that simple. When I like something I gravitate towards it. I want to try it.
When is your collaboration with Tokimonsta coming out? We're still working on it. We want to pinpoint everything to make sure it's all right. That's all we really care about: it being a moment. It's always about creating moments, especially because there's so much freedom now in music. I feel like there are no rules.
Have you ever worked with a female producer before? It was years ago. That's another thing that excites me: the fact that [Tokimonsta] is a female. It's so empowering. When I watched her spin, I was like, this is crazy, I am loving this right now. She was so in control. It was about the confidence that she exuded in everything that she played, and how she just knew it was dope.
We need that. Yes, I think other young females should see that. Other young people should see that it's not just a male-dominated situation.
Could you tell me about the first time you worked with a female producer? It was when Destiny's Child first came out...it was that long ago. I remember watching her put the music together, and I can't even remember the woman's name—that's horrible—but I just like to see females really conquer.
While there's a lot of women at the top of their game from a singer/songwriter background, it seems there are less women in production and engineering—especially at a mainstream level. Do you know why that is? You know what, that's a very good question. I don't know why that is. I can definitely say from my experience, when I'm in the studio with other females who are artists, you can definitely give somebody direction on where exactly it is you want to go sonically. I think if we really focus on it, we could really probably kill it [laughs]. I really do. Maybe we focus on the writing and the melodies more so that guys do [at present] but I feel like if we tap into it a little bit more, we can do it.
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