Tinashe in Dubai interview

The American singer talk’s new music, movies and working with Charlie Sheen, as she returns to Dubai to perform at People by Crystal

People by Crystal Dubai’s infamous ladies night 'Women Crush Thursdays' will be taken over by the multi-talented Tinashe on Thursday March 19, where she is expected to perform some of her R&B hits.

Starting her entertainment career at the tender age of three, Tinashe tried her hand at acting, modelling and singing. She escalated to fame with her debut single '2 on' taking the number one spot in the Top 40 Billboard Rhythmic Charts for four consecutive weeks.

You performed at RedfestDXB a few weeks ago. What are your thoughts on Dubai?
I’ve loved Dubai so far. Everyone’s been very nice and accommodating and sweet. Plus the weather is awesome. It’s been great so far.

What did you think of it before you came?
I honestly had no idea what to expect. I was a little nervous, but it’s not scary at all.

Your new song, ‘5am’, with Calvin Harris, has been leaked – it includes your vocals for Rihanna’s upcoming album. Is there going to be a Rhianna/Tinashe/Calvin Harris collaboration?
I don’t think so. That was a completely random leak. I have no idea where it came from; no idea who put it out. I was written in for Rihanna’s album, and that’s pretty much the end of it.

But you were back in the studio with Calvin Harris since the last time?
No, that was the same time. We recorded our first song together - the song that was on his album – as well as this track, ‘5am’, about a year ago.

Is Rihanna someone you would like to work with?
Absolutely. I just love to collaborate with other people in general – especially other women. I think it’s great when women collaborate; they don’t do it very often, so that would be awesome.

Your first song with Calvin Harris, ‘Dollar Signs’, came about over twitter. What was it like working with him?
It was amazing, he’s a really great guy. It was super easy, too – we recorded these two songs in about two days. He’s great.

Your song, ‘Jealous’, with Nick Jonas, is a big hit. Can we expect more collaborations in the future?
I would love to collaborate with Andre 3000, I think that would be amazing. I also have a new collaboration with Ty Dolla Sign and CharliXCX coming out, too so I’m really excited.

And you’ve worked with Drake?
Yeah, well he remixed my song – unbeknown to me – and put it out. I was like, “Okay. That’s awesome.” And we’ve performed together a few times – he brought me to Toronto to play with him, which was really fun. He’s a really cool guy. Everyone likes Drake.

2014 was a big year for you. What was the most rewarding thing that happened?
For me, I think it was my song being number 1 at Rhythm Radio in the United States for an entire four weeks straight. That was a huge feat for me.

And how has your lifestyle changed?
That’s changed a lot. Before, people didn’t really notice me – or if they did, they didn’t say anything. But now I can’t go anywhere without people noticing me, which is kind of a trip. Because I don’t view myself as being super famous, so when I go out to places and people stop me in the airport or something, I’m always surprised.

You’ve been in the entertainment industry since you were three-years-old. Looking back, what was the first music experience you can remember?
I just really remember singing a lot of songs in my house with my family, like with my dad, or my aunts and uncles, or my grandparents. My dad is from Zimbabwe so their family is very musical; and I just remember being at home with them singing. They would all sing in harmony, which I think is crazy.

What kind of music did you listen to when you were younger?
My parents played a lot of ’90s R&B in the house. People like Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson were huge heroes of mine.

Your album, Aquarius, took two years, and you recording about 200 songs. What will you do with the tracks that didn’t make it on the album?
Perhaps: a couple of songs might get put in different places, like sometimes people need songs for soundtracks, or commercials, and things like that. Or if I feel like a particular artist could sound great on a song, I’ll give it to them. But some songs may just never be released.

What’s your songwriting process when you go into the studio?
It depends on the person that I’m working with; or the producer. Sometimes we collaborate from the inception of a certain idea, or sometimes they’ll give me a fully completed beat and I’ll write my own thing on it. But my favourite way to be creative is to be, like, in my zone, in my bedroom, in my PJs, and just really write. I feel like I can get more in touch with my true emotions that way.

You played a role in Two and a Half Men during the Charlie Sheen days. It just aired its final season back in February. Have you been watching the show?
I haven’t. I was part of the Charlie Sheen days, so I really haven’t kept up with it.

What do you think of it coming to an end?
I can understand it coming to an end because I feel like Charlie Sheen kind of made the show, so it’s probably not the same. Not to say that I’ve seen it, but that’s what I’m assuming.

What was it like acting with Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men?
I think I was sixteen when I was on that show. He was super professional – not the crazy person that everyone makes him out to be. Pretty much the only interaction I had with him was on set. He was always on time, he knew all of his lines, he was very focused on getting his work done, and that was it.

What did you learn about the industry growing up as an actress?
I think that growing up as an actress really taught me a lot about rejection, and I think that’s an important lesson to learn from an early age: If someone turns you down, or something doesn’t work out for you, it’s not the end of the world – there are other opportunities that are going to come. I feel like that’s a very valuable lesson to learn because in music it’s the same thing: Sometimes things don’t work out, but you have to keep pushing. You can’t give up.

You were in a girl group called The Stunners as well. Did you feel then that you were meant to go it alone?
Yeah, I think that at the end of the day, I always knew I wanted to be a solo artist. But I thought the group was a great opportunity for me to learn new things and meet new people, and it really was.

You were on The Hunger Games soundtrack. Does the prospect of acting in a big movie franchise attract you?
Maybe in the future, but it’s been important for me to establish myself as a musician, first and foremost. Because I want people to know that I take music really seriously, it’s not just something I’m doing for fun. But, yeah, maybe in the future, once I’ve really established myself.

If there was a role open to you, what type of role would you want to play?
I want to be like Tomb Raider, like Angelina Jolie, like Colombiana. I want to jump over things and make explosions and shoot people in movies, you know? Just be a bad girl that would be so awesome. Like a CIA agent or something.

What’s the most important advice you’ve been given during your time in the music industry, or the most important thing you’ve learnt along the way?
It’s mostly just to not quit when things don’t work out, because there’s a lot of times when things don’t happen as quickly as you want them to, or things don’t turn out the way you wanted them to. But you really can’t look at that as a failure. You have to look at it as a stepping stone, or as inspiration to do something better.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’m excited to continue to tour. When I get back to the States I’m going on tour with Iggy Azalea, too. I also have a new single coming out, ‘All Hands on Deck’.

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