Tinashe Says She’s All About Making Music With ‘Good Energy’ Right Now

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Tinashe Jorgensen Kachingwe, a.k.a. Tinashe, has always been an entertainer. Recognizing her talent as a child, her parents moved from Lexington, Kentucky, where she was born, to Los Angeles so she could pursue her dreams. You may even remember her as Celeste in the sitcom Two and a Half Men, her most notable recurring role as a teenager. But Tinashe, of course, is most lauded for her music since she first arrived on the scene as part of the five-person girl group the Stunners, formed in 2007. Following the group’s disbandment in 2011, she’s been a solo artist, delivering a self-described rhythmic pop sound.

In February 2012, Tinahse released her first solo mixtape, In Case We Die, which was received well by music bloggers, and five months later was signed to RCA Records. Shortly after, she released a second mixtape project, Reverie, followed by a third, Black Water, the following year. Then in 2014 Tinashe released Aquarius, her first studio album, which debuted in the top 20 on the Billboard charts. Since then she’s released three albums, including Nightride (2016), Joyride (2018), and Songs for You (2019), the latter marking her first self-released studio album. Last month, Tinashe debuted the single “Pasadena” from her soon-to-be-released fifth studio album. Going down memory lane, she talked to Glamour about her discography, past and present, and the stories behind some of her most memorable songs.

“Pasadena”

Featuring the rapper Buddy, “Pasadena” is Tinashe’s lead single from her upcoming album, 333. Cowriting and producing with the Swedish musician Oliver Malcolm, who is based in L.A., Tinashe recorded the song last summer in her home studio, hoping it would be a post-pandemic feel-good hit by the time it arrived. 

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It felt really important that any music I put out right off the back of this really crazy year just was really uplifting and, like, made people feel good. Because the last thing I wanted was something that made me feel slow and lethargic, sad and melancholy, because I feel like that was a lot of the emotions I was dealing with when I was stuck at home. I really wanted to just, as an artist, contribute to the conversation of the world and just be a part of that good energy.

Buddy was an artist who I’ve worked with a couple other times, and I’ve been a big fan of his, and we’re actually friends as well. So I asked him to come over, and we were all in the studio together. We have a similar recording process: He just goes on the mic, and we freestyle melodies. And then from there, we write out the lyrics. We just had a really good time—we were drinking, we were looking at the sunset, we were vibing. We just wanted to make a song that was about joy, happiness, and togetherness.

“Slumber Party”

The second lead single from Britney Spears’s ninth album, Glory, “Slumber Party” features Tinashe in the official remixed version. Peaking at number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Slumber Party” also charted internationally, including in France, Spain, and the U.K. It was produced by Mattman & Robin. 

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...Baby One More Time was the first album I ever bought or had of my own. So I think I’d been saying that in a lot of interviews, letting people know I loved Britney Spears when I first came on the scene and people asked, “Who are your influences?” So one day I got a phone call and it was from my product manager at my record label then, and they were like, “Guess what? I think Britney wants to put you on her new album.” And I was through the roof. I couldn’t believe it. I feel like I started screaming and jumping up and down.

So I recorded the song—she’d already done her part, and I went in and did my part. And the first time I met her was at the video shoot. The video shoot was amazing, because I got to just spend the whole day with her. One of the coolest things to watch about her is just how much she commands the room. As soon as the camera starts rolling, she truly is such a superstar. We did our little choreography part, which was sick; just to be able to dance with her was a dream come true.

“2 On”

The debut single from Tinashe’s first album, Aquarius, “2 On” features a rap verse from Schoolboy Q and is written by both artists, as well as Bobby Brackins, DJ Mustard, Jon Redwine, and Marley Waters. The song also samples Sean Paul’s “We Be Burnin.” Certified platinum, the electro-R&B song was number one on Billboard’s Rhythmic Charts for four weeks and peaked at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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When we dropped that song, I’d just turned 21, and it was just, like, a really fun time in my life where I was gearing up to release this album, and I didn’t really know how successful that song would become and how much it would really change my life at that point. I think, now, in retrospect, I can say that that song definitely put me on the map.

It was one of the more natural recording processes on the Aquarius album. It wasn’t set up by my label; it was just me going over to my homie’s house and working with a producer that was his roommate at the time. So I went over to their house, and they have a studio in the garage. And I got to just vibe in there for a while. It was a really low-stakes, low-pressure session, which to me, now that I’ve worked in the industry a lot longer, I know that those are always when I do my best work.

“How Many Times”

“How Many Times” is the sixth track off Tinashe’s Aquarius album, and to the surprise of many fans, it never had a video. The song samples Janet Jackson’s “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun)” and features a rap verse by Future. It was produced by Jasper Cameron as well as written by him, alongside Tinashe, Terry Lewis, Sean Knotty, Nayvadius Wilburn, and James Harris.

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“How Many Times” was a special song to me. It’s one of my favorites on the Aquarius album, because it samples Janet Jackson. She is another one of my biggest idols, and I just love her— she’s such a queen. I recorded the song in Atlanta and did a few sessions out there with Future, and at the time, that was really cool to me because I’d rarely been able to work with artists in the room. It was a really fun night, and at one point in the session, Future wanted to go to the strip club. So we all went to the strip club for a few hours just to catch a vibe. And then we went back to the studio and finished the song.

Future’s process is crazy. He just kind of goes in front of the mic and whatever comes out becomes the verse, and I loved that—his freestyle was the final verse on the song, and he did it in a few takes.

“Touch & Go”

From Tinashe’s fourth studio album, Songs for You in 2019, came her song “Touch & Go,” which features singer and rapper 6LACK. They both contributed to composing the song alongside four other writers, including DeLaney Harter, Dimitri McDowell, Elliott Trent, and Lisa Scinta, and the track was produced by Tony Fadd and Killah B.

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So this song was really heartfelt. At the time I was going through a lot of the craziness of a breakup, and I was using music a lot as an outlet. It was in the afternoon, I believe, that I recorded it, and I love my home studio because it has windows in it, so the sun can come through it and set the tone because it was kind of a little bit overcast that day. So when that happens in L.A., it kind of creates a really special, magical vibe.

When I wanted to get a feature for it, that came about in a cool way too. I think I’d gone on Instagram and just posted a general picture saying “working on new music.” And 6LACK commented on the photo and was like, “Let's do it,” So I DM’d him immediately after that and we went from there. He recorded a verse on it and sent it to me, I loved it, and it was really just that easy. It fit perfectly.

Kovie Biakolo is a writer and journalist. Follow her on Twitter @koviebiakolo

Originally Appeared on Glamour