Photos: Sachyn Mital

Janelle Monáe Conversation at 92Y and Colbert Performance Videos

Four interesting takeaways from Janelle Monáe's Dirty Computer conversation at the 92Y with video from that and her performance from the Late Show.

As the end of her Dirty Computer tour (one of my favorite shows of 2018) approaches, Janelle Monáe conversed with Rolling Stone‘s Brittany Spanos, the writer of the buzzed about article that kicked off the album’s release cycle. Monáe had performed a homecoming show at Kansas City’s Open Spaces arts and music festival over the weekend but flew back to New York for the 92Y conversation. Over an hour, Spanos talked with Monáe about creating the album, her film career and took questions from the audience. Here are four takeaways from their chat.


The big “ahhh-ahhh” vocalizations on “So Afraid” were thought up when Monáe was at the dentist’s office.

While driving to the dentist because of a toothache, she was making a voice memo for the foundation of the song. She was still thinking up the melody as she sat in the dentist’s chair with her mouth wide open, leading to the big chant in the chorus.

The “Django Jane” video came together in a matter of day.

The plan was to release the “Django Jane” and “Make Me Feel” music videos on the same day. However, Monáe and her team realized the original “Django Jane” video would be delivered two weeks after the deadline. So they wrote a new treatment on a Sunday, shot the video on Tuesday and had it ready right after.

Tape isn’t a readily available format in Wondaland but sometimes it’s worth digging up.

With friends and collaborators like Pharrell Williams, Zoe Kravitz, Grimes and more on the new album, one she didn’t have a connection with, Brian Wilson, was the first guest she locked in. She was thrilled to get the legendary Beach Boy on the album and Monáe laughed as she reminisced about Wilson requesting she send him a “tape” with the music. The results can be heard on the album.

“Dirty Computer” is an Honorific.

Dirty computers, as Monáe describes them, are individuals from marginalized communities. Marginalized for who they love, for being a person of color and / or for being in the LGBTQIA community. But she is a dirty compute, she is proud to work with other dirty computers, including her producers Chuck Lightning and Nate Wonder and she is proud to have dirty computers as fans (dedicated fans were amongst the people in the first few rows).

Listen to the conversation with Brittany Spanos and watch her performance of “Make Me Feel” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert below.



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