Janet Jackson Interview w/ Wonderland Magazine [NEWS] by Windowpane
Thursday, February 4, 2010, 1:02 am
Filed under: Music, Music News, Must Read, Things We're Diggin'

As we reported a couple weeks back, Janet Jackson features in the latest issue of Wonderland Magazine. The superstar looked incredible in the photos for the piece, but much more interestingly, opened up for an in depth interview with the publication. Jackson talks on her movie projects, her style (both fashion wise and musically), the writing and recording process and the untimely death of her brother amongst other things. It’s a lengthy, but really interesting read.

You can read the full interview after the jump…

Peace, Love & Janet Jackson


It’s hard to imagine what 2009 was like for Janet Jackson. The youngest of nine children, Janet, experienced the death of her older brother and idol, Michael Jackson, and ended her seven-year relationship with the music producer and rapper, Jermaine Dupri.

But 2010 promises to be a massive year for her. A second greatest hits compilation, Number Ones, was released late last fall, including such iconic songs as “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” and “Nasty” from Control, and “Miss You Much” and “Escapade” from Rhythm Nation 1814. This year, Jackson promises a new album of all new material, a sequel to Tyler Perry’s hit “Why Did I Get Married”, titled “Why Did I Get Married Too”, and even a book.

Despite the fact that all of what’s come before 2010 for Jackson (the aforementioned songs, the film Poetic Justice, that sick – in a good way – “Scream” video with her brother, directed by Mark Romanek) is pretty damn fierce, when she meets me in a conference room in her Upper West Side apartment building, she is unexpectedly unassuming, quiet and shy. She speaks at a decibel below ours, perhaps to preserve her energy and voice. Her wardrobe? She’s wearing a sweater and jeans, and a pair of super high Fendi ankle boots. We start with a little chitchat, mostly about what she’s doing in New York, which leads us to the topic of the photo shoot she did for Wonderland.

Wonderland: You’ve been doing photo shoots for a long time. do you still have fun with them?
Janet Jackson: A long time. Yeah, I do, because you work with different people, and you don’t know what’s to come. And sometimes the shoots are just OK, and sometimes they’re wonderful shoots. I don’t normally like pictures of myself, but [in the Wonderland shoot] I really enjoyed myself. It’s like forties with an edge, a stud here, a spike there, a little latex here.

I’ve never seen a bad picture of you. I loved those W photos of you in that gold bodysuit. You like those W pictures?
I thought I looked like a bad tranny, not even a cute one. If you’re going to make me look like a tranny, at least make me look like a cute tranny.

You’re always so cute, like a chipmunk.
It’s these cheeks, right? People still try to pinch my cheeks once in a while.

So you like being styled?
It hasn’t gotten old for me, I still enjoy it.

Do you think about recalibrating your image when you come out with a new album?
Not really. It comes from boredom. When that happens, I change my hair colour. It’s funny that you said that because at the American Music Awards, I thought: I’m getting kinda bored. I can feel a change coming about. What direction I’m headed into or what it’s going to be, I don’t know. You have really pretty eyes.

Oh, thank you. If you’re a little bored now, where do you want to go?
Like I said, I really don’t know until I get to that point. It’ll start to show itself to me.

Do you feel that with Lady GaGa being so popular that your fashion now has to shock people?
I think a lot of [what Lady GaGa wears] is really cool. I’m not knocking Gaga in any way, because I’m actually a fan of hers. I don’t know because we’ve never spoken, but when I look at her, I get the vision of Leigh Bowery. I mean, everybody’s inspired by something. Do I think it’s over the top at all? I enjoy it because it’s something kind of different. It’s something new to look at. It’s going to be hard [for her] to keep up with that, but who knows?

How about Rihanna? does what she’s doing with bandages remind you of any of your previous incarnations?
Have I done that before? Yes. I’m not saying she’s copying me. Everything is cyclical. They come back around at some point.

Do you have any anxieties about keeping up with Rihanna and Lady GaGa?
To me, it’s just a matter of being you. And like I said, I don’t know what direction it’ll be, but I can tell there’s a change going on in me. Something good. A lot has happened in my life this year, a lot of changes; I think I’m kind of headed in a different direction for sure, and it’ll show itself to me. As far as keeping up, I don’t look at it like that. It’s really about being who you are and doing what you want to do. I think when you try to keep up with something, it’s not a good thing. You have to express yourself and be the true you.

How often in your life would you say you’ve had these periods of boredom?
A lot. Quite a few, with a lot of different projects; that’s why I dyed my hair red at some point. That’s why I let my hair grow natural at some point; I had my hair like a honey auburn kind of thing. “Love Will Never Do” -– that was a whole period. Rhythm Nation -– I was covered up from here to here in black. I love black and I’m trying to get out of it.

Do you get bored with your work too, or is it just an aesthetic thing?
I don’t get bored with what I’m doing. I get bored with a sound. I’ve never gotten bored with my work. It’s always a new adventure each time you’re in the studio or you’re writing or working with someone new.

Who do you want to work with these days?
I adore Alicia Keys. She’s one person I met from the very beginning and she hasn’t changed, and you don’t find that. She’s incredibly talented but her soul is such an amazing soul, such an amazing spirit, and you feel that immediately when you’re with her, and she hasn’t changed a bit and that’s what I love about her. I enjoy her.

Are there other people you’re liking?
I like Taylor Swift. I’m not sure why.

For some reason that answer takes me aback.
I absolutely adore her. She’s starting out very young, which is what I did, and she’s having incredible success at a very young age, which is what I did, and I love that she’s so sweet. I think her melodies are sweet, and for that generation I think it’s nice to have[?] that balance. I like Shakira too. And Drake.

Are you into the Twilight series?
Even though I haven’t seen New Moon, I loved the first one.

New Moon was terrible. Even the first one was terrible.
It was?! Don’t say that. There’s a part of me that stopped at 20 or 21, a part of my brain said, ‘I’m stopping here, the rest of you guys can go on.’ And that’s the part that’s attracted to that.

I would say that I’m kind of a tween[?] at heart. Would you say you are too?

I mean, I’ll listen to Justin Bieber.
He’s too cute. I’ve never met him.

What else from that [???] are you into?
Oh, Gossip Girl. I love it.

EDIT: good thing I checked the Xone before going on, saved me a lot of work. laugh.gif the rest of this is jacked — thanks to Mikel1814 @ the Xone.

Again I’m a little taken aback but in a good “Wow Janet Jackson is pretty normal” way.
You’re tripping me out because of the way you’re reacting to me. “Really? You watch Gossip Girl?”

I mean, I’m thinking how you could spend all your evenings at the piano composing with Alicia Keys and you’re watching Gossip Girl?
Yeah, but why can’t you do both? Its like having the best of both worlds. I LOVE it. I love the whole cast. And it’s so weird because I ended up meeting Chace Crawford.

He has crazy eyes.
He’s beautiful. And the thing about it is, in person he’s even more beautiful. When you see him on the screen, he’s really good looking, but then you meet him in person.

What did he say to you?

You didn’t tell him you loved his show?
I never did actually.

Did you get nervous?
No, not at all. We met at a bar, someone brought him over. It was after I did the tribute to my brother at the VMAs. We talked for a minute.

You have a new Tyler Perry movie, a new album, a new book. Tell me what you’re excited about.
I haven’t seen the film, so everyone says “How do you think you did?” Well I don’t know. I went to work every day and tried to show up and be focused and genuine and do my job and take it a day at a time, even an hour at a time, so I don’t know how I did. But so far it’s been testing incredibly well.

Would someone tell you if you did terribly?
Are you kidding me?

On your level, I’m not sure most people want to hear the truth.
But I think it all depends on what you ask for.

Do you have people in your life that tell it to you straight?
That’s the only kind of people I have in my life. When someone new comes on board, I have a conversation about exactly that. That’s so important to me. Alot of people in this industry have alot of yes people and alot of kiss asses. That I can tell you I do not have.

How did you get to the point that you realized you didn’t want that?
From seeing it with other artists and from growing up very grounded. My parents raised us in a wonderful way. It had its pros and its cons at points but I think they did a wonderful job with us. But now as an adult you understand why mother did those things. And I’m thankful that she did. So it’s up to you as an adult to say, “Yes, I want this in my life,” or “No, I don’t.” And for me, even with my friends, don’t be here if you can’t be true all the way. Put me in my place if you think I’m wrong, tell me if you think I’m wrong, but it’s also OK to compliment me when you think I deserve it.

Was it good to go back to work to make the movie?
Yeah, it was. I left that night and grabbed a plane and went to work the next morning. It was a good escape. It was tough at times, but life goes on and that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

I’m sure your brother would have wanted you to keep working and do the best that you could do.
He would have, he definitely would have. And every day is different, some days are much easier than others.

I’m sure he would have wanted you to keep making movies and records.
It gets sad sometimes because, I don’t know, you think your phone is going to ring and you hear that voice calling your name. But yeah, life does go on and everybody grieves differently. I needed to dive back into my work.

Were people afraid to deal iwth you on the set?
They were very warm and sweet, and I told Tyler, “Don’t baby me, don’t treat me differently, we’re here to get a job done and let’s do it to the best of our ability.” And that’s what we did and it was good. And we did it in the Bahamas, and I love the ocean and the island, so that’s a nice way to do it. Hot as hell and I love that.

What about your book?
People want to know about my weight loss and it stems from childhood on up. It’s not an autobiography, but there will be anecdotes trying to explain how things happened, why they happened, that yo-yoing in my life, self-esteem, and things like that, I wish I had a book for this when I was a kid. I think it would have helped me a great deal. I’m in the process of my final chapter.

Has it been…
Theraputic? It’s been pretty cathartic. I never thought that one day I would do a book, that people wanted to know how I did it and how I get it done. And I sopke with my nutritionist and my chef to find certain things you can do at home and for your kids so that everyone has a cleaner way of eating. And then there’s the album. I haven’t really put a date on it. I’m just taking my time with it.

What’s your process like of writing?
I used to write at home, at my own pace. Or I like to drive by the water and write and create melodies. But it’s different this time that there’s so much work that needs to be done. I have to get up in the morning and go to the studio in the morning and write at the studio.

When you record something, do you know it’s going to connect with the audience?
There are times when you know it’s going to connect and there rare times when you don’t know. You don’t ever presume that you’re going to sell ten million albums. You go and you record and you create. You hope the people get it, you hope they like it. You know that you like it, you’re pleased with it, and I think it’s first and foremost about pleasing yourself. “That’s The Way Love Goes”, at first people didn’t get it. And that’s the sad thing about the way people listen to music today because alot of people didn’t get it the first time they heard it and if it came out today it probably would not be a success, because the first time they didn’t get it, and then they heard it a second and third time, and they started to feel it and understand it. People now want to get it that first time, and if they don’t get it they move on, but sometimes things grow on you. Music can grow on you.

What music grows on you?
Here’s a song I like right now off the bat, “Empire State of Mind”. The part that really gets me is Alicia’s part — that chorus, the way she sings it. You probably remember Odyssey’s song “Native New Yorker”. I was just a kid and I was on hiatus from Good Times. My mother asked me what I wanted to do and I wanted to visit my brother on the set of The Wiz. I missed him so much. That was the anthem back then. You’d hear it at Studio 54. I was going there at ten or eleven years old, watching people put flour up their noses, I couldn’t figure it out.

You thought cocaine was flour?
Yes! [laughs] I didn’t even care. I just thought it was stupid. And I just continuted dancing.

You thought it was flour?
Well it was white, and it looked like flour. So I didn’t get it, but anyway, that gave me such a feeling listening to that song. When I hear the chrous for “Empire State of Mine”, it gives you that hopeful celebratory energy, Those endorphins are released.

What has grown on you?
This is a good while back, but “Umbrella”. When I first heard it, I didn’t think it was bad, but it had to grow on me for me to really like it.

Would you like to do more serious acting?
I do. Because that’s my first job and love. But I really want to do some action stuff. I want to kick somebody’s ass.

Anybody’s. Anybody’s as long as I get to kick somebody’s ass. Kick a new hole in their butt. Rip them a new butthole. I’d love to do that. The closest it’s come is in a video. There was a time when I met with the Wachowski brothers to do The Matrix, a long time ago, but there were scheduling conflicts. I think I would be pretty good at it, and normally I don’t say that about myself at all. But, growing up I was such a tomboy and very active with my brothers. I’d also love to do a real independent film.

Like Precious?
That’s heavy, but sure.

Did you want to be in Precious? Did it come up?
It didn’t, but it’s a deep film. [Director] Lee [Daniels] is a friend of mine, and I think he and everyone else did a great job. I love Mariah [Carey] in it. She said, “Oh my God.” Mariah’s always on, and I said, “Don’t even start, Fuck the way you look. You came with [cunt?/punch?], that’s what acting is about. You did your job.”

Have you spoken about doing his next movie?
He wants me to, but we’ll see.

Is there anybody that you want to work with?
There are alot of people I find really talented. I’d love to work with someone like Martin Scorcese or David Fincher.

Chace Crawford, maybe?
Mmmmmm! Mmmmm? [laughs] How did that name come up?\

Shouts to Sam

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