Published May 21, 2010Eclectic soul visionary Janelle Monáe is pulling out all the stops to promote her debut album, The ArchAndroid, released this past Tuesday (May 18). And as Monáe explained in a recent Exclaim! interview, the music is just a starting point in a multifaceted project.
It's a bit complicated: The ArchAndroid is actually parts two and three of a four-part concept based on silent German sci-fi classic Metropolis. Part one was released as an EP last year.
Speaking with Exclaim!, Monáe doesn't even mention musical influences; she's drawing straight from her subconscious and like-minded visual artists. "A lot of songs came to me in my dreams, and I was able to record them via my iPhone recorder when I would wake up in the morning," she explains. "[The work of] Salvador Dali played a huge factor."
So many musical ideas are at play within this enduring concept that the album begs to be interpreted in different ways. And Monáe, a one-time theatre student, is taking that ball and running with it by exploring multimedia presentations to eclectic audiences.
"I'm shooting a video for every song on The ArchAndroid so we'll be creating a movie with a very beautiful narrative," she says. "We also have a graphic novel coming out. We'll also try and take this show on Broadway. Touring is going to be what I'm focusing on now, I'll be doing shows with Erykah Badu at the end of this month, then I'll be doing the Lilith Fair, then I'll be on tour with Of Montreal."
The single most important visual of The ArchAndroid is the crown that adorns her head on the album's cover image (see above). It turns out it's not just a photo illustration.
"We had an actual crown built," she says. "Jesse Clarkson built it; he's responsible for creating the Iron Man costume. He's worked on the Dark Knight and his first move was Edward Scissorhands. We're really taking a cinematic approach to this!"
The ArchAndroid is out now via Bad Boy/Wondaland Arts Society. You can see a complete list of Monáe's current tour dates here.