ARTISTdirect's Exclusive Interview With Rihanna!
Fri, 12 May 2006 15:59:24
"So much has happened in my life, I feel like I've grown five years in a year," gushes Rihanna, the young Barbados singer whose debut single "Pon de Replay" became the summer dance club anthem in 2005. Now, just one year later, this hard-working Bajan is back with her second album, A Girl Like Me, and a new song, "S.O.S.", that's soared to #1 in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan and Europe. Still all of 18, Rihanna is maturing right before everyone's eyes into one of most accomplished female pop stars on the planet.
ARTISTdirect caught up with Rihanna by phone while she was rushing off to yet another gig -- she never slows down, it seems. Still, she was gracious and happy to talk to our lowly editor about her meteoric rise to superstardom. Here's what they talked about:
So how does it feel to have the number one single in the country?
That's so funny you ask me that! Everybody has been asking that, and I don't know what to say, because I don't know how I feel, really. I had the number two with "Pon de Replay" but it never became number one, because Mariah Carey was up there for a while. So in a way, I felt it more being number two. Now I'm just working so hard and so busy and suddenly "SOS" has just jumped to number one from number 33 or some crazy number like that. So I'm just like, "Really? Really? Wow. Okay, what's next?"
When you were working on that song, and they brought you that sample, had you heard "Tainted Love" before?
I actually had -- just a couple times, though. I wasn't too familiar with Soft Cell, just because I'm 18 years old and I grew up in Barbados.
Yeah, I was wondering how much '80s music you hear growing up in Barbados. Probably not much, huh?
Not much at all. We don't hear '80s music, we don't hear pop music alot, which is weird since now I'm a pop artist.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up in Barbados?
I listened to a lot of reggae music, a lot of R&B. Soca music here and there. Hip-hop is very huge there.
And a little bit of all of that influences the music that you do now.
Yeah. You're totally correct.
It seems like most artists these days, they milk an album for as long as they can before they move on to the next one. What made you and the folks at Def Jam decide to release A Girl Like Me so soon after your debut?
We just felt like it was time. It made no sense waiting...you should never put time on music. You should never say, "Okay, Music of the Sun has to be out at least a year and a half before we start with--" No. That's what's great about the music business. When you feel it's time, you just go for it. And we felt like it was time to come up with a new album. When we started working on it, "S.O.S." was the very first cut we recorded. We pretty much dived right in. We were so busy promoting the first album while trying to get this one done, working some crazy hours. That's why this album is so close to me, 'cause I really put my heart and soul into it.
And you got a chance to work with some pretty amazing writers and producers this time, too.
Oh my God. That is the bonus. Working with songwriters like Ne-Yo -- Ne-Yo is one of my favorite songwriters.
Did you get to work directly with him?
Oh, yes. He is one of the sweetest, sweetest people I've ever met, ever worked with. He's an amazing songwriter. I remember after hearing "Let Me Love You" [which Ne-Yo wrote for Mario], I was like, "Who the hell wrote this song?" And everyone was like, Ne-Yo, Ne-Yo, this kid Ne-Yo. And one day I was working in the studio with Poke & Tone on "If It's Lovin' That You Want" and Ne-Yo stopped by. So we finally got to meet, and he's like, "Yeah, we gotta do something," but we never got around to it on the first album. So for the second album, I was like, "You know what? I have to work with that guy Ne-Yo." And it made it a lot easier because he's on the same label I am. So we went into the studio and we started working on this song "Unfaithful." And it's one of my favorite songs on the album.
"Unfaithful" is a pretty big change of pace for you, because it's a pretty heavy song.
Did you feel like you were taking a risk doing a song like that?
Not really, because those were the kinds of artists that always influenced me. Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Destiny's Child. You know, "Pon de Replay" -- actually, when I first heard that song, I didn't want to do it, because it was very sing-songy and very -- whatever. Nursery-rhymish. But after I started recording it, I went along with it and started liking it. And people loved it! But "S.O.S."? I love that song! That started showcasing my vocals a lot more. And then "Unfaithful" -- when I recorded that song, I knew it was gonna be a hit. And when we started getting really good feedback on it, we decided to put that song out second. Which is new ground for me, because it's the first single I've ever had that's a ballad. So it's gonna be an exciting ride.
It really sounds like with this second album, the music is much closer to your heart this time around.
Oh, yeah. Much more personal. Everything speaks about what it's like to be a girl like me. Whether I'm cheating on people, whether I've been cheated on, falling in and out of love, people hating on me, having that crazy feeling that guys give you, partying -- every aspect of my life.
So what's next for you? You have a movie coming out, your film debut -- Bring it On: All or Nothing. Is that a direction you want to head more in, with the acting?
I love acting. It's more about the music, that's my passion, but I would love to get more into acting.
Rihanna's new album, A Girl Like Me, is available now in the ARTISTdirect Store.
Also: be sure to read Rihanna's answers to questions from our users!