CHICAGO — Tinashe is nothing if not a hard worker. Unlike her peers, she is unafraid of explicitly stating her artistic goals and ambition. She sees great things for herself, namely a breakout album, “Joyride,” her second, expected later this year.
Success, however, is not easy for her to define.
“I don't necessarily know what that means,” she explained recently in the back of House of Blues in Chicago, “whether it be like it sells a certain number of copies, I don't necessarily feel like that. It's more so that my fans appreciate it, and that it means something to people and people find it special.”
More immediately, Tinashe is most concerned with a tour that is her most ambitious to date.
“The Joyride Tour,” which began in Minneapolis last month, is just the latest instance in which the LA artist is flexing her muscles as a creator and performer. Although she has toured extensively with other acts (most recently with Nicki Minaj throughout Latin America), Tinashe has not been given free reign to craft a full-length live show of this size in which she is front and center. “There's new dancers, a new crew, new team,” she said. “Everything is just another level that we added onto the show, as far as the production value.”
The collaboration process, it takes some getting used to. And different people work differently, and that's probably the biggest learning experience of the whole thing — who you work well with, who you gel with.
Tinashe first gained recognition in the music scene through her self-produced and self-released mixtapes. Combining elements of minimalist and avant-garde R&B production with trippy post-dubstep beats, early mixtapes like “In Case We Die” and “Reverie” were thought experiments that demonstrated the limitless ambitions and creativity of Tinashe.
Now she is hard at work completing her sophomore album, which will include a battery of high profile producers and collaborators, including Diplo, Skrillex and pop mastermind Max Martin. It has the potential to connect Tinashe to even more audiences by coupling the sounds of producers who deeply understand contemporary music trends with the artist's graceful touch, which makes nearly everything she releases sound both fun yet meticulous.
The collaboration wasn’t the easiest transition for a performer who first established a public presence as a solo artist through her own production efforts. “The collaboration process, it takes some getting used to,” she admitted. “And different people work differently, and that's probably the biggest learning experience of the whole thing — who you work well with, who you gel with.”
I think that's one thing that I just try to inspire [in] people: to go after your dreams, make things happen for themselves, not just wait around for people to do something for you.
Still, if the process has taught her anything, it is to trust her instincts as a creator. Rather than question her ideas and vision, Tinashe says she feels more secure, as an artist. “I think the biggest thing that I've learned just from working with other people, in general," she said, "and continue to keep that perspective throughout the collaboration process.
The album’s first single, “Player” was released last October and features sprightly synths matched with warm R&B vocals. As a transitional track between Tinashe’s emerging R&B and mainstream pop, it shines. Perfect both for dance floors and for easy listening at home, “Player” is the natural evolution of Tinashe’s creative efforts. (It is one of seven songs slated to be included on her new album that she's performing on tour.)
“Joyride” is also an album that reflects the evolution of her career and her artistry. She began self-releasing music as a teenager. Now, as a young woman in her early 20s, she has gained a clearer grasp on who she is as a performer. “You change in many ways,” she offered. “I feel like my music is a reflection of that evolution. It's growth, but at the same time it still comes from the same place and who I've always been and what I've always been about.”
She says that she hopes that same feeling comes across through the album, too. “I think that's one thing that I just try to inspire [in] people: to go after your dreams, make things happen for themselves, not just wait around for people to do something for you,” she said. “That's really kind of I feel like the underlying moral of the story, if you will, of my album.”
Tinashe Joyride Tour Dates
March 9 - Wilbur Theatre, Boston
March 11 - College Street Music Hall, New Haven, CT
March 12 - Webster Hall, New York City
March 13 - Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ
March 15 - Theatre Of Living Arts, Philadelphia
March 16 - The Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD
March 17 - The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC
March 18 - The Ritz, Raleigh, NC
March 19 - Center Stage, Atlanta
March 20 - The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC
March 21 - The Cannery, Nashville
March 22 - Iron City, Birmingham, AL
March 24 - House of Blues, New Orleans
March 25 - House of Blues, Dallas
March 26 - House of Blues, Houston
March 28 - Granada, Lawrence, KS
March 29 - Ogden Theatre, Denver
March 31 - House of Blues, Las Vegas
April 1 - The Observatory, Santa Ana, CA
April 1 - The Belasco Theatre, Los Angeles
April 4 - House of Blues, San Diego
April 5 - Warfield Theatre, San Francisco
April 7 - Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
April 8 - Showbox, Seattle
April 10 - Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, Canada
April 26 - Vega, Copenhagen
April 28 - Debaser Midis, Stockholm, Sweden
April 30 - Sentrum Scene, Sankt Hanshaugen, Norway
May 2 - KOKO, London
May 3 - KOKO, London
May 4 - O2 Institute, Birmingham, United Kingdom
May 5 - O2 RitzManchester, United Kingdom
May 7 - Paradiso, Amsterdam
May 9 - La Cigale, Paris
May 10 - Gibson Club, Innenstadt, Germany
May 17 - Duo, Shibuya, Japan
May 18 - Duo, Shibuya, Japan
May 20 - The Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand
May 21 - Max Watts, West End, Australia
May 24 - Enmore Theatre, Newtown, Australia
May 25 - The Forum, Melbourne, Australia