Are you a good liar?
I’m not a good liar. I’m more like, if there’s something I don’t want someone to know about, I’m just not even going to be around. I really like to just be an open book. If I do something wrong, I have to at least give hints so that you can find out. One of my biggest fears is to die with all of these secrets. I don’t know.
I really like to just be an open book. If I do something wrong, I have to at least give hints so that you can find out. One of my biggest fears is to die with all of these secrets.
Why is that a fear?
I have no idea. I have no secret that at least one or two people don’t know because it will die with me and what was the point of my life if people didn’t know about the bad and the good? I feel like sharing and connecting is what life is about and that’s what keeps everything going and the energy flowing.
I know very little about Buddhism but I think it has something to do with letting go of your ego. How do you follow that or reach for that in this business?
For me, it’s definitely a process. From the teachings and things that I’ve read, the ego is always there and the Id will always remind you that it’s there, but it’s about being aware that it’s not the boss of you and being able to ignore it. You have to recognize it in order to let go of it. Sometimes I get doses of it where I feel like it’s too strong and I’ll be reminded and I’ll be like, OK.’ I just try not to pay attention to those types of things. I don’t watch myself on TV. I don’t even like to look at pictures. It’s weird. I don’t like to get caught up with “who I am,” and I’m surrounded by all of my family. We’re very, very close and everyone keeps each other down to Earth and comfortable.
We’re not one of those families like, even though we’re encouraging and we’re proud of each other, we don’t make it larger than life. It’s definitely a process and by the time I do get to where I want to be, I probably won’t be doing music. I’ll probably be an author or doing something where I am more—because even for me, I don’t write or sing to be seen. I do like performing, I do like interacting with people that connect with my music, but for me it’s not that. It’s not to get on this TV show or to take this picture on the front of whatever, all of that is nice of course and it helps people connect with me more, but that’s not my reason. I think it’s keeping that in check and making sure you know that you’re not doing it for that reason. You just are aware that it comes along with your job.
I sense that just by listening to your music that you have a purpose for your music. It seems like you’re really telling your personal truth in these songs. Is that true that your music is very much from your life?
Everything. When I was younger, like I said, I had a diary and everything was me and my thoughts, that’s how I deal with whatever I’m going through. When I figured that I could turn those thoughts into songs, then that’s just the easiest thing for me.
A lot of times I would just go into the studio and whatever the track brings out of me, or maybe even however I’m feeling that day, that’s what’s going to be the song. And I just love writing, so once I feel like I’m done talking about what I’m going through then maybe I will go into creative writing. But it’s so hard for me to not put some of myself in each song, or even just compile different stories or talk about things friends have gone through. So maybe when I run out of my personal stories then I’ll be more creative with it.
Let’s not start talking retirement just yet. Looks like you had a fun night last night on Saturday Night Live. Is that really live?
Yes. I never knew that it was straight up. I was like, “When does this air?” They’re like “It’s on now. People just saw it,” I was like, “Oh!” Because in L.A. we get it three hours behind, but we were obviously in New York. It was live and it was intense because they’re just like, “Skit! Okay, c’mon perform!” It was crazy.
I was very nervous. I get very, very calm when I get nervous but then when it’s done that’s when I get like, “Uh… Was it okay?” That was a big first, SNL, because I don’t even personally think—obviously it wasn’t for me—but where I’m at right now, I didn’t expect to be doing SNL now. Even though I didn’t perform one of my songs from my project, it was my first time and it was crazy.
And the same week you were just on Fallon. You’re getting to be a pro at this T.V. stuff.
I’m definitely glad I’m doing it now so I could be more comfortable with it. Cameras freak me out a lot.
You seemed so chill at the photo shoot.
I do well with adjusting to situations but there are still thoughts in my mind. I’m not the most comfortable mentally. I’m more overthinking it and stuff like that and we’re in Jamaica for a photo shoot, so that made it a lot easier. I don’t even think it’s something I’ll grow out of because even as a kid—I can take pictures of myself, selfies, all day. Or if it’s someone I know taking the picture... But cameras and multiple cameras, it’s foreign. It looks alien.
Were those your first two TV performances this week?
Fallon was my first time performing by myself. I had done Jimmy Kimmel with Big Sean, but that one was an outdoor concert. That was easy, it just felt like a show. I had done a few things when I was younger but that was another lifetime ago, so I don’t even remember the feelings or anything like that. So, yeah, I would say that was my first. It was very surreal. I’m ready to do the next one. I just feel like it’s all about getting better. If you have nowhere to get better then you should stop. I plan on always getting better.
You and Drake really had great chemistry in that performance. It looked like you were enjoying it. He added that “go to commercial break” line, did you know he was going to drop that in there?
On tour he would do stuff like that. At first, I want to make sure I’m doing everything right and he would throw me off a lot. He’ll just say something crazy or make me laugh. He’s fun, he does stuff like that but it was cool.
I saw on Instagram he had came through to support while you were on Fallon.
Yeah because he had been at NBC all week going through which skits he was going to do and stuff like that.
How did you end up being on his tour?
As soon as we did “From Time,” he was like, “I want you to be on the tour.” At first he was saying he wanted me to open, but whatever happened, and he was just like, “How ever we can get you on the tour, can you come out during my show?” I was like, “Of course.” He had mentioned it to me during that time and then a week before the tour started, he called me like, “I really want you to come and we’re going to try to work out scheduling,” and I was like, “OK. Whatever needs to happen.”
You were on the whole U.S. tour?
The whole U.S. tour. I missed one show because my daughter had a dance recital. She’s a dancer. She came with me for like a week on some of the west coast shows and that was really cool.
I noticed you FaceTiming with her before we went out to dinner in Jamaica. Is that tough keeping in touch and being a mom and being out here?
It is. My mom, she used to manage my sisters because they were in a singing group when they were really young and they would do traveling here and there and I remember being with my grandma or my aunt. I have a really big, supportive family and on her dad’s side, she has a big family also. Real family, it’s never a random friend. We’re all super close. We all live super close and I feel really comfortable when I leave. Of course, I miss her and she misses me. She’s in school and she’s in dance and her schedule is almost as crazy as mine and whenever she can be with me, she’s with me.
For me, I just look at it like I put in the work now, especially when she gets older and hopefully I can bring her with me and have a tutor, because she definitely likes it. When she came on tour for that week she was so impressed with the bus, like, “We can walk around in here?!”
What is her name?
Namiko. It means child of the wave.
Why did you choose that name?
I knew I wanted it to be a Japanese name. I was researching and I wanted it to have a cool meaning. I’m a water sign and there’s this story in one of the books that I have read by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk that I was talking about earlier at the tattoo shop.
He has a story about the water and the wave and how there’s no difference between the water and the wave. There’s no such thing as birth and death because the wave cannot die, it’s all the water. Things manifest when the conditions are right and they don’t manifest when they’re not right, but there’s no ends, there’s no beginnings, just continuation.
Water and waves have been very symbolic of that and it’s just a whole cycle and continuation of life. So yeah, when I saw the name and read it out loud I was just like, “Nami. Namiko.” A lot of people call her “Tsunami” because she has a lot of energy and is literally, she can be a Tsunami, basically. It was just fitting.
Her middle name is Love, so Namiko Love.
That’s a beautiful combination.
I have always felt very connected to the sun. Throughout the ages, all of humankind has worshipped the sun in some type of way.
Was that cover shoot your first time being in Jamaica?
Yeah. I loved it.
Do you like the Islands in general?
I have only been to Hawaii. To Oahu and Maui and I made a vow the last time I went there that that was going to be the place that I just end, where I settle down. In a lot of ways it’s obviously beautiful, and paradise and all that, but it’s also familiar. It feels like home whenever I’m there.
I have family out there. I think some of my Japanese family. My mom went to college out there all four years so growing up she would tell me about Hawaii. At one point in elementary I was like, “I’m going to go to school in Hawaii and you’re going to come with me and we’re going to live out there.” So yeah, I love it.
I remember you saying something about the son, “s-o-n,” and then the star that represented Lucifer.
Yeah. So “Lucifer” means light bearer. The light bearer is Venus and a lot of people think that Lucifer is evil because in The Bible that’s the name of the devil. I’m not well versed in The Bible. I know stories, I’ve never read it front to back but I’ve been to church. I’m more into astronomy, so when I started learning about it and I saw that it would refer to Venus as Lucifer. And then I started reading stories about how it comes out while the sun is still out and it stays out longer than the sun and it gives off a lot of light, and it rivals the sun. And it’s the story of the son of God and the devil technically, It’s kind of like that story is just a take on astronomy. A lot of people believe that the 12 apostles are just a story of the zodiac.
Yeah. It’s really interesting to just compare and connect the dots and see. Either way, it’s a good story. I like to play with the word “sun” and “son” a lot because I have always felt very connected to the sun and I feel like throughout the ages, all of humankind has worshipped the sun in some type of way, as far as like what it does for plants and life in general. That energy is the reason we’re here. Why our planet is what it is, because of our distance to the sun.