SZA knows life can change pretty fast. This time last year, the 28-year-old singer found herself "Airbnb-ing from place to place" with a lot of time on her hands. Though she had a few EPs and features under her belt, SZA was relatively under the radar; however, that all changed after she dropped her long-delayed debut studio album in June.
Since then, the TDE songstress has reached mega career milestones: Ctrl was deemed a critical and commercial success, debuting in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 and landing her five Grammy nominations. It’s been a quick rise to the top, and SZA is still having trouble digesting it all.
"I feel like people are sick of me saying I’m surprised," she told Pitchfork. "They’re like, ‘Bitch, shut up,’ and I’m just like, ‘I can’t because I’m literally still shook.’ I can pretend to be not shook if it would make y’all less angry with me."
With so many new opportunities flooding in, SZA admits she is more appreciative of her free time and doing typically mundane activities like getting her nails done, going to the sauna or taking a nap. She spoke about the changes in her social life, which has led her to feel overwhelmed and sad at times because she struggles to process all the new energy. She said she’s getting better at it, though.
"Social shit is weird and now it’s getting even weirder ’cause I’m like, 'Oh, shit, I’m probably not gonna be in a normal social setting for a minute,'" she explained. "But what is getting more normal is that I met James Franco yesterday and I wasn’t scared. I’m usually terrified. He grabbed my arms and was just like, 'Hi, I’m James Franco,' and I was like, 'I know who you are.' I just reached out and grabbed him to hug me, and he was so close to my face, and I wasn’t scared. Famous people are always close to your face. I remember the first time I met Pharrell, he was like this to my nose [brings her hand close to her face], and I was like, 'Sir, please, you’re too close. I’m scared.' I was quivering. But now I’m just too interested to be scared."
Learning how to interact with celebrities—without physically shaking—isn’t the only lessons SZA has learned this past year. She told Pitchfork that her new life, and the new experiences that came with it, taught her to be more confident in her work, trust her inner voice, and accept that some things are out of her control. She explains how this lesson will shape her future music.
"Now I’m really all the way in, talking to my inner dialogue, really acknowledging thoughts as they come in, and sweeping some of them shits to the side, like, 'No, get the fuck out of here with that. Don’t use any words that indicate fear. You’re only excited, at worst, anxious. You gotta be clear,'" she said. "Each moment has to be like that. If it’s the Grammys, if it’s anything, you have to just let it be mindful and create the dialogue rather than just filter the dialogue. That’s where I’m at right now. I never did that before. I was barely filtering it out on Ctrl. I was just worried about whatever the fuck was in my brain, but now I’m understanding. In a weird way, my acceptance of a lack of control gave me the gift of control."
You can read the full interview at Pitchfork.