She’s deep into futurist Ray Kurzweil and loves Octavia Butler’s writing. But her science fiction stories play out over itchy beats, under a James Brown cape. io9 interviews the unclassifiable musician about her influences and dreams for the future.
Janelle Monae has gotten attention for being the rare mainstream artist who is clearly doing her own thing, drawing from influences as diverse as James Brown, psychedelia, punk, and Disney’s Fantasia. Her albums tell the epic story of Cindy Mayweather, the Alpha Platinum 9000, a droid optimized for rock performance, often cloned but never equaled. Cindy is on the run, having fallen in love with the human millionaire Anthony Greendown – a pairing which, in Metropolis, is against the law.
There is a history of musicians working with futuristic themes — think David Bowie, P.Funk, Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon, or Nona Hendryx of LaBelle. But Monae has tighter bonds to science fiction. She did a concert in an episode of Stargate Universe, and has alluded to various science fiction authors who inspired her. In an interview with io9, she talked about some of her influences.