For the first time ever, the famously private Knowles sisters let us in on a conversation between them for Interview magazine. In the article, they talk about Solange’s hit album A Seat at the Table, lessons from their parents, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and more.
Here are the most interesting things we learned:
1. You may think you’re Solange’s biggest fan, but actually, Beyoncé is.
Beyoncé set the record straight right in the beginning of the conversation. “I’m so happy to interview you because, clearly, I’m your biggest fan,” she said. “And I’m super proud of you.”
2. Solange chose Master P to narrate A Seat at the Table because he reminds her of her dad.
Mathew Knowles’ community chose him to be one of the first students to integrate his southern elementary school, and later, junior high school. Solange believes his experience falls in line with the legendary rapper’s journey out of the south as well. “To evolve from that and still have your sense of independence and still have your stride and your strength, and to dream big enough that you can create something from the ground up bigger than any community, neighborhood, or those four corners … I remember reading or hearing things about Master P that reminded me so much of Dad growing up,” Solange explained.
3. Their parents gave Solange and Beyoncé the courage to unapologetically build and control every aspect of their empires.
“You and I were raised being told not to take the first thing that came our way, to build our own platforms, our own spaces, if they weren’t available to us,” Solange said. “Our mother always taught us to be in control of our voice and our bodies and our work, and she showed us that through her example. And I think it’s been an interesting thing to navigate, especially watching you do the same in all aspects of your work: Society labels that a control freak, an obsessive woman, or someone who has an inability to trust her team or to empower other people to do the work, which is completely untrue.”
4. Missy Elliott is one of Solange’s biggest inspirations.
She’s also the reason Solange is so involved with the track production of her music, down to her playing certain instruments herself. “I remember seeing [Missy] when you guys worked together and being enamored with the idea that I could use myself as more than a voice and the words,” Solange noted.
5. “Cranes in the Sky” is the only song from A Seat at the Table Solange wrote independently.
“It’s a song I wrote 8 years ago,” Solange said. “I was just coming out of my relationship with [my son] Julez’s father. So I really had to take a look at myself, outside of being a mother and a wife, and internalize all of these emotions that I had been feeling through that transition. I was working through a lot of challenges at every angle of my life, and a lot of self-doubt, a lot of pity-partying. And I think every woman in her twenties has been there — where it feels like no matter what you are doing to fight through the thing that is holding you back, nothing can fill that void.”
6. …and yes, it’s an analogy about the metal cranes used to build skyscrapers, not about birds.
“I remember looking up and seeing all of these cranes in the sky,” Solange recounted of her time in Miami. “They were so heavy and such an eyesore, and not what I identified with peace and refuge. I remember thinking of it as an analogy for my transition — this idea of building up, up, up that was going on in our country at the time, all of this excessive building, and not really dealing with what was in front of us.”
7. Having the clips in her hair for the album cover of A Seat at the Table was a last minute add.
“I wanted to put these waves in my hair, and to really set the waves, you have to put these clips in. And when Neal, the hair stylist, put the clips in, I remember thinking, Woah, this is the transition, in the same way that I’m speaking about on ‘Cranes,’” Solange said.
8. Solange loves watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta because it reminds her of the women she grew up around in Houston.
“I feel so happy that I got to grow up in a place where you could be the pastor’s wife, you could be a lawyer, you could be a stripper on the side, you could be a schoolteacher — we saw every kind of woman connect on one common experience, which was that everyone wanted to be great and everyone wanted to do better,” Solange explained. “And we really became womanist because of that.”
9. Solange was hesitant to work with her husband, Alan Ferguson, on the visuals for ASAT. And Beyoncé is the one who encouraged her to do it.
“I was scared because I felt like our relationship, by the grace of God, is the one thing that I can count on to be intact and to be solid,” Solange said. “When I go out in the world, I know that when I come home, I’m going to find peace with him. And I didn’t want any variable that could interrupt that.”
10. Solange spends A LOT of time on the internet.
11. Last but not least, we can officially add being a great older sister to the long list of things Beyoncé is great at.
“You did a kickass job. You were the most patient, loving, wonderful sister ever,” said Solange (after Beyoncé asked her how she was as an older sibling). “In the 30 years that we’ve been together, I think we’ve only really, like, butted heads … we can count on one hand.”