Just In Time

06.15.2011

MUSIC

L+T: Definitely. So you’re more at home onstage than, say, in a recording booth?
EB:
No. It’s the same. It’s just a different energy. Being onstage is creating a moment. In the booth is perfecting a moment because you get to do it over and over until it’s the way you envisioned it in your mind. It’s not better nor not better. It’s just different.

L+T: What about being in front of the camera and being behind the camera?
EB:
I’ve directed every video I’ve ever done, from 1997 until now. It’s something I love, I had to learn. I don’t have formal training as a director. I’m not a technical camera operator, but I’ve learned how to manipulate it and get my visual ideas across. And it’s fun for me. My favorite video that I’ve directed, well, three are “Other Side of the Game”—that was in one shot where I had to choreograph everything. And “Honey”—I like the post-production that I did. And “Love of My Life”—that story of hip-hop going through doors.

It’s fun. It’s a learning experience. I learn something new every time, whether from the cinematographer or if someone’s co-directing with me.

L+T: So it helps you evolve.
EB:
Yeah. Absolutely. [“Out of My Mind, Just In Time”] was great. I actually shot that one a year ago and I just now put it out. I want to do a lot more in post. But I said, ‘I’ll just start putting them out’—you know, this is the age of social revolution. When you feel it, put it out. There’s no rules anymore. I don’t have to have a single out to have a video. Very freeing. Especially for an artist like me—I take my time with everything.

L+T: And I noticed with that one and “Window Seat,” there’s a certain nakedness to their artistry. And obviously with “Window Seat” where you are nude.
EB:
I was inspired by a group called Matt & Kim. They put out a video where they walk through Times Square and strip down nude. They told me later that it was choreographed. I didn’t know if it was or not. It just doesn’t matter—it just looked so freeing and beautiful. And I had my own reasons for my version. My feelings as a performance artist in the tradition of Josephine Baker and Yoko Ono or Nina Simone, Betty Davis—the wife of Miles Davis—those performance artists always had some kind of issue that they wanted to bring to the people and in order to do that, you had to do a shocking thing as a piece of art in order to bring the dialogue into the forefront. And the object is to create dialogue. And this particular piece, I was bringing attention to a term called “groupthink.” “Groupthink” is a term coined by Reverend [Irving] Janis in 1972—a sociologist, a professor, a philosopher—and that term describes human beings who are afraid to go outside of the normal realm of thinking because they are afraid to be ostracized, criticized, or assassinated by the group. So, the way that rolls out in steps is like this: first, they become their own person. Then, they strip down all of the things they’ve learned in a form of unlearning. They’re nude. They’re vulnerable. And they’re free thinkers. And either they’re assassinated or alienated. And I took those steps in the “Window Seat” video.

You know, there are so many layers to art. You can pull back one or you can pull back many, and it depends on what you’re trying to understand or not understand. I think I’ve created an appropriate amount of dialogue—people understood it, gave energy to it. People who didn’t understand also gave energy to it. And that’s what’s most important about it.

L+T: So did that line of thinking about nudity and freedom carry over into the “Out of My Mind” video in terms of the stripping down, stripping away?
EB:
Nah. I’ve been butt naked my whole career. I have. It’s just a part of who I am. Was I butt naked in “Out of My Mind,” too?

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  • pettiho the company

    Love this post. Love Erykah. She’s absolutely right. Possibly a new groupthink for the better. At least for a moment.

  • http://twitter.com/DanaEason_ Dana Eason

    “You know, there are so many layers to art. You can pull back one or you can pull back many, and it depends on what you’re trying to understand or not understand.” – So true…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jucee-Brown/62303051 Jucee Brown

    Awesome…She is definitely a lady of many layers..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1299042173 Stephanie Suckerfree Ellis

    Wow loved this article…Certain things caught my attention enigma, she dislikes showering (funny), group think, nudity, creative control, Brooklyn apartment, and the fact that she is paying for production cos herself. I used to listen to Badu back in HS then I started listening to mainstream and stopped. I started listening again when Window Seat came out and I saw the video and I had an epiphany like I used to love Badu what happened. I started to get some of her songs on Itunes and I listen to her with my eyes closed because that is how I feel music. I absolutely agree with Jennie in we place too much emphasis on the exterior and not the interior when it comes to music in just overall how we perceive people. Most people with eyes should be able to see Badu is a natural beauty in case u dont know check out the 2010 cover of Vibe with her on the cover with nothing but henna and some graffiti.She is such a kickass nonconformist..I absolutely love it. Erykah is Neo soul at its FINEST.

  • Anonymous

    I luv Ms. Badu!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Not to much on this first lil clip, but Lord please or somebody hand me my sun glasses for the clip where is calls herself a dancer because I want to try and see less of that as possible. I say that with apprehension cuz I don’t want y’all to get the wrong idea Life and Times, but y’all straight down bad for sprinkling that blood for them dogs. I mean we all know how Badu come, but da** all in the blog for rap eyes to just gaze on ouch. Somebody call Tyrone and tell him to bring me a blindfold, so I could so cleverly look the other way. She is too much, but what can I expect from a free spirit sitting by the window. Shucks

  • E. Hunter

    Sure wish she’d take that poncho off jack! lolololol Cause lil mama “hold’N”

  • Memyself andi

    Thanks for this new insight into Erykah, especially about her being influenced by such note-worthy female performance artists like Betty (Miles) Davis & Yoko Ono, and that she has directed all of her own videos since ’97. Mz. Badu is simply amazing! Got a chance to catch her in Osaka in 2010. I was both shocked and impressed by what she wore on stage. I would call it a “Hobo Chic” ensemble- a baggy pair of gray sweat pants, a ripped white tee (which appeared to be used in a tug-of-war between the kids) and a top-hat with two “Miss Celie” plaits hanging from underneath, and of course, her beautiful hand-crafted rings and forearm cuffs. Needless to say, she was stunning and enchanting. The entire place was transfixed by her presence and she rocked the house! She’s a true artist, and regardless of what she wears or doesn’t wear, her talent shines through.

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