While Beyoncé is the better-known Knowles sibling with the more famous husband, baby, and everything else, Solange, 25, has quite a story of her own. She’s released two albums, toured the world as a dancer with Destiny’s Child and has written album tracks for Kelly Rowland and four songs for her sister, including ‘Upgrade U’ and ‘Get Me Bodied’ (when she was just 15). She has starred in two films and at 17, she married her high-school sweetheart and had a baby.
Now living with a new boyfriend Solange is happy and content. She’s putting the finishing touches to her third album and raising her 7 -year-old son Julez. Recently, of course, she also became an aunt: ‘That was really, really insane,’ she says of the press coverage of her niece Blue Ivy’s birth. ‘Such an invasion of privacy.’
Solange dishes on Blue Ivy, her close BFF relationship with Beyonce and why she doesn’t have a record deal in ES Magazine.
On giving Beyonce parenting advice:
I really feel like because I had my son so young, I didn’t want everyone’s help,’ she says. ‘I think people felt entitled to give advice, so I’m always very sensitive to mums and letting them feel their way out. But there have been times when she’ll ask, “Did Julez do this? Did this ever happen with Julez?” And I’ll gladly give her advice.
On dealing with Beyonce and Kelly Rowland‘s close BFF realtionship as a child:
‘Her mother was a nanny for another family, so Kelly lived with us when they first moved from Atlanta. She was like a second sister,’ Solange says. ‘It definitely was tough, having your sister have a built-in BFF, and me being five years younger. But my sister was very protective of me, and we were very sweet with each other. I’m sure if we were closer in age we wouldn’t have gotten along so great. But we’ve been super-close ever since I was about 13.’
Solange had no fear of people as a teenager. But things have changed now:
A backup dancer pulled out and Beyonce asked me to go on tour with her. Solange eventually collapsed during a soundcheck. Her knees, so used to ballet, had given in under the strain of complicated hip-hop routines, and she was told not to dance for six months. Her father arranged for her to host the tour instead, introducing the band to sold-out 40,000-seat amphitheatres. ‘I had no experience,’ she says. ‘But I didn’t ever have a fear of people as a teenager. Now it’s a different story.’
On her parents not wanting her to sing:
One night, she sang some of her songs to her father. ‘And he told my mother, who said, “Oh, no. We don’t want you doing this, too. You can do anything in the world! You’re so smart.”?’ But why would her mother say that, when she’d been grooming her sister for stardom from day one? ‘I think she was nervous about me losing my childhood,’ says Solange.
On her family finding out she was pregnant:
‘I just loved being at home and being domestic,’ she says. ‘We would have gotten married for sure anyway, but then I found out I was pregnant. We were crazy, impulsive teenagers and I was obviously craving some sort of stability.’ Her family, she says, ‘were alarmed and frightened that their 17-year-old daughter wanted to get married and have a kid, but I’d been working since I was 13. I was making my own money. I wasn’t really asking permission, and once they found out I was serious about it, they were supportive and amazing.’
Solange remembers recording retro music way before Amy Winehouse and Adele became successes. Solange recorded a second album high inspired by the 1960′s Motown music, it failed..
‘I’d have to time it around the baby’s naps,’ she says. ‘And make sure he wasn’t crying in the background on demos.’ She continued writing ‘all of these Sixties songs… I would send them to my publisher [EMI] and would check every day if someone was interested. This was before the retro vibe of Amy Winehouse and Adele… they were not very well received.’
Why isn’t she signed to a major label?
‘I don’t think there’s a need if you are able to fund it yourself and have a strong sense of development as an artist. It means you aren’t dependent on some A&R dude to position you with writers or producers or figure out your next direction,’ she says. ‘Major labels act as banks in terms of how they produce and release your album. No major label is really good or bad, they just 100 per cent operate as a business, which makes sense… no hard feelings.’
‘ Actually, I invited them over for dinner tonight. I’m excited to see her; I haven’t seen her in a week and half.’ She wraps her coat around her, bracing against the weather. ‘You know, my sister and I truly are best friends.’