Ariana Grande is quickly capturing the hearts of pop, hip-hop and R&B lovers alike. While you might know her from some of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows like iCarly and Victorious. The 20-year-old actress dropped her debut album Yours Truly September 3 on Republic Records.
Grande’s wholesome, playful image paired with a vocal range that is drawing comparisons to a young Mariah Carey puts her in a position to absolutely take over the music world. Between collaborating with of-the-moment rappers like Big Sean and Mac Miller, singing duets with The Wanted’s Nathan Sykes, and reminding her fans just how much their support means to her, it’s a wonder the starlet has a moment to breath these days. Despite her crazy schedule, we got the chance to kick it with her and chat about about her new album, working with the lovable Mac Miller, stylish Big Sean and learning to sing the music she actually loves.
Get to know Ariana Grande below, and watch her video for song of the summer, “Baby I,” above.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album Yours Truly! What’s your favorite song on the album and why?
“Honeymoon Ave.” My friend Leon sang the intro for it, so I love hearing his voice on there and it feels warm, friendly, familiar, comfortable and happy, so the song is just very special to me.
Tell me about the process of working with Big Sean on the track “Right There”? Was it co-written? How did you guys come together for that?
I wanted “Right There” to be “The Way” [featuring Mac Miller] part two and it definitely feels like that. I love the song. It’s a sexier version of the “The Way.” Like “The Way” is the first date song and it’s like ‘oh hey, we’ve got this second date going’ kind of song.
What was it like working with Mac Miller?
It was great, he’s one of my best friends.
You’ve collaborated with several people from different genres– Nathan Sykes, Mika, Big Sean- do you find that your artistic process changes depending on the artist?
Yeah, I think there has to be some middle ground with any artist you collaborate with to make it comfortable for both of you. I feel like with “Right There” it catered to Big Sean, but it also catered to me and what I love. There has to be that creative ’give a little’ and ‘get a little.’
How do you know that spark is there when you first meet an artist? As you’re approached and as you approach other artists for collaborations what’s the sentiment you get when you realize you mesh really well creatively with another artist?
The great thing about the collaborations on my album is that each feature is a friend of mine, someone I know very well and vice versa. Big Sean and I were trying to do a song together for a long time, almost a year. We kept coming up with different songs that just weren’t right for one or both of us and finally we felt like ‘this is it.’ But we were friends in the meantime, so it was cool. My whole first album experience has been really comfortable because we worked with people that know me well.
What was it like recording your debut album in terms of the creative process? It’s your first album and I know that you come from a history of acting via Nickelodeon’s Victorious and Sam and Cat. How do the two processes differ?
It’s different because I’ve never felt like an actress. Music comes really easily to me and it’s something I understand better than I do the English language. Music is my life, acting is fun for me but it feels like work. This album came at a really great place in my life. I got to explore creatively, take my time with it as it was written over the course of three years and I’m so happy we finally got it right. I’m really proud of it, and that’s coming from the most self-deprecating person you’ve ever met.
We’re our own worst critics! Your song is very R&B, but it’s got a pop spin. Could you see yourself experimenting with different genres?
It’s always fun to experiment with different genres. At the beginning of the album writing process I was doing a very “bubble-gummy” sound and I hated it. I love pop music from other artists but I can’t sing bubble-gum pop and convince myself that it’s right. I did it mostly because I thought that’s what my demographic wanted to hear from me. It felt and sounded strange. Finally, I just said, ‘I need to do what I love, what makes me happy and songs I actually want to sing on this album.’ That changed everything.
You have to be passionate about it or it just won’t feel right. You said before that music comes naturally while acting can feel like tough work. Do you plan to completely leave acting behind for music?
Absolutely, that’s the plan!
You released two very different versions of your album cover. How come and which one did you prefer?
I prefer the current cover but my manager, Scooter Braun, and I wanted to get publicity going over it so we released a few interesting fake ones to get some buzz going. Scooter and I came up with that plan together just to generate more excitement for the album release and have fun with it. If there’s anything Scooter Braun knows how to do it’s coming up with creative ways to release music.
But I like things to look really classic and the goal for that portrait was an old George Hurrell portrait so that made me really happy.
What do you have coming up that fans can look forward to?
I’m already working on the second album and I’m equally excited about it as the first one!