A few weeks ago, just after we premiered the video for "Sorry," Ciara swung by the VEVO offices to spin us a few tracks from her forthcoming One Woman Army. This was no ordinary visit. The R&B star was in a great mood, and when she heard our superb sound system she decided to roll through the bulk of the record, dancing and singing along with each new track. She had comments about each, and she made them with her signature charisma way out front.
"Sorry" is is blistering ballad, and its video depicts just how sensual Ciara is. Her physical moves are those of a dancer. Tomorrow we're premiering the second video from the album, "Got Me Good," a slammer that turns the desert into a dance club. One Woman Army is set for release this winter.
After all the fun, Ciara sat down for a chat about the album's message, being vulnerable, and how her recent acting experience enhances her video work.
Before we jump into it, a shout-out: Today is her birthday, and we're hoping that she's shaking it to her favorite music somewhere again today. Happy Birthday, Ciara!
VEVO: Instead of just playing us a few tracks from the disc, you threw us a party. And you were dancing up a storm. You’re not shy about that kind of thing?
Ciara: The group was large, and the music environment, the speakers and the sound, were perfect. So we took it to another level. When you let go and have fun and be free, it’s cool.
The albums sounds strong. Name a couple of the tracks you immediately knew were on-target when you cut them in the studio.
“Sorry” made me feel that way. “Got Me Good” definitely made me feel that way. I remember jumping on a stool in the middle of that one. [Producer] Rodney Jerkins has a video of me actually reacting to it. I literally jumped on this stool, probably three feet wide, dancing like I was in a club somewhere. And Rodney had these cool lights going. Everything felt right. He was asking me about the bass. I said I wanted some 808s, and I wanted the beat to move a certain way, and he started playing the keyboards, and we’re vibing, and before you know I’m jumping on a stool.
Do you go out dancing?
Not often. I do go out, but I’m not a heavy partier like that.
Name a recent song by someone else that gets you going.
2 Chainz. Anything 2 Chainz gets me turned up. I’m so happy for him.
Is the final music on the album what you heard in your head initially? Is it what you imagined you wanted when you were putting it together?
I have to say it felt like it was coming to life - that’s a way to look at it, yes. It was definitely going in the ways I envisioned. There’s nothing like actually being able to hear it [in your head], and then find ways to go push more and take it to a higher place.
You’ve got a real physical thing that comes out in the video for “Sorry.” Does your acting experience help you express yourself in the videos?
I have to say that my experience in the Adam Sandler movie I did last summer – That’s My Boy - helped me in so many ways. Doing anything that involves acting out a story...It inspired me from a performing perspective. It opened me up more.
Were you theatrical as a teenager?
You know, I’ve always had the gut feeling of wanting to perform, whether it’s dancing or whatever. But I’ve never been trained in anything that I do. Never trained to sing or dance. Literally I was 14 when I decided to do it because I could feel that there was something there. That was when my learning process began.
You mentioned that this new disc finds you vulnerable. When we hear all these songs in a row, what kind of story are we going to hear?
You’re going to get a good idea of where I stand as a woman. Where exactly I stand in my life, as it pertains to love, as it pertains to the creative vibe. Where my head is at. It really is my voice. There’s something beautiful to me about embracing your flaws, cause I did that along the way. This time it’s about running towards my fears. You feel it in the music as well.
That’s a liberation of sorts.
It makes you confront the stuff you’re scared of. You’ve recently said that in the early days you felt like a robot to a degree.
Yes, In the beginning I was very guarded. That’s just who I am as a person. I’m always going to pre-scan a room. I’m always reluctant just to dive in. It’s taken me some time to understand that it’s okay to make mistakes, okay to have downs…I ‘m such a perfectionist. I go “Ugh,” and just sort of cringe. Not cringe exactly, but definitely I don’t like making mistakes. That’s what life’s about. That’s growth, that’s where you learn, that’s maturity, it’s necessary.
That kind of honesty is at the essence of R&B, right?
R&B, yeah, but pop, too. Just music, period. It needs to be there. We want to feel something real - at least that’s what I believe. That’s what good music is. If I look at songs that I’ve love, whether it’s Al Green or Michael or Janet or Prince, it’s there. They took you on their journeys of where they were at when they share their music with you. And to me that’s everything. I thank god for the gift of being able to express myself through music. It’s like writing things my own journal sometimes, getting things off my chest and off my mind. It’s good for you.