Where independent women are concerned, Tinashe might just be the most literal example in the music industry today.
After two decades in the entertainment biz, the 28-year-old pop star and actor boasts an extensive hybrid-filmography-discography including collaborations with Britney Spears, A$AP Rocky, Usher, Charli XCX, Chance the Rapper, Jennifer Lopez, and more.
Only, these days, she’s doing it on her own.
“Right now the thing that I’m most proud of in my career is being an independent artist,” she tells me on a busy highway in her tour bus. “It’s been really fulfilling to make my own creative decisions.”
After recording and producing her debut solo mixtape, In Case We Die, from her home studio back in 2011, every big name in music seemed to set their sights on Tinashe.
She signed with RCA Records and felt, at the time, that the rest was something between history and legacy.
“There are so many ups and downs to look back on after a decade in the game, you know? A lot of learning, but also a lot of working with my heroes,” she admits. “I think the person that really stands out is Britney Spears [for 2016’s Slumber Party], because hers was like the first album I ever bought. She was my hero as a child, so for something like that to come to fruition so early on in my career was really amazing and humbling and inspiring.”
As the years went on, however, Tinashe felt she was being nudged further and further towards a “pop box” she wanted to think outside of. By February 2019, she split from RCA and decided to go it alone.
“It’s been empowering and liberating because I do have so much more control,” says Tinashe. And, even with a global pandemic wreaking havoc on the entire world’s ability to call the shots, she’s managed to release two critically-acclaimed studio albums (Songs For You and 333) in the two years since.
“I always want to align myself with producers, brands and people who are on the same page,” she says.
“A lot of times the first thing I look at, in terms of collaboration, is a shared creative rapport—will I be able to have the freedom to be me in this relationship? Will I be able to express my point of view as an artist?”
And an unexpected call from ShoeDazzle gave her the chance to do exactly that.
Today marks the release of Tinashe’s first shoe collection, in partnership with ShoeDazzle, featuring 14 stylish shoes and boots ranging from $39.95 to $52.95.
“I actually put on my vision board at the beginning of the year that I wanted a shoe line this year!” she laughs, noting that it is—of course—just one of a million things she’s working towards in her professional and personal life.
“I think it’s essential to have goals and be specific about them,” she continue. “It’s the only way to achieve things in life.”
Naturally, when Tinashe went in to talk through her ideas (shoe styles, colors, fit, et al) she knew exactly what she wanted.
“It was the perfect collaboration. We now have this variety of boots and booties that I love that will work through winter, plus a bunch of tour-friendly heels you can dance in but still have glamor and drama.”
And with her 333 Tour still ongoing (with just three of twenty-five shows to go!), the tour shoes felt just as important as the tourdrobe itself.
“I think it’s a big part of the show and the production. As an artist, how you dress is just one part of how you express yourself, and it gives you another level of connection to your fans and audience.”
This time around, Tinashe has invested in it heavily, switching between five to six main looks, all with mini wardrobe changes of their own.
“Life right now is about being in the moment, but trying to maximise on every opportunity.”
Brand deals, in particular. For independent artists, these creative collaborations can be the difference between making the album they want or making the album they want and taking it on tour.
“For the next five years my focus will be on continuing what I’m doing now creatively and making as much money as I can to create my own art. There’s much more pressure on that, being independent, but I find it exciting.”