Get To Know Nardwuar, The Greatest Interviewer Of All Time

Photo courtesy of Nardwuar

He celebrates three decades this month

There are some things you should know about Nardwuar, the Human Serviette (aka John Ruskin), before watching him on YouTube. For one, he’s Canadian, and damn proud of it. He’s the frontman for punk rock band the Evaporators. He’s 49 years old and has a penchant for plaid suits, golf caps, and long hair. He’s an encyclopedia of information and has interviewed everyone from Jay Z and Courtney Love to Carly Rae Jepsen. He signs off every interview with “keep on rawkin in the free world and doot doola doot doo…” to which the artist is meant to reply “doot doo” (they don’t always). Then, he freeze-frame poses with his mic propped and mouth agape while he stares at the camera; his subject, usually, stares at him.

That escalated quickly, right? This will all make sense after your first couple of Nardwuar videos. Or maybe it won't—I’m not sure it’s meant to make sense. But ask anyone who’s watched hours of his interviews (okay me, ask me), and they’ll tell you, once you get past the caricature, you’ll see: He’s one of the most impressive music journalists out there.

It’s easy to dismiss Nardwuar as a joke, and some artists do (see: Kid Cudi, Sonic Youth, Travis Barker). Then there are others who not only respect him but are blown away—and almost humbled—by his insane ability to unearth the most personal details about an artist. So personal that Tyler the Creator and Jeezy accused him of being with the Feds. Meaning, he has access to tidbits about a person’s life that the general public wouldn’t. The most common phrase uttered in a Nardwuar interview? “Yo, how the fuck do you know this?" But no, Nardwuar is not with the Feds. He’s just really, really good at what he does. He’s been doing it for 30 years, after all. He hasn’t always been great, but he’s spent a long time getting there. 

So, leading up to the celebration of his 30th anniversary, we chatted with Nardwuar over the phone from—where else—Canada, in an attempt to figure out how he managed to render Pharrell speechless and bring Questlove to tears. See what he had to say, ahead. And, yes, though I was interviewing him, he ended the call with his infamous “doot doola doot do…” To which I replied “…doot doo," because I am no fool. 

You have a very unique interview style—how would you say it's changed over the past 30 years? 
I'm still learning as I go along. I guess I haven't perfected it yet because if I've got it down, it's time to probably retire. I would say the difference between the earlier shows and now is I oftentimes pad the questions a bit more. I don't go in for the heavy questions right off the bat, as I used to. 

I know you started out by sneaking into establishments and backstage at concerts. Do you think you have a little more pull now in terms of getting celebrities and musicians to talk to you? 
Not necessarily. For Nirvana, I waited like two days, and Courtney Love snuck me backstage. But recently, for the Kendrick Lamar gig, I interviewed D.R.A.M., but afterward, I was hoping to talk to Travis Scott or Kendrick Lamar, but I was stuck just waiting outside the venue like I did 20 years before for Nirvana. 

So to set up those interviews, is it mostly word of mouth? I know that Pharrell helped you get the interview with Jay Z…
When I do contact people, oftentimes I say to the artist, "Can you say I am legit?" The artist may think that I am legit, you may think that I am legit, but the manager doesn't think I am legit. So I have the artist talk to the manager and tell them that I am legit. Oftentimes, when I interview somebody—like when I interviewed Drake—afterward, Drake knew that Pharrell hooked me up with Jay Z, so Drake hooked me up with Lil Wayne. That was pretty amazing. He actually had the phone—Lil Wayne's manager, Cortez Bryant—and said, "You should talk to Nardwuar." He kind of had to be my publicist, almost my agent. And not everybody will go out on a limb like that.

What is your researching secret? 
Well, Taylor, how many articles a day do you do? 

Two to three. 
So how many is that a week? 

About 15. 
About 15 a week! I usually do my radio show once a week. So, I do one week [of researching]. I'm pretty sure if you only did one a week, you would get the same amount of research [done] that I do. In other words, it's not that hard to do it. Most people are too busy—like yourself—to delve into a subject, or too lazy. But it's right there. It's not that difficult for people to find. 

Where do you start?  
I try all sorts of stuff. For instance, when I talked to Busta Rhymes, I was like, "Oh, Busta Rhymes, he’s interesting, why don't we go to eBay and type in his name?" And I typed in "Busta Rhymes" in eBay, and it turned up one of his gold records was for sale. So I asked about the gold record of his that was for sale on eBay. So I try everything. 

How do you go about searching for those rare records that you are giving out? 
Luckily, in Vancouver, we have Beat Street Records, we have Neptune Records, we have Red Cat Records, there’s a whole bunch of record stores; oftentimes, the records aren't hard to find. So I can just walk into the store and get that record. And a lot of times, if the record isn't available, I will get the poster, and sometimes the poster is pretty cool. Like, for instance, I have a Jimi Hendrix poster from 1967 all ready to give to an artist that loves Jimi Hendrix. I guess if it was California or New York, those stores would be kind of picked over. But in Vancouver, the collector's junk isn't. 

You've been doing video and radio for a while, was there a point or a moment in your career when you knew that you had something special going? 
I think YouTube really helped get my interviews out there. Before, I put them on cassette, VHS cassette, and then I mailed them to people. And also, I put them to record, you know what a hassle that was? To get your interviews, put it to record, then press up the record, and then mail out the record? That didn't happen very often. So when YouTube came along all those years later, I was, like, all these interviews that I had on cassette or on record, I could put on the net!

There’s this saying that you should never meet your idol because they usually end up disappointing you. Was there anyone who let you down?
I guess, I'm, like, so nervous and so into the interview, that I don't ever think back. For instance, behind that door is Marilyn Manson. So I run to do the interview and then I run out. I don't have time to converse with the idols in a fan sort of way. The interviews can't really be described as an interaction à la meeting your idols. But usually, when I talk to people, it's kind of like, I have some questions and then follow-up, and then move on to the next question. I guess I haven't had time. 

I have been upset when people have attacked me. For instance, I did a lot of interviews with hair metal cheese bands. In the '90s, punk was popular. It was kind of like Green Day. It was Rancid. You know, punk was really popular, but all these bands, like Poison, and Warrant, and Skid Row, they used to be metal, but they weren't popular anymore, 'cause they weren't punk. So, for fun, I interviewed them. But, as it turned out, it wasn't fun interviewing them because Sebastian Bach of Skid Row smashed the tape that I was using to film the interview with and stole my favorite Tuke skull cap that I was wearing. The tape also had interviews with George Clinton on it, and he stole my favorite Tuke that my godmother had given me.

Is there anyone that’s left you starstruck?
I have been scared. For instance, at the Clinton-Yeltsin summit, I was really scared to speak to Bill Clinton. As it turned out, I was kicked out of that summit because other members of the media were like, "Ugh, kick out that guy with the hat—he's an idiot." It wasn't the security people, it was other members of the media. So I was totally scared of what I would ask Bill Clinton. So, some of the bigger interviews I am totally scared. But then, for the interviews, even talking to you, I'm scared. I'm always scared. 

Yeah, I feel the same way about doing interviews. 
But that's good! Because it shows you care. Right? In other words, it's good to be scared because you realize it is important, or you care about it. So many people don't care, and that is like traditional media. They don't care they got the interview with Snoop—you know, whatever, I can waltz in the interview, and I don't have to come with questions. No, it's good to come up with questions. It’s good to be scared. The minute you go, "Ah, what the hell," you should quit, you know, it doesn't matter.

Are there any other journalists or people within media that you look up to in terms of their interview style? I read something about Arsenio Hall…
Well, for Arsenio Hall, I was inspired by him because he didn't ask questions that I wanted him to ask. Like, when he was talking to Sharon Stone, she mentioned she was in a bunch of movies that she was embarrassed by—I wish he followed up with Sharon Stone on what movies she was talking about. I was like, "Oh my god, he should follow up!" So, that kind of inspired me in that respect. And then the other thing that inspired me was a lot of magazines and fanzines. For instance, there was a great fanzine out of San Diego called Ugly Things, and there was a great fanzine magazine out of New York called Kicks Fanzine. They might do an article on the band The Who. Everybody knows the band The Who, but they might talk about the bassist of The Who's record collection and what records he has in that collection. I love that!

You’ve interviewed Snoop Dogg every couple of years now, starting in the early 2000s. Is he your favorite person to interview? 
I think, in person, he is pretty much my favorite person to talk to. On the telephone, I had an interesting conversation with Iggy Pop. It was only nine minutes, but it was amazing. And political, I talked to Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien, which was amazing, and I got him to do the Hip Flip, this weird 1960s game, kind of like Twister. You put a pole between two people and you flip a flipper in the middle. It's a crazy game, and I got him to play it. 

Snoop, though, I've talked to him about nine times since the year 2000, so it is pretty amazing that he makes time for me. In fact, even the last time I talked to him at SXSW this year, I waved my hat and he motioned me back, which was great because a lot of the people don't go the extra distance. 

Is there anyone you want to interview that you haven't? I know that Barack Obama and Kanye West were on your list, has that changed at all? 
Well, Kanye is still on the list. Obama has been replaced by Trump; I tried for Obama for years and got nowhere. Trump did come to Vancouver about three years ago, and somebody actually phoned me up and said, "Would you like to talk to Donald Trump? He's doing a press conference." But I said, "Oh, I guess I'm too busy." So I think after that occasion, I'm like, "Oh my god, I screwed up big time not talking to him." But, I guess he is on the list, and also on the list is kind of the rock 'n roll pioneers. For instance, Little Richard is still alive, I would love to talk to him. I feel like I have to talk to them before they leave this earth. There isn't much time left. 

If you were to get an interview with Trump, do you have questions in your head that you would want to ask him
Well, I would try to get him to do the Hip Flip, and I do have a Trump file. I had some Trump mints from his campaign. I think they were called "Trump Embarrass-mints," so I would love to show him some of the merchandise that has been accumulated, and I have a Trump mask. So I guess aside from the Hip Flip and the promotional items for his campaign, I would look through mags, etc., and probably find something. Actually, I think Trump had some Canadian connections, too. I think his grandfather lived in the Yukon of Canada for a bit. So I think I might throw that out there too. There would be a lot to ask Trump.

For Obama, I had a great picture from Ebony magazine. I think it was in the mid-'80s, of him being a person to watch in Chicago. I would have loved to show that to him. 

It seems like you have an eclectic taste in music. What's your favorite genre to listen to?
When you do a radio show every Friday, I guess you can't discriminate. At first, it was sort of only mod, or psychedelic, or garage, or punk music, or punk musicians that I would interview. Then it became anybody. I would talk to cheese metal, then my friend turned me on to funk, and then another friend turned me on to rap. 

For myself, like when I go to that treadmill and go for a run, etc., I guess I like high-energy '60s garage rock. I like bands like The Chocolate Watch Band. I'm listening to them, I'm listening to The Seeds, that sort of underground 1960s garage, "pump-up" music for the treadmill. You know, to be healthy.

Where do you shop for your clothes?
A lot has been at garage sales and Value Village, but lately, a lot has been at Burcu's Angels in Vancouver. They have all sorts of stuff. In fact, Burcu recently, well I guess in the past year, got a shipment of Versace. I thought I would never wear Versace, but it was all vintage '80s Versace. And so, I actually got some of it, which was amazing. 

Have you worn it during one of your interviews?
Yes! I believe I wore it during my Wu-Tang Clan interview, and I think The Chef looked at my jacket and looked at my shirt and was like, "Where did you get that?" He couldn't believe it, it looked like a bumble bee. It was amazing. 

When you look back at your three-decade career, what are you most proud of?
I’m grateful that I still have a heartbeat. You know, I wake up every morning with a heartbeat. I'm here. I'm just happy that I've been able to do it for so long and there's still many people to talk to. 

When I was in the hospital a while back, people responded and helped me out by saying, "Get on with it! We need you to do interviews!" That inspired me. So I guess when people help me out—that makes me proud. Even some people that I interviewed would bring me brownies and bring me food and, you know, they're famous, but the food is great. So, that kind of makes me proud, like somebody deemed me worthy enough to bring brownies to. 

In honor of the anniversary, CiTR will be broadcasting 20 straight hours of Nardwuar interviews starting tonight.

Dragonfire can't melt steel memes

I'm not quite ready to talk about the amount of time I wasted hoping Game of Thrones would live up to its drawn out hype with the series finale, but I am ready to dive into all the memery that came out of the disappointment. And I'm not alone: Maisie Williams—aka Arya Stark—summed up what we were all thinking in one single tweet: "just here for the memes."

After Daenerys had almost as lackluster a death as Cersei, dying with a quick stab wound, it was pretty clear that it would all be downhill. But hey, at least she's reunited with her BFFs Missandei and Jorah in the afterlife.

That opened up the question of who exactly would be king or queen of the seven kingdoms. Poor precious Samwell thinks we should try democracy, but it's not Game of Popular Vote, it's Game of Thrones.

Apparently, everyone at this point had totally forgotten about the fact that Jon Snow actually was a Targaryen, and the rightful heir to the throne. All the characters who, up until this point in the season, had been obsessed with this fact totally pretended it never happened, and never considered him for the new ruler because he... killed the mad queen.

So what do they do? Choose the one person who always said they never wanted throne and that he never even wanted anything: Bran Stark. Arya didn't save everyone's ass from the Night King to be disrespected like this!

And, with all his pre-existing knowledge and newfound power, Bran still just chilled in his chair. Arya is going into uncharted waters, no idea what danger lies ahead? Nah, don't share the information you have on it. Jon is sent off to the Watchers on the Wall just as his younger brother gains absolute power? Forget about pardoning him, Bran doesn't care.

And who would've guessed that Ser Brienne of Tarth would just go and become a blogger, writing anonymous glowing messages about the dude that screwed her over. I'm not a huge fan of the editorial decisions she made while finishing Jaime's story, but I am a fan of the memes made out of the scene.

And back to Jon Snow: All this potential, all this hype on his real name, and once he kills Dany he's shipped off to the Night's Watch like a sad, discarded puppy. There's not even a real reason for the Night's Watch anymore, so he's basically just being sent off to be out of sight, out of mind, for the rest of time.

But hey, at least they finally made right with Ghost. The goodest boy in all of the Seven... or, rather, Six Kingdoms deserved all the pats, and he finally got them when he was reunited with Jon in the North. It almost made me forget all the nonsense that happened throughout the rest of the episode... almost.

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Our favorite collections from 2019's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

It's hard not to love Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, an annual exhibition of some of the best in resort dressing, that has Sydney's various cityscapes and beaches serving as its backdrop. For five days, we hopped all over the Australian city to check out the Resort 2020 collections from some of Australia's most established designers and emerging newcomers through an assortment of runway shows, presentations, and parties. The result? An extravagant display of beach-ready fashion, elevated streetwear, and signature Australian style.

For those of you not familiar with the resort season—sometimes referred to as cruise or holiday—it's the in-between seasonal offerings of summer garb that typically hits stores in time for the winter months (you know, right about when we're ready to take those vacations we've been dreaming about). And while we're gearing up to head into summer over in America, these collections also serve as the perfect inspiration for warm-weather dressing—even if we won't be seeing them hit stores until much later this year.

From Aussie staples like Double Rainbouu and Alice McCall to emerging brands like P.E Nation, we rounded up the best Aussie collections we saw this week. Take a closer look at each of them, below.


Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia kicked off with a bang, the bang being Aje and its glorious Bloomscape collection. Whimsical pieces inspired by the native flora and natural landscape of Australia made their way down the runway, from billowing, sculptural dresses with hand-painted floral prints to rugged, masculine tailoring inspired by the soil, the trees, and the nation's rocky wonders.

Alice McCall

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Alice McCall has been a longtime favorite in the U.S., known for its whimsical and quirky pieces that never skimp on sequins, feathers, and tulle. For Resort 2020, McCall was inspired by the treasures once found in her mother's "dress-up box" of the late '70s, creating her own take on vintage silhouettes but modernizing them and making them new. The result? Romantic, feminine, and glitzy pieces that are sure to turn heads.

Hansen and Gretel

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Good news for anyone who's into the whole sea nymph thing: This trend is not going anywhere, anytime soon, according to label Hansen and Gretel. The Aussie brand's Resort 2020 collection, Venus, celebrated femininity and womanhood while nodding to this very trend with seashell knit crop tops, slinky slips, pastel summer knits, and plenty of shimmery pearlescent fabrics.

Lee Mathew

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Lee Mathews Resort 2020 runway show was a special one: a celebration of the brand's 20th year. And, with that came a retrospective collection taking inspiration from the brand's archives over the past two decades. The collection presented the perfect mix of feminine and tomboyish pieces, mixed and matched and layered with extravagance. Ruffled, tulle skirts were paired with tailored shirting, while in-your-face prints such as polka dots, brush strokes, and bold stripes were used throughout, showing up on flowing silk dresses and structured, oversized shirting and separates.

Bondi Born

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

Resort 2020 saw Bondi Born, the ever-chic sustainable swimwear line based in Sydney, debut its first full resort capsule collection. The brand saw its sustainably produced fabrics take the form of knotted and bow-adorned swimwear, breezy seaside dresses and separates, and clean, simple eveningwear—all stunningly timeless, surpassing fashion trends and to be worn for seasons to come.

Double Rainbouu

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

In just a few short years, everybody's favorite Hawaiian shirt brand Double Rainbouu has grown beyond its playful shirting assortment with apparel, accessories, and more. For Resort 2020, design duo Mike Nolan and Toby Jones were inspired by the hippie travelers of the '60s and '70s, and a utopia where all creatures live together harmoniously. Set in Sydney's gorgeous Chinese Garden of Friendship, the brand's show featured model "tourists" who wore worldly prints, hippie tie-dyes, and plenty of linen alongside colorful zebra prints, sporty polos, chambray jumpsuits, and classic hoodies, making for a playfully diverse, yet wearable, collection.

P.E Nation

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

This season saw emerging Aussie label P.E. Nation present its first solo runway show, Physical Education, for Resort 2020. The brand took its signature spin on sporty '90s activewear and elevated it, incorporating bold, oversized silhouettes, denim, and all of the bold neons we covet. Bonus? The brand announced a killer new collab with Speedo, presenting its vintage-inspired swimwear at the very end of the show. Even bigger bonus? The brand's been upping its sustainability efforts, debuting its first-ever recycled active set, using recycled yarns and organic cotton. It will also be moving to biodegradable packaging by July.

Leo & Lin

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

One of our favorite collection this season came courtesy of Leo & Lin. Celebrating the designer's love of history, the romantic "Imperial" collection was a nod at both ancient Rome and the Victorian era, which saw sweeping, bulb-sleeved and high-necked floral dresses and suiting walking alongside flowing, draped Roman-inspired frocks. A modern flair was also sprinkled in, seen in the form of vinyl trench coats and fishnet fabrics.

Ten Pieces

Photos via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia/Getty Images

One of the most buzzed about shows this season was Ten Pieces, the contemporary sportswear collection born from the collaboration between founders Maurice Terzini and Lucy Hinckfuss and designer Allan Marshall. For Resort 2020, Terzini was inspired by his time as a teen in Italy in the late '70s and the disco freak era. A bit punky, a bit hippie, and set in the drained pool of Sydney's iconic Icebergs Club with Bondi Beach as its backdrop, the collection's sporty streetwear pieces—unisex, and meant to be mixed, matched, and layered to its wearer's delight—felt more apt for the beach than a bustling city.

Photo by Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for ASCAP

"It makes my ears fucking steam out of my head"

Billie Eilish isn't taking Alabama's abortion ban lightly. Speaking to Variety, the singer said that she has "no words for the bitches in the fucking White House." She continued: "Honestly, I can't even look at my phone," because the news is always so distressing.

Eilish doesn't call out any legislators specifically, but she doesn't have to in order to get her point across, namely, that it's outrageous that people don't get to have control over their own bodies. "It's so unbelievable," Eilish said. "It makes me, like, red. It makes my ears fucking steam out of my head. Women should say, should do, and feel, and be exactly what they want."

"There should be nobody else telling them how to live their life, how to do shit…" she continued. "It just makes me so mad that if I start talking about it, I won't stop." Eilish did conclude though with this simple, powerful statement: "Men should not make women's choices—that's all I have to say."

If you want to help the people who will be affected by the restrictive abortion bans that the "bitches in the fucking White House" are doing nothing about, these organizations could use your help.

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We talk to the pop star about her past, present, and future—and why she spoke out against R. Kelly

JoJo has been through it. Any casual music listener who lived through the 2000s knows what I'm talking about. The singer shot to instant stardom in 2004 with iconic hit "Leave (Get Out)" and released two albums, a self-titled debut and The High Road, which ended up being a fitting description of the journey she was forced to take.

Soon after, Blackground Records refrained from releasing JoJo's third album, resulting in a near decade-long period when she could only put out infrequent singles and mixtapes. She filed a lawsuit against the label in 2013, claiming that her contract was no longer valid under New York law, and when she was freed, her albums were taken off iTunes and streaming services, denying JoJo and her collaborators future earnings and disabling fans from accessing their beloved music. She was finally able to release her third album, Mad Love, in 2016, but there was still a huge part of her career that virtually disappeared—until she took matters into her own hands.

Late last year—on her 28th birthday, no less—JoJo surprised us by revealing that she re-recorded her first two albums and released them online for fans to enjoy once again. It was both the end of a chapter that needed to be closed long ago, and one of the most powerful moves by an artist in the music industry, especially a woman like JoJo who has dealt with a level of power struggles and politics we could only imagine. Below, she opens up about the process of this remarkable venture, her newfound freedom, and her next step.

How did you decide that re-recording these two albums was the right move?
My options were pretty limited. Since I had gotten out of that contract with Blackground, I just realized that I didn't want to reopen anything by trying to have any interaction with them. So I saw what my legal options were and that was to completely recreate these albums and basically cover myself.

How long did that process take? Take me through the process of basically putting everything back together.
My managers and I had been talking about it because we saw it in my comments on Twitter and Instagram a lot, and I just hate feeling helpless. When I saw that there was this demand from my fans of wanting to listen to the first two albums, we called my lawyer and saw what could be done legally from that perspective, and then we just started to brainstorm as to how we could recreate the tracks. I came to the conclusion that what my fans wanted was the nostalgia of the first two albums, of how they found it in 2004 and 2006, so we tried to keep it pretty true to that. The process took, I would say, nine months, from the first phone call to calling my musical directors and have them start the recreation of the tracks, sending them the YouTube link so they could refer back to the original songs, because that's what we had. I didn't have a physical copy of the first two albums.

Were there any songs that you were especially emotional about or ones you connected with when you revisited them?
I definitely got emotional re-cutting a lot of them, particularly "Keep On Keeping On," which I wrote when I was 12. That was one of the first songs that I ever recorded that I had written completely by myself. Just to go back and take in the lyrics that I had written then, it's just still a message that I need to hear. It was just emotional being like, Damn, my little 12-year-old self was an old soul. It was emotional redoing all of them for different reasons because I remembered those sessions so vividly. Especially with remaking "Leave (Get Out)," "Too Little, Too Late," and "Baby It's You," I was definitely freaking myself out with trying to stay true to them but also realizing that I'm a grown person now. I was intimidated by having to hit some of the notes that I hit when I was 12 and 14, like on "Too Little, Too Late," because I'm a different singer, your voice changes as you grow. That made me a little bit anxious [but] I just did it.

You recently spoke out about R. Kelly on Twitter and said you heard stories when you were younger and that people you worked with were also working with him. How did hearing this affect you at such a young age?
To be honest, the way that it was being spoken about in the studio normalized it. I'm looking back on it and realizing how perverse the stories that I was hearing were, about how he'd always have young girls around, how he'd be waiting outside of high schools or he'd be hanging out at the McDonald's. I didn't realize since I was so, so young how very much fucked up that is. He really was just in plain sight being a predator. I was such a huge fan of his. I mean his music is incredible, but at this point, there's just no fucking way to separate him from his crime, and it's just wild. It's just wild that he got away with it for so long, but I think we're in a new era of accountability and transparency and I just think it's definitely about time. But in my comment section, it was like, "Okay, so if you've heard these stories, then why didn't you come forward or say something?" I was a kid when I heard these stories, and I certainly didn't know what to do. I didn't even know how to follow that thought all the way through.

I wanted to talk about the new album you're currently working on. Is there a the direction you're going for?
I want to go back to what comes naturally to me which is R&B, but I think I could care less about genres. I just want to make dope music and release it, whether it's all in one album, one song at a time, however that may be. I'm being super choosy and making a bunch of songs and then narrowing it down from there. I've never been more excited about the music that I'm making. It feels really great, and I think a part of that has to do with closing that chapter of the first two albums, with anything that I did from that time of my career. Now I can move forward and just really be challenged and keep growing and breaking myself down and putting myself back together with the help of my collaborators. It's interesting.

Is your attitude about freedom influenced by the music climate and streaming today? The music world has changed so much since when you debuted.
I guess, but I think, for me, freedom is more of the mental and emotional state. I do think that artists have so many more choices now, whether to be independent, or to do a joint venture like I've done with Warner Bros, or sign to a major but on their terms. I think that there is a lot more flexibility and freedom for us, much of which we've demanded and some that the industry has just had to adapt to. But even when I got off of my former label and knew that I was able to move forward and release music, for many different reasons, I still didn't feel that freedom. I think I was in such a fighter mode that I still felt like I needed to fight things, whether it was myself or... mostly myself.

It's being really hateful toward myself and dealing with a lot of that. For me, this freedom that I'm feeling is just stepping into a new perspective of not recognizing things as obstacles but knocking on them as opportunities, and I think for those who are fortunate enough to be able to get some type of control over their mind, I'm trying to try to do that and to feel as free as possible. I'm excited.

Photo courtesy of HBO.

We made it

It's finally over. We had a great run—even if the eighth season felt more like a PowerPoint presentation of the show than an actual narrative. But perhaps the most frustrating thing about the show was that it left plenty of plot threads dangling. Still, some of the conclusions that the show left us with were shocking in their own right. Let's revisit.

Spoilers ahead...

Cersei actually being dead

I didn't want to believe it, but it's true. Cersei Lannister, the ruthless Queen that everyone sought to overthrow, is dead. Last week, she and her brother-lover Jaime held each other tight in the bowels of the Red Keep as rocks and bricks fell on top of them. I thought that Jaime would die, once again protecting Cersei, and that she would survive the collapse. This would have provided an opportunity for her to be personally killed by list-obsessed Arya Stark or a power hungry Daenerys Targaryen. But no, Cersei did not survive and I was shocked to see her dead face when it was uncovered by Tyrion.

Jon killing Daenerys

Cersei wasn't the only person whose death came under unexpected circumstances. Daenerys' long, epic journey came to an end at the hands of Jon (also known as Aegon Targaryen, and her nephew-lover). Despite following Daenerys all season, Jon was convinced that she had to go after a little pep talk from Tyrion. And so, what else would a Stark do, other than carrying out a death sentence himself? Jon did it with a blade through Dany's heart. At least it wasn't in her back.

Drogon killing the Iron Throne

If there is one character my heart absolutely breaks for, it's Drogon. Daenerys' death left the dragon motherless and brotherless. He took his grief out on the thing that drove her to the very end, the Iron Throne itself. Drogon melted it into boiling liquid metal before flying away with his mother's body.

Bran becoming King

Since the beginning of the show, viewers have made wagers on who would eventually take the Iron Throne for themselves. Through most of the series, Bran, who hasn't been able to walk since the first episode, was an extremely unlikely candidate. But alas, he was the King when the show ended, and he made a comment that seemed to suggest that he'd known this was his destiny. In other words, he let everyone battle it out while he sat and minded his business, knowing it was all for him to come out on top. A shady queen feels like a more fitting title.

Arya heading "West"

I get it, Arya has already been a free spirit and non-conformist. I also understand that she sent most of Game of Thrones motivated by revenge and with no more to be served, there was little left for her in Westeros. But to send her off exploring the world also felt... odd. Arya said goodbye to her siblings, setting her intentions on sailing to see what's "west of Westeros," so that she can find out what's there. It felt way too soon to assume that she wouldn't still be needed in her homeland, but Arya never was one to stick close to home.

Jon and Ghost reuniting

At the end of the fourth episode fans were furious when Jon Snow prepared to head South with Daenerys, bidding fond farewells to friends and fellow soldiers, but not bothering to pet his direwolf. The show runners said the reason for the impersonal sendoff was that interactions with the direwolves cost too much money to pull off and there wasn't enough budget. So we were all surprised to see Jon and Ghost reunite in the final episode when Jon was once against sent to Castle Black. It was a silver lining in an otherwise dreary episode.