We all know that #blackgirlsrock, but Willow Smith is taking it a step further by spreading her #blackgirl magic to a new realm-punk rock music. The truly talented youngest Smith sits down with V Magazine and talks her journey in music and more. Check out a snippet of the interview as the cover says it all, featuring Willow’s rock revival!
Alexis White: I’ve read in interviews that you traveled with your mom while she was on tour. Was she the one that inspired you when you were younger to do music?
Willow Smith: Wow, that’s a really good question. Both of my parents just constantly had me in the studio with them while they were working, doing so many different things. I was exposed to a lot of different walks of life at a very, very young age. I think that seeing my mom on stage and how she commanded the music and the band just made me realize that’s what I want to be. I want to be that strong woman who is putting it all out there on the stage. I think that it was mostly her with just a mixture of always being around different kinds of entertainment.
AW: You were super young when “Whip My Hair” came out. I remember when that video came out, everybody was posting it on my Facebook. So, I guess what I’m wanting to ask is that when you started out—and you started out so young—did you aspire to do anything else besides music?
WS: I started dancing at the age of seven. I think that was around the time that I was starting to get into doing music. But I had made a GarageBand song on the set of Karate Kid in China, and I brought it to my parents. I remember being so excited going, “Guys, I really think this is what I wanna do. I really think I want to sing.” And the first thing that they said to me was, “Are you sure?” And I was like, “Yeah. I’m sure.” And they said, “Okay, we just want to make sure because it’s going to be a lot of work. We just want you to know that you’re really young. And most of the people who do this are much older than you, and you have to handle a lot more pressure.” They told me right off the bat. I was so young that I just didn’t really believe them. And lo and behold, I got to a place where it was just too much. I just needed to take a step back and figure out what I wanted to do.
AW: I can relate, because I started singing when I was itty-bitty. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I was just dead set on, like, “I’m gonna be a singer and I don’t care.” And my mom supported me and my brother supported me, but my dad was just like, “Is this going to put food on the table? Is this gonna be able to pay for you, have shelter and stuff like that?” And I was so dead set [on being a performer]. For me, it was like, “this is what I want to do and I’m going to do it.”
I have to say, he did come around and is now my biggest fan. But I see you with your family and, without a doubt, you have support. Your closeness with your brother definitely reminds me of the relationship I share with my older brother who actually introduced me to the metal genre. I wanted so badly to be an R&B singer, but it did not work out. I used to tape-record myself, and I hated the sound of my voice. Then, as I got older, and when I got to school, I put together a little girl group. Back in the day, R&B was all love songs. I didn’t know what that was about. I was in middle school! So, it was tough. I was just bummed out because all I wanted to do was sing.But then, my brother introduced me to Pantera, and when he introduced me to Korn, I lost my mind. I wanted to be [Korn’s frontman] Jonathan Davis.
WS: Honestly, that was how I felt when my mom introduced me to Straight Line Stitch. But it’s different when you’re a teenager, you don’t really want a fangirl for your mom, you know? So when I saw you, it was like, “Whoa, this is a thing!” This isn’t just a phenomenon that I experienced in my life, more Black women are into this. That’s why I wanted us to do this interview because, I feel it was just [such an important] part of my life in seeing that when I did.
AW: I’m so humbled by that!
WS: So, I just want you to know that inspiration carries far.
AW: And, you know what? I really do appreciate it because it’s not about me, it’s about you. You have the torch now, you go, girl! My time is over, it has passed. But it’s so nice that the newer generation can see what we’ve done, your mother, and myself. We did something that carries some weight.
WS: But being a Black woman in the metal crowd is very, very different on top of the pressures that the music industry puts on you. Now, it’s like an added pressure of the metal culture, the metal world, and just rock in general. I used to get bullied in school for listening to Paramore and My Chemical Romance.
AW: Yeah, there’s a lot of,“Hey, you’re Black. You’re not supposed to listen to that.”
WS: Exactly! And it’s not okay. Just through the music that I’m putting out right now and the representation that I can bring to the mix, I just hope that the Black girls who are listening to my music and listening to this album see that there’s more of us out there. It’s a real thing, you’re not alone. You’re not the only Black girl who wishes she could flip her hair to the side, and wear black eyeliner, you know what I mean?
To read the remainder of this phenomenal interview click here. We truly cannot wait to see what is next for Smith. We know that for her, the sky is unquestionably not the limit!