A Short Convo With… Alicia Keys

The songstress talks inspiration, NYC and her new album The Element of Freedom

VIBE: Do you feel like your sound has become more pop with the last two albums, as compared to Songs in A Minor?
Alicia Keys: I really don’t define music. I think music is music. It’s emotional. It describes a feeling not a category… With traveling, I definitely have been exposed to more diversity in music. So I think it comes through naturally. I’m not very conscious when I make music. I live in my heart, not my mind.

What about this album most excites you?
I love the way all the songs feel different and new. I love that sonically it’s different and there are even moments when people have had to ask me if it was me. I love how it has my foundation but still colors outside the lines.

What new musical or instrumental skills have you picked up in the past few years?
Great question! I’ve learned more about layering and how to make different sounds. I’ve learned to always explore and go into new territory by finding new pieces of equipment. Also, always being around new people makes me learn more.

What about New York City inspired you to become a musician?
The electric streets, the diversity, the different mixtures of people and foods and languages, the darkness, the light – You can find everything here. It made me want to speak of all the things that I saw and learned and all the things that hurt me and made me want more and want to become better.

What type of business moves are you looking to make in the next few years?
Through music, through production of films and television, writing and conceptualizing Broadway to make a new updated Broadway outlet. I’m launching a lifestyle Web site called iamasuperwoman.com on Dec. 15 with a worldwide search for a chief writer and I’m also launching my collaborative jewelry line, the Barbers Daughters in 2010, beautiful handcrafted and engraved one of a kind pieces with the most beautiful words on them.