True to our site’s name, sometimes we catch a vibe with the stars we interview and they drop more gems than we’re able to use. “Outtakes” is a series of excerpts from VIBE profiles, Q&As, and cover stories that we just couldn’t leave on the cutting room floor.
Lizzo went from an artist with passion and a dream to a four-time Grammy-winner after taking home Record of the Year at this year’s ceremony. But trust, she’s far from her final form.
Our illuminating conversation with the YITTY founder could not be limited to her documentary, childhood ambitions, and the desire to perform in a stadium alongside Beyoncé. Lizzo also divulged how she empowers herself when things aren’t going well, the purity of her support system (including her boyfriend, Myke Wright), the new “Special (Remix)” and the distinction between Melissa and Lizzo.
Check out the rest of our in-depth chat with Lizzo below.
On Chronicling Her Journey
“It was difficult putting it into a film. Documenting it was easy […] they’d been filming it since like 2019 so it’s a lot of my life and a lot of milestones caught on camera. I’ve been living my life, but what’s the story here? It’s just my life which can feel kind of mundane, but it only took one year of filming for me to be like “woah, my life may be kinda interesting.” I think what this film does is like where does she come from? We did need to do the origin, but it’s so much and we did it really beautifully.”
On Melissa Vs. Lizzo
“I think that I’d like to think that there isn’t a difference because you get what you see. I am who I am. I think when you call me Melissa, it does bring something different out of me, something really intimate, personal, and shy. That shy girl comes back really easily, [it] doesn’t take much to trigger her. And I’m very fortunate that I have people who know Melissa, who know me and know how to take care of me.
Actually, I just met someone named Melissa the other day, and I was talking to [her boyfriend] Mike, and I was like, ‘Yeah. This Melissa girl, she said… ‘ And he was like, ‘Do you realize that your name is Melissa too. Do you forget?’ He just was genuinely curious. He’s like, ‘Do you forget that your real name is Melissa?’
[Coincidentally] Lizzo was more intimate than Melissa to me because y’all know I got [that nickname] when I was 14. So if you knew me, you’d be, ‘Lizzo,’ and I’d be like, ‘Hey. Yo.’ and Melissa was what my teachers called me. They’d be like, ‘Melissa, wrong again. Go to detention.’ That’s what I’m used to. So now it’s become the opposite where it’s everyone in the world, people I’ve never ever met call me Lizzo. So it has kind of reversed, which is something I’m still adjusting to. Because now, it feels like millions of people are my best friend, which I think is kind of cool. But sometimes fans online will be, ‘Now Melissa, when you dropping the Deluxe…” And that’s when I’m like, ‘Did I get in trouble or something?’”
On Pushing Herself During A Low Time
“Pushing myself during a low is a wild phrase. It’s like pushing yourself into the despair of the low. I think it’s more so trying to stay afloat realistically. I think I could romanticize it and make it super poetic and be like, yeah, I just reminded myself that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But in reality when you’re low, you’re low and you’re just trying to stay above water and you’re trying to stop the spiral before it turns into a black hole. And I think that I’ve just been fortunate enough to have little people who come into my life like angels. You see Sophia Eris coming into my life when I had lost a lot and I didn’t know where I was going and she’s like, we needed each other. I have these little angels that come into my life that kind of save me from when I’m too low. There’s light all around you. You just have to seek it out.”
On Her Support System
“Well, ‘always on’ is an interesting term. I do need to learn … I feel like I’ve learned where the off button is, but I’m not comfortable with switching it off yet. But when I do switch off, I have a lot of people. There’s people that I could just sit with. Like Sophia Eris, my DJ, I’ve had such a long … She’s my longest relationship. I’ve known her since 2011, and she and I can just literally after a tour or after a long week, can just sit quietly and just order food and watch TV. We could watch Love and Hip Hop or something or watch Zeus together. I appreciate people like that that I don’t feel pressured to entertain or to take care of. My man is really great. He is genuinely supportive of me. He’s known me for a long time, seven years. He’s seen the whole thing up close and personal. I feel safe with him. He knows Melissa. I feel really comfortable, and he allows me to just let it all out with him, and he can intellectualize and understand where I’m coming from. I’ve got sources of strength all around me. I think that I don’t have no people with bad intentions around me no more. My circle is tight. My circle is small. My circle has good intentions, and they’re pure. I’ve known all of them for five years plus. So I think that that’s important, too.”
On Comparing Herself To Others
“Well, that was the problem in the first place. I was comparing myself, and it didn’t work. Comparing myself to people don’t work for me. I definitely have to create my own lane, make my own space for myself to exist in. So that I can exist comfortably because I don’t really fit in nowhere else. No, I don’t compare myself to nobody.”
On Whose Standards She Follows When Creating Music
“Here’s the thing: I play my demos for people. They’d be like, ‘This is jamming. Why didn’t you put this on the album?’ There’s still people who be like, ‘Hey, can you play that song?’ Because it never made the album, but I have… My crew, there’s songs that they love that never came out. But I think the label, I think my own personal standards, I also think what the world needed to hear. So I was writing a bunch of songs that just wasn’t good enough to me.”
On The Song That Ended Her 2020 Writer's Block
“You know what song got me out of writer’s block for real though? Or it got me in a like, ‘Oh, I did it?’ Wait, Kevin, what song was it where I just hit the stride? Was it ‘Rumors’ or was it ‘Special?’ Oh, it was ‘Special.’ I wrote ‘Special’ and I was like, yeah. Because [with] ‘Rumors’ I was kind of talking sh*t. Can I cuss in this? I don’t know if I was… It’s too late by the way. Yeah, but [with] ‘Special,’ I was like, this feels right. I’m finally saying what I need to be saying right now to people. This music feels good. I was able to recreate the feeling of ‘Good as Hell,’ just in a different way that’s more mature and evolved. ‘Special’ was a breakthrough for me musically. Shout out to Pop Wansel, Grammy Award nominated, I’m going to say winning producer, writer. That’s him in the film. I think I wasn’t thinking about the accolades and I wasn’t thinking about the pressure from the label. I wasn’t thinking about number ones because I didn’t have them. You can’t think of something you don’t have, it don’t exist. I was just writing stuff from the soul and I think with ‘Special,’ that truly is a song… You see me on the couch, I’m like (singing). I legitimately did one of those autobiographical songs that we know and love that I do. It was kind of a stream of consciousness. But I was like, ‘I really want to say this.’ There’s some songs that just scratch an itch for me where I’m like, ‘Oh, can I say this?’ And I just do and it works.”
On The Key To A Good Collaboration
“I think it’s a relationship for sure. I don’t be out here doing the collab thing. I think the collab thing is very cool and trendy right now and it’s smart, it makes sense. But for me, I’m just so, but do we get along? You’ve got to share so much energy with somebody. When you make a song, it’s like you’re consummating something, and you want to put your fingers in them like that? It really is. You’re doing this to each other. So when I collaborate with somebody, I really have to know them and feel them and like them. Yeah, you could be cool, you could be the number one streaming artist in the world, but if we don’t have a relationship, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that intimate space with you. So everyone I’ve ever worked with I’ve either been a fan of or I’ve shared some sort of musical intimacy with and I think that is important to feel a genuine connection with these collabs. When you hear a collab of two people who you know just are like this, you’re like, oh this is amazing. Yeah, it is fire because you can feel it. It’s something you can feel. It’s real.”
On How SZA Wound Up On The “Special (Remix)”
“How did that one happen? The funny thing about Solána—Or SZA in my album process. Sorry. The funny thing about SZA in my album process and mine and hers is we were very present during each other’s process. Whether it was, ‘Can you listen to this song and tell me what you think about it?’ … We were in the studio literally and I played her ‘Special’ back when it was called ‘In Case Nobody Told You’ when I had first written it and she was like, ‘This is the best song you’ve ever written. It’s just so beautiful. How do you do this?’ And crying and emotional. Here’s the tea, here’s the scoop. There was actually no bridge on the song and I had made a third verse for her and I was like, ‘Hop on this song.’ And she was like, ‘This is an honor. Are you sure?’ And I was like, ‘Yes.’ And then I had a breakthrough with the song and also she had been working on her stuff and she never really turned in a verse and we never really took it there. And I finished ‘Special,’ but I was like, ‘I still want her on it really badly.’ And even though the album was coming out, I was like, ‘I just want you a part of this.’ And she was like, ‘It’s never too late. I would love to hop on it.’ So she turned her verse in.”