How Zendaya Became Friends with Taylor Swift: 'We Met Over Text Message!'

Zendaya talks to PEOPLE about Camp Google, her new album with Timbaland and what it was like working with Taylor Swift

Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty

Zendaya wears many hats – and is a master of them all.

The singer, dancer and Disney Channel actress is now a spokeswoman. Partnering with Camp Google – an online kids summer camp focused on the ocean, space, the outdoors and music – Zendaya, 18, kicked off “Music Week” on Wednesday.

The multitalented star opened up to PEOPLE about Camp Google, her new album with Timbaland and what it was like working with Taylor Swift on “Bad Blood.”

You’re teaming up with Camp Google, why is music an important part of education?

I feel arts education is very important because kids have other outlets than I think regular school programs provide, you know? Sometimes you have to channel that energy into positive things because a lot of unmanaged time can lead to negative things, so I was really happy to be a part of this and I think it’s something people can learn from and pick out their dreams and get a little advice from some people who know. And again, start channeling into something positive.

Why does music make you move?

To me that’s what music was made for. I think it’s to go hand-in-hand with dance and make people feel some type of emotion. Especially the way music and dance has evolved, you can dance to anything. It could be a slow song. It could be a fast song. Honestly, that’s what music was made for. That’s why we move to it.

You’re doing this, working on your album with Timbaland and still acting, how do you balance everything?

Honestly, that’s what I have parents for! I have really awesome parents that handle schedules and all that craziness. I just get to do my job, which is creative, and make the final decisions. They definitely help me keep my life in order.

What’s one thing you make sure you do everyday regardless of your busy schedule?

I have an important little mantra that if you’re going to say anything at least once a day, you should just say thank you and just take a second to be thankful for all the things you have. Everyone should do that. It’s just a good thing to get in the habit of.

Definitely! So, with the album, what can you tell us about it?

I can tell you that it’s me growing up. When I did my first album, I was like 15 or 16 and I’m growing up. I’m becoming a woman, and with that adulthood comes a lot of lessons. I think that definitely shows where I have grown and how far I’ve come. At the end of the day, it’s definitely my vision. Again, I’ve found out who I am a little bit more. It’s definitely more mature and developed, so I’m really proud of that.

How would you describe your music?

It’s definitely R&B. That’s where my love lies and that’s the music I’ve always loved to create. Like I said, you definitely can see a change from my last album compared to what this is going to be. It’s night and day. I’ve definitely found out who I am more.

What was it like to work with Timbaland?

He’s the bomb. He knows so much, but he always wants to learn and become better. He’s one of those people that has done everything but doesn’t act like that, you know? He doesn t act above anybody. He teaches me, but also learns from me in a sense because he knows that I’m a young person and I think he maintains that youth and holds onto that because he’s open to listening to young people. He’s really cool.

What other singers inspire your work?

I’m into old school R&B, like ’90s era type stuff, so all the artists at that time and whoever was killing it back then is my jam. I don t listen to a lot of what is on the radio right now because I like to stay connected to that time period and try to create my own version of it.

Well, we all know you listen to "Bad Blood" since you play Cut Throat in the video! What was it like working with Taylor Swift and the rest of the crew?

It was awesome! It was a really open, welcoming set. It just felt really relaxed, chill and everybody got to be a part of it in a big way, so I was really lucky to be a part of it. It was a great experience for sure.

How did you and Taylor meet?

Literally, we met over text message! Honestly, she’s really a sweetheart. She’s definitely someone that is just a really, really nice person, which is cool because she technically has every reason in the world not to be a nice person, you know what I’m saying? It’s cool to see her remain and still be that. She treats everyone like they’ve been friends forever.

Now that you’re becoming a bigger name, what’s the strangest place you’ve ever been recognized?

Bathrooms, movie theaters, random places. I’ve had some cool experiences with my fans and things like that, but every time it’s fun and cool for me. I think without that and those interactions I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I’m happy with it.

What’s next for you?

I’m trying to do a little bit of everything, but it’s all about managing my time and trying to get it all done.

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