SZA Says She 'Could Either Decide to Be a Farmer or Keep Making Music' After Her Forthcoming Album
Ahead of her In Bloom performance with Grey Goose, SZA opens up about her upcoming LP, her mental health and why she thinks "TikTok is so scary"
"Good Days" are on all of our minds, right SZA?
Ahead of her In Bloom concert with luxury liquor brand Grey Goose, SZA speaks to PEOPLE about her future in the music industry, mental health and her "driving force."
Her upcoming album, featuring recent single "Good Days" and "Shirt," an unreleased track teased at the end of her "Good Days" music video, will "start fresh, putting into perspective my sound and confidence," the 30-year-old tells PEOPLE. "This is who I am as an artist."
Part of her album-making process has been finding a balance between finding a strong middle point between what she wants to make her music sound like and what her fans and others want to hear from her. For SZA, "I'm always learning," she says, adding that "Shirt" "wasn't going to be included on the album." (A snippet of the song has gone completely viral on TikTok so she'll likely keep it on the album now.)
"It's always interesting to see what people gravitate toward and what they don't," she explains. "And I think that teaches a lot about the human psyche and our culture at the same time. It's always a surprise for me, always on both ends, whether something is positively received or negatively received."
"Sometimes what I like doesn't line up with other people and that is tricky, always tricky," she adds. "You never know what people want to see. It's just a matter of how much you psych yourself up and do what you want to do no matter what anyone else wants to see. It takes a lot of willpower and energy."
Along with the virality of "Shirt," her song with Doja Cat "Kiss Me More" has become a fan favorite on TikTok. Yet SZA's not so sure how she feels about the app.
"TikTok is so scary, but it's also interesting," she says. "I just want to make things that people can move to... I'm just trying to make music that feels like something."
During a recent interview with Cosmopolitan, the "Love Galore" singer explained that she felt she was still "figuring out" who she was as an artist and that her last album Ctrl was partially aimed at sending a message about "not being counted out" in the industry. To this day, she feels like she still has to prove herself.
"I think people are always going to count me out because I just... I don't know; I think that's just the way life goes, unfortunately," she says.
"I'm always being counted out. I [have to] prove a point," she adds. "For myself and also just to to really shape myself the way I want to. I don't know if I'll never feel like I'm not being counted out, but I guess it's part of my driving force."
Several years ago, fans of SZA were concerned after they interpreted her answer to Flaunt Magazine saying Ctrl's follow-up was going to be her last. ("I'm making the best album of my life for this next album and I know that... because it's going to be my last album," she said then.)
SZA clarifies: "I don't know what ever happened with that interview, I never said that. But this is my last album, by contract. All my contracts are done after this. So I could even decide to be a farmer or keep making music."
As for her mental health, she recently shared that she wrote the track "Good Days" (about having "good days on my mind") to manifest positivity into her life after suffering three big losses during the pandemic.
When asked if she's healed from the grief she experienced then, SZA is concise and honest: "No, I'm in the exact same place," she says. "Probably a worse place but we're working through that all the time as hard as things are."
"It's all we can do," she adds. "I'm working to figure out what the next step is and figure out who I want to be and how I want to handle myself and what matters to me."
Her upcoming performance with Grey Goose - and its gorgeous set, which she helped design - showcases one of SZA's passions: the intersection between nature and technology.
"I love mixing tech and natural things," she says. "It makes so much sense to me. I love juxtapositions. And I love cyborgs, bots, cyborg energy too."
"I really love Star Trek, the borg high mind collective and all of those elements," she adds. "So moving away from TV and computers, but also the history of everything, because there's some natural elements in electronics, like there's quartz in watches, in your cell phones and all those things. So I think it's really natural for me to blend them."
As for what fans can expect during her livestream set? An immersive concert filled with drone shots, 360-degree cameras and a band to back her up.
"It's all one continuous moment and it's just connected with the band. I can feel them. It's more so just an opportunity to run through something in a natural way that is really unnatural since I haven't done in a billion years," she says of the concert shot at Wisdome LA. "I'm really excited to be able to just bond with my band and create a good moment."
Fans can reserve their spot for Grey Goose's In Bloom concert with SZA at greygoose.com/inbloom - and on July 1, attendees can watch the virtual performance on her YouTube channel.
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