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April 10, 2018 at 04:34 PM EDT

It’s been a long road for Tinashe’s second studio album.  Following the release of her outstanding 2014 debut, Aquarius, she slated her next record, Joyride, for a 2015 release. But that date came and went. Since then, her career has taken a bizarre series of side-steps, including further album delays, a tour cancellation, and a public dispute with her record label. Three years later, the long-awaited Joyride has finally arrived.

The singer spoke with EW about the new project (out April 13), her creative evolution, the collaborators she wants to work with, and the message she has for her fans — and haters.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It’s been a long journey for Joyride. Did you ever think it wouldn’t come out?  

I had moments of feeling discouraged, but I was never going to give up on the project. So from my perspective it was always going to come out — one way or another.

How different is the Joyride we’re listening to now compared to the version you envisioned, say, two or three years ago?

It’s completely different. I think the theme and the general mood and essence is the same but most of the tracks have been revamped since then. I feel like I’ve grown a lot, and that’s reflective in the music. I’m glad that it took the time that it took to get the project to the point it’s at now.

RCA Records

 

What kind of growth have you experienced?

I’ve learned a lot as a person [and] an artist — the things you go through [while] traveling the world. I think I’m more confident now than ever before.

Where do you think this project stands compared to the last two?

So Aquarius was a great summary of where I evolved, making music that was feeling R&B but also touching on different genres, playing with different sounds. [The 2016 mixtape] Nightride I think is a step further than that — a more moody sound that is, to some of my fans, the more classic Tinashe; it has that sexy, nighttime vibe to it. Joyride has much more energy. It’s a lot more upbeat. It’s purposeful, energetic, and it has an attitude.

Let’s talk about “Stuck With Me,” the song featuring Little Dragon. How did that collaboration come about?

I reached out to them through Instagram a few years ago and said I was a big fan and would love to collaborate. [But] they didn’t respond. So when I created “Stuck With Me,” I reached out again saying, ‘I’m still a really big fan and I would love to collaborate,’ and they asked me to send some records [and we took it from there].

What other collaborators are you hoping to work with down the road?

I have some people on my wish list — I might as well say them because I never thought I’d work with Britney [Spears on “Slumber Party”] — Sade, Janet Jackson, Emily Haynes, James Blake, Kanye.

What would you say is the overall essence of Joyride?

The overall theme is to take life as it comes and embrace the highs and the lows and to really enjoy all of it. The songs really attest to that in the sense that there’s so much that goes on in our day-to-day life, so much negativity, that sometimes it’s just good to have music that you can escape with.

 

What do you hope that fans — and haters — take away from Joyride? 

First of all, for the haters that said that this project was never coming out: ha – ha – ha! For everyone else, the people that have supported me along the way, I want them to know that this is something that I’m really proud of and all of the steps and things that have led up to this point have been important for my journey. I’m thankful for all of it.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

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