Fast Company

Janelle IN WONDALAND

ORGANIZATION, STRATEGY, AND A TIGHT GROUP OF TRUSTED COLLABORATORS KEEP JANELLE MONÁE’S ARTISTIC WORLD SPINNING.

ASK JANELLE MONÁE HOW SHE gets everything done—the critically acclaimed albums, the world tours, the film roles, the activism—and she’ll answer with a single, slightly unexpected word. “Slack!” she says, with a cheerful laugh. “Email used to stress me out. Now I can organize every conversation, and I go into the channel when I need to—I don’t check it every hour. Like, when I get up, the first thing I do is not look at my phone. The first thing I do is I take at least 10 deep breaths.” She demonstrates, seemingly shifting her mind from the cacophonous, dimly lit restaurant, where she’s occupying a prime corner table, to a mellower internal place: “Inhale . . . exhale; inhale . . . exhale. That really calms you down.”

Productivity software, it should be noted, is not the kind of thing most stars would dig into during a dinnertime conversation about work-life balance. But Monáe—wearing a high-collared houndstooth shirt and black beret on this September evening at the swanky Clocktower, in New York’s Madison Square Park neighborhood, is exceedingly practical. She’s also methodical (putting out only three albums in over a decade), selective (turning down nearly 30 offers before signing on to her first movie role, in 2017’s Oscar-winning Moonlight), and deliberate (helping steer corporate collaborators, like Belvedere Vodka, toward larger goals). Case in point: She’s performing tomorrow, so after considering a glass of wine, she decides to stick with water. She orders a dozen oysters—“I’m more of a West Coast [oyster] girl, I like the small ones”—and eats them with slabs of the house bread, which she carves from a small loaf. “I didn’t ever eat oysters until I got into the music business and started going out to dinners,” she says. “I thought they were this expensive thing, but you can get oysters for a dollar! Anyway, I just love them.”

Monáe is in New York to perform alongside Cardi B, Janet Jackson,

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