The singer and actor Janelle Monáe is enviably multitalented, appearing in movies like “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight” and creating futuristic soundscapes that pick up where Prince left off. She’s currently touring to promote her latest album, “Dirty Computer.”
Life on the road has changed for her in recent years. “I think early on I wasn’t seeing anything. I was just so insulated, almost isolated. Just go to the soundcheck, go to the hotel, get dressed, tour, next city,” Ms. Monáe said. “I have to make it a point when I go to different cities and say, ‘Hey, I want to come in a couple days earlier.’ I want to go see some things, I want to touch the people, I want to talk to them, and get that energy, and then take it on stage with me.”
Her meditation practice keeps her centered, on the tour bus and off. “I walk and meditate. Sometimes when I’m not talking, people will think, ‘Oh, she’s listening to something.’ Actually, I’m doing mantras in my head: “Oh world peace, oh world peace, oh world peace.’ All the things that bothered me during the day, or that could bother me in the future, I’m ‘Oh world peace-ing’ them and letting them roll off my shoulders.”
Asked if she finds it effective, she said, “Sure, absolutely. I hope so. Have you seen me out here acting crazy on ‘TMZ’?”
Here’s what she packs for every trip.
Peace and confidence
“Everything isn’t always physical. You know, before I go out of the house, I’m like, ‘Am I centered? Am I grounded?’ You know, ‘How am I feeling? Let me check in with my feelings.’ I think it’s important that we practice self-care as much as we possibly can. Not being selfish — there’s a thin line between self-care and just being selfish — but for me it starts there. Those are the most valuable things: your peace, your kindness, your love, your confidence, your intelligence, all those things are things that you can’t quantify, and also things you can’t touch. You can pack them up — not in a suitcase — you can pack them in your body, and that’s what I do.”
“I love to have jewelry options so I try to keep my jewelry bag with me because I like being able to get creative with that. Especially if I’m going to keep my wardrobe simple for sound check, I want to be able to have jewelry that I can really have fun with and play with. I love my Melody Ehsani earrings, she made these earrings shaped like exclamation marks, they’re really cool. They’re called “The Monae,” she made them for me.
“I like to keep a pair of big fuzzy socks so my feet don’t get cold when I’m walking around. And I like to moonwalk when I’m on the tour bus. It’s my favorite pastime, to moonwalk on hardwood floors.”
“These days I love my conductor overalls. I think they’re Wildfang overalls. They’re a group of women that make really cool stuff.”
Photos of family
“I try to keep pictures of my family with me. Real pictures of my little sister, my nephew and my niece, and my mom and my dad, my grandmother. When I get lonely I can just pull them out of my bag and look at them and stay connected and centered and remember why I do what I do.”
“I love candles. One of the candles that I have is by a designer, one of my friends. Her name’s Azza Gallab and she makes these custom candles that I bring with me. I love the ‘Potion No. 4: Azza’ candle. I take those with me for hotels and it kind of makes me feel at home.”
“I have this collage that I made with Michael Jackson, with Prince, with Janet Jackson, with Bowie, with Grace Jones, with Stevie Wonder, with all my favorite performers on it, like a book that I keep with all their pictures and magazine cover articles. I keep that with me to keep me motivated on tour, and I try to work harder than they do. They worked so hard, and they also inspired so many people, so it’s really just to have your heroes with you.”