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After months of TikTok users adding her chart-topping singles to their videos, the possibility of seeing the Golden Globe nominee IRL felt that much more tangible when she partnered with Grey Goose Essences earlier this month to create a one-off virtual music experience called In Bloom.

Wearing looks by emerging Black designers, 14.1 million people tuned in to watch the live concert via her YouTube channel, which was available to stream for one week. Filmed using a high-tech drone, SZA performed both old and new album tracks while surrounded by blooming florals and a scenic ‘forest’ stage, curated by the singer herself.

In an exclusive interview with Vogue, SZA opens up about performing new music live again, her upcoming album plans and cultivating innovative beauty trends.

CTRL took the world by storm. How has your musical process changed from then to now?

“I’m more thoughtful now. I’m not making music to blindly go to war or to prove that I don’t suck—I’m looking to wow myself. I’m looking to learn to trust myself. [While making the album] I realised how little people understood it and me, and everything that was happening at the time.

“Things either work or they don’t, but it keeps you coming back to unlock the next stage of yourself. I think of it as Monopoly; players change while the Monopoly board stays the same. It’s exciting and draining all at once.”

How do you keep a clear and open mind when making new music?

‘What the hell am I going to talk about now?’ [is what I first thought when making the new album]. I try to give the music what it needs, not what I want it to ‘try’ to be. That’s the only way to do a good job. And it’s not something that I’ve mastered a lot of the time. It’s about trying to detach and reattach to self and to sound.”

SZA’s CTRL took the world by stormBlair Caldwell

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