In a BBC Sounds exclusive episode of The YUNGBLUD Podcast, POP-ROCK artist Willow Smith joins and reveals how she’s currently managing her mental health and learning how to overcome fear, the pressure of being a black woman in POP-ROCK, going on tour with her mother’s Metal band ‘Wicked Wisdom’ and more.
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Quotes from Willow Smith below.
Willow on her mental health and overcoming fear
Willow: “For so long I had a lot of fear. I felt extremely unsafe in my music career in the past and that feeling of insecurity or unsafety like I didn’t feel protected which went really deep. I kinda had to come back from the music industry and now I’m kinda going back in. It’s interesting because all of those memories and emotions have just been resurfacing. I was doing The Jimmy Fallon performance and I had like a flashback of being like 10 or 9 and having like an anxiety attack onset and basically feeling like everyone around me was like ‘You’re just a brat’. ‘Why aren’t you grateful?’. They didn’t see it as an anxiety attack, they saw it as a tantrum and now I look back and know it was an anxiety attack. And so when I’m in these situations now and I have these flashbacks, I need to take the time, I need to go into a little meditation, I need to separate myself from the situation for a little bit. And tell myself that, ‘You’re not 9, you’re a grown ass woman.’ I have to re-train my mind. My mental health is in a very fragile state, but I think it’s in a state where it’s about to grow in a really awesome way.”
“Remind yourself that you are a beautiful human being, that just needs to take a moment. Don’t like crash down on yourself so hard.”
Willow on the pressure of being a Black woman in the POP-ROCK scene
Willow: “I have seen for so many years, the hate that not just black women [get] but people of different colours, that aren’t white, that want to come into rock music and into this space. I just hope that I can show young black girls, that despite the fact that people are telling us ‘We shouldn’t listen to this music, we shouldn’t dress this way, we shouldn’t sing this way’, we do it! And do it to the fullest! And it’s kinda the best that it’s ever been done.”
Willow on Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Willow: “Specifically what black people have experienced in America. I can’t think of a better genre to scream and growl and be angry and express yourself than Rock. And back in the day, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was one of the first black women to pick up a guitar and that was in 40’s/50’s. She just was a badass and she was the grandmother of Rock and Roll and a lot of people don’t know [that] about her. A lot of people don’t talk about her, so I think that with this new resurgence of raising awareness, about all the different kinds of people, that had contributed to making rock music a beautiful thing, we just can’t leave those people out.”
Willow on being introduced to Rock music by her mother
Willow: “I’ve always been into Rock, ever since I was really really young. My mum was in a Metal band called ‘Wicked Wisdom’. When I was 7/8 I would be on tour with her and that was my main introduction to Rock. [Age] …11,12,13, rolled around and Avril Lavigne was kicking, Blink 182 was kicking. [I] always felt like I could never sing Metal, but once I discovered POP-Punk, it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is like Metal’s raging little sister.’”
Willow on expressing herself on social media
Willow: “I have a lot of anxiety about making sure that the way that I’m expressing myself, is in a way that will push the envelope, but not seriously offend someone that doesn’t need to be offended…That’s where my mind is at, a lot of the time. But the people who already feel where I’m coming from, are like ‘You hit the nail on the head.”