Elusive as Janet Jackson may be, she’s never not working. And ahead of receiving the Icon Award at this Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards, she’s granted Billboard a cover story in which she confirms that she’s been making a new album. The follow-up to 2015’s Unbreakable is still in early stages, but she’s been letting her pen take her wherever her thoughts wander to. She can’t tell you yet what any of those thoughts mean or how they’ll all gel into an album that will make sense to anyone but Janet Jackson (“I don’t try to analyze the creative process while it’s still ongoing,” she says), but for now, we’ll leave you with a taste of what’s been inspiring her lately, which is essentially everything and nothing:
I’m very intuitive about writing. Anything can inspire me. This morning, I saw this lovely elderly Japanese woman walking down the streets of Hollywood wearing an adorable bonnet with bright red flowers. She might be a song. I remembered an especially painful chapter in my early life last night before going to bed. That might be a song. I woke up this morning and heard a bird chirping in a rhythm that captivated my heart. Maybe that will turn into a new groove. Like everyone else, my feelings are fluid. My ideas are fleeting. I like to keep it that way. I can’t decide in advance what a song or an album concept will be. I have to let those songs and concepts come to me rather than chase them down.
In addition to bird and people watching, Jackson says she’s been spending time stanning for Bruno Mars thanks to her infant son: “I also have a special place in my heart for Bruno Mars. Bruno was really the first music my son responded to. During and after his birth, I comforted myself with Brazilian jazz, music that always relaxes me. Then when the baby began crawling, Bruno was breaking out big and on the radio all the time. That delighted both of us. Bruno is a throwback to the days when the greatest artists could do it all: write, sing, dance, produce.” Well, the Bruno debate has been settled — Janet approves.