Listen On:

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify

Join Pushkin+

Gain access to ad-free versions of 20+ podcasts from the Pushkin library along with exclusive bonus episodes and other member benefits.

Janelle Monáe has had a lot to smile about this year. After a run of successful albums over the last decade, in June she released her fourth album, The Age of Pleasure. The album was just nominated for two Grammys including Album of the Year. This project is important—it signaled a big tone shift for Janelle whose past albums have centered in part around a recurring character named Cyndi Mayweather, an android who represents society’s new “other.”

Esthetically Janelle has always been buttoned up. For her first few album releases she made a point of always appearing in public in some iteration of a tuxedo. For The Age Of Pleasure though, she literally stripped down to almost nothing, flaunting a newfound freedom centered around Black joy and acceptance.

On today’s episode Justin Richmond talks to Janelle Monáe and her long time music partner Nate Wonder poolside, at their creative home base in the Hollywood Hills called Wondaland. Nate explains how The Age Of Pleasure album started with the simple conceit of making Janelle smile. Janelle also talks about why she decided to ditch a career in musical theater after college, and how THE Grace Jones ended up topless in Wondaland’s now-infamous pool.

You can hear a playlist of some of our favorite Janelle Monáe songs HERE.

The Hosts

Rick Rubin

In addition to being a podcast host, Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder…

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is co-founder of Pushkin Industries and host of the hit podcast Revisionist History. He is a journalist, a speaker, and the author of several New York Times bestsellers including The Tipping…

Justin Richmond

Justin Richmond is producer and co-host of the music podcast Broken Record with writer Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times editor Bruce Headlam, and music producer—and Def Jam co-founder—Rick Rubin. Justin…

Bruce Headlam

Bruce Headlam is one of the co-creators of the music podcast Broken Record. He worked at The New York Times for 19 years, including two years running the 50-person Video…