Willow Smith says she was bullied for listening to rock music like Paramore

The rock star recently sat down with V Magazine and opened up about her new sound, teasing what to expect on her upcoming studio album

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In a recent interview with V Magazine, Willow Smith is opening up about her years-long love affair with rock music, calming she was “bullied” for listening to Paramore.

Willow Smith debuted her punk rock single, “Transparent Soul,” earlier this year, with fans and critics alike seeming to take to this new genre for her immediately. In a wide-ranging and nuanced discussion, the rising punk star sat down with V Magazine to break down her experience diving into the genre and how her past experiences influenced where she is now. In the interview, she sheds light on what she loved to listen to in school, revealing she used to get bullied for liking rock music.

Revealing the pressures she now feels being a Black woman in metal, she explains in the interview, “Being a Black woman in the metal crowd is very, very different on top of the pressures that the music industry puts on you. Now, it’s like an added pressure of the metal culture, the metal world, and just rock in general. I used to get bullied in school for listening to Paramore and My Chemical Romance.”

She continues, “Just through the music that I’m putting out right now and the representation that I can bring to the mix, I just hope that the Black girls who are listening to my music and listening to this album see that there’s more of us out there. It’s a real thing, you’re not alone. You’re not the only Black girl who wishes she could flip her hair to the side, and wear black eyeliner, you know what I mean?”

Environmental Media Association 2nd Annual Honors Benefit Gala
PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 28: Willow Smith performs onstage during the Environmental Media Association 2nd Annual Honors Benefit Gala at Private Residence on September 28, 2019 in Pacific Palisades, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for The Environmental Media Association)

Smith also opened up about how in some ways, her training and previous musical ventures kept her from dipping her toe into rock sooner.

She shares in the magazine, “I felt like I couldn’t really do rock because my voice was trained to be a certain way. For a really long time, I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think it’ll be authentic; I’ll just sound like an R&B singer trying to be a rock singer.’ I tried this over quarantine and wanted to do something different. I wanted to shake something up and feel a different vibe.”

She continues, “I feel very stagnant in this pandemic, so I started just messing around. It took a couple of demos to find that right balance because I do have a very alternative voice. My voice is not specifically an R&B voice, and it’s not specifically a rock voice. It kind of does whatever it wants when it feels like it. I was worried about that! ‘Transparent Soul’ was the fourth or fifth demo that I did when I felt that balance. But there were a few songs before that, that just didn’t hit the mark.”

Smith also teased some information about her upcoming album, including a feature with one of the biggest punk rock stars to ever do it, Avril Lavigne.

She reveals in the interview, “I am going to be having a lot more features on this album. On my previous albums, I was in the studio by myself a lot. It was a very insular process for this album. I wanted to open myself up a little bit more and not just be so anti-social in the studio.

“I’m so excited that I’m going to be having a song on the album with Avril Lavigne. She is so iconic. From [ages] 13 to 16, she was my idol. It’s really nice to be able to have a quintessential pop-punk record with the pop-punk queen.”

Check out the full interview from V Magazine here.

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