Lizzo is on the treadmill. She reveals this only halfway through our interview, when the rapper-singer loses her train thought about why she loves Lauryn Hill, and pauses, slightly out breath, to explain: “Sorry, I'm on a treadmill, so my brain is like, womp!“
It's impressive, but also fitting, given that the 30-year-old recently put out a single called “Fitness.” Released in late March, the fiery glow-up anthem celebrates body positivity, with Lizzo spitting motivational rhymes about “lifting heavy metal” and “doing calisthenics” while also encouraging listeners to find their own motivations to hit the gym: “I know you want it like ooh/ But I don't do this for you.”
Lizzo's expert-level multi-tasking also makes sense given her busy year, which so far has seen her wrap one tour with Haim and immediately announce an upcoming one with Florence + the Machine — all while working on new music, too. “Girl, I'm trying to do everything at once,” she says, perfectly cheery even as she turns up the treadmill speed. Below, Lizzo tells Billboard about rethinking her live shows, playing for rock audiences, and her rule-breaking approach to releasing music in 2018.
Let's talk about “Fitness.” The song is clearly a pump-up jam, but can you speak a little about its deeper message?
I want people to realize that fitness doesn't have a look or an aesthetic or a weight. Fitness is a very personal thing that’s between you and your doctor. To have a big black girl singing about how she’s working on the calisthenics — because mind you, I be in the gym everyday, but people don’t believe that because I got extra fat and rolls and a big butt — I think that it’s empowering for young girls, to see that it’s okay to work out and not have a six-pack.
What sort response have you been getting so far?
People love it. People have been working out to it, which is my intention. I think women and men all over got that immediately, which is the point. I want it to be so self-explanatory and so conversational that you just get it. And it’s a banger, so there you go.
You just wrapped a tour with Haim. What was that experience like?
Haim is incredible. They are the coolest people in the world, and we’re all sisters now.
You’re the fourth Haim sister now?
Yes. Yes I am. Laughs]
You’re also going on tour with Florence + the Machine later this summer. What are you looking forward to?
I’m really excited to make my show an arena-sized show. She is such a massive artist, and I don’t mean that in a commercial way — I mean her energy and her presence, and I think that I am that way] as well. I like to fill up a room. So it’s going to be really nice to look to someone who’s been doing it longer than us and learn. I’m really excited to just be a witch with Florence! Laughs]
Does the energy feel different when you’re playing for rock audiences, as an R&B- and hip-hop-leaning artist?
Nah. I’ve always been playing alternative shows. I think that human beings are human beings, and whatever you like is not indicative a certain culture anymore. Music’s just so accessible. You don’t know what that fanbase is going to look like. You can go on a Florence + the Machine tour, and it can be a whole bunch R&B fans in the audience. I think that if this was my life in the ‘90s, it would’ve been harder, but it’s 2018. People like everything. I think that’s why people geek out so much — they’re getting variety. Nobody wants to see the same thing at a show. They want to have moments, they want to feel different energies onstage, and they want to feel alive. There’s so much darkness in the world — people are so unhappy, and there’s so much anxiety and depression. They come to shows to feel happy. They don’t care what genre it is. They receive us with open minds and hearts and love.
“Fitness” is the latest in a string singles, including “Truth Hurts” and “Water Me,” that you started putting out last year. Are these part an album, or are you just putting out work when you’re ready and happy with it?
I don't know. I don’t follow the industry rules. I’m just throwing it out there. I think that the beauty what I do is: I can just put out music. I can’t believe I have that privilege. I’m really blessed that people like it. I love putting out projects, but I don’t put out projects just for the sake it. I put out bodies work, you know, so…we’ll see.
What does the rest your year look like?
I’m going to be releasing music for sure, whether it’s one song, three songs, or an album. People will get this music, because I have way too much it to not put out!