Catching up with the R&B queen…

Timeless music is hard to come by but for Tink it’s an effortless triumph. Instantly taking you back to a time, relationship, or memory with the flick of a switch, Chicago’s hailing songstress has formed a distinct sound that roots back to her teenage years. From picking up her diary and putting pen to paper, to creating a mixtape series named, ‘Winter’s Diary’ that would eventually open a set of boundary-breaking doors and elevate her career, Tink has become a reputable force in music. Not one to shy away from being lyrically vulnerable, Tink has become a name that sits at the front of any conversation regarding R&B and longevity.

Joining forces with renowned producer Hitmaka for the release of her latest album named, ‘Heat Of The Moment’, a body of work that takes more of an up-lifting route in comparison to her signature heart-felt music, Tink is gearing supporters up for a new chapter of music that’s set to drop next year. Housing guest features from Jeremih, Yung Bleu, Davido, and Kodak Black, Tink continues to showcase her versatility and step out of her comfort zone with this cohesive project.

Arriving back home in Chicago after a 17-date long tour alongside Queen Naija, Clash got the chance to catch up with Tink via Zoom for a chat about all thing’s music, ‘Heat of The Moment’, working with Hitmaka, and more! Tap in below to see what she had to say!

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Your career really started to grow with the ‘Winter’s Diary’ mixtape series – where were you in life when you kick started this concept? What initiated this concept?

‘Winter’s Diary’ is the very first project that I released, you have to think back to the 2012 days! This was around the time that Chicago was starting to bubble, we had a lot of eyes looking at us for our rap scene. I remember back in high school when I started ‘Winter’s Diary’ and I was still recording in my basement back at home; a lot of those records are really from the heart. I worked on the first one with my dad, he engineered me in our basement! We had a sheet up and some foam material on the walls and I was literally pouring my heart out every night. That was the very beginning!

A lot of those records are me exploring and experimenting and that’s when I came up with ‘Treat Me Like Somebody’ which is still one of my biggest records today! You can really feel the authenticity in those songs, and I wrote them in a real diary, so they were very personal records. I think that’s why people still to this day connect with them so much because it was so personal.

Do you still write in a diary?!

Hahah no! (laughs) It’s not a diary anymore, it’s either a notebook or on notes in my iPhone!

I’ve read that you want to re-boot the series! What would your approach be this time around? Would it have changed a lot?

This time around, I still want to be really hands on and have it come from a personal place but it would really be me trying to push my production and making my topics more current! When I started at 16/17 and now, I’m 26, it would be the problems of a 20-year-old rather than a teenager. I’d explore more of the issues as a grown woman, still touching on my relationship topics but I have more experience in life now!

I read one of your previous interviews and you said that you’re normally quite private when going in to create a project and only having a small group of people with you. Working alongside Hitmaka and his wider team for ‘Heat of The Moment’, did that push you to come out of your comfort zone at all?

Yes, it did! It was a scary moment for me because I had never really opened up to a team of people in the studio and having other people come with ideas and critique – it was a whole new experience! It was scary, it did push me out of my comfort zone and opened my eyes to a whole new world of music because like you said, I was so used to being in the studio with maybe two other people and I would always hold the songs until the last minute; no one would hear them!

I really needed to step out of that comfort zone and trust the other people in the room, I tried new ideas even on the production side. We worked on a lot of up-beat records on this album, and I wouldn’t usually do that, I really enjoyed it! It had a completely different with this album, people have been wanting to see a different side to me for so many years!

Do you think that if you hadn’t worked with Hitmaka, that the album would have a completely different sound?

Oh, 100%! My music is really dark, I do appreciate that aspect of making a summer album. That’s not my go-to in the studio. A lot of those records where he really tried to push me and ask me to trust his vision – I really enjoyed that. The next few years of Tink is going to be about evolution of me growing as an artist and putting a spin on what I have already started.

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You have a few features on the album from some notable names! How did you go about picking these names? Did you have the song already or did you make them from scratch?

It really works both ways! Some of the records we knocked out and for instance with ‘Might Let You’ alongside Davido, we tried an afrobeats tempo and Hitmaka has a great relationship with him, so it was easy to hit him up and ask if he wanted to jump on the track. Hitmaka is a super producer and has connections with so many people, sometimes he would just load up a track and it would already be formatted with the feature on it and that happened with Jeremih on ‘Rebel’. Me and Jeremih go way back, he gave me my first big record, so I really wanted to re connect with him, but it just so happened that the record had already been laid out. That’s the best thing about working with a producer like Hitmaka, a lot of things get done really really quick!

Did any of the features push you creatively or lyrically?

I have a record called ‘Selfish’ with Yung Bleu, when we finished the record there was only two verses on it. There was my verse and his verse, I went “Hey, this song is so bright and fun, let’s make it dark and take it elsewhere towards the end” so we went back in at the last minute to write the third verse which is me just rapping and talking my shit! (laughs) I wanted to spin it just a little bit to give them the real Tink!

What’s your favourite track from the project? Is there one you resonate with more now than in comparison to the writing process?

My favourite song from the album is the intro track named, ‘Heat Of The Moment’. When we made that record, I really needed to hear those words. It set a different level. It gives you more of an idea as to where I’m at personally and it’s talking about how people think you have changed, when actually you just want to elevate. You know…with those friends who aren’t longer around and that really resonated with me in 2021!

Lyrically, over the years you’ve explored and conveyed many different emotions and feelings throughout your work. Is there one in particular you find hard to unravel or delve into?

It’s so sad in our world now, but it’s really hard to make happy love songs! For me, I can make a song really quickly that’s filled with sadness and dark emotions, and I don’t know if that’s just because the space we are at in the world; we’re all going through shit with our relationships but I’m working on forming a softer side to records! It’s so hard to make a happy love song, hopefully I can get some inspiration! (laughs) 

You’ve just come off tour! I just spoke to your assistant, and she was saying how happy you both are to have some time for yourselves now to relax!

Yes, Elle! I’ve missed Chicago so much and touring takes a lot out of you!

I bet it does! How did it go?! Which songs were you most looking forward to performing?

The tour was amazing! I was on tour with Queen Naija another R&B singer which was really dope to come together with another woman, that was the best part! Every night was magical! The cities were showing so much love and support, for my set I was doing some of my newer records and it’s crazy because the fans would really enjoy when I was singing some of my older songs, so every song was a moment! I had a really great time singing ‘Treat Me Like Somebody’, that’s definitely a fan favourite! I also have a song called ‘Bottom Bitch’, I closed my set with that one and the room would just shake whenever we did it! I enjoyed this tour so much, I appreciate Queen Naija for reaching out. You don’t see that often with women coming together for a tour and it was just us two, it was so nice to see!

Yes! Speaking on the back of that, it’s amazing to see the rise of female empowerment over the last few years especially with the Megan The Stallion’s of the world!

Yes! A lot more women are coming together and collaborating and it’s amazing to see because the men have so much say in everything! It’s hard! It’s good to see women finally have a voice and get the attention and recognition, just as much as the guys are. They are very dominant in this music industry, seeing women win awards and being nominated alongside each other is so dope!

Since you started music, music has changed quite a bit and more so around how it’s put out to the people. Obviously, we have TikTok and everything now and everyone digests music at a much quicker pace – has this affected how you create or think of music at all?

I actually really enjoy TikTok, I know the benefits of it, and it does work for some artists. It’s similar to when SoundCloud come out and everybody just gravitated towards it. As for me, people listen to my music because it makes them feel nostalgic, I try to keep my style in the same lane! We aren’t making music for TikTok, I’m making music for the soul and if it hits TikTok then that’s great. My fans really appreciate the rawness, so I’m going to keep that going!

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Putting the music aside, what do you like to do in your free time? What makes you happy?

I didn’t get too much spare time this year! (laughs) I am such a homebody, I really enjoy kicking it with my friends, watching movies, and catching up on BMF – I like to do normal things so that I still feel grounded, and people can relate to me! When I am in Chicago, a lot of the times if I’m not at the studio I am with family, I like talking to my girls, sitting on the phone with them and talking shit! *laughs* I’m really like your best friend!

Have you been watching anything good recently?

Yes! Squid Game was really good, BMF, 50 Cent’s show is really good and another one is The Walking Dead – I love that! It’s old but I’m really enjoying watching it at the moment!

What’s something in your playlist that your supporters wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear?

That is a good question! You know what, I really like Dua Lipa! I really enjoy her tone and she’s in the pop world, people are always like “You listen to Dua?!” (laughs) I love waking up and playing her music, she gets me going for the day!

What are your plans for the New Year? Any New Year resolutions?

I make them every year; I did a great job this year! My new year’s resolution the last time around was to cut back on anything toxic that I would do on the internet, I had to clean up a lot. I didn’t let it drain me or fight with anyone on the internet! Next year, I really want to work on my physical self – I need to be more persistent at the gym! I like to have a cocktail a lot.

Oh girl, same! (laughs)

(laughs) I need to slow down! I’m going to tighten up on the body!

I feel like I put the gym as one of my new year’s resolutions every year and it never happens…

It is a common one for sure! (laughs) You can do it sis, you’ve got this!

What about music wise, is there anything we can expect to hear from you next year?

Yes! I’m actually going to start my new project next month and my plans are to release it at the top of the year. I don’t have a title or anything yet, but we are taking it back to that vulnerable place of ‘Winter’s Diary’, so this next album is going to specially for my day one fans!

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Words: Elle Evans // @ellevans98

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