Wearing a neon dress and even brighter smile, singer-songwriter Jhené Aiko greets me on a Manhattan rooftop. She seems unfazed by the 40 degree weather and her carefree energy is contagious enough to help me forget about the chill, too. We're at a party thrown with Bacardí rum, a collaboration between her and the brand felt with personal touches at the event, like a cocktail inspired by her roots in Hawaii (where her great-grandmother is from) and named after her new 2019 hit, "Triggered."
We find a quiet place to catch up and I quickly realize a lot has changed since she last spoke to Refinery29 over a year ago. With an upcoming album titled Chilombo after her last name (Aiko is her middle name), recent beauty partnerships, and song releases that have fans dissecting the lyrics, we get right into our sit-down interview.
You've been open about struggling with acne in the past. How has your skin journey been lately?
My skin is not perfect. I deal with breakouts, rashes, and dry skin. Some days, I can have great skin days, and some days, I don't. I just accept it. Now, I enjoy sharing tips. Whenever I find a good product or treatment, I love to share it with people and be open about what I do to help my skin — just in case it can help someone who has skin like me. No one has bad skin, but we all have different temperaments.
What's the number one beauty lesson that you've taught your 11-year-old daughter? And have you learned anything from her?
The biggest one I've taught my daughter is to wash her face at night. Not just in the morning, but wash off the day as well because she's starting to get her first breakouts. Also, to not touch her face with her hands. She's taught me to be more confident. My daughter doesn't care what anyone thinks. I'll ask her, "Are you sure you want to wear your hair like that today?" She'll respond, "Yeah, I don't care," which I love. She puts me in my place a lot of times and shows me that she's confident no matter what.
What are your favourite wintertime beauty products right now?
I always carry my Heritage Store Rosewater Spray. Also, the Lancer Dani Glowing Skin Perfector. You can mix it in with your moisturizer for a glow and it smells great. The Lipsmart Hydrating Solution is the best lip balm I've ever used because it doesn't just sit on your lips — you could put it on in the morning and your lips are soft all day. In the winter, I deal with dry skin, and coconut oil helps me keep it moisturized, along with Kiehl's body lotion.
As for your music, would you say it's representative of where you are in your life right now?
By the time the audience hears new music, I've gone through those experiences already. So, I'm moved on from a lot of the songs that are on an album. It definitely represents a time in my life. With "Triggered," people were concerned, but when I released it, I was already over that and onto the next thing.
What can fans expect from your upcoming album?
I mean, it's always me. It's reflective of who I am and the things I'm going through at that time. This album, Chilombo, is like if Sailing Souls, Souled Out, and Trip had a baby. I think people might be surprised by some of the collaborations that are on there. I will say it's definitely about being unafraid to be myself, show my scars, and show my natural self.