Exclusive Interview: Making Babies With Janet Jackson

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Janet Jackson’s forthcoming album Discipline (out Feb. 26) is full of thumping club tracks, but since Valentine’s Day is upon us, we thought we’d slow it down for our exclusive chat with the diva. Below, we grill Janet on the slow and sexy jams (or, as they’re often referred to, baby-making songs) of her career, from the song that created the mold (“Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun)” from 1986′s Control), to the steamy title track of her new album. Nothing was off limits, both musically (album cuts, b-sides and chart smashes are all covered) and topically (since Janet’s baby-making songs tend to cover the subject of, well, making babies rather thoroughly). Things start to heat up down below…

Let’s first talk about “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun).” That’s sort of the prototypical Janet baby-making song.

I was just a baby myself when I did that. I’ve heard people say that that has kind of a Jackson feel, that it’s reminiscent of stuff my family’s done in the past, musically speaking. I guess it does. Thinking about it then, I didn’t hear it, but thinking about it now, it kind of does. It was just giving people a chance to see another side of me. Just a little glimpse into a world that later they’d see a lot.

How about “Someday Is Tonight”? I always thought of that song as a sequel to “Let’s Wait a While.”

It was!

A lot of people credit the video for “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” as being your gateway into sexy territory, but to me, the janet. album initially was set up by “Someday.”

You’re absolutely right. You’re the first person to say that. I felt a little bit more comfortable with letting people a little more into my world. “Someday Is Tonight” is a continuation of, “OK, now that you’ve waited this long…” And I even say in the song, “I know I promised I’d be worth the wait / The wait is over, please don’t hesitate.” Someone said to me a long time ago about the janet. album being very sensual and sexy: “What message are you sending to the kids? You talked about ‘Let’s Wait a While.’” And I said, “Well, I’m in my 20′s now. How long do you want me to wait?”

How about “The Body That Loves You,” speaking of janet.?

You’re pulling out stuff that people don’t talk about! I love “The Body That Loves You.” It has this island feel. It’s not Brazilian, but it has a little bit of that feel about it. One of my favorite genres of music is Brazilian music. I got into that when I was 14 years old. That and jazz. As much as I loved Stevie and my brothers’ music, I listened to Astrud and João Gilberto, Gilberto Gil and Maria Beth – nia. I keep telling myself, “You gotta do something that has that feel to it.” ["The Body That Loves You"] was the closest I ever came to that. I’m still going to, but I’ve never tapped upon that sound the way I want to. “Body” has that cool, relaxed, laid-back, ocean-beach, just chill feel to it. It’s just a beautiful song to me.

As far as “Anytime, Anyplace” goes, you talk about not caring who’s around and going for it in public. How is it to write about your sexual taste in that way? Is it a statement that stands, or is it just a reflection of that time in your life? Does your sexual taste morph and change?

It’s how I felt at that moment and it can change. It has changed, and sometimes it’ll go back to something. I had experienced that and I wanted to write about that, not caring who’s around and being in public in that way.

How about “’70s Love Groove”?

I went to Minneapolis to cut that, and I wasn’t relaxed enough. When we record, there’s always champagne or wine somewhere, because we’ll always toast at the end of a project. Jimmy pulled out the wine and said, “Here, you’re gonna have a glass of wine,” and I said, “Glass of wine for what?” He goes, “You’re not relaxed enough.” I said, “I’m not, Jimmy?” And he goes, “No.” He gave me that wine and I had a glass, maybe, a glass and a half. By the end of the song, my head was up against the microphone and I was singing. I was so relaxed singing “’70s Love Groove.”

“Twenty Foreplay”?

It’s kind of a sweet and sour thought for me, when I think about what that song really is about, which I really can’t talk about because I’m really not supposed to talk about that person. There’s hope in “Twenty Foreplay,” and then I also hear the sadness in it and remember the sadness. But I love that song.

“Rope Burn”?

I love “Rope Burn.” Some people ask me about the whole S&M thing, and whether it’s something I’m touching upon with Discipline. I think you take it as far as you want to take it. Some people are heavily into that. Some people like to play a little bit, some people like to play a lotta bit. I’ve had my moments. Some times are a little heavier than others. Some times I want it to be light, and “Rope Burn” is kind of a little bit in the middle.

“When We Oooo”?

I love that song. I haven’t listened to that since I did it. It has a nice groove to it.

Regarding “Would You Mind,” did you ever face any criticism for the, “Come inside me” line?

No. But I’ve said that more than once! I mean, on an album. Sometimes it’s spoken or whispered. But no, no one’s ever, and I hope no one comes to me about it. It’s all a part of love. I think we’ve all been there at some point, and I’m just being very open about it.

I like how un-P.C. the message is. I always thought that was really bold.

Well, it also depends on who the partner is. I think that’s where it starts. Who am I really talking to? Who is that song about? That’s the question.

On Damita Jo, there’s “Warmth” and “Moist.” They’re grouped together in sort of an, uh, oral suite?

Yeah. It becomes my turn after it’s his.

“Warmth” has always tripped me up because there’s a part of that song where it sounds like you’re singing with something in your mouth. That’s intentional, right?

Yeah. There was something in my mouth.

“Take Care”?

There’s something sensual about it for me, but there’s also something very innocent about it. I love that part, the two put together. The duality.

And finally, bringing us to the present, there’s “Discipline.” Is that the only baby-making song on the new album?

I’m only putting one on this time. I did do another, but I’m not putting it on. Maybe I’ll do it as a bonus record or something. There is another song that comes after [the title track]. It’s has a sensual feel for sure, lyrically speaking, and it paints the whole picture of what I do on stage and taking it to the bedroom with him. But it’s faster than “Discipline” and it’s called “Curtains.”

Any thoughts on “Discipline” itself?

Someone asked about being disciplined, about having control and giving it up and being disciplined. I think there’s a discipline in giving it up. I don’t mind going both ways. I don’t mind, as my friends would say, being the bottom and not always being the top. I think it’s nice to switch off. I love to please, but I think it’s kind of nice to switch off and be a little bit more submissive and have someone tell you what to do. As opposed to being the one who has the whip.

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