The Source Magazine was on the scene for Beyonce’s Director screening of her visual album on Saturday Dec. 20 at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Beyonce participated in a special Q&A after the screening. Check out exclusive highlights from the event below.
A select group of radio contest winners and influencers gathered to experience the visuals of Beyonce’s self-titled surprise album on Saturday evening. The album, which was released on December 13, 2013, has taken the world by storm and has garnered much critical acclaim. “The singer’s fifth album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts this week after it was released without the public knowing. “Beyonce” sold 617,000 units in the U.S. in a week; it has sold more than 1 million albums worldwide,” The Associated Press reported.
When fans entered the SVA, the walls were draped in black curtains. Models dressed in black laced costumes, with their heads covered in black, served soda and popcorn. The soda was served in black cups with black and white swirly straws and the black popcorn bags were adorned with Beyonce’s logo. There were spooky TV screens propped in the main atrium like in her “Haunted” video.
After we took our seats, the lights dimmed and the screening began. All of her videos from her new album were played back to back. It was stunning and a real treat to watch Beyonce’s entire album on the big screen with surround sound that pulsated through the room. After the screening, Parkwood Entertainment’s and Beyonce’s longtime publicist Yvette Noel-Schure came out to introduce Beyonce, who answered 5 fan questions, which were asked via Instagram video.
Before the Q&A Beyonce told the crowd, “The amount of personal growth from this project is unlike anything I’ve ever done. I took all of my insecurities, all of my doubts, all of my fears, and everything I’ve learned over the 17 years and I applied it into this project. And you know it’s interesting how motherhood changes you and it changes your perspective on life and I took all the things that I wanted to change about myself and all of the things I wanted to share and I put it into this record and I’m very proud of it. But more than the music, I’m proud of myself as a woman in taking some risks and the biggest message is owning your imperfections and all of the things that make you interesting because I refuse to allow someone to put me in anybody’s box.”
Yvette Noel-Schure, then introduced the Instagram Q&A. “Obviously, this release was directly from Beyonce to her fans, so it’s appropriate that the questions come from the fans and we have 5 through Instagram, so here they are.”
What was the hardest thing to keep the secret about your new album?
Beyonce: Well, it was many things! Oh my god, it was so hard and I still every single day, I have gotten on my knees and thanked God that this happened. Well, it was a lot of craziness, we went through. One of the things, I had a earbud in the videos and basically the song would be playing for me and the director, so for instance, “XO” we’re walking through Coney Island and everyone’s screaming and you know those earbuds, they have a lot of static and you can barely hear and I’m trying to lip sync to the lyrics, I can barely hear anything and I know I look completely out of my mind…and people are like “HI! BEYONCE,” so no one knew why I was just speaking, while they were talking to me, but we went through a lot of things to keep it secret and to keep the surprise because there’s something missing, it’s such a joy and it’s something I was able to experience growing up and I really really wanted to surprise people and for them to really just hear the art and it not be about the hype and promotion and we actually did it and it just says so much about my team. You know, I started my own company, and my father taught me so so much, so much! And when I decided to manage myself, it was important that I didn’t go to some big management company. I felt like I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Madonna and be a powerhouse and have my own empire and show other women when you get to this point in your career, you don’t have to go sign with someone else and share your money, and your success, you can do it yourself. So I found a team of underdogs, a team of women, a team of people that no one believed in, and we worked together and we stayed up all night and we were progressive and we did not follow the rules and we said, “Why can’t we do it?” and I don’t think people believed you know? I said to so many people, “I have an idea to do a visual album,” and everyone was like “Ok.” And we did it! And not only did we do it, it’s my company and I’m very proud of that.
What inspired you to be so open with your personal life on this album compared to your previous albums? Like in the songs “Mine,” “Partition,” and “Drunken Love,” what was the story behind it?
Beyonce: You know, I’ve always been very generous. I’ve always been very generous on the stage and I took all of my pain, all of my joy and I used it in my performance, but I’m very private, I’m very respectful and I think it just took me no longer being someone’s child. Once I became a mother, I felt like I could tear down those fourth walls and I just felt like it was time. I completely feel liberated and I felt like I could no longer create my art for other people, so I just felt like it was time.
Where were you right when you released your surprise album?
Beyonce: I just got off the stage. It was 11:30PM once I took off and I had a glass of wine and my cousin Angie was like, “Girl, you alright?” Because I was talking to myself, because I was terrified, I was so scared and I already envisioned like the worst things that could happen, I’m like, “People are going to hate it, why didn’t I say anything?” I mean it’s just things that we all go through, it’s just human, and I was just really nervous because this was a huge risk and when I landed, I saw it actually live on iTunes and you know you’re just waiting for the first comment and the next morning…(Crowd exploded in appease and cheers)
Who is Yonce? Is she like Sasha? Is she an altar-ego?
Beyonce: Well, Dream actually came up with Yonce. We were in the studio and Justin Timberlake started beating on buckets, so when you hear the beat, that’s literary a bucket and it was really organic, it reminded me of being in middle school during lunch breaks when you just start free styling and so we kept the production. We went back and forth and I was very adamant about keeping it organic because that whole feeling is what’s so beautiful about it and Dream started [singing], “Yonce all on his mouth like liquor” and I’m like what does that mean? But I love it. I think Yonce is Beyonce. Mrs. Carter is Yonce. Sasha Fierce is Yonce and I’m finally at a place where, as I said earlier, I don’t have to kind of separate the two anymore. We’re all one. It’s all pieces of me and just different elements of a personality of a woman because we are complicated.
Aside from charts and statistics, what would you have hoped to have achieved with this album when you look back maybe 10 to 20 years from now?
Beyonce: This was my first album that – of course I wanted people to love it and I wanted critics to love it and I want it to be successful, but my goal was not picking a number one single, my goal was putting together a body of work and I just wanted to know if people cared about music because honestly I was at a point where I felt like everything it feels the same and what I said in “Ghost,” “All this sh*t I do is boring,” that’s how I felt and if I could not challenge that, then maybe it was time for me to do something else or develop more artists, which is something I want to do, but growth and I just hope that I continue to move forward and challenge myself and I think now that I’ve become a mother, I just want my legacy to inspire people and I guess that’s the biggest goal is having happiness and knowing that when people come to my shows, they can escape all of the madness and leave there feeling like there’s hope.
1. Pretty Hurts
3. Drunk in Love (Featuring Jay Z)
9. Mine (Featuring Drake)
11. Flawless (Featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
12. Superpower (Featuring Frank Ocean)
14. Blue (Featuring Blue Ivy)
1. Pretty Hurts – directed by Melina Matsoukas
2. Ghost – directed by Pierre Debusschere
3. Haunted – directed by Jonas Åkerlund
4. Drunk in Love – directed by Hype Williams
5. Blow – directed by Hype Williams
6. Angel – directed by @lilinternet
7. Yoncé – directed by Ricky Saiz
8. Partition – directed by Jake Nava
9. Jealous – directed by Beyoncé, Francesco Carrozzini & Todd Tourso
10. Rocket – directed by Beyoncé, Ed Burke & Bill Kirstein
11 .Mine – directed by Pierre Debusschere
12. XO – directed by Terry Richardson
13. ***Flawless – directed by Jake Nava
14. Superpower – directed by Jonas Åkerlund
15. Heaven -directed by Beyoncé & Todd Tourso
16. Blue – directed by Beyoncé, Ed Burke & Bill Kirstein
17. **BONUS VIDEO – Grown Woman – directed by Jake Nava
We also had the opportunity to exclusively interview Kwasi Fordjour, who is a member of Beyonce’s creative team, at the special screening.
How was everyone able to keep this album a surprise?
Kwasi: Well, we just have a really dedicated team and we all worked so hard. It’s just like producers when they’re recording a track, they’re not just going to put their music out there, and just like the artists and just like the people who work on it from a more business standpoint, we don’t want to put our stuff out there. So it’s everybody’s baby and we just wanted to show that respect to our company Parkwood and to Beyonce and to keep it a secret. It should always be a secret. Art is sacred, so that’s why it was so easy.
It was an incredible feat. How long have you been working with Beyonce?
Kwasi: I’ve been working with her for two and a half years.
What has that journey been like?
Kwasi: It’s been an amazing journey for me, I’ve grown so much, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned about this industry, I’ve learned about life and art and culture. It’s just been an amazing journey. I can promise you that I’m not the same as the person I came in as. It was a complete evolution.
What do you admire about Beyonce?
Kwasi: I admire her humility, I admire her work ethic, I want to say it again – I admire her work ethic, because she kind of pushes everybody apart of the team to push the boundaries and take steps further. That was that growing phase when I learned a lot about myself. Because being around her and being pushed by her and her forcing me to grow, it taught me a lot about myself that I never knew that I had. She’s an amazing person.
Tell me more about how you helped Beyonce execute her vision?
Kwasi: It was a collective project. It was a lot of artists, amazing artists along with her guiding the project, came together to – as she mentioned in the viewing – help her personify these different personalities and these different characters, and it was just an amazing collaborative effort. I was just honored to be a part of it.
Other notables that we spotted at the screening included singers Wynter Gordon and Ro James and Designers Coco & Breezy and Samantha Black, in addition to supermodel Shaun Ross.
On Friday, Dec. 20, Beyonce visited the Walmart at 333 Main Street, Tewksbury, MA at 7 p.m. ET. While in the store she purchased her new album, which went on sale at Walmart, and then wished everyone a happy holidays and said she was giving them gift cards. 750 customers were given a Walmart gift cards in the amount of $50. This amounted to $37,500.