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Q&A | JANIYAH

September 23, 2019

Read the full interview on FlauntMag.com!

Janiyah is far more than Summer Walker’s best friend, she’s an artist in her own right. Hailing from Atlanta (specifically Decatur, Georgia) where today’s hottest hip-hop names reside, the 24-year-old arrives with her own smooth, luscious voice, unleashing R&B bangers that fans can’t help but gravitate toward.

Real name Janiyah Pankey first garnered attention for her Sad Girl Hours Psychology sessions with her Instagram followers, touching on everything from her career as a stripper with multiple personas and friendship with Summer Walker — all with a “no-filter” attitude.

Growing up as a teenager, she worked several part-time jobs to make ends meet, including McDonald’s. Throughout her life, she has always found music to be her safekeeping, penning lyrics about her real-life struggles from heartbreaks to relationships to finding yourself. Now having the opportunity to open to Summer on tour gave her a chance to debut herself as a recording artist, proving she has exactly what it takes to be a star in the limelight.

With her breakout single “Pretend” still heavy in rotation, we wait patiently for her forthcoming Sad Girl Hours EP. Flaunt Mag caught up with Janiyah at Summer’s Los Angeles show at The Fonda in Hollywood to discuss everything from loving Pink Sweat$ to relationships to stripping.

For those who don’t know, who is Janiyah?

Janiyah is this wild girl that doesn’t give a fuck, but she’s still emotional. [laughs]

How would you describe your sound?

I don’t really have a sound. I like to tell people “I’m not a robot,” which means I go through emotions just like everyone else. I don’t have a specific sound. I’m a regular girl. I go through heartbreaks, I go through depression, I go through stress, I go through happiness like everyone else. It just depends on my mood.

The name for Sad Girls Hours is so powerful. What can we expect from the EP?

You can expect some sad shit. You can expect loneliness but by the end of the EP, it’s uplifting to know and realize that self-love is better than love from anyone else.

Being from Atlanta, how does that play into your life and career?

It’s cool because it’s really lit. Atlanta people are really genuine.

How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist? 

It’s very important. It’s really nerve-racking though most of all because people don’t know me. I have to find a way to relate to people. It’s a tough city, there’s high standards. To be in a place opening up for someone as big as my best friend Summer Walker, it means a lot. We smashed it.

Talk about your friendship with Summer Walker.

I’ve known her for 4 years. When we first meet, she didn’t even tell me she sung. I knew I wanted to sing but I never recorded anything, so we were just friends.

What was it like seeing her blow up with the music?

It was crazy because we used to struggle together back in the day when we first met, but it was well-deserved. I already knew.

When did you start recording?

Probably about 2 years ago.

Talk about your musical background.

I’m adopted. My aunt who I’m adopted by, she used to play a lot of old school music. I knew I really wanted to sing when Rihanna came out with “Umbrella.” I was like “alright yeah, that’s what I want to do. I want to be like that.” I always used to sing, but I used to be a stripper. I saved up money and bought my own studio equipment. My friends taught me how to record myself. Ever since then — with my depression, I used to drink a lot. Drinking, I would just write music and record myself at home.

What does it mean to you for Summer Walker to bring you on tour?

It means a lot because nowadays, bitches be hating. They don’t be trying to support their friends, but the fact that she believes in me and is helping me out as a best friend, it’s nothing but love. I appreciate it, it’s genuine.

I love seeing you and Summer twerk to “I Need Sum Money” after the show. Talk about creating that video.

We freestyled that. We went to the studio to record actual music together, like real music, then we just got frustrated. We were like “let’s do some ratchet shit to relax.” We freestyled and it turned into that.

Juju says your chemistry is insane. Talk about the bond you guys share.

That’s my main bitch. That’s my best friend, I got her back until the end. I’ll fight a nigga, fight a bitch over her. That’s just how I am. We’re very over protective over each other. Especially when it comes to emotions because we’re both 2 emotional females, so we have to be there for each other.

What’d you think of the Drake remix?

I thought it was amazing. It was just like, why not? Drake? Draaake? [Soulja Boy voice] Especially because it was someone who she used to do covers to. For him to hop on her song, it was only right.

I saw your Instagram post that said “from stripper poles to hitting stages.” How was performing for the first time?

The first show was in Chicago. I mean, I was a little nervous but I used to be a stripper for 3 years. Dancing naked for strangers and singing for strangers is easy for me. So it’s cool. It’s like, “I’ll take that.”

Bring us back to your days as a stripper. What’s the most you ever made?

I used to dance in Florida at Tootsies. I was making probably $1,500 minimum.

There’s a trend in hip-hop where ex-strippers are making music, do you feel any type of way about that?

That’s great because with the stripper life and the fast money, you can get consumed. I remember when I was stripping, I just had to remind myself “it’s temporary.” You have to have a goal or plan because if not, you’ll be on the pole stripping until you’re 45 years old because the money be so good. It’s great that you can find an exit and really pursue what you want to do, because there’s more to life than getting naked for men.

What do your parents think?

My mom at first, she did not believe in me. She’s like “you were supposed to be a lawyer,” then I was like “I want to sing mom!” Now, she’s my biggest supporter.

What is it you want fans to get from your story?

On some real shit, not to be corny, but this shit’s possible. No matter what you’re going through, don’t let your current situation affect where you want to go. Where you want to be.

What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?

Get some money. [laughs] Nah just playing. I want to meet a lot of people. I want to travel and perform. I want to connect with people that I can relate to. That’s the whole point of making music, to hopefully help another person out there to make sure they know they’re not alone.

Talk about your love for Pink Sweat$. (she fangirled earlier)

He is fucking lit. Not just one song, every song. I found him on Instagram off a wave video, heard the music in the background and looked him up. Then I went to Spotify and clicked on every song he had and I did not skip one song. I fell in love. To just meet him and know that we can potentially work together, it’s like “shit! I hope so.”

Talk about being here at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles?

The crew is great. The sound is great. The crowd is great. I seen Wale, Dreezy, Pink Sweat$, etc.

Summer Walker said she doesn’t like to be around people, how is she transitioning in this light?

She’s doing way better with the support of her boyfriend. That’s her biggest supporter.

How are you guys responding to fame?

Fame is just a word. At the end of the day, we’re all just regular people. She’s a regular person. She’s handling it really cool but that’s because she’s really humble.

What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?

One of the guys was singing all my words to “Pretend,” I thought that was cool. How important is social media for your career?

I engage with a lot of my followers on Instagram because I’m a regular, degular, shmegular girl. I ain’t nobody.

Who’s your favorite person to follow?

Halsey. She’s such a fucking rockstar. I’ve been to her concert and she’s amazing. That’s another person I’d love to work with.

Who influenced you musically?

I grew up listening to Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston, and Kid Cudi, it just depends. I have a very broad perspective on music. My nickname, sometimes people call me “Radio” because I know a lot of songs. Pop, R&B, even to rock. Every song just puts you in a different place. With Summer, when we’re in the car, I’m not allowed to have the aux because she don’t like my music. I’ll listen to like Tove Lo, she’s like “turn this off.” [laughs].

What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.

Wake up, feed my puppies, I like to watch anime. I’m a huge nerd. My favorite animes: Hunter x Hunter, Full Metal Alchemist, Brotherhood, My Hero Academia, Cowboy Beebop, Samurai Champloo. After that, I’ll go to the studio, I have a studio in my house. I’ll go to the other room and record, chill, get frustrated, probably leave the studio and watch more anime, drink and go.

3 things you need in the studio?

Lighting, comfortable chairs, and good energy.

What was your mindstate creating “Pretend”?

I got drunk one night and I have really bad luck with men. Relationship wise it sucks. A n*gga would always call for me and before I would call a n*gga for a booty call — then before asking what happened it’d be like, “So what you about to do?” I always wanted more, especially when it came to my ex. You know that old fling you have and you link up, then it happens? He was like “I got to go.” I’m like, “Damn, but I want you stay.” He knows it’s about him, we talked the other day. I cut him off because the girl he cheated on me with, he got her pregnant. I told him, thank you because if he never would have broken my heart I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

Who’s the most played artist on your phone?

It’s between Busta Rhymes, Ski Mask the Slump God, and J. Cole.

What’s your best memory from the tour so far?

This is the third show. Today has been the best memory because Summer usually comes in late because she has her own stuff to rehearse, but today was the first day she saw me performing. She was shaking her titties at me like “sing bitch!” It’s lit, I was laughing the entire time. Every time she performs, I also go crazy. Go support your friends.

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