Paloma Ford EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife how contemporary R&B from the likes of Janet Jackson and Aaliyah have shaped her forthcoming EP, ‘X Tapes.’ A ‘very public’ breakup kick-started it all.
“I don’t consider myself a model by any means,” Paloma Ford, 33, EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife. Rather than saying this to simply be modest — she has graced the pages of top-tier magazines like Glamour and Vogue Italia, and walked for New York Fashion Week — the multi-hyphenate wanted to make one thing clear. Paloma is a singer first. “That’s my primary focus and everything comes from that,” she said. “[Fashion is] another passion of mine, but it’s just another form of expression.” With that record set straight, Paloma is ready to show fans what she’s really about — AKA, indulging in the romantic yet emotional style of pre-new millennium/early 2000’s R&B — in her upcoming EP, X Tapes.
“For this project, I wanted it to be personal. I wanted people to really get a look of like who I am,” Paloma told us on a Zoom interview ahead of dropping the latest song from her EP, “In My Feelings,” along with a video of the live performance at Los Angeles’s SIR Studios on May 13. Although she’s co-written many of her past projects and singles (her debut EP, Nearly Civilized, was released in 2016, and Paloma even collaborated with Meek Mill for “Let Me See”), Paloma proudly revealed she “mostly wrote” this newest ensemble of songs. She had to take command as author; like the EP’s name suggests — X Tapes — this project is essentially a collection of Paloma’s own stories that follow a narrative. It all started with a “very public” breakup.
“When I first started writing [at the end of 2017], it was about my breakup,” Paloma revealed. Although she didn’t divulge names, the singer made headlines on outlets like TMZ and The Shade Room for her split from NBA star Nick Young in the beginning of 2017. The sensationalized nature of the particular split that Paloma mentioned was new, and although it became a muse, she pumped the breaks on this being a heartbreak album. “I don’t know if I was mad or happy but I was just like, ‘F–k this.’ I’m not writing a whole f–king album about him. He doesn’t deserve that’,” Paloma recalled.
Paloma has “dated a lot” as 2018 and 2019 passed, but confessed those experiences were “nothing in comparison” to that one big breakup. However, they gave Paloma the material she needed to give her EP a story arc. “Most of these guys kind of come up with the same, you know, lame s–t, so it’s like I drew from other experiences. So that’s why…[the EP is] not just about one person, even though it started out that way,” Paloma explained.
She’s satisfied with the end result. “I just felt like I finally had the right collection of songs. For the story that I wanted to tell,” Paloma said. To get to that point, experimentation was involved, especially while going through her “happy” phase post-breakup. This involved writing a lot of uptempo songs, but she realized her style could just not be “bad b–tch,” “hot girl summer” a la Megan Thee Stallion. That just “wasn’t the story” Paloma “was trying to tell,” after admitting that her 2016 EP was also “fun” but didn’t really portray her real story. “I’m sad girl summer. I need to get back to these ballads,” she said, a style that is more natural for the singer who lives and breathes R&B.
“My biggest influences growing up [were] Janet Jackson, Sade, Aaliyah,” Paloma said. She always sets aside time to watch their videos for inspiration, which led her to find this “silver lining” with all of them: “being a woman,” which involves “teetering a line” between being “vulnerable and soft” yet “strong.” Paloma, who broke into recording music by supplying backup vocals on Macy Gray’s 2007 album Big, feels this is what’s missing in modern music. “There’s a few artists that really that really exude that,” Paloma observed. While Paloma is a “huge supporter” of society celebrating “the independent woman,” she doesn’t think a little “balance” hurts.
“I’m just trying to bring the love back,” Paloma said, which is evident in “RAIN” — the first single from her new EP released in Dec. 2019 — that really does transport one back to a time when sultriness and exposing one’s emotions were often intertwined. And, just like the queens of contemporary R&B, Paloma delivers seductive lines like “every time feels like the first time” and “I need all your attention baby” with vocals so smooth, you as a listener can’t help but feel you’re in a romantic music video of your own.
You can expect these R&B influences to carry into the music videos accompanying Paloma’s new music. “You’ll see a lot of like, heavy late ‘90s, early 2000’s influences in some way…this next video that we might do might be like camcorder style,” Paloma teased (a wink at her EP’s name, X Tapes).
Now, Paloma is just waiting to show fans — especially the ones among her over 400,000 Instagram followers who are perhaps “tuned in” for fashion or “other reasons” — her new vulnerability all while throwing it back to the nostalgic R&B that people listened to as they thought about that certain someone. X Tapes will be arriving just in time for summer!