Ariana Grande Covers ‘The FADER,’ Talks Manchester, Recovery & ‘Sweetener’

Ariana Grande is gearing up to dominate the summer months. The pop princess is sitting pretty on the charts with her anthemic single, “No Tears Left To Cry,” and she is readying the release of her highly anticipated LP, Sweetener. As such, it should come as no surprise that she was selected to grace the cover of The FADER’s Summer Music issue. Shot by Jason Nocito, she joins SOB x RBE as one of four acts involved with the project. Her photos and an accompanying interview were released today (May 30).

On the cover, Ari wears her traditional high ponytail and delivers a playful pose against a mirror. The remaining pictures are equally striking. Chicly dressed, she serves fierce looks in front of various backdrops. Complimenting a white outfit with hints of red, she looks absolutely dreamlike while posing in front of a drapery of cloudy skies. In others, she poses with oversized oranges. In the interview with Myles Tanzer, the 24-year-old reflected on life in the wake of the tragic bombing at her concert in Manchester last year.

One year after the bombing, she revealed that the experience is still with her. “I guess I thought with time, and therapy, and writing, and pouring my heart out, and talking to my friends and family that it would be easier to talk about, but it’s still so hard to find the words,” she explained. “When you’re so close to something so tragic and terrifying and opposite of what music and concerts are supposed to be, it kind of leaves you without any ground beneath your feet.”

However, the hitmaker opened up about returning to the city to organize the One Love Manchester tribute concert. Recruiting the likes of Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, the artists and fans raised an estimated $23 million in ticket sales and donations. She thanked her fans for their dedication and expressed her amazement at how rapidly things came together. “The fact that all of those people were able to turn something that represented the most heinous of humanity into something beautiful and unifying and loving is just wild.”

Since the attack, Ari has become more involved in advocacy work. She linked up with the students of Parkland High School for their March for Our Lives event where she performed a version of “Be Alright.” Inspired by the students’ rapid response, she was optimistic to see what sort of change they could bring about. “We’re in such a trying time and people have been responding with acceptance, love, inclusion, and passion. This generation, they’re standing up and they’re not going to take no for an answer.”

Music has provided an outlet that the “One Last Time” siren has embraced to bring about change and find peace within herself. As she readies the release of her new album, she admitted that the experience has been cathartic in a sense. “I just started tearing up — tears of gratitude because of perspective, because of growth, opening up and finding the ground again because of music, friends, and love. I was just overwhelmed by how simple it can be if you let it.”

Sweetener, Ari’s forthcoming album, has been billed as her most personal to date. This is something she reiterated in the interview. She described the album as being comprised of bops but explained that they also contained “chunks of my soul.” Taking things one step further, she added “Here is my bleeding heart, and here is a trap beat behind it.” Considering that she has linked up with the likes of “Side To Side” collaborator Nicki Minaj and potentially Drake on a song called “The Light Is Coming,” the description sounds fairly accurate. Another artist to keep an eye peeled for is Missy Elliott who will appear on the Pharrell Williams-produced “Borderline.”

Throughout the process, fans have played a large role in the sonic and thematic shift toward the new project. “The thing that makes me feel OK with opening up and finally allowing myself to be vulnerable is that I know [my fans] feel the same feelings. I’ve talked to them about it. I have fans that have become friends of mine. I have their numbers, and we talk all the time. I played [the song] for them before I played it for my label. They were like, ‘Thank you,’ when they heard that one. It was so scary to do that, but to see them be like, ‘I get it, I feel that too’…”

Although the album was expected to be comprised of only 10 tracks, five additional songs were recently added to the mix. Explaining that she was originally hesitant to include them, she added that they accurately reflected her state of mind and felt like a natural fit. “I guess I was kind of running on zero and pretending to be at a 10 for about 10 months,” she explained. “It took me getting to, I deserve to be at a 10, and fuck it, and let’s fucking go, and now I feel so free and happy as fuck. Reaching that feeling made me look at the songs and be like What? What?! I wasn’t going to put this on the album? Oh my god, this is a bop! What was I fucking thinking? How did I get in my own head about blah-blah-blah that I would dare take this off the album.”

Scroll through a gallery of pictures from the shoot up top and check out the rest of the interview here.

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