Living a secluded life in rural upstate New York, 10-time Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello has happily divorced herself from the pop-cultural zeitgeist. Her neighbors are farmers, she says, “So I’m learning to plant things myself, and I have no interest in TV anymore because anyone who does is just an automaton.” Still, the bassist’s career is booming. She just played some Prince-themed shows, made a guest appearance on Madeleine Peyroux’s album, sang on the “30th Annual John Lennon Tribute” album, joined the online faculty of Bootsy Collins’ Funk University and issued an adventurous new solo CD, “Weather,” with cameos from Benji Hughes and Ministry’s Chris Connelly.
So how do you get inside Prince’s quirky mindset?
I try not to — I just get into the music. The reason I started doing those concerts was, everyone always wants me to play my older catalog. So instead, I just thought I’d play the stuff that inspired me as a young person. So I did songs like “Annie Christian” — I tried to pick the ones that were my secret favorites.
You’ve always been political. How do you feel about the Occupy movement? Or that Defense Authorization Act bill?
With Occupy, I’m looking for new ideas, some solutions. And until I start seeing that, I don’t really get how it’s helping us. And aren’t you shocked that Barack Obama has continued to keep the Patriot Act alive? I don’t think all these conspiracy theories are just axioms, and that’s probably why I play music. I’m becoming more and more apolitical — I think the most revolutionary thing you can do is just live your life and have a good time. Before they scoop you up on the street or you die. And while I’m grateful for our first president of color, I catch myself, like, “What does that mean, exactly? I’m supposed to feel good because we’re the same race?” I just don’t.
You named your album “Weather” at a time when climate change — and its deniers — has reached a fever pitch. Intentional?
It’s funny, because that’s more interesting to me than Obama and all this other stuff. People like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, who make me think, “Whoa! There are folks out there who are just blatantly ignorant and choose to be!”
Do you think humanity has doomed itself to extinction?
Well, see, I’m a little darker than that. What if it just doesn’t end, and you’re just going to experience it getting more and more horrible every day? I don’t even see a “12 Monkeys” kind of future — to me, it’s going to be more like “The Road” or “Soylent Green."