Alicia Keys executive produced and composed the score for the new independent drama The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, a passion project that so filled her with joy that she was downright silly during the film’s press day in New York earlier this week.
The movie, directed by George Tillman, Jr., is about two kids who find themselves scraping for survival one summer in the projects of Brooklyn after their junkie mothers get locked up on drug charges. Keys read — and flipped for — the script early on, and helped sign up a cast led by Jennifer Hudson (who has purple hair and is covered in tattoos), Jordin Sparks, Anthony Mackie, Jeffrey Wright, and the young Skylan Brooks.
Keys’ interview with BuzzFeed touched on several crucial topics, including whether she’d go into space with ET and why she’s afraid of heights.
If you had to pick another stage name right now, what would it be?
AK: Well, I came up with my Bond Girl name the other day. I was feeling very Bond… And so my Bond Girl name is Kitty Keys. First name changes.
How were you feeling very Bond?
AK: It was this moment, it was a shoot we were doing and it just had this vibe. The music we were playing was very Bond, so my inner-Kitty Keys came out.
Did you know you had an inner-Kitty Keys before that?
AK: No, it was spontaneous.
You should do an album under that name.
AK: Like K3ys.
Maybe a “Z” at the end.
AK: That’s my new joint, K3yz.
Do you believe that aliens exist?
AK: Yeah, I do [laughs].
Do you think they’ll visit earth?
AK: I think they’re here now [laughing].
Living among us?
You ever meet anyone you think is an alien?
AK: Yeah, I’ve met some serious aliens in my life, for sure [laughs]. I’m sure you’ve seen a UFO. Haven’t all of us seen something flying in the sky, and it’s at some random time of night that doesn’t make sense, and it’s not the shape of a plane?
If an alien wanted to take you to space, would you go?
AK: I don’t know if I’d go with an alien to space. I would have to feel the alien’s vibe. I’m a vibe person. If it was ET, I may go [laughs].
He seemed pretty legit.
AK: Exactly. It had to be the right vibe. If it was one of those crazy, nutso dudes my brother watches — he always wants me to watch these movies with him and I’m like, No! — I wouldn’t go with that one.
You could sing for them.
AK: Yeah, we’d just go vibe out. K3yz, the name of my ship. Now if that’s not a damn good story, I don’t know what you’ve got.
This is going to be all over the internet.
AK: Draw me a picture.
You want me to draw a picture of it?
AK: Not you particularly. Someone who can draw [laughs].
OK, because you see my handwriting on these notes. I’m not great with a pen.
AK: Nope, you can’t even write, let alone draw.
This is Sanskrit, actually. If I lived in an era before computers, I would be homeless, probably.
AK: That’s what I’m concerned with my son! He writes well, he’s only two.
He knows how to write at two?
AK: Yeah, he knows how to do a lot of things. He’s pretty amazing. He can swim. But these schools, man, they’re not even focusing on any writing or penmanship. His handwriting could look like yours if I don’t stay on him.
If you could have another talent, outside of music, and you could change talents with anyone else in the world for a week, what or whose would it be?
AK: It’s not a person, but I would be in Cirque du Soleil.
As an acrobat? Have you ever tried to do that sort of stuff?
AK: I’m secretly afraid of heights. I went to Six Flags Great Adventure. It was cool. My family was there, everyone was bugging, good times in the summer. So fun. And I chose to do this ride. I don’t even know the name of it, but it’s the one where they hook you on to a string and they pull you up to the top thing, and then they just drop you. And I knew, I saw them doing it, and I decided to go up there, and they pulled me up.
There are two people, and one person has to pull the latch that actually drops you. So that was me. Then they put me up to the top, and I had to stay there because you can’t go until the second group comes up, and they got stuck. So I’m up there at the top, watching the thing and the people coming, they got stuck, and so by the time they had figured it out and brought them up, I had freaked my whole self out. I was like, I’m gonna die. I don’t know why I’m here. This is not even fun. I’m gonna crash. My mind started flipping out, and the only way to get down was I had to pull that thing, so I pulled it and I dropped, and ever since then, the whole heights thing with me…
So you didn’t enjoy the drop?
AK: It was the crazy anticipation of before the drop that ruined it. I think there’s a window of time where it’s excitement, and then it’s ruined and it’s over. So now I’m scared of heights.
You fly all the time.
AK: Not that type of heights. Roller coaster heights, hanging from something really high. I’m just really freaked out.
So you wouldn’t go hang gliding?
AK: I don’t think so, but maybe. I definitely wouldn’t go skydiving. Hell no. Why would you want to do that to yourself?
Do you have a whole room for your Grammys?
AK: Well, I never used to put those anywhere, except for in a box, because I felt maybe funny displaying them. And finally, just recently, I was putting together my office and my engineer was like, Don’t you want to put your Grammys up? We could get a shelf or something. And I was like, Well, OK. And so we got a shelf and while I was away, she put everything on it, and when I walked into my office, I was like, Whoa. I never saw it like that before. I never saw them displayed.
If I had a Grammy, I’d carry it around everywhere. Do you ever eat cereal out of them?
AK: Nah, but now, I have a little shelf with awards and it’s cool.
Does it get boring winning all those awards? Are you ever bummed like, Ugh, gotta make another speech?
AK: Nah, doesn’t get boring. Sorry! Just letting you know.
How about your “Empire State of Mind” song with Jay-Z?
AK: Are you sick of it?
No, but I’m wondering if you are, since it’s your voice.
AK: No, I’m not sick of it, but I do get concerned that other people are going to get sick of it. I sing it a lot. You know, there are songs like that, that you start out loving and then are like, Ugh, c’mon. I’m not saying that this one belongs in that category, but I’m just checking.