Q&A: Ciara on Being a One-Woman Army and Having a “Body Party” With Nicki Minaj

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Jason Merritt / Getty Images for BET

Ciara performs at the BET Awards in Los Angeles, June 30, 2013.

Almost a decade after smash hits “Goodies” and “1, 2 Step”—and three years after her previous disc, Basic InstinctCiara is back with a new single (“I’m Out”) and album (Ciara, out July 9). Here, the 27-year-old pop singer lets loose with Time.

There’s a song on this album, “Super Turnt Up,” that lists you as a featured artist and a main artist. Please explain.
I’m rapping on that song. It’s me with a little twist. So as opposed to saying it’s another name, an alter ego, it’s like no, it’s featuring me. I can be very silly—I like to have a lot of fun.

So it’s not your actual alter ego, Super C?
No, no.

Ciara was originally called One Woman Army. Why the change?
The one-woman army movement still exists. I am a one-woman army, in a sense. It represents my strength and all that good stuff. But I feel like, over the years, my songs haven’t allowed people to really get to know me. I want this album to be a new, fresh experience. So the title is me properly introducing myself to my fans.

Would you say it’s your most personal album?
It’s the most vulnerable experience—it’s the most free I’ve ever been. I’m such a perfectionist sometimes, I think to a fault. And I finally realized, things aren’t always going to go perfect. You’re going to have flaws. You’re going to make mistakes. And on this album I embrace all of that. I’ve mentally committed to living my life for me.

Can you still do the 1, 2 step, though?
Of course. I can do it with a little extra now. Maybe a little faster.

I once tried to learn the choreography from that music video. It didn’t go so well.

Let’s switch gears for a sec. What’s the best way to throw the kind of body party you sing about on “Body Party”?
Well, there’s different types of body parties!

But, like, in general.
You have to commit to having the most fun at the highest level. Get some throwback ’90s music: Jodeci, Biggie, Puffy, some old Missy [Elliott]. Get some good drinks. Turn the music up on full blast. Have fun. And literally just let go. Maybe grab three of your friends, or just you and your boo. Your body party can be as wild or as chill as you want it to be. It’s up to you.

So long as “Body Party” plays at some point, right?
Exactly. A body party without “Body Party” is an incomplete body party.

You’ve worked with Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake, and more. Who’d be your next dream collaboration?
I will keep on dreaming about the day I will be able to do something with Janet [Jackson]. I know I would love to.  I also did a song with Chris Brown a long time ago, and I want to re-collaborate because he and I didn’t get to complete the vision with the video visual, so that’s what I would love to do. I think it would be something really cool for our fans.

You’ve also done a lot of songs with Nicki Minaj recently. Are you two close?
We definitely have a lot of love and support for each other. She invited me to her party on The Re-Up, and I invited her to my party on my album.

Was it a body party?
Not a body party. [Laughs.] She’d be invited to that too, though—it could be a fun body party with all my friends!