The album is something of a new beginning for Keys, and marks her first new release since the 2010 birth of her son, Egypt.
“It’s definitely changed me,” Keys says about becoming a mother. “I started to be more productive. Before I think I wasted more time just cause I could. I came in [to the studio] really focused about what I wanted to do. Even the writing on this record is deeper, it’s more intimate. It’s at a place I probably couldn’t have written two or three years ago because I didn’t understand it as much. I think [motherhood has] opened me up to access a deeper emotion than I did before.”
Along with changing on the inside, Keys has also undergone some transformations on the outside: debuting a shorter haircut over the summer and keeping herself physically fit (as she demonstrated during her lively “X Factor” performance).
“I’ve heard from a lot of new mothers that they cut their hair too,” Keys says. “I thought I was kind of special and brave, but apparently it’s a new mother thing. I had been talking about cutting my hair for awhile and figuring out in which way it would feel right. I put out a song called ‘New Day’ that’s also on my album and I was just like, ‘You know what, it’s a new day, and I’m cutting this off.’ So I did it!”
“Now more than I ever do I find that having that hour or 45 minutes of me time — running or getting my workout on — it feels good and also gives me some time for myself, so I really enjoy it,” Keys says about her workout regimen. “Even though it’s hard and it hurts and I complain the whole time, at the end I’m like, ‘This feels good.'”
Since she dropped by “X Factor” to perform, one more question had to be asked: Would she ever want to join the ranks of Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey and judge a TV singing competition?
“I don’t know, to be honest,” Keys says. “I’ve never done it, so I don’t know. These contestants, they’ve got a chance to showcase themselves. When I was first starting, if I had four really diverse and established people [like Spears, Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato and L.A. Reid] giving me pointers I would’ve liked that. I think there’s something really great about that — the knowledge you can share and give — but I don’t know.”
But she does know what her role would be if she accepted the gig: “I’d be the nice one. They always have the mean one, the nice one and what’s the third? The indifferent one? I’d be the constructively nice one.”