Interview: Discover The Brilliance Of Jasmine Thompson
Powering through the industry at a young age, UK's Jasmine Thompson is a force to be reckoned with. First noticed at the age of 13 for her cover YouTube videos and racking up millions of views, she gained recognition on BBC radio as well as expanding a huge online fan base. In September of 2013 she self-released her debut album, Bundle of Tantrums (iTunes) and most recently, her Adore EP (iTunes). With dreamy, innocent vocals and brilliant indie-pop tunes, the compilation solidified her brilliance in the industry. We met up and spoke with Jasmine while she was here in the states to hear more about the creative process and what her life making music is all about.
How did you know you wanted to get into music?
When I was younger. both my parents really encouraged me to try new things like sports, acting, dancing, and music. I really liked music and so did my brother, and so we both started learning how to play the piano and sing when we were 8 years old. And when I was 10, my mother gave me the idea of posting a video on YouTube and that’s basically how we got started. Slowly we started getting into using proper cameras, proper microphones and recording.
Is it hard to balance your personal life with your professional life?
Not really. They say it’s hard to make friends when you’re home schooled but I’ve just started homeschooling so I already had friends. I still text them and FaceTime them and whenever I’m back in London I hang out with them as much as I can. To be honest, music is both personal and work; I really don’t mind that I travel so much because that’s really what I want to do.
And you keep making friends along the way!
Exactly! You meet so many new people everyday, very interesting people with so many different stories... It’s incredible.
It is. Do you have any friends that you collaborate with?
I have quite a few friends who are writers in LA, that’s why I’m really excited to go to LA next week – over the years, a lot of the friends I made (over the internet) I talk to all the time, it’s really nice. I just went on a tour around Germany and we spent a whole 5 days in the van and we were just singing and playing instruments. So many people. So much fun!
I'm sure you've met some pretty interesting people along the way. What was that experience like for you?
Well, I was in Indonesia for about two weeks and there was a songwriting camp.. Ke$ha was there and there were a couple of people from Disney Channel and they were so cool! It was really awesome – we were in Bali sun-bathing and writing songs and stuff.. It was pretty surreal.
You were recording in like NY, LA, and London right? What was your favorite experience out of the recording experience?
Yes, for the EP most of the songs were written in those places – some in NY, some in LA, and some in the UK. Probably one of my favorite moments was working with the writer I worked with - I had collaborated with him a couple of times in the past as well. He’s from NY - his studio is based in Brooklyn and it was incredible! The song didn’t make it to the EP, but the process was so fun – we were dressed in pajamas, we had pizza, and we were just writing songs. It was 3 AM and there were these massive windows and you could see the Empire State Building from across the river.. It was surreal because I was there and I had just turned 14 and I was just sitting in Brooklyn writing music in my pajamas with a whole bunch of other people.
If you could tour or perform with any musician who would it be?
I would love to tour with Florence And The Machine -- she’s incredible, I saw her live recently and she was running up and down the stage and she was twirling and twirling and her hair was incredible
Have you ever wanted to steer away from the YouTube persona?
I’m really grateful for everything that has happened because of the YouTube stuff. It was my home basically -- music wise. I do want to, because my YouTube was just covers, do more original music, share more stuff that is close to me and more stuff that I connected to.
Now that you’re officially signed with Atlantic Records do you have more goals in mind that you’d like to accomplish?
Everyday I’m trying to get new ideas, finding more ways to connect with my fans on social media and stuff like that. Music wise, I’m trying to explore in different fields. I started off just doing piano and vocal covers on YouTube and then I randomly went over to the EDM world with Robert Schultz and others and they were really upbeat.
I feel like you would have a wonderful voice for EDM.
Thank you! It's really such an interesting contrast - a lot of people say my voice is really melancholic, it’s quite sad. But the music I was doing was really upbeat and dance-y. It was really quite fun how the contrast worked. I mainly just want to keep trying different styles of music because I am quite young and every day I’m developing. Vocally, I’m developing, gradually doing more and more stuff.. I’m really excited.
You did a Chaka Khan cover, right? Do you like her music?
Yeah, I really love that song. I wanted to give my own version of it, so when I posted it on YouTube it was just piano and really soft … the lyrics to that song are amazing and she’s just incredible. I really like Chaka Khan and that song is beautiful. I’m really glad I covered it.
What was it like making music videos? I watched the one that’s to be continued..
Yes! That was so fun. The other video is coming out soon and it really is quite fun because I had never done anything like that before - a music video like that, where there was two parts to it, the whole crew for that music video.. It was just a blast. The first proper music video that I’ve ever done was shot in LA, it was for my song Adore. I’m not really into photography and stuff like that and it was so fun seeing people get really excited about it with getting new ideas.
What was the inspiration behind Adore?
The inspiration behind it was music, but like a love song. People can relate and say it's about their boyfriend or girlfriend or something, but to me it’s about music because I’m quite young and I’ve never had a boyfriend before. Music is something that was always there for me, before I even knew it was what I wanted to do. It was always in the car, I would always hear it, I would always want to sing. The lyrics of the chorus is “I adored you before I laid my eyes on you” and that was basically how I felt about music.
Wow, so it was like a love letter to music. That is so cool.
Yeah! You know, music is really quite a universal thing and I wanted to make sure that tons of people could connect to it.
Do you write on your own?
I tend to co-write with a lot of people, but I think it’s important to have a piece of yourself in the song. But I love to co-write with other people because you get to hear their life story when you work with them and they help you shape the song to something that you might not have thought it could be. They show you different things. It’s all about feeding off of each other’s ideas when it comes to music because it’s a really creative process. It was fun writing all these songs.
Generally, do you just have conversations and then go from there?
Mostly. The best way for me to write a song is I will walk into the room and tell them what’s annoying me, tell them what just happened to me and ask them what they think and go from there. It’s just weird because you walk in not knowing them and you walk out knowing the strangest thing about the other person – it’s great.
It’s a really vulnerable situation, I think, to song write.
I guess that’s why I quite like co-writing because you get a glimpse of that person through their voice. It’s truly that these songs are like people’s diaries.