If are you reading this interview and not familiar with the artist Jazzy, consider this a formal introduction. You will be glad you took the the time to get to know her again because she’s definitely coming with a sound that’s missing these days in music. During this interview, we discussed her roots in music and influences, what she’s been up to since she last released music in 2005, singing background for Melanie Fiona and touring with Kanye West, and the plans for her upcoming album which will consist of remakes of songs from classic r&b artists.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I want to start from the beginning if I could, when did you first start singing and when was it you realized you wanted a career in music?
Jazzy: I first started singing, I was young actually I was two or three. I come from a family where a lot of my family does music, my grandmother sang with…I believe her name was Marian Anderson, I’ve said this so many times and now I feel like that’s not her name! *Laughs* My grandmother sang, my uncle plays every instrument, so does my dad, I just come from a very musical background. So I was young when I started singing. When I knew I wanted to sing though I was like 12, 12 or 13, and I knew I didn’t want to do anything else. I wasn’t very outright with my talent, I was extremely shy about it, but for some reason I was like this is what I wanted to do.
YKIGS: Who were your influences growing up musically?
Jazzy: Growing up, Robert Flack, I listened to whatever my mom listened to. Roberta Flack, Anita Baker, she’s still a big influence, Lauryn Hill, who else did I listen to? I listened to a lot of male groups like The Temptations, I listened to The Isley Brothers. Now it’s a little different, but growing up I listened to a lot of them.
YKIGS: You mentioned you were a little shy with your talent, do you remember when you first started performing?
Jazzy: Well, I had a performance at the church choir, I was…I might have been ten. I sang in choirs my whole entire life, but I didn’t sing solos in my choirs, I just sang in them. So my choir director found out that I could actually sing past the group so she wanted me to have a solo and I believe I was ten and I had a church solo and I sang my entire solo with my back to the congregation, I watched her the whole time! So I went up there, grabbed the microphone and turned around and sang the whole time. And everybody was like when church was over they were like “You sounded so good, we just wish you would have looked at us!” I wouldn’t look at them to save my life!
YKIGS: So how were you able to overcome that?
Jazzy: I guess from growing up, growth, and because this is what I do, I’m not shy anymore, not at all. I’m very outspoken, as far as being afraid of people, I think it takes a lot of courage to get on the stage period, so anybody that would have anything to say about that wouldn’t necessarily scare me. I just would feel like they don’t understand what it takes to get up there, so it makes me a little more confident.
YKIGS: I was reading in your bio you formed a songwriting due “The Write Chix.” Where would you say you developed your talent for writing music?
Jazzy: I always wrote, but it was more like poems, I didn’t understand writing format, anything like that. I didn’t know I was a writer until somebody actually told me. I had wrote a song, recorded a song, but in my mind it was like I’m an artist, so I wasn’t combining the two, I wasn’t like “Oh I’m a songwriter and an artist.” I just happened to know how to write, but didn’t understand the talent because I was kind of young and I was like “I just write, I can’t write a song.” But it was more in a poem format than it was anything else. But I was young, I was probably like 15 or 16 when I was like “Oh, this is a song? Ok, cool!”
YKIGS: So as you got older and started writing more, where would you say you drew your inspiration from?
Jazzy: It depends, it’s really a lot of times I’m inspired by the music or whatever. When I hear a track, or something is produced around me, however that part of the music is, it kind of inspires whatever I write. So it could be something that makes me feel like this sounds like, you know, fighting, or this sounds like running, whatever it makes me feel like, then I just write based on that.
YKIGS: I know you released your mixtape, “Beauty and the Beat” mixtape, earlier this year. How do you feel the reception was from fans?
Jazzy: It was good, it’s really interesting because now I still get people every day that are like “Yo I just found out about you, a friend just told me about you.” So it’s still getting a lot of good feedback. I was excited about it, I was just excited to give my fans something else because I haven’t released anything since 2005, so I was really eager to give them something. Then I was really, really, really, really happy that they stuck around, because I’m not signed, so it’s just interesting. I know it’s more of an independent game, but they stuck around and waited. The little snippets that I would release, they were loving those, so I was happy that they waited for me to release something.
YKIGS: So would you say your goal through the mixtape was to get your name out there again and put something out there for your fans again, like to reintroduce basically?
Jazzy: Yea more or less, it was more so for them than it was for me because other things that I’m working on now are more for me. I know that it’s going to get a lot of positive feedback but now it’s like I’m being a little bit more selfish whereas that was just strictly for my fans. I knew that there were songs that they wanted that I hadn’t released that had been leaked that they couldn’t get, so it was just putting something together for them to have something to listen to. Yea to get my name out there, of course to do all of that, that kinda goes without saying a little bit.
YKIGS: You mentioned you hadn’t put anything out since 2005, how come you’ve had such a big gap in between?
Jazzy: I started doing other things, still music related, but just different things. The album I did in 2005, I rode that until ’07. I was songwriting with my writing partner, we got a publishing deal, so I was doing a lot of songwriting, more focusing on that than focusing on me as an artist. Then I sang background for Melanie Fiona in that time period, so I just was doing a lot of other things rather than recording for Jazzy, I was recording for everybody else, or working for everybody else. In that time period there were songs recorded but the thought of putting out an album wasn’t anything I had even thought of during that time.
YKIGS: Was there ever a point where you thought maybe you weren’t going to work on another album for yourself?
Jazzy: Never. I knew. My thing is timing. I try not to rush anything because I like stuff to be kinda organic, so I wasn’t in a hurry. I wanted to do something, but I was like it will present itself and it will be right, and that’s what happened. So that will never take the backseat completely, it will always kinda be around. Even when I wasn’t recording for me, I was still doing shows, I was still around doing stuff, so it will never completely take a back seat.
YKIGS: You mentioned singing background for Melanie Fiona earlier. Tell me about the experience you had on tour when you were on Kanye West’s European Tour?
Jazzy: It was amazing to say the least. Creatively to watch what he put together, a show that he had been touring for I think that might have been maybe the 2nd year that he was doing “Glow in the Dark,” I know he did it for awhile so that might have been the 2nd leg of that tour. And to see the intensity and the fashion that he had constantly every single night performing that set, the feedback that he got from the crowd, the love that he got over there was insane. And just being a part of Melanie’s growth experience, that was her first major tour, with Kanye, that’s incredible. So it was just a lot of…I got to be a part of a lot of different things as well as my own experience. So I got to see what it was like on the road, because that was my first major gig, so that was something that I just found really, really amazing, I was blessed to be a part of it, I loved it every moment.
YKIGS: Tell me what was a lesson you learned on that tour.
Jazzy: That you can never be too prepared because you are going to hit a lot of road blocks but she had a good team around her and we were really supportive of everything that happened on the tour good or bad. So we were able to, because we rehearsed and we were so prepared, we were able to just fly over everything smoothly. If something came up, it wasn’t too big of an obstacle, if it was like a mic problem, we got it because we rehearsed what we were supposed to do if that were to happen. So we were overly prepared and I think that was a big thing that helped with her maintaining a solid show every night.
YKIGS: Now I want to talk to you about your upcoming album “Letters to a King.” What can you tell me about that?
Jazzy: I’m not even really calling it an album, I mean it is an album but it’s just a body of work. Its’ not original, it’s a remake project that I’m doing, an idea that I had from a picture that I saw that just kinda inspired this idea of doing a love compilation of classic remakes from artists like Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Minnie Ripperton. I love older music so it’s a good representation of me, it will be a good fusion. I’m working on that now, working on a couple of things behind it as far as visuals because I think that it can be a good situation for me as far as music is concerned. It’s something different and I think it will be something really fresh, and I think that my generation will really love it, so I’m excited about it.
YKIGS: What’s the expected release on that?
Jazzy: It will be before the first of 2011, so sometime in December.
YKIGS: Where will that be available?
Jazzy: It’s going to be only downloads available, so it will be on my website.
YKIGS: To someone who hasn’t heard you before and is listening to your music for the first time, how would you describe your style?
Jazzy: It’s r&b, it’s not…I always have to say it’s not Keyshia Cole, Mary J. Blige r&b. It’s more reminiscent, if I had to pick an artist, it’s more along the lines of Aaliyah meets Destiny’s Child, but “Writings on the Wall” album. It’s fresh but it’s not too dated, it’s a little progressive in regards to some of the stuff I’m talking about, and some of the sounds and stuff that are being used production wise, but it’s very familiar. So I think that’s what helps me kinda reach different people because it is familiar, it has different familiar elements as far as the r&b sound but it’s definitely not pop/r&b I don’t think, but it’s not straight soul/r&b.
YKIGS: Who are some artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Jazzy: I’d love to collaborate with Solange, I like her writing style a lot, I think she’s amazing. Who else? Pharrell, I love with they do over there as far as N.E.R.D. is concerned, I like him a lot so I think he’d be dope to collaborate with. More producers than it would be artists. It’s different people, but more producers than it would be artists.
YKIGS: You mentioned this album you are going to be releasing isn’t an actual album and it’s remakes, so when do you see yourself releasing an album of original material?
Jazzy: Probably sometime in 2011, maybe middle of the year, like summertime.
YKIGS: That’s all of the questions I had, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Jazzy: Just I guess my Twitter and my website. You can find me on Twitter at twitter.com/OhJazzy and my website is www.IAmJazzy.com. We’re actually going to do a re-launch of the website, I believe we’re trying to do it this weekend, so it should be a new layout and stuff for the site this weekend, so that should be pretty cool.