Good music has the power to completely alter your mood, bring back fond memories, and pull on the toughest of heartstrings. In saying that, I was glad that Jazmine Sullivan was back from her hiatus to demonstrate the above mentioned qualities would be an understatement. Her music is raw, honest, and incomparable, and it’s definitely what the music industry needs in an age of overly auto-tuned tracks with meaningless lyrics.
I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Jazmine right after she kicked off her tour promoting her latest album Reality Show back in 2015, and we talked about the process of recording the album, our favorite song from the album, what she misses about Philly while on tour, and more. Check out our interview below!
What was it that initially made you want to pursue a career in music?
Well, I have always been singing. I started out singing Gospel, so music has always been a part of my life. I decided when I was like 12 that I wanted to start exploring singing R&B because I felt like I had more to say, and I felt like one day I would have even more to say.
Who would you site as some of your musical inspirations?
I have a lot. I’m inspired by a lot of different people – I’m like a sponge, so if I hear something, even once, it kinda gets trapped in my mind in some sort of way and will come out later. My biggest influence vocally is Kim Burrell and as an all around artist, I’d have to say Stevie Wonder. His catalog is insane and as an overall artist, he’s definitely inspirational.
What was the process of recording Reality Show like? Would you say it was a therapeutic experience for you?
It was definitely therapeutic for me. Just being in the studio and doing something that I was love, it was definitely therapeutic, as well as telling my own story and getting things out through the music. This album is a lot different than the other two albums because I pretty much stayed in Philly. I didn’t work with a lot of different producers – I think I worked with like 3 in the studio and for the most part I did it on my own with the engineer. You know, it was kinda like writing sessions that turned into songs that got picked for the album. I spent a lot of time by myself for this album.
My favorite song on Reality Show is “Masterpiece” because of the message and overall vibe of the song. What would you say is your favorite track if you had to pick one?
Well, it changes depending on my mood and depending on what I’m going through. At one time, it was “Forever Don’t Last”, when I was feeling a little sadder *laughs*. Now…I think I fluctuate between “Masterpiece” and…..it’s probably just “Masterpiece” *laughs*.
See, great minds think alike *laughs*
You’ve already solidified your role as a talented songstress and songwriter and worked with some amazing artists, but is there anyone who you haven’t yet collaborated with that you want to work with?
Yeah, I haven’t worked with a lot of people. I definitely wanna work with Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, like everybody *laughs* I love music and I love making it, so anybody that I’m a fan of, I would love to work with one day.
That’s definitely good to hear because I’m all about artist coming together and creating great music for their fans and doing something unexpected.
Yeah, definitely! When it’s two people that you wouldn’t expect to do a track together, I think those are the most magical ones.
What would you say are some of your most memorable moments of your career have been so far?
The biggest so far would be the GRAMMY nominations – I would’ve been lucky to just get one nomination, but to get 5, it was so major and unexpected. And then, I’ve had a couple moments with Stevie Wonder and each of them were like, the bomb *laughs* I had one when I was younger, and just recently I was connected with him through a radio station. I was singing for an event that was connected through the radio station and I was told that he usually doesn’t come to some of those things, but he actually came and we sang together, so it pretty good.
I know that like me, you’re from Philly. So what would you say are some things that you miss about Philly when you’re on the road?
What I miss from Philly… definitely my family, that’s what I miss the most. I guess the food too *laughs*.
What keep you motivated on a day to day basis?
I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel like music is my life and writing songs that are touching people is my calling. That alone keeps me going because this is what I’m supposed to do.
Is there any country or city that you haven’t been to yet that you’re dying to travel to and perform?
Country, yes. I’d love to go to Japan. There’s a lot of places that I haven’t been, so any place that’s abroad, I’d love to go. I’ve been pretty much everywhere in the States, so I’d love to go overseas and see the different fans and get to perform for them and all that.
Are there any artists from overseas that you think are dope or that you listen to?
There are a lot of artists from overseas that are dope – the biggest one right now is Sam Smith. Adele is very dope – it’s so funny because we ere nominated for Best New Artist and I was like “Who is this girl? Who is this girl” *laughs*. She has great music and I’m really looking forward to whatever she has coming up next. And of course, Amy Winehouse, she was amazing.
What advice would you give to any aspiring artists who really want a career in the music industry, but don’t necessarily know where to start?
Well, I started doing a lot of open mics, so I’d say start building your name and your fanbase by yourself. Especially
nowadays, record companies want to see what you’re able to do by yourself and how much buzz you can create for yourself. Even before that though, knowing who you are artistically is important as well as knowing what makes you unique, and building on those things.
If you haven’t already, be sure to pick up Jazmine’s latest album Reality Show.