BA Spotlight - Jasminfire
Meet Jasminfire, #artviolinist, songstress and #artbae currently living the bicoastal life between New York and Los Angeles. Her resume is as diverse as her work. The Miami native has worked with artists from Kendrick Lamar, to J. Cole, and as a violinist and live performer for Beyonce’s Beychella show.
“I am beyond humbled by all the experiences of working with such incredible artists. When I saw Miri Ben Ari on Alicia Keys' "Fallin" I immediately knew my purpose had dimension. No idea how it would play out, but so many blessings fell into place and now I get to live out my dreams. The process involved making violin cool by stepping fully into my magic, no matter what it looked like to others, and inspiring people. So many friends and people I call family helped to make it possible for me to get my start in the music industry. Now I'm even more excited about trusting all my gifts and inspiring others to do the same through my work,” says Jasmin.
Currently, she’s prepping the release of her EP titled Baby Jazz, an eclectic and soulful sound mix that gives a candid glimpse into her thoughts on culture, sexuality, self-worth and spirituality.
Beauty Anthropology had a chance to chat with Jasminfire on the development of her new project and how she navigates fighting through moods, expressing authenticity on social media, maintaining work-life balance as a creative.
Beauty Anthropology: Hey. All right, we're recording! So yeah, I still want to speak to your artistry. I still want to speak about your mental health and like just some of your self-care practices and maybe we can talk about how they’ve evolved over time. But since you're about to set up this project in March, I definitely want to give a lot of attention to that too. Let's talk about Baby Jazz and the evolution of that since the last time we spoke. I’m wondering, has anything changed in terms of direction for that project or what's new with that?
Jasminfire: So I have to be refreshed on the last time. I’m not sure where I was with Baby Jazz in October. I think the last time we spoke about that project you said the sound used a lot of synths, a lot of violin sound. I know a few or maybe it was one song that was about your mom, you had a song that was about liking two dudes at once. It seemed like something that was very relatable, very personable but like a very unique sound.
BA: And I remember also you weren't exactly sure how long it was going to be that I remember you saying that it wasn't necessarily about like trying to keep it all on one certain length or people with certain confine about like how the EP should look. So, I'm wondering if it is very similar to that or if anything has changed?
JF: So, Baby Jazz is eight songs long now. It's titled after the nickname my mother called me for the first 8 years of my life. The project was just mixed in Toronto and Atlanta. I recorded in several different places: my own bathroom in Koreatown LA, Matt Jacobson's studio in North Hollywood, Jamie & Kesha Lake's American Sushi Studios in Atlanta, and at Dave Plowman's Nook Recording in Toronto. I recorded small ideas in Havana and on a farm in Viñales while I visited Cuba.
JF: Yeah. When I recorded in the bathroom I soundproofed it with all of my blankets. I'm trying to make sure I didn't leave anything or anybody out. But those were the main places that I recorded the project. With all those different experiences, of course, the project took many different shapes and I don't know if I mentioned this before, but initially when I first moved to LA, I was sorting through a lot of stuff and I had written a project called BIGI, which is an acronym for “Bitch, I Got Issues.” I basically recorded three projects this year: BIGI, Baby Jazz, which was initially about four or five songs long at the beginning, and another project called Alice Glas.
I recorded after coming back from Cuba last November. So we spoke in October, and then I went to Cuba in November and spent the winter in Atlanta. I had all these three projects and what I ended up doing was shelving BIGI. When I wrote another project called Alice Glas within two weeks, I initially wanted to simultaneously put both out Baby Jazz & Alice Glas as separate projects -- I asked my friends’ opinions and they said “too much.” I’m ever so grateful to them for helping me to keep it 100.
BA: That's awesome . I'm wondering, you've been traveling while putting together this project. Have you found that traveling has affected your music?
JF: Oh yeah, at least while living in LA because this place is very chill and it's a lovely place to create but after a while, it tends to stifle my creativity. What travel does for me is it evolves me as a person. I travel solo. So when I went to Cuba, I went by myself and I barely knew any Spanish, which is a shame because I'm half Cuban but I lived in Atlanta for grade school and I wasn't raised around anyone that looked or sounded like me - a mixed girl from Miami.
Anyway, my viola string [laughs]; I took it out there and what happened was one of the strings popped. And so I had three strings and I just couldn't buy one out there. There's a music store in Havana but, if you go in there to buy a string, there aren't any viola strings. And that's what I learned about myself is [that] I don't care that there are three strings on this instrument, I'm going to play and I'm going to write music on it. So, I voice recorded all the time and I just discovered that dimension of myself and then I found patience and love with myself out there. And then, like this 50-piece Dutch orchestra came to this amazing gallery called Fabrica de Arte. And after the performance, I thought to myself, there are 50 MFing people on that stage. And then afterward one of the girls gave me a string. I spent some time in the mountains and I wrote this beautiful music, spiritually untouched. I wasn't on the Internet. I wasn't listening to, you know, music. I was literally playing what came out of my bones.
After Cuba I went to Atlanta, I took that same energy and I put it into producing a record. The second half of Baby Jazz features a lot of the drum loops that Softglas put out in his several different sound packs. And I just took that energy. There's one song that doesn't have any drums on it at all. And it’s called “Oro”, which means gold. It was like named after the time [in Cuba] I went by myself one day and I let this street boy take me to like a really shady place where this guy made gold teeth and he was telling me, “Yes it’s 22-karat gold.” And I'm looking at the gold and it's definitely not what he’s saying it is but I wanted the experience, so I let this man make me a gold cap over one of my fangs. I wanted two of my fangs done. He charged me like 80 dollars, which was absolutely ridiculous for that non-gold gold. I'm walking around for a few hours with this gold tooth cemented to my shit. And then of course, when eating dinner, I took it out because I can't stand the feel of this thing like it's not real. It’s basically the quality of a penny. But the experience and [was] whimsical. [That] beautiful spiritual nature [and] how I felt was the vibe I was on the entire time I was in Cuba.
Traveling freed up the block [that I had] while creating the first half of Baby Jazz that was caused by hurt and heartbreak. I had come to this absolution for all of my transgressions against myself. I admitted one night under the full moon, I've been in my own way. I've had I felt like I had to prove all this shit. I've been a bunch of places, it's time to just let everything go and start fresh and just be one with the music. So yes, traveling. Like, I feel like that's a long answer, but that's why I'm talking a lot slower so that I can choose my words better.
BA: What’s your favorite song on the project? I'm wondering what is the most personal song on here or your favorite? I guess the one that you feel most connected to you?
JF: Well, another long answer [laughs]
BA: Keep them coming.
JF: Every song on this project is my favorite song. When I've made music in the past, I've always kind of been like, ‘oh, I like these two or these four. Let me just throw these things in here because I had to put something out.” This time I can put my whole project on repeat days in a row and I'm not tired of it. And that's how I know it slaps. Like the whole thing slaps. I went through a lot of different song titles. I then met this incredible generational talent; her name is Baby Rose. Her first name is also Jasmin. (I told her I almost decided to go by Baby Jazz until meeting her.) One day I was like “Yo, you have read this poem for my project that I wrote because your voice is incredible. Everyone's going to get your singing voice, but I want your talking voice.” She agreed to do it, probably because I've been performing a lot of the strings on songs she is considering for her project. I tried to find another name for it because of course I didn't want people to get it confused and I didn't want people to be like damn, Baby Jazz, Baby Rose, but the difference is my artist name is Jasminfire. And Baby Jazz fits the vibe perfectly. So Plants now features Baby Rose.
Every song on there is completely personal and I think that's how it should always be. The first and second project, [they] should resonate directly with all of your life experiences and all of who you are. By the time you get to number three you have sync licensing, you got people trying to get you to write more commercially, but this entire project resonates with Baby Jazz and her evolution.
BA: What are you hoping that people take away from this project?
JF: I never created it with that in mind at all. But I do hope [and] want people to find creativity, beauty, peace, innovation, but mostly I just want people to relax. I want them to be entertained like I am, because I'm super candid, so I would love for them to relax because the entire project is super chill.
BA: I'm wondering as a creative, we talked a lot about in terms of the evolution of the project but I'm wondering since the last time we spoke, as a creative, what has anything changed significantly for you. Like, your outlook, how is it evolving?
JF: So the last song on the project is called “Pussy Trap,” and it’s named so because my energy is what it is. People would describe me as a sultry person, a sexy person. I make people instantly comfortable around me. If I start doing something, other people feel comfortable enough to do it. So that, to me, is very sacred energy. But in order to tap into that, I had to clear a bunch of blocks.
I was in a toxic situation where the other person always found a way to criticize everything special about me -- it was pure jealousy. And they were standing in the way of blessings meant for ME. So I had to get past that creative block and forgive myself for all the bullshit I put myself through, all the relationships I held on to when I should have walked away from them. All the times when I just talked too damn much; all the times that I felt like I had something to prove when I really didn't. I forgave myself for trying too hard and then all of a sudden, my sacred sexual energy turned on. Music is my sex; I have more of a sexual attraction to music than an actual person. It stimulates that part of my mind more than any man or woman ever has in my life.
It is a very special experience for me to create music because it just lights up my entire brain. How I'm different than before is I have no more fears and anxieties about who I am. You can't tell me who I am. I don't give a fuck if you don't like it. And I used to give way too many fucks. Now, I give none.
BA: I mean, that's a very free space to be in. It sounds very liberating place to be in. Do you think it also any of that is due to turning 30? I just keep hearing from a lot of people like once you hit 30, a lot of the bullshit just doesn't matter anymore. And I'm wondering if you find that relatable?
JF: I don't necessarily agree because I don't believe in measuring someone's experiences with how much time they spent revolving around the sun. A lot of people had to grow up way fast. I had to take care of my mom when I was 5 years old. I understood things about life that nobody should have to understand at 5. So, I don't think people are saying that they just don't care once they’ve reached 30; I think they might be jaded at a certain age. You got to be really careful to guard your ability to enjoy things like a child. I'm very childlike, but I'll “adult-up” on you if I have to. I'll stay on the phone for two hours with, like, the student loan people if I have to, and negotiate business contracts in my grown-up voice. When I go through life, I'm just all about living in the present, as children do.
JF: I think it's just more of an awareness and some people reach it at 17. My favorite ex-boyfriend reached the age of enlightenment when he was 15.
BA: What makes him your favorite ex-boyfriend.
JF: The only reason we broke up was that we didn't have time for each other. He taught me a lot about the Tao [Chinese philosophy]. I encourage you to read about it. It's special, but everybody shouldn't try to figure the shit out on their own unless you just get it. It’s a special concept. And he was just very loving. He is very loving, very thoughtful. He's very driven and he has standards, but he's not egotistical at all.
You know, we don't do that too often, so you can have somebody who’s a favorite love.
I still have love for all of my exes, all of them. Because they are all amazing people. In college, I did have one boyfriend who was going through a shitty phase in his life and took it out on me. But all my boyfriends really did make me grow.
BA: Yeah, I feel like that’s all you can ask for. Last time, we got into a conversation about artistry and social media and I felt that you had some really powerful statements about the validity of putting out your work regardless of what you will get back. Or regardless of how many likes, or how many comments you receive. As you know, those factors seem to generate a lot of artists’ worst fears. Has anything changed regarding your views on that?
JF: I'm not sure if I remember what I said. But I will say that look how fast social media moves. Look how fast communication changes. Communication changes with technology. And right now, when we talked in October, it was probably the climax of everybody giving way too many fucks about each other online. I think everyone hit a bubble at the same time. Now, everyone's a mood board. No matter how many followers they have, is seeing less and less engagement, because people are so used to scrolling now that they're not necessarily liking everything that they see, just because it's just... a lot now. Like, it does something to your mind just to double tap everything. So now MFs just bookmark shit.
For people who depend on social media for a living, I think it's kind of evening out. I think bigger brands are just like, they don't even care anymore. They kind of care, but they don't. For us, It's more about making sure that your branding is on point. And this is important. I think it's all about staying consistent and making sure that your brand outlasts any type of trends. I don't know if anyone can make sure, but it's just the lucky few whose brand can outlast any technology trends. Some people who have a certain look that nobody can copy like Kesh. Or like Lina Iris Viktor, who does the gold leafing on her large paintings. She was bitten off for the All the Stars [music video by Kendrick Lamar], and KESH as ripped off by Givenchy. Those people are branded. They're solid and that's the important thing, is to make sure that your shit, no matter what platform is cool next, like [your brand] can hold and it can carry, and that that shit is only validated by what you do offline. You don't just sell out capsule collections five times in a row on Instagram. Carry the same energy offline as you do online.
BA: So I wanted to jump to your work-life balance and how that's evolved or how it looks right now.
JF: Well, I would say it’s in a healthy place. I'm 1000% happy with myself and all of my choices. I'm back on my bullshit, which means [I developed this while living in New York for five years] I would work really hard from 7 am till however late at night I want to go. Wake up [and] do it all over again for like ten days in a row and then do whatever the fuck I want all day and night for three or four days. But after my mom passed, I was isolated as fuck in LA. I was literally detoxing spiritually. Like I had so much blockage I couldn't fully focus on work or play. I was trying, but I didn't have the confidence to go with it. Now I’ve cleared that shit out, and I haven't had to think too much about anything. I don't need to escape through vices anymore like that.
If somebody hits me up and it's somebody I love, I take that opportunity because you don't get that many chances to see the people that you love. And you think you do until you don't. And if I have to take time for myself to work, I have no problem saying no. But usually it's because I really do have some type of a deadline, or I have a goal, or I just don't want to be bothered. And so, I'm gonna paint. Call you later. I feel like it's good but it's the calm before the storm. I don't know where I'll be next year. Definitely working.
BA: Right. That's very true. That's very true. And I think that kind of goes into the next question I have in terms of self-care. Because you never know what kind of work or what your workload is going to be, how does that fit with self-care? In terms of mental balance, what does your mental self-care look like today?
JF: So stress will fuck you up. When you and I talked the first time, I was still like processing and dealing with stress and a little bit angry still. And I didn't enjoy doing yoga like I used to. Finally one day I hit a break. Now I usually wake up, and I do my stretches for about an hour. I push myself past the limit every day from the day before, and I stretch and I breathe deep into releasing the stress, and I've never appreciated that before until now. I stretch my hands out, and I haven't had hand pain or back pain, or lower back pain, or shoulder pain, or neck pain since I've been stretching. If I don't do those things, even if I skip one day, I will be in pain. So, I do them every day. It's super important.
BA: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely. That's awesome. I wanted to ask you, just since you're on the mental health realm, you talked a little bit about spirituality last time. In terms of spirituality, what does that look like for you? What does that look like to you right now?
JF: Spirituality, I just AM. I used to not trust myself. I would quickly react to somebody’s bullshit and then be like, damn, should I have said that? Like, what if I'm a bad person now? Now I know myself well enough. I am Jasminfire. I never make fun of or disrespect others.. but if I have to flame you, it's because you deserve it. And if I love someone, I tell them. I don't ever hold back about love. I don't care what people identify as -- I let people know that they are beautiful to me. And I let people know what kind of energy imprint that they leave upon me because I think that giving those words of affirmation to someone else is a way of empowering yourself. They're a reflection of who you are. So that's where I am now.
BA: Nice, nice. I'm wondering today with your art, your paintings, do they ever kind of tie into identity? And I think the last time you did say it tied into self-care. Like I'm wondering if that's still that's still true.
JF: Yes. So, the last time that we talked, I wasn't very comfortable speaking about mental health because I was figuring it out. And I was still getting comfortable with the fact that I needed to take care of mine. And I was still figuring out where I was going with my own eyes [while making art].
Now I see that I know that it healed other people, my artwork instantly makes people happy. But it is absolutely therapeutic and is necessary. Like music doesn't get it all out for me. Visually, I just got to get it out. And it's so stimulating and so special. It’s the gift that I can't believe I have, even while I'm doing it. Like, I'll be playing the violin but I cannot believe this is my job and then I'll be painting and be like, I cannot believe I just painted that. To this day I still feel this way. I can't believe that these are the two things that I love to do.