Jazmin Bean opens our new series featuring fresh faces who are on the way to define the sounds and aesthetics of the not so distant future. The cultural revolution is happening now. We don’t want you to miss any of it. Let’s push boundaries together.
Jazmin Bean is here to be a popstar, to invade the mainstream charts and your subconscious. They’re always in Japanese Yami Kawaii aesthetic meets horror movie villain ensemble singing about breaking your teeth and heart. They are nothing like celebrities you’ve seen on the screen, billboards or Instagram feed and they don’t give a fuck about it. You shouldn’t either.
Straight after high school, not fitting into the tight frames of the education system and wanting to shake society up a bit, Jazmin has decided to start recording their own music. After their debut album Worldwide Torture, written partially in their room, at maths exams and whatever safe spot they found, was released last year on Universal Music, their life has changed completely. Once an outcast, now Jazmin Bean has a cult following of fans brought together by their sugar-sweet vocals, gore musings and unapologetic approach. Coming from London’s underground, alternative club scene and musical family, Jazmin knows how to combine both ends of spectrums to get an extreme, mind-blowing mix. Their sound is influenced by anything from pop, grunge to metal and, just like their style, feeds of contrasts.
Though Jazmin could easily star as one of Tim Burton’s characters or be a disturbing face for a new Hello Kitty line, they don’t like to be labelled. The thing is that Jazmin Bean is at their best in the state of flux. Never fully formed and always evolving. Anyway, that’s what fascinates us the most.
We caught them in the in-between stage to try to understand their motives, place in the modern music scene and talk about inspirations, a new album and (hopefully) winning a Grammy. Fingers crossed for the last one…
I can talk about it for hours and hours about my stuff but in any interview, if anyone asks me that, I just freeze and I have no idea. It’s not that I don’t know who I am because obviously it’s so affirmed in my actions or my visual presence. There was a Vogue interview where everyone else had all these fun words and I literally just said, ‘Who is this bitch? I don’t know who this is’. It made me seem like I’m unsure of myself which is not the case but I just feel it’s because I can change all the time and has changed a lot. I never want to say exactly like ‘Jazmin Bean is these four words.’
My goal isn’t to appeal to the mainstream but, with music, it is important to me because in the mainstream more people will get to see me and hear my efforts. It’s not really about appealing to something that’s plausible but there are more people in the mainstream so of course, I want to appeal to them. There are certain ideas in my mind that I can’t do on radio, on public television, on a big broadcast or show to many people, things that I would’ve done three years ago in a small club or internet with less followers. I used to do some extreme stuff with performance art when I was younger. If I turned up to festival or intimate show, now I probably couldn’t do that. Also, a lot of them are quite young and I’m so glad, I’m not like ‘oh these silly young fans’. When I was younger, I looked up to a lot of people like that: I would’ve been obsessed with someone like me. The things I was going through, my mental health, to have someone like that to show that this is possible and being this way it’s possible.
I love gore. It’s not even about things that would be disturbing but things that are more extreme, more multiple but obviously things must be palatable a bit if you’re going to show them to the mainstream but it’s not my goal. That’s why in film I would be able to push it so much more because even though films are personal, it’s less personal. You’re just watching a story and not like ‘this person is doing this’.
Cult Candy has started before any of the music. It was when I was doing more make-up and visuals. Internet stuff. I was studying film at the time. Music just took over because music is the way I could do all of it. Nothing was really serving me as much as music because with music I can do make-up, film, soundtrack and performance. I just thought it was the best way to mix everything. It’s a lot and I’ve started it really young. I’ve started Cult Candy when I was in high school. I’ve started releasing music as soon as I got out of high school. Literally this summer holiday after I left high school. I was so eager to get out of these institutions. It was and is a lot but I’m really grateful for it. I know it’s only gonna get busier. I’m always saying to my manager who is there a lot for me, ‘I just can’t. It’s just too much’ and they’re like ‘This is the least busy you’ll be. You have to get used to that or you can’t do this job’. They’ve really drilled it into me.
"When I was younger, I looked up to a lot of people like that: I would’ve been obsessed with someone like me."
I feel so excited for the new album. That’s the one thing that I cannot wait to get out now. I really love the visual stuff as much as the audio stuff. I feel like I’m really in my element. Everything I’ve done on it I really just love. I don’t have any doubts about it which has been hard for me to say in the past. I go so back and forth. I’m so critical of my work. This time, I feel like I’ve said a lot of things that I really needed to say and I was not ready to say in the first one. I was very much character building in the first one. Just trying to secure my world. Of course, I spoke about things that meant a lot to me but it was more palatable. Even though these songs are still very fun, I’m sure whatever emotion I felt in the most genuine way. Obviously, I’m talking about things that people don’t know that happened. It’s really just for me. With the first one [album], I was really trying to get people in. I think I did a good job with this. Not that I love it any less but this one I really made for me to listen to. I listen to these songs a lot so I can’t wait for other people to.
I just cannot live without it. First, I’ve started writing because of things that were happening to me, I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about or things I thought I could only express through this. Even now, any time I have an emotion, I just go straight to songwriting. Before it used to be visuals, I’d make a picture based on how I feel. With music I can do this because I think about videos at the same time, I’m making the song or it’s even the other way around. The constant need to express myself.
I was always very creative as a child but once I got pushed so far in high school and felt so many things that I was like ‘fuck it, I’m just gonna go crazy’. When you push someone so far whether it’s just life or institution that you’re in, they’re just gonna bounce back. It’s harder when you’re younger. You don’t want people to know that you like what you like or you do what you do. I wouldn’t say it was like a double life but I was always very creative as a child and film really drew me in. Everyone thought I was going to do music and I was always against it because my mum was in a band, my dad is in a band, my older brother. Everyone in the family does music so it was like a music gene. Everyone was waiting for me to do music and I was always like ‘no, I’ll do film’. Film was really the first thing that drove me to be creative. Even when I was eight years old, I was locking myself in my room and make slow motion or horror films on my iPad. I would have in any family member that would want to participate. I’ve always thought this is going to be a thing but I just couldn’t escape music because I was making so much soundtrack for film and thinking how can I evolve myself in that because even though you’re creating, you’re still involved in film. Sometimes you’re not the main character. You’re creating this space for other characters but I thought I want to get involved. Studying film killed my drive for it because I don’t think that course served me. It was more of being behind camera. It made me think ‘I don’t really want to do that.’ It’s really hard to make film independently because of a lot small thing. A lot of working for other people. I felt like I would never get to the goal. People like Tim Burton or Jim Henson were my biggest icons. I was like ‘I’m never gonna be like them’. I would never gonna get to create these worlds for myself and get stuck in this circle of trying to do that for other people.
I’m really just making my own world. It has changed from time to time because people in the real world grow. They change styles. They get older. Even though my world is a bit more extreme in some ways than what we’re seeing outside, I’ve got room to grow in there and I’ve got room to explore new things, leave some things behind.
All of my film icons are just incredible to me. Again, film was the thing that really brought me in. I would love to work with so many people. I would’ve loved to work with Jim Henson but sadly he died. Growing up, you go through so many phases. I’m on trying to wonder if those anyone specifically music wise that I really stanned. I’m not sure.
We shouldn’t go backwards. These are the times when things are kind of stagnant. We can push it more now. I definitely think it’s opening up, other people’s eyes. I hope to do that. Reading and Leeds was rock festival and it’s not anymore. There’s maybe one stage where you can perform rock. It went from that to pop, so I was obviously a bit scared of what the reaction would be. People came to my set and I was obviously excited to see them but the most important thing for me were people that I thought were coming up to ask me if I knew where the toilet was or to make fun of me came up to me and said ‘I’ve never heard of you before but I loved your set.’ Those are the people that I really thought were not on my side. Just like dads coming up to me and saying ‘my daughter loves you. She talks about you all the time’.
It was so hard. It’s a different thing when independent that is hard and being signed that is hard but I would say they’re equally hard. When it came to the first EP, I really did that myself. I was very young at the time when I made the first song, ‘Worldwide Torture’, I literally wrote it in my maths exam. I could not be fucked with school. I could not. I wasn’t naughty in school but I was not there. My mental health was extremely poor when I was a teenager. I could not do something like school. I could not thrive in that environment. I felt like I couldn’t rely to anyone because of the things that were happening to me outside of school. Music was my one thing to look forward to, to get through the day, I could go home and write a song. Even if it would come out and no one would listen to it but it turned out that people did listen. That first video, I wasn’t employed because I was at school. I didn’t really get pocket money like that so I was like ‘how I’m gonna make this video?’. I made it on 500 pounds. ‘Saccharine’ was the set that my mum and a small team that just did a favour to me, helped me with that. ‘Worldwide Torture’, that was on someone’s wall. I just stuck things to the wall and I feel bad for this person now. They said they were going to move out so I was like ‘please can I use your house one last time?’. That was just me doing it very slowly and on a budget. Luckily someone helped me with filming and edit. I didn’t have to pay for filming. Somebody saw my idea enough. Knowing where I would go from there to now, I’m just mind-blown. I honestly thought I’m going to be doing it in my room forever.
This music has made me so confident. Just the amount that I genuinely hated myself when I was younger. When I made ‘Worldwide Torture’, I hated myself. People would come up to me in school be like ‘you seem really confident, the way you walk around or carry yourself’. I didn’t talk to anyone in a mean way but I just seemed very sure. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that but inside I hated myself. Writing this new record and performing, getting to do exactly what I love has really turned that out for myself and I cannot say that for myself anymore. This work helped me to fall in love with myself and put boundaries with certain people. I honestly thought I’m gonna be a pushover to myself and people will be a pushover to me for a long time. I hope I can do the same for other people. People send me messages saying that my music makes them feel confident or having a hard time, they put it on. It’s all I can wish for because I really want to take them to a new universe.
I’d really like to remain with my small circle of fans but I really want more people to find out about me. I want people to see me on certain platforms and be like ‘why is this person there?’ and be confused about it. I’ll just wiggle my way into mainstream. It would be the funniest thing if I’d won a Grammy and I’d looking like this at the Grammys. I would love that but also don’t get lost in it and try to chase goals that are really institutionalised because the Grammys is a silly institution. It’s so silly but they take it so seriously and if someone like me that probably everyone thinks is very silly to just wrangle my way in there, I would love.
SOPHIE was really the one. Completely in her own world. I’m trying to figure out who was that person inspired by but you can’t pinpoint it because they’re just always moving around. Faster level than anyone else. She was amazing. Obviously, SOPHIE was like a celebrity but I took her work very personally. I’ve never really cried over a celeb death or anything like that. I was genuinely frustrated, like ‘What do you mean? She’s going to come back. She’s going to come back alive. There’s no way’. That was really unfortunate but her work is never going to be forgotten. People will keep on getting inspiration from it. She should stay present and no one should copy her but for her work to live on through others is really cool. She deserves to keep on being talked about.
Follow Jazmin Bean on Instagram here.