Jasmine Thompson may be young, but she already has the resume of a much-accomplished musician.
With two EP’s out already, the young talent has done collaborations with Robin Schulz, Jesse Shatkin and Emily Warren. Here powerfully stirring voice combined with a diverse mix of instruments from brass to strings creates a soulful and eclectic sound.
On April 11, I got to sit down with the thoughtful British singer-songwriter sensation and discuss her third and new EP that just dropped. The EP Colour has five diverse tracks that discuss past relationships, heartbreaks, and mental health. This EP speaks to a deep, psychological vulnerability that is refreshingly eloquent and sincere. There is even a secret track in one of the songs.
The Knocktural: Congratulations on your EP release, what has it like for you to release this EP?
Jasmine Thompson: It’s just been really exciting! I feel very proud and happy with the EP, so it’s just a relief that it’s out. It just feels weird in a way. I worked so hard on it for the past 6 months to a year and it’s finally out and I’m kind of like, “Oh my gosh, the baby is gone.” It’s in other peoples’ hands now!
The Knocktural: This is your third EP for Atlantic, what makes this one different from your previous two?
Jasmine Thompson: I spent a lot more time thinking with this one. I worked very closely with the producer, where it was just me and him the whole time, really just having fun with it. I started writing this EP when I wasn’t focused on being a musician, I was just writing it because Eg White (her co-writer and producer) and I were having fun and we could be like, ”This feels really cool or this sounds really nice. I want to do this today. We want to do this today,” and it wasn’t, “How are we going to make it #1, how are people going to like this,” it was about if me and Eg like it, then great! So, this EP is definitely me. It’s very focused on this is who I want to be and not pressurized from any other angle.
The Knocktural: How did you first become inspired to make music and become a musician?
Jasmine Thompson: So, I was around 8 when I started having singing lessons and exploring my music. I also started to learn how to play the piano when I was around that age. It was kind of just the thing that my mum decided, my brothers did the same thing, we’ve all just liked music. When I was around 10, I started doing YouTube and it was literally as simple as that. My mum and I just decided one day to just get a camera and film it and put it up and just continue doing it. It, kind of very organically got attention from different people and subscribers kind of grew. It’s kind of like I fell into it. I love music! I spend every day listening to and trying to write music. It’s definitely a big part of my life even if I weren’t a musician, so being actually able to do it as a career is really fun.
The Knocktural: So, you started off doing covers on YouTube, do you have a favorite cover?
Jasmine Thompson: There’s a George Michaels song called “Jesus To a Child,” it’s beautiful! It’s like a style of bossa nova, it’s really cool and the lyrics are beautiful. It’s one of the only songs I know on guitar and it’s just heartbreaking lyrics and all the melodies are lovely, it’s really cool.
The Knocktural: You were discovered so young at the age of 13 on YouTube and you are already very successful and accomplished as a musician, what has been the biggest challenge that you have faced in your career so far?
Jasmine Thompson: Definitely, it’s more of a mental challenge I’d say I put on myself accidentally. It’s kind of forcing myself to try and know what sort of artist I wanted to be was very much, “Why don’t you know? What are you doing?” I was very stressed and like “What’s this?’ I’m a very big overthinker and I spent a lot of time as a kid really trying to rush myself into it, so I think the biggest thing that changed my mindset from everything was actually taking a step away from music. I took a year off and was like “I’m not going to rush this. It doesn’t feel right.” I feel happy with how quickly everything has gone like I’m so grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had and the touring and releasing music and writing with incredible writers, but I was like “There is no point in me doing this if the music is not right.” Because you can fill a room with people and do as many photo shoots as you want, but if you don’t actually feel happy with what you’re putting out as a presentation of who you are then there’s no point for me to do music. I want to do music because I love music otherwise, I’m like, “What am I doing?” So, to step away from it and waiting and coming back at the right time knowing what I want to do is really important for me.
The Knocktural: You have worked with some pretty amazing songwriters and musicians in the past like, Robin Schulz, Justin Trantor, Meghan Trainor, and Julia Michaels, etc.…What was it like working with those people?
Jasmine Thompson: It was incredible! Obviously working with the top songwriters in LA is just a mind-blowing experience and something that I’m really grateful for because a lot of people would kill just to get a moment of their time because they are beautiful humans and they’re so creative and so good at what they do. It was really interesting, and they taught quite a lot and they were really invested in my project. It was very nice to get to that level of people, but at the end of the day, they are just people as well that love music. I think that is why it was so nice writing with them because before I met them I had just heard so much about them and all of this talk and when you sit down with them you are like, “Oh, you’re actually like a guy who’s life is writing songs!”
The Knocktural: “Loyal” is your first single on the album, and I love how it starts off with this jazzy undertone, what was the inspiration and story behind that song?
Jasmine Thompson: The story comes from this relationship that I was in and it was very early days and in the honeymoon phase and we had loads of trust issues and things like that and I was being really young and stupid. So I went in, and I was saying to Eg, “We could do a song about this where we really struggle to…there’s always these things in the back of our heads that we don’t trust each other and we think the other one is using the other one and blah blah blah.” I was like, “Why don’t we try writing this with this concept?” Me and Eg thought it would be so cool if we could record a saxophone and layer it and make it so it has a really warm sound and loads of harmonies, because there is a thing called […] a harmony engine, and you just sing into it and you put it through midi and then you play it and it becomes layered. You can really work with the sounds. And Eg was like. “I have a saxophone!” And he literally whipped out a saxophone and started playing it and we started layering that up. We wrote half of the song, we did the first verse, the second verse, and the chorus, and we left it because we just ran out of time and didn’t know where to go with it. And I think we thought that we had kind of finished it.
Then about 6 months later we returned back to it when we decided to say we are going to try to do an EP and we want this song on it. So, we took a day to try and finish it. Over those six months not writing with Eg, me and the guy had split, so I went back in and said, “We should add a new section to it, we should add this part where it’s like looking back on it, things have changed and even though it didn’t work out, I respect the time I had with you and I’ll be loyal to the person you once were.” Eg started and put in a piano solo and it just made my day! Then we added the last verse and added loads of brass and strings and kind of went a bit crazy with it.
The Knocktural: One of my favorite songs on the album is “Colour (amen)” can you talk about the story behind that song?
Jasmine Thompson: That one is probably the oldest one in the EP. I think I wrote that just over two years ago. For me, that song has loads of different meanings. I went in [the studio] and I was like, “I want to do this.” I had the concept in my mind and the soundscape of the song kind of as an idea. The story behind the song is that I’ve always been unsure about who I wanted to be as an artist. I’m also probably not the most mentally stable person in the world. I do dip through very bad moments and bad headspaces, and it’s kind of tying those two together to the main part where it’s saying, sometimes I feel terrible, but I know, because I’ve been there before, that I might actually make it somewhere better than where I am now, because I know there’s somewhere like that because I’ve felt it before. And it’s kind of all about to push through it and fight for it and it’s like once you get there, it’s great, but then you also have in the back of your mind as well, I’m probably going to go back, like it’s never going to always be this good, but it’s also never always going to be this bad.
And the end of the song is saying when you are coming out of a bad place, and you actually finally wake up and you feel better, then it’s like seeing color for the first time and being able to appreciate small things again. For me [when I’m in a dark place] everything becomes terrible, everything is like “Fuck you! I don’t want to be here anymore.” I won’t see anything in a positive way so as soon as you start becoming a little more positive your like “Oh my God there’s grass! There are blue flowers in the park right now and they are beautiful! Or it’s a really grey day but it does suite.” You can just find little things that just cheer me up and make me feel better than I did before. So, it’s kind of about that and just trying to deal with balancing it.
The Knocktural: Is there a particular song on the EP that you are especially connected to? Do you have a favorite?
Jasmine Thompson: Yeah, so I would say that “Colour (amen)” is probably my favorite because that’s the one that I put a lot of me into. But there is another one called “More” which I really enjoyed doing. It was really fun because it just clicked really well. That was one song where we did finish it very quickly, the idea of it and the bass of the song was done very quickly and we knew what we wanted to do. It starts off very negatively, but it also has a positive kind of rise by the end of it. Production was really fun to do, like we kind of made it swing a little bit and just added loads of different things.
I also added a little secret song towards the end, that’s also like two years old so they are completely different songs, but they also have very similar concepts. Like it’s about going up to heaven and things like that. But yeah, the secret song is two years old. And Eg and I were sitting down and saying “Okay, today is the day we finish this song.” So, we added production and did everything we needed to do, and we couldn’t finish it and we didn’t know how to resolve it at the end of the second chorus. And I was like “Hmmmmm, I have always wanted to do something with [this] song.” It’s just been on my phone for two, three years waiting. And I sent it to [Eg] and we put it on at the end of the song and just added different things and he was like, “Great, cool, done!” and we did it! And I was like finally! I have always wanted to use a secret song!
The Knocktural: What was the most challenging song on this EP that you faced the most challenges to write or to complete?
Jasmine Thompson: Probably “Take Care.” So “Take Care” took us ages. We actually sent it to quite a few other producers as well because we just never knew how to finish it. It has been through so many different versions of production and different vocal takes, different lyrics, everything, and it just got re-written all the time. It started off so aggressive and in-your-face and we did finish “Take Care” two days before it went to mix, but as in we had a massive realization, stripped all of the production, added everything again, redid all the vocals, gave it completely new life. And we had been working on it for six or seven months. Every time we had a session on it, we just didn’t know what to do and threw different things at it, different keys, different lyrics, everything.
I remember we were doing the vocals for it and I had a massive cold because I had just been working so much. My voice was definitely not at its best. Eg is a really funny guy. He starts work at ten and he’ll tell you to be there at 10:56 and he won’t let you in before 10: 56 because he has someone in the studio and then you have to leave by 6:45. He never works later than 6:45. With this EP, because we were so stressed with time pressure, we were doing 8 hours every day on 5 different songs just to finish. I literally was like ‘please don’t kick me out!’ I remember on the very last day it got to 6:45 and “Take Care” was not finished. I was so upset. I was just so stressed. I was like, “No! This has to be on the EP. It’s related to all of this. This is like a family of songs.” And Eg just turned around and he was like, “Come back at 8 and we will finish this.” Eg never does that, ever! This is literally God saying you can try and achieve this. I came back at 8 and just tried to do vocals until 2 am. I just felt high, like I felt I was floating. I took the bus back home and I was just “We did it! We actually managed to finish this!” And then we went to mixing and every single time we achieved something I was like, “I cannot believe we are doing this because everything is just so time pressured and running.”
The Knocktural: Some of your songs are extremely vulnerable, what is your writing process like for your songs?
Jasmine Thompson: For me, what I’ve realized recently, is that I’m very bad at coming into sessions being prepared. A lot of artists, I think it’s good to do this because it’s good practice, just do sessions every single day. For me, I’m not really good at that. I feel music is a very vulnerable thing for me and I’m very bad at sharing where I am at, I’m very bad at sharing stories and kind of explaining what it really means to me so I have to in a really good place with the producer that I’m working with or whoever is in the room.
What I do now is I wait. I think what has been really good about this whole process behind the EP was that there was a lot of time between each session and it gave me time to really hone-in and think about where I was. Normally what I do is I’ll figure out where I’m at and then I’ll go into the session and we’ll play piano or guitar and I’ll kind of dig into my head and say, “Okay, this is kind of where I am.” And I’ll try and think of a phrase that kind of takes it or sometime a phrase will pop into my head and I won’t understand what it means. The more melodies we do and the more we dive into it the more I’ll kind of figure it out and we go from there. Eg is quite easy. He doesn’t pry too much. He just accepts it as long as it fits in the storyline of the song. He’ll never be like, “Why? What do you mean that?” he’ll just be, “I like that. That sounds good. We’re good.” It’s very low pressure so I like that.