Written & Photographed by Morgan Mantilla
London-based singer/songwriter, Jasmine Thompson’s YouTube channel is an international favorite, with over 428 million views & 2.7 million subscribers, rivaling those of Tori Kelly, Charli XCX and Tove Lo. Jasmine has already proven a global phenomenon with over 1 billion total streams and over 5.7 million monthly Spotify listeners worldwide. Thompson has also garnered over 8 million plays a week on Pandora and has sold millions of singles worldwide.
We sat down with this talented artist for a couple of BASIC questions.
BASIC: What inspires you to write and sing?
Music really helps me, because I’m quite an emotional person, and I like to say that. Everyone goes through tough times in their lives, and music really helps me through that. So I have a lot of idols and people I really look up to and they really make me feel like I can use music as an escape. So the idea that I could do that for other people is the thing that really pushes me to write emotional kinds of songs about topics that I really care about. I feel like I’m a universal sort of person–the things that I care about happen to a lot of people. So I want to write about that because when people comment on my YouTube or my Instagram or write me letters saying that I’ve helped them through this dark part of their life, that really means everything to me because that’s exactly what I want to do.
BASIC: So who are these idols for you?
Florence and the Machine is the main one. I remember being probably around 10 or 11 and listening to her songs, crying in the bathroom [laughs], like obsessed with her. I’m obsessed with all her music videos and the way that she is, artistically, and how she acts in interviews that I’ve seen. She’s just a beautiful person. Her voice is incredible, it just takes your soul and captures the moment. I also like listening to all sorts of different music, my Spotify playlist is covered in all of these random different songs. A lot of it is old Lauryn Hill songs, Outkast, CeeLo Green, and then like Justin Bieber’s new record, and Harry Styles’ new record. It’s very mixed and it’s got a wide variety. I like taking inspiration from lots of different people because I feel like the more music you listen to, the better you are going to be at creating music.
BASIC: What was it like growing up in London? How did that influence your interests?
London is a crazy place because it’s so different. It’s stunning. There is just everything there. You can go to South London and that has its own vibe, with lots of different cultures around. In North London there is a massive religious population. In West London there’s lots of Muslims and people from all over the place. It’s a city of culture and creativity. In Central London you have great music, fashion, and business center. I literally grew up 15 minutes walking distance from Oxford Street and it was incredible. I feel like it’s really influenced me because I definitely had that pace–London is very fast sometimes, but you can take breaks from it. My favorite part of the city is finding those quiet places, like by the river, or in the parks. But outside of that, everything is really fast, and everyone is pushing for things, it’s like a city of hustlers. If you grow up in London, you become one of those people, and if you see something that you want, you go for it.
BASIC: What artist has the career of your dreams?
I really love Lady Gaga. Her voice is incredible and her musicality is off the charts. I just think that she really stands out, and stand up for really great causes. I’ve seen so many of her performances on YouTube, and I just cry my eyes out because she tells of all these stories she’s come across, and speaking to the audience like they’re her friends, really connecting to them, and it really touches my heart. I would definitely say she’s someone I would love to end up being like.
BASIC: What’s your favorite emoji and why?
I like the yellow heart, because yellow is my favorite color. I also like the yellow sparkles and the yellow chick. I send the chick like a virtual hug.
BASIC: How is social media a part of your life on a daily basis?
Social media is a tough one for me because it’s funny how it can become so important in your career. I use it to keep up with my friends, to see what celebrities are up to, and to check up on magazines, fashion, and photography. I spend way too much time on Instagram. I use Twitter to stay in touch with my followers. I’m on it like every hour, just liking and retweeting, because I really want to see what my followers are up to.
BASIC: Tell me about your Instagram bio.
Munamunum do doo da doo doo. That is from the Muppets. No one ever gets that. [laughs] When I first got Instagram, I was about 10 or 11 and something happened on social media where I heard about it and me and my friends were obsessed with it, we would sing it to each other all the time. So it just became my Instagram bio because when I got on Instagram I wasn’t doing music properly, I was still just at school with my friends so I thought, “I’ll just put that because I think it’s funny,” and it just stayed there for ages, I’ve never changed it. Sometimes people don’t get it and they are like, “What does that mean??” [laughs]
BASIC: What is a day in the life of Jasmine Thompson like?
It depends if I’m in tour mode, if I’m writing music, or if I’m just at home. Usually though I guess I wake up, I watch Netflix, I’ll shower, and then I’ll do something with music. Maybe practice piano, or I’ll have a session, and I’ll just end up working through the day. Then I’ll probably spend the evening with friends.
BASIC: One of your most listened to songs around the world is Ain’t Nobody by Chaka Khan and it was made 34 years ago, and 27 years before you were born. Where did you first hear it? What attracted you to the song?
I always heard that song around, I can’t remember where I first heard it because it’s just such a massive song that you know as you grow up. I really liked it because of the lyrics. I listened to Higher Love by Steve Winwood, and music by Cindy Stanton, I really love those type of songs. Me and my friend have this throwback playlist that we always play in the morning. That kind of music is what we listen to – to be happy. I really cared about that song and when I was about 12 or 13 I covered it because I felt so connected to it. Then DJ Felix Jaehn found it, did a remix, and then a year later we put it out. I was just super happy that it did so well, it blew up. It was my first big song and I was so amazed by it because it was such a long journey for the song. It took a year from when I first sang it to come out, then do the music video for it, and it was my first step into the music industry properly. It felt like a big step for me. I’m super proud of the song because I’m just so in love with the little family that we built–me and Felix and his team–traveling around with him and touring was so lovely. Everyone just cared about making good music and having fun shows.
BASIC: It seems like you really connect with that collaborative aspect of making music.
Yeah, because music is all about being shared. It’s weird because my favorite part about writing music is when you’re in your own zone and you want to put this thing that’s in your head into this little piece of music. You’re in control and no one can hear it. Like last night my EP came out, and no one had heard those songs before, and suddenly, it’s out there. They’re hearing what I wrote. It’s an amazing feeling because you write songs that sometimes never come out. And it’s not because they are not good enough, it’s because I want to keep them hidden, in a way.
BASIC: How do you decide which to keep hidden from the world?
For example, Fix Me, from my new EP, was written two years ago. I released an EP last year, and it could have gone on that one, but I chose not to put it on that one because it has quite a personal meaning to me. I wasn’t ready to release it. When I was younger, my family had a lot of difficulties with my dad because he was an alcoholic. My family got split and he moved out. Now he’s 7 years sober, and it’s amazing. Our relationship has been rebuilt and it’s really great. So two years ago I wrote that song, and it’s subconsciously about my relationship with him. I’ve never told my followers about it or anything about my family history. This is the first EP where I’ve actually spoken about it properly to press and mentioned it in magazines and things like that. I wanted to put it out there.
BASIC: Who would you most love to talk music with? (living or dead)
I’d love to talk with Amy Winehouse. I think she’s an incredible artist. When the movie came out about her life, I cried so much. That kind of thing really hurts, because she’s an artist and had all this trouble with drug and alcohol abuse, and me, coming from a family with that kind of history, it brought back memories and made me think about myself as an artist. I really cared about her and her projects. You can see that she put her heart and soul into it. She seemed so effortless and real. Also, she went to the school that I went to. In London I went to Sylvia Young Theater School. I left two years ago to focus on music, but she went there. I remember my head teacher always talking about her. My dream was to go to The BRIT School, which is where Amy went as well. She went from Sylvia Young to BRIT, so I would love to her about it from her.
BASIC: Which classic villain best describes your dark side? Cruela Devil, Regina George (Queen of the Plastics), or Miranda Priestly (the editor in The Devil Wears Prada)?
Miranda Priestly. In the end, she does everything just to challenge Andrea. That person that pushes you and pushes you until you break, but it’s for a good reason. I feel like I’m kind of like that.
BASIC: Thinking of fashion throughout time, what decade of style do you love?
I love the 90s. My mate turned 16 in March and we all dressed 90s themed, which is basically what we wear on the weekends. Like yesterday, I went to the ASCA Awards in this long, white, lace dress and heels, looking all pretty. When I finished my performance, I ran upstairs, I changed into combat boots, fishnets, white tracksuit pants, a crop top, and a big coat. Those are my type of clothes.
BASIC: Thinking about all the amazing technology we use everyday, what would you invent, if given the chance?
I wish we could fly. Like mechanical wings. Put a plane on a human.
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