If you ate pie and mash in central London last year theres a chance your waitress was an internationally-recognized singer songwriter with millions of monthly listeners and YouTube subscribers, half a million Instagram followers, platinum discs in a box at home, and a string of viral hits to her name. That name would have been Jasmine, and if youd got chatting with her pretty likely, because she likes a chat shed have told you her story: YouTubing at 10, in the Top 40 by 13, signed to a major label at 14. Shed have told you all about those dizzying highs.
And then shed have told you about how, when she was 16 years old, she quit the whole lot.
When I was younger music used to be the thing that made me happy, she explains today. But a couple of years ago everything changed. I became angry towards music, and towards myself. I didnt play piano for six months. I couldnt even listen to music. Everything turned upside down and I wanted to hit reset.
You might already have guessed that theres a happy ending to all this: a collection of new tracks that show this extraordinarily gifted vocalist and songwriter growing into her own talents under the collaborative stewardship of legendary tunesmith Eg White, whose flair for pop has impacted artists like Sam Smith, Adele, and Florence + The Machine. Under Whites mentorship Jasmines delivered a gutsy, emotional and totally honest raft of new material that complements the intensity of the songs that kickstarted her career back in the day but adds a whole new level of emotion and perceptiveness.
Still only 18 but wise beyond her years, Jasmines now in the creative and mental position to make good on her early promise, with no half measures. There was a time not so long ago when Jasmine would look in the mirror and see, staring back, someone who knew she wanted to do music, but had no idea what she was doing. Now I see someone independent, she says. I see someone more okay with whats going on. Someone trying to deal with their shit, and whos a work in progress but accepting of that.
Jasmine grew up in central London where her family four of them in a modest two bedroom flat lived in a spartan housing block from whose windows they could see, on the other side of the road, huge four-story townhouses where the areas wealthier inhabitants lived. After her parents divorced when Jasmine was seven she saw her mother working as many as four jobs at a time but always prioritizing her kids creative development. (Perhaps no surprise this was a mum who one day, apropos of nothing, bought a second hand green screen, just so she could mess around with video special effects at home.) Unsurprisingly, then, when Jasmine started using an old iPod to record videos of herself singing, they ended up on YouTube.
Jasmines first upload was a cover of Bruno Mars The Lazy Song, and of course Jasmine was one of thousands of kids doing exactly the same thing, but something about Jasmines videos clicked. More followed, and Jasmine quickly zoomed past her first thousand subscribers. (Today, that figure stands at over three million.) Id get comments on my channel, she remembers, and it was people going: why is this girl always singing sad songs? Shes twelve! Actually, she says now, the videos were showing a young talent coming to terms with a family life that hadnt always been easy, and she was finding her voice through music. Mine wasnt always the perfect family and I think that affected me subconsciously even more than I realized, she adds. When I was younger, music was a way to dive into my sadness.
In any case, Jasmines music continued to make waves. A cover of Naughty Boys La La La ended up on Radio 1; her self-released version of Chaka Khans Aint Nobody (Loves Me Better) charted in the UK Top 40 after it appeared on a massive TV ad campaign. Jasmine released two independent albums; an Aint Nobody remix by Felix Jaehn became an unexpected smash in 2015, going platinum around the world, when Jasmine was still just 14 years old. Signing to Atlantic Records, Jasmine had the chance to work with talents like Meghan Trainor, Steve Mac and Jake Gosling on music that eventually became the Wonderland EP. And it was great, until it wasnt. In 2017, while on the Asia leg of a world promo tour, a switch flicked. A simple delayed flight prompted a meltdown. I was being the biggest diva Id ever been, Jasmine grimaces. I was like, were going straight home as soon as possible. Thats it. It shocked her team, and it shocked Jasmine. I didnt want to do it anymore, she remembers.
These days she knows that many of the problems lay in the lack of connection she felt with her music she hadnt written most of the songs on the Wonderland EP. Weirdly, she felt less connected to that music than she did to the straight-up covers shed been making on YouTube. She felt as if she was being dishonest with her fans, and that something had to change. The first step required Jasmine to grab the situation with both hands and thats when, quite by chance, she ended up in a Carnaby Street pie and mash shop with her mates. She got chatting with the owner, attempted to compliment the food and accidentally applied for a job. I said, 'Id work here just so I could eat the food every day, Jasmine laughs. [The restaurants manager] went: 'Are you serious? Jasmine was asked for her waitressing experience: none. Her CV: non-existent. Her age? Well, she was 16, but shed be 17 in a week. She got the job.
Occasionally her record label would check in to see how she was doing. Sometimes her manager would email with news of big gig offers, which would be turned down. Then one day Jasmines creaky old laptop looked like it was about to die, so she started moving all her stuff onto an external hard drive, and she found a folder of songs she hadnt finished. With fresh ears she could hear that among the songs with which she felt no connection it felt like listening to a younger person I wasnt attached to any more was a handful of unfinished music that stood out. All the songs were with Eg White. I called my manager, Jasmine says. And I said: 'Do you think we could do one last session with Eg? Well, one last session became several months of sessions. Eventually, as a body of work started to take shape and Jasmine felt herself being pulled back into music, she gave up the waitressing.
Flashforward to 2019 and Jasmine Thompsons ready to release music with total clarity. In Loyal, she sings of the relationship that had ended just before she was reunited with Eg White. When theyd started writing it a year earlier, Loyal was a song about trust issues within that same relationship. We didnt trust each other, Jasmine reports, and as it turned out, we both had good reason. Also, he owes me 600. Loyal, in the end, became something rather pensive: Im still loyal to the person I met at the beginning, who made me really excited and gave me butterflies, Jasmine notes. But Im not loyal to a guy who was a total dick.
Another standout track, Colour (Amen), is principally written about issues that have plagued Jasmines fathers life for as long as Jasmine can remember. But from the outside, its easy to wonder if it applies to the last few years of Jasmines life. Its about being in a sad space, then finally being able to get out of it and seeing things other than the sadness in front of you, Jasmine explains. Its about getting to a stage where somehow youve come out the other end and you actually feel positive again, and you feel good about something. Its saying: even though Ive waited a long time to feel happy, Im secure in myself.
Jasmines favorite book, shell tell you, is The Alchemist a mythology-ish tale of a kid who has a dream, believes hell find treasure, embarks on a massive journey, and endures endless conflicting advice from everyone he meets. Life doesnt go in a straight line, is Jasmines reading of the tale sometimes its a zig-zag.
Despite Jasmines own sense of direction being be so disastrous that shes literally got 'LEFT and 'RIGHT tattooed on her wrists, theres no doubt shes heading in the right direction now, and as she prepares to release her strongest material to date, she might already have found her own treasure. Oh, and if you fancy pie and mash at any point, you might be in luck. Jasmine loved her time at the restaurant so much that she still helps them out with cover shifts.