WHEN a critic labels a musician ‘special’ or ‘original’ you always have to…
PHOTO CREDIT (AND PROFILE PHOTO): Maria Aragon
take that sentiment with a pinch of salt and appropriate cynicism. Often hyperbole-driven and too-eager-off-the-block-effusive: there is no such quibble or debate with regards Jasmine Rodgers. Growing up on everyone from Led Zeppelin to Hip-Hop (Free frontman Paul Rodgers is her father): it was a varied and expansive musical upbringing.
An Alternative-Rock artist with a Japanese poet mother: it is hard to think of anyone quite as individual and fascinating as Rodgers.
Blood Red Sun is released on October 28th and a self-released, 11-track album from Rodgers. It shows the breadth, depth, and beauty of her voice; her stunning, evocative songwriting and heartfelt performances. Having experienced such a whirlwind and fascinating 2016; I was keen to catch up with her and see what was in store – the themes and stories that influenced Blood Red Sun.
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Underwater will appear on Jasmine Rodgers' forthcoming album, Blood Red Sun
Hi Jasmine. How are you? How has your week been?
Hiya. Very well thanks: just spent a week in California with the flu but I’m sunburnt so it’s all good.
For those new to your music and influences: who were the artists that compelled you as a child?
Led Zeppelin, Ella Fitzgerald, Nick Drak; Inxs, Prince, Aretha; Miles Davis, Plenty…. these were some of the ones that were on repeat when I was little.
Of course, being the daughter of Free’s Paul Rodgers, you must have had quite an unorthodox and memorable upbringing. Was it quite unconventional and are there any particular memories that stand in the mind?
That’s the thing, you only realise that it might have been unconventional as you get older. Dad was away a lot but when he was around then the house was filled with music and musicians. Ahmet Ertegun was a regular visitor and I loved the smell of his cigars. Lovely man.
Your household was obviously very artistic and creative. Do you think you would have become a musician were it not for your parents’ influence?
Maybe not. I’m equally drawn to writing and painting, but also to zoology and I did pursue that quite seriously; but music is the one for me that allows me the greatest room for my kind of expression and I look at everything with music in my mind. For me, life without music would be colourless.
You are based in London at the moment. How does the city and its people inspire you as a songwriter and woman?
I like London people. I love the sense of humour and actual helpfulness. You only need to ask and people will help. I think we get a reputation for being cold but a good joke or authentic interaction and we’re right there. We’re mixed and I love that. As a woman, that’s great too. It is hard to live here in that it’s fast-paced and expensive and there are so many people that I think people can get a bit lost but in terms of inspiration there are so many stories being played out every day.
Icicles and Sense formed part a double A-side. What compelled you to write those two songs and were you surprised by the huge reaction they received?
Both have really different reasons for being written. Icicles was done in one go and it was kind of a prayer for resolution; but also, whenever I sing it I see huge waterfalls and beautiful scenes. Sense was about not being heard/understood and how crazy it made me. I always imagine singing that one to the dark. I was touched by how well they have been received but I love them too.
A lot of artists tend to focus heavily on love and heartache. Your music looks more at nature, the land and the world around us. Do you feel too many musicians too refined with their music and ignoring the simpler, tranquil side of life?
I think I do focus on love and heartache too but I draw relief from nature and the things I see around me, so in the end, I always end up cheering myself up.
I like people who are refined in that way - I think as a listener that I tend to seek out certain types of music that I can release to; so Jeff Buckley is great if I want to throw myself into feeling blue for a while.
Do you set time aside to write or is it quite a spontaneous thing? How does the city/people around you feed into your songwriting?
It’s quite spontaneous really. Sometimes, things play around in my head before I commit them to a song. Sometimes, I didn’t even realise the themes that were there until I do. People are always inspiring to me. I love that they are.
PHOTO CREDIT: Anne Campbell
You have an album out in late-October. What can you tell us about it and the sort of songs/themes that will be contained within?
All of the above. Some are about love and relationships, some are about the landscape and some came out of my head when I wasn’t expecting them. All have stories behind them and are part of the greater story.
How has the songwriting process been for the album compared to your previous material? Any notable high/low points along the way?
Honestly, it’s been fun. They’ve been brewing for a while so it’s been quite easy. Collaborating has been fantastic too, I’ve enjoyed hearing the songs with all of the musicians on them and seeing the songs grow bigger than what I imagined.
Music is a very stressful and demanding thing. How do you unwind and given the attention heading your way; is it possible to detach from that spotlight?
It’s all good so far. The music itself, and the performing, are an absolute joy.
PHOTO CREDIT: Maria Aragon
Looking back at your career so far: which gigs or achievements have you been especially proud of?
The latest ones that I’ve done with the band have been achievements for me. The more that we play together the better it’s sounding. Having said that, performing at the Royal Albert Hall was amazing. Very intimate even though there was a big audience.
Aside from the album coming out: what does the rest of 2016 hold for you?
I’ll be supporting Bad Company in October in Cardiff, Leeds, Nottingham and Birmingham so I’m getting ready for that!
In terms of new musician or mainstream artists at the minute: who are you listening to and would recommend?
Peaches. As the years go by I like her more and more.
PHOTO CREDIT: Maria Aragon
Would you offer any advice to young musicians/bands coming through looking to make it big?
For being such a great sport you can select any song - not your own: I’ll pick one of those - and I’ll play it here.
Rag’n’Bone Man –Healed
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PHOTO CREDIT: Anne Campbell