The Lava Lizard Interviews JoJo

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    JoJo TheLavaLizard
    JoJo

    Since launching the Interviews section of The Lava Lizard, many of our readers have been requesting that we secure time with JoJo and we have finally delivered! However, this isn’t a regular interview. Rather, it’s a candid chat with the exciting young singer about her new album, label drama, influences and much more!

    JoJo has taken a stunning six years to ready a new album but she is finally ready to forge her return to the music scene. Of course, as a result of several label issues, her journey as not been easy and she was quite honest about that fact as well as her new approach to her music.

    Additionally, the more mature JoJo talked about several of the singing secrets that helped her to deliver stunning performances, such as ‘Demonstrate’, and her list of influences, which surprisingly does not include Brandy. She even shared a touching story about the late Whitney Houston, her views on Mariah Carey as an ‘American Idol’ judge and the current condition of R&B music.

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this interview is one for the history books! Listen to JoJo shout out The Lava Lizard and read our interview below:

    Hey JoJo! It’s great to finally meet you!

    It’s great to meet you too!

    Are you having a good day?

    I am having a good day. Thanks for asking.

    I really want to get the most out of our time together so let’s get straight to the action! It has been almost six years since you released your last album, ‘The High Road’. What caused such a long delay?

    Many things were completely out of my control. I got into a record deal when I was twelve years of age and I was under the guidance of my mother, who grew up in Massachusetts her entire life as a church soloist and cleaned houses. We really didn’t know what we were get into and the last six years have been about me trying to gain control as well as find my place as a woman and stand up for what I believe in.

    There have been different incarnations of this third album because I’ve been creative during the last six years and I haven’t stopped recording. I’ve been trying to grow personally as well as an artist. That’s where we are right now in this current situation as far as getting this album out.

    It’s no secret that you had your fair share of label drama and back in May you told your fans on Twitter that if they wanted to know the release date of your new album then they should message Blackground Records. Has a date finally been set for the release of the record?

    We don’t have a release date because the single hasn’t gone to radio yet. Again, it is up to Blackground. I’m just the artist and I’m not the person who sets the release date, unfortunately.

    Are things finally working out between you and Blackground? Is everybody on board?

    Blackground is definitely on board. I just want to release great music and do something of which I can be proud as an artist. I can only do my part but as of right now, Blackground and I have a very good relationship, especially creatively. I’ve really been able to go where I want to go creatively and Blackground has facilitated that.

    You recently announced that you’ve decided to take a different approach to your new album and you even changed the title from ‘Jumping Trains’. What inspired that change?

    Like I mentioned before, I never stopped recording. We released ‘Disaster’ then I got into the studio with [Noah ’40’ Shebib] to do ‘Demonstrate’ and it just seemed as though those songs wouldn’t fit on the same album. So, I decided to follow my heart and head in the down the path of ‘Demonstrate’. I just felt more right then things had in the past.

    There are many people with strong opinions about who I’m supposed to be but at 21 year of age I’m putting my foot down and deciding what feels right for me. In a sense, it was liberating.

    Have your picked a new name for the album?

    I have picked a name but I haven’t told a single soul. I’m just going to keep it to myself and continue to let it marinate until the time is right.

    Can you give us just a little hint?

    It’s one word but it’s not ‘Demonstrate’. That’s all I will say.

    Now, ‘Disaster’ was the album’s lead single. Will that song still appear on the record or has everything been scrapped?

    ‘Disaster’ will not appear on the album.

    Other than 40, with which producers have you worked on this album?

    I’ve worked with Da Internz, Kadis & Sean, Steve Franks, Beau Dozier and Boi-1da.

    Have you written any of the songs on this album?

    Yes, all of them so far.

    “All of them so far”? How many have you finished?

    I’m really not sure. I don’t know where this album started and others ended. {laughs} There are certainly a few songs.

    Judging by the sound ‘Demonstrate’, you’re definitely embracing a more mature, sensual side of your music. However, people are wondering, what type of sexy are you aiming to achieve with this new album? Is it going to be Mariah Carey ‘Honey’ sexy or Christina Aguilera ‘Dirrty’ sexy?

    That’s a good question! It’s going to be Jojo from Massachusetts, 21 years of age, weird, artsy, nerdy, fly; all types of things. I don’t know what type of sexy but I think it’s something a little less overt but a little less traditional and certainly not raunchy because that’s not my type of sexy.

    My type of sexy is more seductive and it’s in the details. I’m personal a fan of the way that Janet Jackson was sexy during her ‘The Velvet Rope Tour’ and when she was in her ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ era of her career. That’s the type of sexy that turns me on.

    Of course, I can’t mention ‘Demonstrate’ without mentioning how incredible your vocal performance was on that record.  It honestly blew my mind!

    I saw what you wrote and it made me so happy. I really appreciate that. Thank you!

    I haven’t heard somebody have such control over her voice in such a long time and I was really impressed. I have to ask: is that really you singing those crazy low notes?

    That really is all me! I have to get really close to the mic because when I produce those notes it’s not a very loud, full sound. So, I have to get really close and take a really good breath. {laughs}

    I noticed that you don’t sing like a typical person your age who sticks to soprano, alto or just one pocket of their voice. You use your entire range and it’s amazing. How do your train your voice to be so strong? 

    I’m overwhelmed by your words! I’m a spiritual person and I believe my voice is a gift but for a while I wasn’t treating it as a gift. I spoke very harshly with my tone and I always raised my voice.

    What really changed for me during the last few years was that I listened to way that some of my favourite singers spoke. I think Jill Scott has such a dynamic vocal. I know she studies opera and she has a great lower register. I noticed the way singers like her speak and they float on their words. That really made a big difference for me as far as preserving my voice for singing so that I’m not overdoing it during the rest of the day.

    I also take supplements and I’m constantly listening to different types of music. I love Jazz and that has gotten me more active with my range.

    JoJo TheLavaLizard
    JoJo

    There are two singers to whom you are regularly compared: Brandy and Mariah Carey. Personally, I hear much of Brandy in your voice but many of The Lava Lizard readers named you as the next Mariah when I posted the question to Twitter and I can definitely see that as well. What influence did each of those women have on you as an artist?

    Wonderful question! To be honest – and there is no shade involved in what I’m about to say – I never really listened to Brandy. I think she has a stunning voice, her tone is unmatched and she is such a fantastic talent. I can see how people could draw comparisons between us and they often ask if I listened to her a lot while growing up but I didn’t. However, I did listen to Mariah.

    Being compared to both Brandy and Mariah is a huge compliment for me because I honestly don’t think that much of myself. {laughs} It really does make me feel incredible. I just try to be the best Joanna or Jo that I can be and if people want to put me in the company of those incredible women then I take it as a great compliment.

    One singer we recently lost was Whitney Houston and she was one of the best of the best. How as Whitney influenced you as an artist? 

    Whitney is probably one of the greatest influences on me as a vocalist. I’ve done a lot of studying recently of the women who I consider the greats and Whitney is definitely one of them. The effortlessness with which she sang is something from which we can all learn. I think if God had a voice then it was that of Whitney Houston; it was just straight from the angels.

    Whitney actually sent flowers to me at Madison Square Garden when I was 14, and wrote a note from her and Bobbi Kristina that said they really enjoyed my music and she’s watching me. I think that was in 2005 and I remember just bawling my eyes out as I just could not believe it. I’m just a little girl from Massachusetts so it was very surreal for me.

    Taking things in a different direction, many people say, “I love JoJo. She’s a white girl with a black voice,” even though you’re of Native American descent. How do such comments affect you?

    I’m definitely a white girl. I think I’m predominantly French, Irish, Polish and Native American but I don’t take offense to it at all. I celebrate who I am and I don’t run away from the music to which I’m drawn.

    Back to your album, do you have a dream list of artists with whom you’d like to work on this record?

    I do have a dream list and we’re still in the process of being in the studio. I’d love to work with Flying Lotus – we’ve actually spoken about doing stuff together – and my dream is to work with Kanye West. There are some really exciting people in Hip-Hop right now – Theophilus London, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean – so I’d like to play around more with Hip-Hop.

    You previously did your own version of Drake’s ‘Marvin’s Room’. Are there any plans for you to work with him on this album? 

    Drake is one of my favourite artists and I’d love to work with him. Yet, as of now, there is nothing specific in the works.

    Judging by ‘Demonstrate’, your sound on this record is geared toward a more Urban/R&B direction. Do you think R&B music is currently in a good place?

    I don’t think R&B music has a definitive place right now. I think if we’re categorising Frank Ocean, for instance, as R&B then it’s important to have the conversation about what is R&B. If we can categorise Kelly Rowland, Usher, Chris Brown, Frank and myself as R&B then I don’t think there are any steel bars separating genres right now. I think that’s cool. Music has the opportunity to just be music and it has become less genre-based.

    You’ve done more Pop-sounding records like ‘Disaster’ and now you’ve done the R&B-styled ‘Demonstrate’. Does it bother you when you get categorised in one field?

    Being categorised doesn’t really bother me because it’s our nature as a society to feel more comfortable when we define things but I consider my music to be Pop. Think Pop means ‘popular music’ and once people are enjoying it then it’s cool to call it whatever you want. When I was younger, however, I used to be really upset when people called me a “Pop star” or a “Pop artist” but once people are talking then it really doesn’t matter.

    When you were younger, you performed on different television shows and now it has become common for people to launch their careers on ‘American Idol’ and ‘The X Factor’ without taking the time to develop as artists. Do you think those shows are having a negative effect on the music industry?

    Good question! It’s not necessarily a problem. Everyone’s journey is going to be different and if I were to be mad at other people for their journeys then I would be pretty fucking angry. {laughs}

    I was just having a conversation with someone about how incredible a track record ‘American Idol’ had. You can name some many artists that I respect, love, enjoy and celebrate have come from that. They have really incredible careers and I think this industry is so hard that many people won’t get attention if it wasn’t for a platform like that.

    It’s tough coming from a small town without knowing where to turn and I understand that. So, do I think those shows are bad? I don’t.

    If you could pick any artist from that ‘American Idol’ roster with whom you would work, who would you choose?

    I love Carrie Underwood and I really enjoy Country music. {laughs} As strange as it might sound, I would love to work with her. I think she is one of the best female vocalists.

    I have to admit that I’m a bit partial to Kelly Clarkson. {laughs} 

    Kelly Clarkson is amazing too but there is something about Carrie and it’s wonderful how she saturated that market. She is the Queen of Country and I think she’s exciting.

    On one last note about ‘American Idol’, Mariah is a new judge on the show. Do you think she will be a good judge?

    Mariah is one of the baddest women on the planet! I love her. She’s sassy; she’s a diva, and she certainly has the experience and the chops to be a great addition to ‘American Idol’. I’m really excited to see her.

    If you were given the chance to sit on the ‘American Idol’ judging panel, even if it was just for one season, would you do it?

    Never say never.

    You’ve been in this game for so long that you’re basically a veteran but many people still regard you as a child star because we’ve known you since you were young.  Do you ever feel pressured to continue playing that innocent role or is this new album going to be a breakthrough moment for you?

    I’m really not tripping about other people’s views about me growing up. There certainly was a time when I was overly concerned about making sure people were comfortable and saving pieces of my growth. However, I don’t think it’s that difficult at this point for people to accept me as an adult. I’m going to be who I am and I hope that people feel me.

    Earlier this year, you performed several shows at the Hard Rock Cafe and you covered songs by artists such as Rihanna and Beyonce. Which song was your favourite to sing?

    I really enjoyed performing Amy Winehouse’s ‘You Know That I’m No Good’. That was really fun for me.

    If you could pick any song on the radio right now for you to cover, which would you choose? 

    To be honest, I don’t think I’m equipped to answer that question because I don’t listen to the radio enough. I mainly listen to stuff on iTunes, Pandora or blogs that my friends show me. I do wish that I had Frank ‘Sweet Life’, though! That is probably my favourite song of the summer.

    Speaking of Frank, he recently shared his experiences regarding his sexuality. What do you think is the significance of that decision for music today?

    It has shown people that nobody died from it. {laughs} It’s fine to be yourselfand people will still accept it if the music is good. Frank is so strong and so bold for doing what he did. I think that was the most fly move of the year. It was so fly that he did that and I know many young women who would still love to be alone with him even though he came out as bisexual. He really showed that it didn’t hurt at all.

    Thank you for your time JoJo! I hope that we can hear your new album by the end of the year and I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I wait to see what you do next.

    Thank you so much! I love your site and thank you for a wonderful interview!

    JoJo will release her new album within the coming months. Until that time, listen to her new single, ‘Demonstrate’, below:

    What do you think of the interview?

    • JBVI

      GREAT INTERVIEW TRENT!!! VERY INFORMATIVE!

    • MC

      Great interview Trent 🙂

    • boizdreamer

      Amazing interview, well done Trent.

    • Mikey

      This was a really great interview to be perfectly honest. Lol @ the Brandy comment from JoJo…I’m the same way lol.

    • DOMOdotSCORE

      Great Interview!

    • ForeverAFan

      Great interview! Good job Trent! 🙂 I love JoJo, can’t wait to hear more new music from her.

    • Jake

      This was great – she is a very intelligent young woman! She is definitely underrated but I hope this new album shows everyone they should pay attention to her!

    • panenip

      Cool interview 😀 JOJO is amazing , she is talented and smart XD thanks for this ^^

    • BubblePopElectric

      Thanks For The Great Interview Trent! I’ve Always Been A Fan But My Love & Respect For JoJo Has Just Now Multiplied! She’s So Smart, Real, Beautiful & Talented! I Can’t Wait For The Album! I Will Be Purchasing It.

    • larry

      YAASSSSSSSSSSS GO INNNNNNNNNNNNNN TRENT!

    • sam

      So cute at Whitney supporting JoJo! She had the kindest heart.

    • Ummmm?

      I LOVED this! I learned so much about her!

    • kevin

      This was a really good interview! I love the questions and her answers were so deep

    • Rick

      LOVED this!

    • Kathy

      “but for a while I wasn’t treating it as a gift. I spoke very harshly with my tone and I always raised my voice.”

      I totally noticed that. Just recently she has softened it up.

    • #TEAMJOJO

      @Kathy I agree. She also sounds different when she talks now. She used to sound hoarse all the time

    • muzicjunkie

      This was a great interview and it made me love JoJo as an artist even more. She also seems like a really cool person.

    • carl

      Awesome interview

    • Pingback: JoJo Talks Drake, Her Experience With Whitney Houston, Growing Up In Public & More - KeepThis100()

    • Jules

      Well spoken..

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