Words: Jeremy Gluck
[Editor @ MADCAP Global SWND Magazine]
Laura Jazmyn, only just 18, is SWND’s discovery of early 2021, a remarkably gifted young singer-songwriter from South Wales. Catching the ears of SWND as the long sleep of lockdown was lifting, her SWND Records debut ‘Ride or Die’ comprises six new, original tracks recorded by Laura with her superb band, and has garnered international airplay. Influenced by Amy Winehouse and Joria Smith, the half-dozen songs gracing this accomplished debut herald a new Welsh female artist with a mainstream appeal rooted in a precocious ability. Says Laura, “I started writing my own music as Laura Jazmyn two years ago and I focus on creating music that tells the story of my memories and experiences.”
‘Ride Or Die’ is not your average debut. Laura’s soaring vocals, sense of melody and composition, and intimate lyrics bring you into the world a young Welsh recording artist with her creative future in front of her, this EP being her foothold there, full of conviction, honesty, hope and heart.
SWND: When I was a reviewer for SOUNDS in London, I often reviewed country and western music (which I love!) and one discovery was Steve Wariner’s ‘Small Town Girl’. It strikes me that you might be the South Wales equivalent? What is your background?
I’m a valleys girl through and through. I was brought up in a small town in South Wales and have been singing before I could talk. Throughout my life, I’ve always been involved in music. From dance lessons, musical theatre clubs and school performances as long as I could perform, I was happy. I started writing my own music as Laura Jazmyn 2 years ago and I focus on creating music that tells the story of my memories and experiences. I hope that listeners can either relate or create their own meaning for the song.
SWND: I gather you teach piano? How much and what sort of musical training have you had? Which instruments do you play? Do you compose your songs on the piano, and what is your songwriting process?
I’ve played the piano for ten years. I have tried to play other instruments when I was younger, and I did play the drums for some time, but I decided to give that up to focus on my singing and piano lessons. I don’t have lessons anymore, but I play the piano often whether that’s learning covers or composing my own material.
SWND: What are your favourite artists and at what age did you begin to seriously follow pop music, or has it been a lifelong pursuit?
I’ve followed pop music throughout my life even though it isn’t my go-to genre to listen to. Influences of mine are from the pop/RnB industry. I look up to Amy Winehouse. I love her tone and her lyrics and the way that she was fearless and never shy of being herself despite what others may have thought of her. I also love Jorja Smith. I take influence from her in the way that she tells a story through her songs. I like to create lyrics that are effective – I look up to Jorja for that.
SWND: At the moment young people (I can’t believe I am using that term, but it will have to do LOL) are very engaged with issues such as the aftermath of the #metoo movement, racism, climate change, etc. Are you politically engaged?
Yes, I am politically engaged. I do try to keep my opinions and views to myself to try and avoid any possible conflict. But I am very strongly engaged with the issues of climate change in the world. I try my hardest to follow any advice that I can find to make sure that I am doing my bit to save the planet. As for the Black Lives Matter movement, I admire the people in this movement and support them fully. They deserve to let the world know how they feel and for us to create a world where everyone is treated fairly.
SWND: Currently there is a lot of coverage being given to the situation in colleges and schools regarding abuse, etc. Are these sorts of issues an influence at all on your songwriting?
I can’t say that I ever have written a song about abuse. I suppose that I have to be grateful that I haven’t had any experience or reason to write about this topic.
SWND: Please tell me about your songwriting partnership with Daniel and how the songs on the EP were written, when, etc.
When I perform/record my material, I work with a session band. Morgan Williams is my bassist, Ross Henley is my guitarist, Corey Chidley is my drummer and Daniel Richards plays the lead on guitar. The way I write songs depends. Sometimes I write the whole song idea alone on my piano and then write the lyrics. But when working with Daniel he provides chords for me and I’ll then listen to the music and write lyrics to flow to it.
SWND: From its title, it’s clear lockdown has had a major impact on you and, I imagine, your plans?
Lockdown has definitely had a major impact on me as well as everyone else in the world. I did struggle to find the motivation to write music at the start of the lockdown but now looking at the past year, I feel in some sort of way lucky. I feel lucky because I have been blessed with the time to grow as an artist and promote myself as much as I can. I’ve been able to record new material and to keep writing as well as having artist photoshoots with photographer Stacey Night. The photos I have used for the EP were taken by her and edited by Holly Ellis to become the ‘Ride or Die’ EP.
SWND: You recorded the EP at your college. Tell me about that, the facilities, your producer there, the mixing – for example, your involvement in mixing and so forth – and, of course, your aspirations for your music.
We recorded the EP in the Crosskeys Campus. Kyle Evans recorded ‘Ride or Die’ and Henry Felek mixed them; it was a pleasure to work with him. He mixed all the tracks and I worked closely with him to listen to the recordings after they were completed to see if there was anything that needed another take or slight tweaking before they were to be mixed. As for the mixing, I had no involvement in that part, it was all Kyle and his amazing skills and what a great job he did.
‘Ride or Die’ is available from SWND Records, a member of the MADCAP Global SWND family.