‘I was fed up with psychology’ - Jaz Elise abandons study of mind for call of heart – music
If three years ago someone had told Jaz Elise she would be sharing a frame with Govana or the likes of Chi Ching Ching and Protoje for an epic music video in 2020, she would probably have said, “No way”.
Born Jasmine Taylor, the fast-rising artiste was previously studying psychology at The University of the West Indies, and, through her courses, worked with several rehabilitation programmes and centres.
At the time, her parents believed she was on a similar path to her sisters, both of whom are medical doctors. But Jaz Elise had other plans. Her sights set on music, she announced to her parents that she wanted to be a singer.
“I can say they (my parents) were supportive, but didn’t understand where it would go, especially with me not knowing anyone in the industry. [However], they were still supportive, believed in me and my passion for performing,” she recalls.
The For You singer told The Gleaner she was “fed up with psychology”.
Her turning point came when a proposal she had made was rejected. Inspired by a documentary, Jaz Elise suggested bringing the arts to a local correctional facility for rehabilitation, but was turned down. She is focused on her music, but hasn’t ruled out the scientific study completely.
“Will I be doing further studies? The answer to that, now, is no. I can tell you, I fell in love with those rehabilitation programmes that used music, and may consider, later on in my career, exploring the idea again. But it was a big turn down; it was such a fight and that, at the time, for me with my “chest high” self, was discouraging. But I completed my studies because I said ‘I not making Mommy waste her money’,” she shared.
From writing proposals for rehabilitation programmes to melodies and refrains, the would-be singer careened onto a different track.
She said, “As an independent artiste, the learning process was a lot of trial and error. I actually had never written any type of music until I decided to record professionally … I typically performed covers. A lot of people wouldn’t even understand, sleepless nights, songs weh nuh sound right, and long days in the studio. All the songs out, I have written, is just vibes. But it is progressing a little more as I understand the dynamics of writing. It was about getting to know myself and trying to be the best person I can be. The music doesn’t matter if who you are and what you see in the mirror isn’t adding positively.”
OFF TO THE RACES
Momentum on her side, Jaz Elise’s faith and quotable style have taken hold, and she is off to the races. Now, she is tipped as Jamaica’s next breakout star from Protoje’s In.Digg.Nation Collective, and the fourth artiste from the label to benefit from a partnership with New York-based RCA Records, only two years after releasing her debut single For You. Her airy and understated vocals on that single produced by Jean-Andre Lowell Lawrence, better known as ‘JLL’, introduced the people to one side of this promising artiste. Repeating the words of advice she received from Protoje, who she names as one of her mentors, “this is not a 100-metre dash, it’s a marathon”.
The importance of this juncture in her career is not lost on her. The story of the purple-haired, ‘funkadelic’ Jaz Elise is one of patience and resilience, she explained, “If you could see some of the goals on my 2019-2020 vision board, pre-corona of course.” One of which was signing a record deal.
“I never have no inkling it would be possible whatsoever. But I wanted it to manifest and work for me in the best way, and I believe I have that right now,” Jaz Elise continued.
To date, the largest audience to ever witness her performance live was at the Appleton Estate-sponsored Jamaica Rum Festival, a fact Jaz Elise takes pride in, saying, “the journey jus’ ah start for me.”
Before the year ends, the industry will be seeing more of the singer, and possibly hear a new collaboration or two, which are her best-kept secrets because she prefers not to limit herself or what fans of her music should expect.
The stage is also being set for a momentous 2021.
“Just expect a lot, I am very proud of the music I put out thus far, and the body of work I have to release in the future. Looking forward to the future means also more potential collaborations and, one day, performing in front of thousands in a large stadium. Who I am is forever evolving and I am in this for a career that will make an impact. So, 20 years from now I want to still be a name on people’s lips,” she said.