JAZMINE SULLIVAN CHATS WITH POP CRUSH
For baseball players, a round of batting practice with Teddy Ballgame would amount to a dream come true; for many comedians, a conversation with Jerry Seinfeld would signal the same. Earlier this month, R&B standout Jazmine Sullivan shared a stage with her hero Lauryn Hill at New York’s Apollo Theater, and told PopCrush it completely changed her life. But amid the release of Sullivan’s latest album, she’s dangerously close to becoming an idol of the genre, herself.
Reality Show, which was released in January after Sullivan’s three-year, self-imposed respite from music, was critically acclaimed, and earned the raspy vocalist the renown of one of music’s strongest voices by Pitchfork. She’s been touring the country since, wowing crowds with the thumping “Dumb” and anthem of aplomb “Masterpiece.” She’d be the first to admit that she’s in love with love, but her odes to romance are few and far between—at a stop along her tour, you’re more likely to hear tales of how quickly a heart can break.
Still, Sullivan told us she’s holding out hope that the happy ending her married parents have managed awaits her. See what she had to say about staying out of the club, being featured on the upcoming Nina Simone tribute album and one upcoming performance that’s got her shaken up below — and catch her at the BET Awards on June 28 at 8PM!
PopCrush: The BET awards are coming up and you’re nominated for the Centric Award, which you’ve won before. What does that award signify and what it would mean to win again?
Jazmine Sullivan: For me, I think of it as being a bit eccentric and eclectic. It’s kind of how I would describe my music, it’s a mixture of a lot of things. It’s not just one genre, because I love music and I love doing a lot of different styles of music. Mostly soulful, that’s what ties it all in. I’m excited to be nominated again—I won for “Fearless,” which is years and years ago now [laughs].
Another huge distinction: your performance with Lauryn Hill ahead of the Nina Simone documentary. How was that for you?
It was amazing…she requested for me to be on the soundtrack. She loved that song, so I got the call to do the song, did the song and then when it was time to do the premiere, she asked me to come on her set. To hear that someone you grew up listening to and you admired so much likes your rendition of something and likes your music, it’s just amazing. I was just on cloud nine being in her presence, really, getting a chance to see her perform and be a part of it.
You’re an outspoken, devoted fan: What is it about Lauryn that you love so much?
What don’t you love about her? [laughs]. [The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill] was a landmark of R&B albums. She’s great—one of the greatest—and she had her way of speaking to people and speaking to the youth without sounding preachy and still getting a message across that we needed. I don’t know, she just spoke to our hearts. We felt like she was a big sister. I love her writing most of all.
Nina Simone was known for her activism and her political outspokenness, especially on a track like “Baltimore.” Did the experience of taking on that song inspire you to consider making a more politically-charged record in the future?
Possibly. Right now I try and stick to what I experience and what I know personally and what I’m going through. A lot of my life right now at 28 is based around [laughs] love, and trying to find love and trying to figure it out. I just try and be honest in my music and what means most to me. I know that as I grow older my subject matter will change. It’ll evolve naturally, I think.
Speaking to that point, I watched an interview that said recording Reality Show was a completely different experience—super intimate with just you and an engineer, and no producer. Do you think you’ll approach future projects the same way?
I don’t know. Every album is its own thing—you never know how the next one is going to be. I enjoy being by myself and being set apart from everybody and focusing and doing everything myself. But you never know, it depends how you feel when you’re doing the next one.
Well it seemed to work pretty well this time around.
Yeah, it did. Like I said, it has to be real, in the moment. I don’t want to plan so much, like ‘Oh, this worked last time…’
You touched on love briefly, and obviously that’s a huge part of your creative—you talk a lot about how you love love, and you love relationships and you aspire to the connection your parents have. But there’s also a spectrum you mention, where what goes up must come down. What are the mistakes you think you make about love mentioned in your music, and how do you try to change those?
I would say it’s a period in my last relationship when I think I kind of lost myself. My thoughts and everything were just solely focused on the relationship and trying to make it work. I lost myself in that and I regret that. I wish that I had kept some focus on myself and my own life. I feel like if you do that and the relationship doesn’t work, you’re not as down afterwards. If you put everything into a relationship and it doesn’t work out, you have to rebuild so much because you put so much into it. It was a life lesson. I try not to do it, but you know, love just takes over you [laughs] you fall in love. You can’t help it.
Read More: Jazmine Sullivan Talks Lauryn Hill, Long Island Ice Teas and Being A ‘Masterpiece': PopCrush Interview | http://popcrush.com/jazmine-sullivan-interview/?trackback=tsmclip