We speak to the 22-year-old singer-songwriter about her future aspirations as she teams up with Shy FX and Ms Dynamite on her new single 'Light Up (The World)'
Lucky enough to work with the likes of MistaJam, drum'n'bass legends Shy FX and Ms Dynamite at the tender age of 22, UK-based singer Yasmin takes her musical influences from her parents' love of motown, to soul and hip hop to form her own unique pop songs. Since early days where she started out DJing for N.E.R.D. and Eve, she's had a whirlwind career working on tracks with Freemasons and was nominated at the MOBOs for Best Newcomer in 2011. Dazed met up with Yasmin as she prepares to return with her upbeat reggae-tinged single, ‘Light Up (The World)’, featuring Ms Dynamite out this month.
Dazed Digital: How did working with Ms Dynamite come about? Do you have any other dream collaborators?
Yasmin: I was working on this tune with Shy FX which had this reggae, Caribbean vibe, which fit her perfectly and we called her up and she just jumped on it! There's millions… there's so many artists I love, major ones would be like Kanye - he's never done the same thing twice… he's just super artistic and wants to push boundaries. I love Erykah Badu, and Method Man, I think his voice is amazing, and Mos Def…
DD: Are there any female artists out there you've taken inspiration from?
Yasmin: At the moment there's loads of female artists but I don't think it matters that much, every artist has something to say. People say it's competition, but there's enough room for everyone. Lauryn Hill is one of my main inspirations... Janet Jackson… Miss Dynamite obviously, and for a sheer work ethic someone like Beyonce, she's an absolute powerhouse. There's also this singer-songwriter Andrea Martin, she's an amazing songwriter who recently worked with Switch - she always manages to find a way to say things so simply - when I write, I try to include that element.
DD: Are your lyrics usually really personal then?
Yasmin: I'm not good at metaphors and analogies - prefer to write in a way that everyone gets what you mean in the simplest ways... finding those phrase in a different way to say it… I try to connect to people through my music - those times when you feel down - like I find it hard to write when I'm in a great mood, I need to be, not in a 'dark place'… but that's there it comes from - being down and whatever and finding a way to connect and give people that hope...
DD: Do you think your music is 'dark' as such then?
Yasmin: Maybe not with the latest single... that's influenced by the more the fun, DJ, club element as a presence in my life - but maybe not dark but it's purely because that's where the lyrics come from - in a song called 'Denial' - worked with Freemasons in Brighton and I was late and everything was going wrong, and when I got there I just had a breakdown, and the guys were like my therapists. They talked it out with me.. and they said they'd play me what they made - and we made the song in 15 minutes, it just all poured out.. sometimes you have to go through something to find something to write about.
DD: What music were you listening to when growing up? Has it directed your sound in any way?
Yasmin: I grew up with a lot of motown around me, and for no particular reason, I'm not Spanish or Latin but I listened to like Carlos Santana and Gypsy Kings who I love. I recently wrote a song called 'Maria' which is Spanish-y - Santana is someone I'd love to do a record with, apart from the fact it would make me dad so happy… But when I was older, I was listening to hip hop, I was just drawn to the rawness of it - uncensored, at the root of what was going on - I was drawn to it, I love the honesty, and through that I got into soul, r'n'b... I love 90s r'n'b, and being in the UK I loved garage and jungle, but now to this day, hip hop is my first love musically.
DD: What would you be doing if you weren't making music?
Yasmin: I'm developing some ideas for TV - interested in visuals, concepts for videos, films or TV - would love to direct, writing scripts… it's a huge job, I love writing songs - love putting ideas into motions!
DD: What do you want to be doing in ten years time?
Yasmin: I'd like to own a record label paired with a production company - under one umbrella, to find talent - studio within this - big office loft space and we've got recording studio, live room, office space, editing suite- to sign artists, work with them write with them, let them have a space to create- people come in to brainstorm and edit… not driven by money.. place for people to come and be creative.. make music and that's all I care about.. reality is when you'r.e within the system - pressure to sell copies... I want somewhere with no pressures...
DD: Does this restriction of selling records/making money affect your work & creativity?
Yasmin: if you can help it no, it can affect your flow - when I was between singles, I was in the studio, it was like I had writer's block and press to make a single after my first one - and plop saying you can play it on the radio, and I was like give me something reggae and breakbeat with Shy FX and it was just fun and then it became a single. At the end of the day, writing songs from the heart but we're not curing heart disease.. The best things happen when they happen - Amy Winehouse said songs write themselves.
Yasmin - ‘Light Up (The World)’, featuring Ms Dynamite is out 15th January 2012