Graham Reid | | 4 min read
When Jazmine Mary and band played a mesmerising show at the Hollywood Avondale in Auckland recently Jazmine – who identifies as they/them – initially came on dressed like an Amish woman off to the celebration after a barn-raising, then later changed into what looked like a 1950s bathing suit.
That dichotomy of presentation illustrated the breadth and scope of her work, from poised almost holy songs to something much more loose and alt-pop.
Jazmine Mary has two excellent albums behind them, their 2022 Licking of a Tangerine debut picking up the IMNZ independent album award, their most recent DOG accorded postive reviews at Elsewhere and elsewhere.
Time then to ask this fascinating artist we claim as our own some questions . . .
Where did you grow up, and with who?
I grew up in Gippsland which is a valley in Australia, I lived in a bunch of small towns in the area in many different houses. With my mother and brother and sister.
Was music an important part of your childhood?
In the sense that it's an important part of the human experience, I’m genuinely surprised to be living the life I am.
What are your earliest childhood memories of music which really affected you . . .
All my memories of music as a child are really rooted in fun and celebration, the first time I can remember being moved by music was probably watching and hearing the high school orchestra. I remember watching the girl playing the flute and just wanting to be her.
Was there a time when you felt it was going to be music and nothing else?
Maybe recently, but probably not music… I think I knew I was going to create things and nothing else. If I told a younger me where I live and what I do and how much I love and am loved I think they would be so surprised.
When you started your music career were people around you supportive or did you have to find those people?
I don't think of it as a career really. Dangerous to place the value of something so magic on that.
I’m just realising what I want and then following that. I have always tried to pull people close to me that remind me of what's real and that inspires me, the people that have supported me to continue with music aren't always musicians, they are my loved ones.
The people I have felt the most supported by musically are my band, that's such a special thing, to play my songs with me when there isn't anything in it other than doing that.
The first song of yours which you really felt proud of was . . .? And why that one?
Its hard to remember such specific feelings, it's a big life, I know I do feel proud of this [new] record, I feel a real sense of … well done for making something so heavy and insurmountable beautiful even if just for me.
Any one person you'd call a mentor, angel on your shoulder or invaluable fellow traveller?
Not one, I have a group of found family who scooped me up when I was so close to disappearing so long ago, and they have always adored me and loved every little silly thing I do. My life would look so so different if that didn't happen, and that felt like something protecting me.
Where and when was the first time you went on stage as a paid performer?
Probably some Melbourne bar when I was 18.
Ever had stage fright or just a serious failure of nerves before going on stage?
Absolutely, often, however it feels a lot easier now, more like a healthy fear that is just rooted in caring deeply, but there has been times the fright is so in my body, that's when its really awful, like your fingers and voice box abandon you.
As a songwriter, do you carry a notebook or have a phone right there constantly to grab ideas they come? Or is your method something different?
I carry many notebooks yes, I write most days, I also end up with so many scraps of paper and so many lost songs.
What unfashionable album do you love as a guilty pleasure?
I don't know if I have enough perspective on what is fashionable to answer this, though I did re-listen to Kasey Chambers' album “The Captain” recently and realised I knew every single word, I don't feel damn guilty about it though.
Any piece of advice you were given which you look back on which really meant something?
Maybe just the realization that I can and should do whatever I want.
I should make sure those things are kind… but you can do anything.
It's after a performance/concert and you are in a hotel room or back at home, what happens then?
It's so late and I’m so sleepy, it depends if I'm alone or with the band or a lover, often I will watch some really bad TV.
Is there any fellow artist you admire for professional and/or personal reasons?
I just admire anyone willing to share themselves with art really. I remember recently watching Big Thief and being in real awe of their connection, the music was obviously amazing but the love and friendship between them was palpable.
And finally, where to from here for you do you think?
Nowhere, I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. It doesn't need to be anything more.
You can hear and buy Jazmine Mary's DOG at bandcamp here