Pasadena-based singer-songwriter Jasmine Bailey opens up about overcoming shyness to become a gigging musician and reveals how a burden has been lifted by revealing a very personal side of herself through song.
What are your early musical influences?
My parents aren't musicians or anything like that; they both were graphic designers and visual artists when I was a kid, so they were very encouraging of my interests in art, visual art and in music.
My dad listened to a lot of late ‘60s and ‘70s rock, so I grew up on Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. My mum was more into smooth jazz, which was my soft intro into jazz.
I also listened to a tonne of West Coast, hip hop and R&B because that was also really big in the 90s, so Lauryn Hill and TLC – there were a lot of different combinations going on there! As I've got older, I've tried to listen to everything.
When you started to take an interest in songwriting, who did you look up to?
The lead singer-songwriter of the band, Fleet Foxes – Robin Pecknold was a very early influence for me. I had a really big ‘60s phase too. I was really into Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and they're singing a lot of traditional English folk songs.
I was really inspired by a lot of the singer-songwriters out of the ‘60s who were writing about political and social things. Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote is one of my really big inspirations as a lyricist, and just in her phrasing and deliveries in her songs.
Where did your interest in writing your own songs start?
I was always really interested in writing. I have kept a journal since I was six years old, I swear! I always wrote; that was something I loved to do.
I had an interest in singing, but I was a very shy kid, so singing was something that didn't really come easily to me at first, just because of how visible you have to be when you do it. So for a long time, I was just writing songs. In high school one of my best friends encouraged me to join the choir with her, and I was like, ‘Okay, since you're in it, it'll be fun; I'll do that with you’.
That definitely gave me the foundation for some of my basic music theory. Also when you're singing with 20-plus other people, it's so magical.
That was a really big turning point in terms of confidence for me to sing, and I eventually was a guitar player in a jazz band in high school, and then I started taking college-level music theory courses while I was still in school.
A lot of things started gelling when I was about 16 because I had some really amazing friends who really encouraged me to be brave, and I've been obsessed ever since.