FEATURE: Spotlight: Jazmin Bean — Music Musings & Such (2024)

Sam Liddicott

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Sam Liddicott

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FEATURE: Spotlight: Jazmin Bean — Music Musings & Such (1)

PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Lee Culver

Jazmin Bean

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I am going to….

FEATURE: Spotlight: Jazmin Bean — Music Musings & Such (2)

get to the new album by Jazmin Bean, Traumatic Livelihood. Their album is among the best of the year so far. There is so much interest and buzz around Jazmin Bean. One of the most original and compelling new artists on the scene, I want to spend some time with a fascinating and stunning talent. Starting out with an interview from Gay Timesfrom last year. Bean discussed their upcoming theatrical debut album, kicking addiction, and taking over The Great Escape:

From the age of 15, Jazmin Bean has slowly crafted their own twisted reality. Now, hyperpop’s underground royalty is crawling out of the gutter and into the spotlight. Transforming trauma into triumph, Bean resides in a dark saccharine daydream of hyperpop and trap metal inflections. While the real world kept them silent, the artist has carved out a nightmarish kingdom of solace from treacle-thick aesthetics that unapologetically pull you in.

In the latest taste of their full-length debut, Bean’s sound is pink and predatory to the core — it’s the sound of survival, a sugary sweet, abrasive snarl of warning to keep your distance. Yet, sitting in front of us, there’s a woozy, syrupy haze that engulfs them entirely; a patchwork vision of fluffy pastels and hard work. No matter where our conversation steers, whether it’s stories of child abuse, addiction, or isolation, the artist sinks themselves into an atmosphere of calm. This image of composure, however, has been a determined journey: “Once you’ve really been put through the wringer, your stress levels change,” Bean reflects, calmly applying another layer of rose-tinted lipstick. “When you’ve experienced deathly stressful situations, you realise it could always be a lot worse.”

Through music, make-up and fashion, Bean has learned to combat and process the darker chapters of their life. Creating an unsettling veil of hyperpop fantasy, the artist’s full-throttle soundscape doubled up as a sonic safe space which allowed them to detach from their reality. Bean’s bruisingly sweet vomit-between-your-teeth persona became a vital outlet for a young rough-cut teenager. “Who I became on Worldwide Torture was kind of like a superhero,” Bean muses. “It was written from the perspective of what I wished that I could have done in all these abusive situations, situations that I wasn’t really safe to speak up about. It was a way of coping through it.”

Despite adolescent vulnerabilities, the gutsy, sharp sound of Worldwide Torture is anything but vulnerable. From start to finish, Worldwide Torture is positively carnivorous and unflinchingly bold. Serving up nail-bomb nursery rhymes and embittered electronic distortion, Bean would go on to pioneer an entirely fresh genre of bratty grunge pop. In fact, the musician proved how far alternative innovation could be stretched, inspiring a wave of grunge-tinged artists to arise in their wake.

Over the years, some have labelled Bean as an ‘industry plant’ due to their quick circulation as a next-wave artist. However the truth is anything but that — “I wrote Worldwide Torture during my GCSEs, and I raised like £500 for the title track’s video,” Bean tells GAY TIMES. The video’s frilly exploration of poisoned innocence exists solely due to a mass of promised “pay backs” which all came through in the end. Yet, despite circ*mstances, Bean was confident and assured in their vision. “I’m so proud that this little 16-year-old created a whole world.”

Four years on, Bean’s growth since Worldwide Torture has been immense. Sonically they have soared to new heights of acclaim, yet the personal development that Bean has undergone is equally as major. After a stint in rehab for ketamine addiction, Bean’s outlook on life and creativity entirely shifted. “I’d practically written what was going to be my debut album before rehab, but, when I got out, I scrapped the whole album,” Bean admits. “It was actually pretty good, but I was just on a lot of drugs. I wanted to rewrite tracks to avoid any sense of ‘woe is me.’”

Thematically, Bean’s debut is raw. Much like their EP, the album reflects on years of trauma, biting back and taking control. Yet, while themes may seem depressing, Bean insists the album is anything but; “I asked on Twitter the other day, ‘What do you consider a sad song?’ and people were saying that some of the most upbeat previews I’ve posted were sad,” Bean frowns. “In my mind, it’s not a sad album. Talking about something that was sad at the time doesn’t mean it’s a sad song!” The artist, instead, hopes people can understand the positivity of the album’s reclamation and re-framing of trauma; “It is very cathartic for me, the album is taking back a lot that I’d thought I’d lost.”

Turning 20 served as a reflective moment in Bean’s life for this very reason. “A lot of people’s childhoods get ripped away from them and they don’t even realise it til later on, and turning 20 really made me reflect on that,” Bean admits. Their recent Acoustic Church Session release featured a cover of Marina’s iconic Teen Idle, and it proved to be a fitting performance to wave out their teen years. “As someone who grew up very, very quickly, turning 20 has been very strange for me. It’s supposed to be this coming-of-age moment, but it kind of just made me feel washed up and trauma filled.”

Despite feeling like their teen years were stolen from them, Bean’s growth has allowed them to now embody the character that dominated Worldwide Torture. “I wanted to talk about my teenage experience and the things that I just wasn’t ready to talk about before,” Bean tells us. “I became the person that I was talking about. I did all the things I was daydreaming about, and ended the things that were hurting me”.

There are a few more interviews I want to bring in before round off. DIYchat with Jazmin Bean back in November. An artist who has endured so much pain and horror, they are finally ready to tell their story. Traumatic Livelihood is an album of revelation, honesty, catharsis, rawness and power:

14-year-old Jazmin Bean was going to the US, but they couldn’t tell their friends. Even if they could, they didn’t know how to. It wasn’t for a holiday, and it wasn’t to visit family. “I was groomed by a man that was much older than me,” Bean says, plainly.

They’re sitting down on a kerb in LA, basking in the sunshine. “I’m very happy to not be in British weather right now,” they say over Zoom. “I prefer the sun so, so much.”

We’re talking about their debut album, ‘Traumatic Livelihood’. It’s an album that Bean’s fans have been clamouring for since they broke out on the scene in 2020 - and there are approximately 900,000 of those fans now on TikTok alone. Back at that time, Bean was known for their extreme beauty style, love of anime, and their shocking performance tactics. Their debut EP ‘Worldwide Torture’ - released aged 17 - spawned some of the tracks (‘Yandere’ and ‘Hello Kitty’) that remain their biggest hits to date.

But in reality, a lot was going down behind the scenes. In June 2022, Bean announced they had been in rehab for a few months. It was a decision that had been a long time coming after four years of struggling with addiction - particularly with ketamine - that started around the same time they began being groomed.

“I was around 14 when that happened,” Bean begins. “I was being shipped back and forth across the world and obviously exploited quite badly, sexually, and isolated from a lot of friends and family. I was trapped in this one bedroom in the Bronx, not really knowing what was going on.”

FEATURE: Spotlight: Jazmin Bean — Music Musings & Such (3)

As a result, they turned to drugs to cope. “A lot of my drug usage at a young age came from that repressed memory and blocked that trauma,” they explain. “Your brain blocks out trauma and I just started remembering things that I didn't even know happened. And so that was a lot for me to overcome mentally.”

Just years later, and still in the grip of addiction, Bean would simultaneously rise to fame as one of the most exciting names in alternative music. They were only 16 when they released ‘Hello Kitty’, which now has 23 million views on YouTube. It’s a raging speed-metal track whose accompanying video features the singer’s famous makeup style at the time; like the track’s titular animated feline was glitched out and turned into a demon. But even then, there were signs in Bean’s music that something wasn’t right: “One day I'm gonna get stretched too hard and snap like a rubber band,” they sing.

Through it all, they would continue to release music that showcased the singer’s wild creativity. 2022’s ‘Puppy Pound’ is set to a punishing bark, while Bean struts around in a fluffy pink dress with slick black latex gloves and boots. But at that point, they were in LA “with the wrong people and no parental guidance, making song after song after song”.

Bean, knowing they had hit rock bottom, decided to go to rehab. It’s a move which their label, Island Records / Interscope, was entirely supportive of and even paid for, and is something Bean believes every label should offer. “The data shows that musicians are bad with addiction!” they exclaim. “I don’t know the science behind it, but the stories are plentiful. I’m really appreciative that they understood my journey and welcomed me back with open arms.”

Emerging from rehab, Bean listened back to what was supposed to be their debut album. What they found, however, was a project that sounded like “a cry for help”. “This album sounds like it's coming from someone who is on a lot of drugs and really unwell,” they recall thinking. “It wasn't aligning with my point of view or what I wanted to do with my style.”

Additionally, Bean felt the album was “trying too hard to do all the different genres that were popping off”. Though they concede that “there were some good songs”, they decided to scrap the album and start fresh with new material they could relate to.

For the most part, however, ‘Traumatic Livelihood’ is a raw document of Bean’s singular life, of overcoming their past and carving out a new future. “It's a very weird experience,” they admit. “It's hard not being able to find stories that I relate to. But someone said to me: ‘Maybe you're just going to have to be that story for someone else’. That was a really hard pill to swallow”.

I will wrap up soon. Soundsphere have been among those keen to know more about Jazmin Bean and their music. I am new to Bean’s music and name. I have been listening back and reading interviews they have been involved with. It is always very moving. Someone who has had this impossibly difficult and traumatic past is making music that will no doubt heal and connect with so many other people:

Discussing the anticipation building up to the record’s release, Jazmin bares all: “I am super excited. It feels almost unreal that it is even coming out because I have overcome so so many hurdles getting it out into the world and it is almost here.” The excitement beams from their face as they talk about Traumatic Livelihood and what it means to them as an album. “It is well obviously an album about dramatic and tragic events, but it is full of lively sounds, and stacked with upset happy pop references,” Jazmin explains when identifying the concept and themes behind the record. Adding on, they say: “The title merges these two themes,” it is most certainly an album which explores highs and lows, peaks and drops, happiness and despair.

Traumatic Livelihood includes hit after hit, and Jazmin states: “I am most excited for people to hear the title track,” as they beam with an excited grin. Their expressions whilst talking about their debut record shows how much this album means to Jazmin – it has been a long time coming. The title track – ‘Traumatic Livelihood’ – repeats: “I can do anything I want,” and is laced with passion and determination, intertwined with a modern pop influence. Adding in abruptly before the optic of conversation shifts, they say: “Oh! Also Stockholm Butterfly!” This track appears the rawest and most personal on the record – it seeps with vulnerability. If you want to get to know Jazmin on a deeper level, ‘Stockholm Butterfly’ is the track to start with. The Melanie Martinez sonic influences peers through the track as Bean looks back on their traumatic past as a child and teenager and calls out those who exploited their vulnerability and youth. “That sweet child inside of me,” mirrors the longing Jazmin misses from their childhood – yearning to be innocent again despite the trauma faced.

Defining success for any artist – especially those new to the scene and emerging with their debut record like Jazmin Bean can be a trying task, yet Jazmin words it perfectly. “Having respect from people who you think are cool has made me feel so successful. Chasing awards and stuff, I do not know, I feel like the end outcome is never as big as you want it to be, but having respect from peers however is success to me,” they say. Their peers will be proud of this record: it is a tight-knit and cohesive collection of songs.

Bean ends a summarising statement about the entire recording, writing and releasing process for Traumatic Livelihood: “This album has had so much thought put into it. Worldwide Torture was a scrapbook of ideas, this record was a beautiful journey.” The excitement exudes from the singer-songwriter: the journey has been tiring yet worth it. Traumatic Livelihood will cement Bean into the industry and allow them to wedge their creative and beautifully crafted visual world into the stratosphere”.

Iam ending with a recent interview from NME. It is true what they say about how Bean is crafting cinematic Pop that celebrates recovery, retribution and life after trauma. It is among the most important, moving and strangely uplifting music you will hear. For anyone who has not checked out Jazmin Bean, I would advise you listen to their music:

Do you think you’ll ever release the album that you wrote before rehab? Did any of those songs make it onto this album?

“No. Actually, none of them did. Everything was post-rehab. I think I started writing about two months after I got out. I know the writing really started happening three months after getting out. I never put any of the songs from before rehab on this album. They’re not the same genre. They were like electronic pop slash summer industrial. They were all over the place really. I don’t think I’d ever do anything with them. I think they will just live in my files.”

There are a lot of themes of retribution on the album. You’ve spoken about how the courts failed you when you tried to pursue a legal case against your abuser. Did writing this album feel like a way to get some of the closure you were denied down legal pathways?

“Definitely. ‘Stockholm Butterfly’ was a big one for me in addressing that. A lot of the songs address that overall period of time in my life. I thought this person was going to rot in jail for a very long time because the crime was very severe. I wrote a song called ‘Sock Puppet’ that never made it onto the album. There was a bridge in that song that very much alluded to the fact that this person was already in jail, but they never ended up going. A lot of the album helped me get over that.”

Is there a message that you’d like the album to give to survivors of abuse?

“When the case failed, it threw me into a spin because I thought that I was going to get to be this success story for people and help people speak up. I thought I was going to get to be that voice that could help people address things when they think no one is going to care or listen.

Then I became the person that no one really listened to, so I was stopped in my tracks for a moment. I was like, ‘What am I going to do? I’m just another failure story in a bunch.’ There’s nothing worth taking from this series of events because the story is the same as everyone else’s which is that no one really cares, especially not the legal system. Most abusers just do walk free. I didn’t really know if I was going to speak on anything because I didn’t think it was inspirational, but I hope that whatever they’re going through, they can take those songs and feel powerful. That’s what I would like.

I feel very powerful when I listen to the songs. I have a song called ‘Charm Bracelet’ that’s referencing that. I didn’t want it to sound like a ‘poor me’ song. It was more saying that it’s going to be fine. You just do not have control over what happens. You can’t just be mad at a god or the world. You just have to keep going.”

Your previous releases were more influenced by rock and metal, but this album leans into a more cinematic kind of pop music. Why did you decide to change direction?

“I was feeling like I needed a big change. I felt like I started becoming such a brand of this one genre and this one clothing style. I wanted to change it up and it came naturally. I just started experimenting. Then I found a couple of songs that I really felt connected to and we just went off that vibe. I feel like it was very natural for me to go into the genre”.

A magnificent artist who we are going to hear a lot more from, go and follow Jazmin Bean. A new artist to my ears, I am not compelled to follow their career and see where they go from here. Traumatic Livelihood is such an important and memorable album. One that you will be hit by the first time you hear it. It is proof that Jazmin Bean is an artist that…

EVERYONE should know about.

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FEATURE: Spotlight: Jazmin Bean — Music Musings & Such (4)

Sam Liddicott

FEATURE: Spotlight: Jazmin Bean — Music Musings & Such (2024)
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