Jazmin Bean: “I don’t think this is a healed album, or a wounded one.… (2024)

Words:
George Garner

Photos:
Jamie Lee Culver

The Jazmin Bean you once knew is gone. That much becomes clear to Kerrang! as soon as we’re greeted by the sight of the star sitting at home, waving at us with a big grin, and sporting a black jumper, emblazoned with a fluffy pink bunny.

It stands in stark contrast to the incarnation of Jazmin – who uses they/them pronouns – that first captured the world’s attention. That was one of a teenage prodigy pushing boundaries with disturbing make-up, dog collars with preposterously long spikes, soulless-eyed contact lenses, prosthetics and more. Their “extreme beauty routine” video for Vogue alone notched up 8.1 million views. With that iconically demonic (or demonically iconic) image supporting their talent for splicing metal and hyperpop on their 2020 Worldwide Torture EP, it marked the arrival of a major new audio-visual artist.

Sitting at home today, however, there is no make-up. No contacts. No gore. No fake rotten teeth. No remnant of what Jazmin calls their “edgelord” phase.

“I was very bored in school, and very autistic,” they explain, as a platoon of colourful teddies stand in silent vigil behind them from atop a mahogany wardrobe. “I wanted more from whatever was happening in life. I started doing make-up, crazy looks, going to clubs at 14 – please don’t do that, kids! I just started getting f*cking bored of life and [wanted to see] what more there could be. And I found a lot more.”

Things took off. But while their videos were getting millions of views, a sense of frustration was also creeping in. Today, Jazmin recalls the times they would wander the streets of Camden and could anticipate exactly what fans and strangers alike would say.

“People just saw me as an aesthetic,” they say. “I needed to express myself more.”

What needed to find expression most was the life of the real person behind the edgelord: Jasmine Adams – offspring of The Wildhearts’ vocalist/guitarist Ginger and Fluffy drummer Angie Adams. On their 18th birthday, they vowed to stop doing their meticulously applied trademark nose make-up. Jazmin Bean, the larger-than-life character, had served a purpose. It was time for change.

“I was dealing with a lot of stuff,” they observe, softly. “‘Jazmin Bean’ was my superhero. Anything that I talked about dealing with in my songs on Worldwide Torture, I never really dealt with because I was f*cking 16. Now, with the situations I’m talking about, I actually have dealt with them.”

This brings us, neatly, to Jazmin’s brilliant – and brilliantly titled – debut album Traumatic Livelihood. It’s got a loaded name for a reason.

“I’m deeply traumatised, I have so much trauma to deal with and unpack – but I’m so excited,” they say, drawing the final word out for emphasis.

Through a combination of blunt force honesty and agonising vulnerability, Traumatic Livelihood is a kaleidoscopic record that will shock and move in equal measure. Nothing was off the table lyrically.

“When it comes to art, it’s like, ‘Whatever,’” they shrug. “We’re all gonna die one day. When you’re dead, you cannot speak your mind.”

Rest assured, on Traumatic Livelihood, Jazmin is very much speaking their mind.

“I had many rock bottoms,” sighs Jazmin, reflecting on how their life began to unravel. “What people would have thought were my rock bottoms, were not my rock bottoms. I camouflaged it to my audience well enough, but to the people in my life? No. Everyone knew that I was going through something…”

These words are spoken softly, and with a sense of cool detachment. It’s a perspective that’s been hard-earned by Jazmin since leaving rehab in April 2022.

“I was addicted to ketamine,” they say, bluntly, of the road that led them there.

Two songs on Traumatic Livelihood speak to this period explicitly. One is Black Dress, a song which starts with the distinctly grim line, ‘Shopping for formaldehyde / ’Cause all my friends are dying.’

“The first verse is about my friend who died from a drug overdose,” Jazmin says. “I remember doing drugs in the bathroom at her memorial like it was nothing. I was literally doing drugs and she had died from a drug overdose.”

Jazmin shakes their head, still in disbelief at the memory.

Best Junkie You Adore, meanwhile, sees Jazmin refer to the 27 Club – a coterie of artists, including Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, who all died at that tragically young age. ‘If you want to be great, you can die at 28,’ they sing, ‘27’s on the nose, so go strike your forever pose.’ It is a true reflection of what they were going through at the time.

“It’s a question I asked myself when I was in active addiction,” they explain. “Do I really have to be one of the dead talented people? There seemed no way out. I like that cheeky lyric, ‘If you want to be great / You can die at 28.’ Do you think people will be angry at that?”

This is typical of Jazmin today – at once a star completely unafraid to speak their truth, but also intelligent and caring enough to be concerned that some might misconstrue this as glamorising what they’ve been through.

“I don’t want people to think I’m being literal,” they stress. “I’m not. People are smart enough to know that I don’t want them to think if you want to be great, you should die at 28!”

As Jazmin’s life continued to be upended by addiction, people suggested rehab. Shortly before they self-admitted themselves, Jazmin had even messaged their therapist, floating the idea. Then came the day it became not so much an option, but a necessity.

“I was with my using-buddy and, I don’t know, something about the day just felt so… sad,” they recall. “I woke up and, obviously, the first thing we were doing is, ‘Where are the f*cking drugs?’ We were like junkies at that point, we were fiending from the moment we would wake up. I kept getting in the shower, because I was so cold. I was so thin from it all and the drugs weren’t really working. I just broke down. My friend opened the door and I was naked on the bathroom floor. I just said, ‘I need to go into rehab.’”

Yet the reality of what Jazmin was facing was deeper than addiction. The ketamine use was a “coping mechanism” for a painful past.

“I didn’t know that repressed memories were a thing,” they say today of what this period unlocked. “I was groomed from about 14 to 17. I was flown [out of the country] by someone much older than myself. And, obviously, illegal things happened. On and off, back and forth.”

How did you get out of that situation?

“They don’t want you when you’re 17,” Jazmin replies.

Looking back on this period, they say, “I had all the access and all the trauma to become the best drug addict in the world.”

A trifecta of songs on Traumatic Livelihood address these experiences, the first being the synth-pop/rock hybrid Piggie.

“Since that experience as a teenager, I went through a lot of very uncomfortable situations with older men, and older men in music,” they say of the song’s roots. “I wanted to call that out. People who have that lifestyle and bring young people – young, vulnerable people – around that think that nobody really knows. But we all know.”

Jazmin Bean: “I don’t think this is a healed album, or a wounded one.… (1)

You Know What You’ve Done is another song that tackles this, a hard subject made somewhat harder for its creator by the fact that upon release some people misdiagnosed it as a heartbreak song. Most powerful of all is Stockholm Butterfly, which captures Jazmin wishing they could travel back in time to stop the grooming. ‘I search for you in airport lines / For f*ck’s sakes I was just a child,’ is just one heartbreaking line of many.

“Piggie is a call out to all of the predators and paedos of the world, but Stockholm Butterfly was more of an emotional [response] to one specific event as a teenager,” they say. “It took a lot to write. Obviously, I have PTSD. The lyrics are hardcore.”

Despite all of this, Traumatic Livelihood is not, Jazmin believes, a depressing album. Upon getting out of rehab, they immersed themselves in painting and writing. Indeed, in a burst of creativity, over 200 songs were made – and scrapped – before arriving at Traumatic Livelihood’s final tracklist. “I even made a drum’n’bass song!” Jazmin laughs.

The record contains their first-ever pure love song in the form of Terrified, while the title-track is an ode to their new post-rehab mindset.

“I just wanted to write a love letter to myself of hope, trust and love,” they say. “I love the lyrics. ‘Tail between my legs / Walking with a strut’ – that’s exactly how I feel aaaallll the time.”

Another line in the song likely to generate interest is, ‘I can get over anything in the f*cking world / Maybe I’ll never find out if I’m a boy, or I’m a girl.’ But what prompted that statement in particular?

“I was just thinking, ‘f*ck it, I actually don’t care,’” they reveal. “I actually don’t care what I am, or who I identify as. Like, maybe I’ll never find out. Like, it doesn’t really matter to me. Like, this is confusing, and maybe you just will not know. Cool!”

It speaks volumes about where Jazmin is right now.

“Honestly, even on the sad songs I felt so happy because I was making good music,” they explain. “I felt I was really making respectable music!”

The Jazmin of 2024 is still proud of that EP. But you have to wonder what the Worldwide Torture incarnation of Jazmin would have made of all the progress – musical and emotional – showcased on their full-length debut.

“I hope they would be impressed,” they ponder. “But honestly? They were such a grungy, depressed little bitch, I honestly don’t even know!”

All that matters is what Jazmin thinks in the here and now, and what this record means to them personally.

“I don’t think it’s a healed album, and I don’t think it’s a wounded one,” they conclude, before K! leaves. “Wounded is what Worldwide Torture was. It’s a healing album. I think I’m healing.”

A little smile follows as they utter a final, hopeful question.

“Maaaaybe in the future I’ll be healed?”

Traumatic Livelihood out now. This article originally appeared in the spring issue of the magazine.

If you have been affected by anything in this piece, please contact Samaritans – you can phone 116 123 for free, or email [emailprotected]

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Jazmin Bean: “I don’t think this is a healed album, or a wounded one.… (2024)
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