INTERVIEW: JoJo

Throughout JoJo’s journey as an artist she has been discovering little truths about herself that have lead her to having a strong relationship with her fans. Forever speaking her truth, she has been fully transparent through every release and tour she’s done. 

Her third studio album ‘Mad Love’ was a triumphant return to the spotlight in 2016 and saw her finding a whole new confidence inside of her that was sexy and honest. Through the angsty messaging of ‘Fuck Apologies’ and ‘FAB.’ to the rhythmically seductive vibes of ‘Edibles’ and ‘Like This’, she boldly delivered a mature RNB sound that was met with critical acclaim.  

Since that release she been touring the world and reconnecting with her fans face to face while preparing the next chapter which is promised to be even more honest and vulnerable. 

Her fourth studio album ‘Good To Know’ will be released on May 1 and hears her continuing that slick RNB sound that still holds onto a seductive pop polish. Lead single ‘Man’ embodied that representation beautifully while she reflected on her self-love journey. She explains how she’s come to respect herself on a deeper level, and after taking some time to focus on herself she’s ready to open herself up to love again.

I recently sat down with JoJo over Skype to have a chat about the self-love message behind ‘Man’, explored the sonical and artistic growth within ‘Good To Know’ and discussed reconnecting with her fans and discovering what songs have impacted their lives. Check out the chat HERE; 

THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Man’ is a strong RNB track with a really seductive vibe that continues the sound that ‘Mad Love’ introduced. So reflecting on the creative process behind the song, how did the concept all come together in the studio? 

JOJO: My girl Lauren LaRue sent me this idea that she had started with some friends in Atlanta. She must’ve knew that this was the sort of drip I was on because I instantly fell in love with it and wanted to finish it.

So I jumped into the studio soon after to tweak a few things and finish it up. It was really simple because the song is very straight forward in saying that I dig who I am, I know my values, I know what I’m bringing to the table, and I’m really comfortable with my single status. There’s going to be no settling for anything less than finding my equal.  

TB: There is a real message of self-empowerment that shines through the messaging of the song with lyrics like “I need somebody who can love me like I love me. Love me like I can” driving the chorus. So what is your advice for anyone that is struggling to find that inner self love and empowerment in a time that generally does feel very dark? 

J: Just know that you’re not the only one. Unless you were just shown the blueprint from an early age of how to set boundaries, how to respect yourself and how to take care of yourself. Like, who really was? I mean, I wasn’t. 

My self worth has been on a sliding scale my entire life. I’ve tried to find it in other people, in adulation, in attention, in relationships, and all of those things are fleeting. 

My advice for other people would be that, nobody can love you like you can. 

You can honour the commitments you make to yourself, you can take care of yourself, you can provide for yourself, and you can be gentle with yourself. We never know what someone else can do but when we can trust ourselves, I think that is the most powerful thing and the most powerful place to move from. 

TB: Your fourth studio album ‘Good To Know’ is out May 1. So reflecting on the journey between ‘Mad Love’ and this record, what would you say has been the biggest sonical or artistic growth between these records?

J: It was really important to me that this album was very cohesive. I wanted you to be able to put it on from beginning to end and feel like you took the journey with me over the past couple of years. I also didn’t want it to feel like you were jumping genres even though we introduce different influences and things I love. It really does feel like one cohesive project.

I was working with new people this time around like Lido who is one of the main producers. I absolutely love him and we had a lot of fun making these tracks. I felt confident in trying things and I felt creatively safe to keep writing about the same thing until I felt free. Like, all my co-writers and creative collaborators were probably like “god, when is she going to stop writing about this relationship”, but I had to process it. 

There were a lot of things that I had to personally process from wanting to escape myself, feeling shame, feeling guilt, feeling like I just want to go out and get drunk and forget about it, to realising I need to be by myself and getting to a place that wherever you are IS all good. It is what it is for a reason. 

TB: You’ve been posting lyrical teasers from the record which has already shown there are some very honest moments going to be shared. So what would you say is the most vulnerable moment on ‘Good To Know’?

J: Sometimes it’s hard to step outside and see myself from a birds eye view because I don’t know what people are going to think is the most wild and vulnerable. But for me it was quite easy to be this open. I think being transparent is easier for me than trying to sell some image of perfection because I’m just really not that. I do dumb shit in relationships all the time. I’m just not the best and that’s why I need to be alone right now as I need to figure out how to be a good partner to myself. 

On this song ‘Think About You’ it’s like; “Hit me up, ring me one time if you want to hit it one time. If you want to fight, fuck me out of spite, if you need to hate me it’s fine. If I give you all of my time, could you get over your pride? Hit me up, ring me one time, if you need to hate me that’s fine”. Basically saying that I’m desperate for you to come back in my life because I messed up so bad and I can’t stop thinking about you. 

TB: ’Joanna’ was a very honest and personal little song that was the perfect introduction to this new era. What was a lyric that you were most nervous about sharing with the world through that track?

J: ‘Joanna’ is one of those ultimately vulnerable moments like we were just talking about. It was a song where I questioned if I could even put it out. Like, of course I can put out whatever I want, but I did question how it would be received as it was a bit self-deprecating. 

For me to say “you peaked” is something that while you’re in your twenties is literally impossible. And even when you’re in thirties, forties etc, it’s impossible as there is no such thing. The only truth is what you believe. But there have been moments where I have let ONE hater on the internet define the way I think about myself for a few moments. 

“You peaked. Sorry to kick deep, but heard your story before it’s not unique. You’re sounding resentful, take a seat” is just looking at how some people think they know why things happen a certain way, when they really have no fucking idea *laughs*. People get really bold on the internet and at the end of the day there are real people behind who they are talking about. 

TB: And they would probably be the first ones to come up to you in the streets and tell you how much they loved you.

J: CORRECT! People are so fake *laughs*! Like no nobody has ever come up crazy to my face, but maybe I just have the energy that you shouldn’t *laughs*.

TB: On the ‘Mad Love Tour’ you had a VIP soundcheck experience where you encouraged fans to request rare favourites for you to play acoustically, and then you later went out on the ‘Leaks, Covers And Mixtape’s Tour’ where you intimately played these rarities. So when you did this, was there a particular song that really shocked you that had such a connection with your fans? 

J: For some reason so many of my songs leaked when I was in-between albums in my late teens/early 20’s. So I started to find out that a lot of my fans knew all of this material that wasn’t meant to be out when they would come to shows and that’s why I decided to do that ‘Leaks, Covers and Mixtape’s’ tour 

‘Paper Airplanes’ and ‘Limbo’ were the biggest requests, as well as this song called ‘Fly Away’. I guess my fans like songs about aviation and moving forward *laughs*. 

TB: I noticed on social media during the ‘Mad Love Tour’ that a lot of people were requesting ‘Coming For You’ for the soundcheck sessions which is one of my favourite old-school JoJo songs!

J: Yes! People love ‘Coming For You’! It’s such a passionate song as it’s actually just saying that I will do anything to let you know how much I love you. And there was that angsty feel to it because I was just an angsty fifteen year old in general. 

TB: At the end of 2018 you re-recorded your first two albums for legal reasons so your fans could still enjoy them digitally. So while you were re-recording these songs, what is something you learnt about yourself and the artist that has risen?

J: I recorded my first album when I was twelve and it came out when I was thirteen, so to be honest with you I never thought I would re-visit these songs. And I certainly didn’t do it because I’m obsessed with myself and want to keep going backwards. Like, absolutely not *laughs*. I just felt like there needed to be a solution to the problem because my first two albums were not available on streaming services. 

So something that me and my lawyers figured out was that I could make new masters of the songs and put them out through my own imprint and recreate everything. But something that I took about from re-creating these two albums was how much freedom and no fear I had when I was singing at that age. I wasn’t thinking about what anybody else would think. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than being as true to the moment and the songs as possible. 

So it was really nice to connect with that undaunted girl within me. That was a really important thing for me to do to move forward and feel really empowered because I think we are all that when we first come into the world, but then life happens and we put up an armour and try to protect ourselves. Our muscle memory develops into a way where we are always on the defence and I found that I started to do that as a singer, so it was nice to tap into that. 

TB: You recently popped up a little video re-work of ‘Leave (Get Out) on TikTok which encouraged people to stay inside during this time of crisis. So how did the idea come together? 

J: I have been doing these live streams every day with my fans where I am just like a human playlist and they request what they want to hear me sing. And someone just wrote in the comments “stay in, right now, or it’s the end of you and me” with the clap emojis and I was like “oh alright, I see what you’re doing there” *laughs*. 

I realised that those syllables worked perfectly, so I just got onto my iPad and started writing different lines. I ended up re-writing it within a couple of minutes as it was so easy because the melody is already there, and I know the song really well. And then I made a little beat on the table to bring it all together. 

I just sang what we are all doing and what we are all pretty much thinking. It was just something I didn’t even think about, I just did it. 

TB: The internet has been going crazy for the video. So what has been one of your favourite or funniest reactions you’ve seen? 

J: I try not to get too into what people’s responses are to things, especially with this as I didn’t do it for that purpose. I did it to just put it up as I thought it was entertaining and fun. But i’m really glad that people did enjoy it and saw the playful and serious side to it. 

TB: Now I have to ask, when are we going to see you finally in Australia? I need to see ‘Edibles’, ‘Like This’, ‘Clovers’ and ‘Coming For You’ live. 

J: Look, it’s going to happen! I want to come to Australia so bad and there were plans for me to come but obviously everything is very different right now. So hopefully the world gets better and resumes soon so I can finally come to Australia and play some shows for you! 

‘Good To Know’ is out May 1