We’ve had Leeds-based quintet Jasmine on our radar ever since bandleader Jasmine Whalley got in touch and shared their magical debut album Bright to Light with us a few months back. While it’s taken some time to share the wonderful music with you all finally, we thought we’d give the band a proper introduction by chatting with Whalley.
Fronted by the composer and alto saxophonist the band members include Ben Haskins on guitar, George MacDonald on piano, Owen Burns on bass and George Hall on drums.
The quintet recorded the album this time last year, which Whalley was able to fund herself. Bright to Light mixes influences from MF Doom, Madvillain, Soweto Kinch and Bonobo.
Stream the album above read our interview below and get to know Jasmine better. They’re definitely a group worth keeping an eye on.
How did you all meet and end up making music together?
We all met while studying at Leeds College of Music. The rest of the guys were in the year above me, and they asked me to join their band called ‘Têtes de Pois’, which is how we became friends. I wanted them to be a part of my solo project because we had played together a lot and knew each other really well.
Congrats on Bright To Light. Can you tell us something about your debut EP?
Thank you! Bring to Light came out in April, it was the first time I’d released my own music, which was really exciting. It’s a nine track EP which is mainly influenced by Jazz and Hip Hop. When we recorded it, we wanted to experiment with some improvised soundscapes, which feature throughout the EP and are called Luminescence Pt. 1-4. I feel like they really tie the whole EP together and give it a nice energy, especially Luminescence pt.1, which is the opening track.
Although jazz clearly influences the EP, you can hear your love and appreciation for hip-hop. Can you talk us through how your love for hip-hop came about and who are some of your biggest influences from the genre?
I studied Jazz Performance at LCoM and at the start of my degree I had never really listened to Hip Hop. When I went into second year, I got into a sax player called Soweto Kinch, and in particular his album ‘Nonagram’, which is heavily influenced by Hip Hop. Around the same time, I also started having one to one lessons with Rob Mitchell, who runs Abstract Orchestra, which is a Hip Hop Big Band that performs the music of J Dilla and Madvillain. He introduced me to a lot of new music and I particularly fell in love with MF Doom, who quickly became a big influence for me.
Your music is hard to put in a box. How would you describe your work?
I totally agree haha. Although my music is influenced by a range of genres, I would describe it as a unique blend of Jazz and Hip Hop. I like quite like that my music is hard to place and that the style of the compositions can really vary because I think it’s interesting and keeps the listeners on their toes.
The album artwork is fantastic, can you tell us a bit about the designer?
The artwork was designed by a Bradford based illustrator and designer called Adam Menzies. I love his work because it’s so quirky and fun. I wanted the artwork to say that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, while still reflecting the music on the EP, which I think Adam has done perfectly.
You’ve just released a new track called ‘Mindstate’, can you talk us through the creation of the song?
Mindstate is a track that I released a couple of weeks ago on SoundCloud. I wanted to challenge myself to release a track that I had written, recorded and produced myself because I am keen to learn more about production. I’ve been working on incorporating pre-recorded tracks into our live performance, which has taken a lot of time to get ready, but I think once it’s ready it’ll take our music to the next level.
Can you tell us a bit about the Leeds jazz scene? Which artists should we be listening to?
For me, the scene here is so amazing because there is so much variety of music being created and everyone has their own unique sound going on. I also love how supportive everyone is; it feels like a real community which is so lovely to be a part of. If you haven’t already, go and check out Vipertime. They’re one of my favourite bands in Leeds and they just released an album called ‘Shakedown’ which is sick!
Outside of music, what are your interests?
To be honest, music pretty much takes up my whole life haha.
What are your plans for the rest of 2019?
I’ve got lots of exciting things planned for the rest of 2019, including working on our debut album which will hopefully be coming out next summer. We’re also going to be performing at a number of Jazz festivals including Scarborough Jazz and We Out Here, which we’re very excited about!
Bright to Light is out now. Buy from Bandcamp.