JoJo is back and taking no prisoners!
As the youngest person to have a No. 1 single in the United States at age 13 with the 2004 song “Leave (Get Out),” she's also flexed her acting skills in TV, movies, and also released second album and a few mixtapes since. Now 24 years old, JoJo is poised for the next chapter.
The singer dropped a whopping three singles at one time (“Say Love,” “When Love Hurts,” and “Save My Soul”) all in preparation for the release of her upcoming third album.
It’s been a long time coming; in late 2013 following a long battle to break the contract from her previous record label, JoJo finally found a new home at Atlantic Records, where she’s free to finally release new music to fans who’ve been awaiting her return.
She chatted with us at Singersroom about her new music, and the headspace she’s in in the creation process, and connecting with her fans. Check it out below:
After all the issues with Blackground Records, you found a home at Atlantic. How has Atlantic been treating you?
So far so good! We’re just getting started.
You released the three singles “When Love Hurts,” “Say Love” and “Save My Soul” at once. Why the three-single rollout?
I wanted to do something that would make an impact and I was talking with the chairwoman of the company, Julie Greenwald, and we came up with this idea to release three singes at once, shoot three videos for them, go to radio with one at first, which is “When Love Hurts,” and just kinda show a few different sides at once since it had been so long.
Tell us about each single.
Starting with “Say Love,” it’s a power ballad, a call to action. It’s about what you put yourself out there and you make yourself vulnerable and you expect to be met with the same, and it’s just asking for more. “Save My Soul” is a song about addiction; it can be love or other drugs. I grew up in a house where I saw addiction first hand and that’s’ definitely impacted the way I see life. I’ve also felt like I’ve been powerless to things, where it’s the previous situation I was in professionally, also in a relationship, and to me own demons that I’ve dealt with. And “When Love Hurts” is a more upbeat record, definitely danceable; it’s the record I listen to when I’m doing cardio in the morning. As soon as I heard it, I wanted to put my voice on it, produced by Benny Blanco and Jason Evigan. It’s a feel good song that’s super catchy but it also has that undertone of emotion that you can kinda feel.
Can you dish on the video treatments for the singles?
I just want to release the behind the scenes footage and just let it come out as it may. All will reflect the sentiment of each song. I’m doing it with the same director so there’s gonna be that cohesive stylistic element, but I want each to have their own light, and we’re been sending each other images and ideas and references back and forth for the past six weeks so I can’t wait to start.
What else can you tell us about your new project?
I don’t have a title yet I’m still letting it marinate in my heart. The concept is I just wanted to be honest, I want it to cover a wide range of things that I think about and have gone through as a 24 year old. It’s not harping on the professional stuff, cause that’s not necessarily relatable, but I wanna discuss some things that I discuss with my girlfriends when we’re chilling at each other’s apartments or out drinking wine, eating each other’s food (laughs). You know, just bringing that honesty. And I experiment with different sounds, like I’ve been listening to sooo much music, I’m obsessed with music, it’s my favorite thing in the world and so I’ve just ben soaking it all up. I wanted there to be a mix of live instruments and programmed production as well, just a nice blend.
What artists are you bumping right now?
I’m still in love with Kendrick, To Pimp A Butterfly. I love the divas I grew up listening to on Pandora stations, so Whitney [Houston], Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey. Also different dance artists from Duke Dumont, Closure, MNEK, there’s this young artist Brayton Bowman who is super talented and has a very cohesive sound. Also stuff from the 90s, like Black Box, CeCe Peniston and things like that.
How much creative control do you have?
It’s a collaborative process. Being at a new label I wanted to be open to ideas and to be a team player. I didn’t come into this album with the mindset that “I need to write every song, I need to be 100% in control,” that’s not my personality. I know what I’m strongest at, and I like to surround myself with people who are good at what they do and we all come together. So I wrote about 50% of the album and then I had it on my heart to work with other creative, amazing people and accept songs that were submitted that felt like a story I wanted to tell.
How do you choose the people you want to work with?
I’ve connected to people through social media, and we just started following each other and just said hey lets’ get up and work, happens like that. Sometimes it will be more business-like through labels, sometimes it will be people I’ve already worked with in the past since I’ve been recoding for a long time. It happens in a variety of ways.
What JoJo Fans First Sweeps gives the opportunity for fans across the country to listen to your new music first. What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done upon meeting you?
I feel like we’re friends, you know what I mean? We just go in, we have conversations and we laugh and we joke and we tell each other stories, cry…nothing really crazy. I don’t know maybe cause I don’t think too many things are crazy (laughs), so it’s hard for me to really say It takes a lot to shock me so yeah, it’s been amazing, super gratifying to connect in a really intimate way like that. And I love meeting these people or seeing them again cause I’m seeing them online, supporting me and getting the word out, and I’ve seen them at my shows, and it’s very special for me.
Do your fans’ opinions carry weight on what’s actually going to be chosen for the album?
We played about six songs for the people in the Fans First Sweeps, so it was interesting to read the room and feel the pulse of what was getting the most excitement, what they were responding to. I wanted their honest opinion, which is kinda tough after just one listen but they were really intently engaged, and had opinions and provided feedback, whether it was “I like this one more than that one,” or even mixing them. I played them somethings that were unmixed. So I’m gonna end up choosing what feels right for the body of work and we’ve chosen about half of the album and then we’re mixing the rest of them and sequencing, what feels like is gonna be the right thing for this third album.
You had much success with “Leave (Get Out)” over 10 years ago, and you’ve obviously grown as an artist. What do you want people to know about you a child star who's now a woman artist?
I don’t really think of it like that, I just think of myself as continuing to grow. You can’t help but to be affected by then things you go through in your life. I’m 24, I’m a young adult, I’ve seen the world, I’ve been on top, I’ve been depressed, I’ve been in love, I’ve been out of love, I have experiences under my belt, but it’s just the beginning. I’m jaded but I’m not naïve, I’m somewhere in between of being grown and being a little girl. I still have a lot of growing to do and I’ve just discovering myself.