It's a new day and with that I bring to you a brand new Interview featuring the soulful, sexy diva Jhene Aiko. You may have heard of her on recent records like Ab-Soul's Terrorist Threats and Casey Veggies Life & Rhymes. But what you haven't heard is the story behind the voice. I was lucky enough to get to talk with Miss Jhene recently. We talk about life, struggle and her upcoming album Souled Out. Get familiar with a superstar who is next in show, Jhene Aiko.
Your name is so unique and beautiful. Its pronounce Jhene Aiko. What is your background?
Japanese x African American x Native American with parts of some other stuff, but we will stick with those three for now.
What does your family think about your music career?
They are very supportive. I grew up in a family where I am the youngest of five. By the time I was 4 my oldest siblings were already going on auditions and singing and doing videos.
Are any of them involved in music?
Yes my sister was always involved in entertainment things like singing and dancing. My dad was always into writing songs and singing. My first house that I grew up in, he had converted the garage into a studio. Even though I was really young, it was normal to be around these types of things and these types of people.
Were you ever signed to TDE Records? How did the hottest track out right now Terrorist Threats come about?
No it was actually TUG. I work closely with TDE, my management company now has brought me even closer. We have known each other for a while now. We are doing the same things and I feel we have the same integrity. Terrorist Threats happened because Ab-Soul called me up and said I need you on this song. It was a couple of songs actually he needed me to do. So I came in to do that. Ab-Soul is one of my favorite rappers of all time. He is amazing to me. He's a genius. I was more than happy to contribute in that way. He knew what he wanted me to say on the records, he already had it written out. I want to be down because I believe in him as an artist and his message.
That's amazing. I will be at the Ab-Soul show in LA on the 15th. Will you be there?
I'm definitely going to be there
You work with one of my favorite production teams Fisticuffs. They recently produced the track 3:16am which you did a short teaser for. Way to build that buzz. How did you originally link up with them?
Video is coming soon. That came about because I was signed with Sony/Epic and they usually place me with producers. I had worked with them and then kept working with them throughout my career. Sometimes I wouldn't even know it was there track. When we finally sat down and I realized I had already written a song to their track, I knew then that I wanted them to be my main producers because we just worked so well together. We started creating stuff together from scratch and thats when I was like "You guys are my team."
Your music deals with real life emotions and everyday struggles. What is the greatest obstacle you have overcome?
I think that trying to find a balance of being a mom and doing what I'm doing or trying to do has been- I wouldn't say it's really like a hard struggle but it's something definitely like everyday is a work in progress. I'm a mom, you know, I don't have a babysitter or anything like that. I have a great family and friends that help out when they can, but we are all out here trying to do our thing, surviving.
I'm always looking for new inspiration. Where do you turn to get inspired mainly?
It doesn't take much. Im going through something everyday so I write based off of how I'm feeling. I write for myself to help get through things, so I'm always inspired. Whether I'm happy or sad, or angree, there is always something to pull from.
I have worked with a rapper named Ryshon Jones from Philadelphia. He wrote and dedicated a song to you called Letter To Jhene Aiko. Have you heard it? What is your response.
Yeah I heard it. I was flattered. I think thats dope. Not only because its a song directed towards me, but it was a good song too. So I was like wow, I was taken back a little like wow.
Listen to an excerpt of interview in Ryshon Jones recent visual for Letter To Jhene
It's official, your signed to Atrium Records, which was founded by superproducer No I.D. a subdivision of Def Jam Records. Congratulations.
What do you think of major record label expectations?
I don't think of them. I think that it's a new time in music and labels are aware of artists like myself to have their foundation already built, and I think they're respecting it more. I think they appreciate it to because they don't have to work as hard. They are coming into situations now where we already have our own fanbase. The labels kind of fall in line with that. There's still the politics and stuff like that, but I think there is a shift in how labels are dealing with everything now.
Your upcoming album Souled Out is an interesting metaphor but seems to serve as a double meaning. Can you explain the idea behind it?
Well first it's a follow up to my debut project Sailing Souls (Sailing Souls is about the free spirit; sailing your soul instead of selling it) Being free rather than having a price. Souled Out is what happens after you Sail your Soul. Your Souled Out and completely free. And your Soul is on an infinite free ride. Souled Out will have a lot of my soul poured out into each track, almost to the point where it's like "I might not be around for the end of this", but I'm writing these songs because it's that important to me to really share this and put a lot into each song.
What is the difference between your debut project Sailing Souls and your new project Souled Out?
It's like Sailing Souls times 10. On this album I'm going to be even more personal. Even more heartfelt. The songs about life are going to be even more. Everything will be more. I have some songs on there that are going to be dark, really dark. Previously I sort of took it easy with Sailing Souls. On Souled Out I'm going to really show off what I'm thinking about.
It's all about growth.
Exactly. Hopefully it's not too different for the people that are in love with Sailing Souls. Because in the end it's from ME. It's me being myself. A year has gone by since then and a lot has happened and I think I definitely have grown. So that is what is expected with Souled Out
What are your playing on your iPod right now?
On my iPod I am playing Ab-Soul (Control System), Kid Cudi (WZRD) and John Mayer Born And Raised. Those are my top 3 in rotation. Nothing has been able to take me off of those as of yet.
I heard a little bit of Born And Raised. A bit to country for me.
It is, but if your a John Mayer fan it's all about his stories. If he was a rapper, he would have some of the craziest bars because his storytelling ability, the way he is with words is just amazing to me. I love everything about John Mayer. To me he is a true musician. It's not too country.
Besides your highly highly anticipated debut album, what upcoming events or projects do you have coming up that your excited about?
Right now I'm really focused on writing and finishing Souled Out. I am just going with the flow. I'm excited about everything. I got upcoming shows that I will let everybody know about through my twitter and my website. I'm just a random person. Sometimes I might just drop a snippet of a new song here and there while people wait.
Everybodies path is different. What have you lived by to help keep you motivated and working towards your goals?
I truly believe in taking the time to understand and to love yourself and really find out who you are. I feel like once you do that, you can do anything. I think it's important to be honest with yourself and take time to really understand and look at life with an open mind. Treat yourself right. All in all just be led by love.