By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Best described as a sophisticated concoction of jazz legends like Amy Winehouse and Etta James fused with the sounds of Jorja Smith and H.E.R., London-based soul/r&b artist Yazmine MB, 19, released her debut single “I Do,” accompanied with a music video.
The Music Bugle recently had the chance to chat with her about the new single and more.
Music Bugle – Do you feel that your young age gives you any sort of advantage within your particular genre?
Yazmine MB – Definitely! People are always looking for the next “young” talent in r&b and soul music – as well as a lot of other genres – especially pop – and a lot of the artists that have blown up recently seem to get younger and younger! You hear a lot of music industry people say the ‘cutoff’ point for a music career is 25, which feels very close-minded to me. Lots of people find their passion at double that age! It can put pressure on you to get to a certain point before then, but I’m really enjoying the journey and getting myself out there on a more professional level has been completely my choice, so I’m ready for it. I feel that even though I’m young, I’ve had time to experiment and be a teenager, whilst perfecting my craft without any pressure or view from the public, so I’m grateful for that!
Music Bugle – How would you describe London to someone who has never been there before?
Yazmine MB – That’s a hard question because London is so many things! To me, it’s beautiful and diverse. There’s so much culture here and so many hidden gems. You’ll find the best food from all over the world, cool backstreet music venues and vintage clothing markets. I feel like London is great for so many things, especially music, so it’s been amazing to grow up here and experience the music scene firsthand.
Music Bugle – Can you tell us what sparked you to write “I Do” and how that came together, including the idea for the music video?
Yazmine MB – I actually wrote “I Do” after I’d been watching loads of romantic movies whilst off of school sick. You see all the characters messing around, making mistakes and being dramatic and then it usually ends up with some sort of marriage or commitment at the end. I realized how much weight and risk there is behind that phrase ‘I Do,’ so I was inspired to write about it. As with most of my songs I write, it ends up getting really deep and metaphorical, but the “I Do” message hopefully remains clear. I do say it a lot of times! As for the video, I wish there was some sort of process to me coming up with things, but I really do just imagine these elaborate scenes in the silliest of places, like on the bus! I can tell you the first scene with the candles and the chinaware was inspired by the first line in the song, “I came in like a bull too soon.” I wanted to replicate the idea of a bull in a china shop, smashing loads of stuff and going crazy – it signifies the end of a relationship where the communication has stopped and you just feel angry and a bit isolated. The other two scenes also signify other stages in a relationship – the one on the bridge being when the honeymoon period is beginning to wear off and the scene on the rooftop being the breakdown of the relationship. It was super fun to film with the actor Oni Cea$. He’s a good friend of mine and really understood the concept I was going for, so he really tried to get into the role.
Music Bugle – How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you directly?
Yazmine MB – I’ve been lucky enough to take this time we’ve had at home to focus on writing lots of music and planning future projects and collaborations. I think some people think that musicians don’t have day jobs, so they have the time to sit around all day lamenting and writing endless amounts of songs. When you’ve got a job or two, actually, it’s really hard to ration your energy and find the time to get all your creative ideas down, so I’ve really appreciated having the time to just slow down and work more on music. I just wish it was under different circumstances! Luckily, I’ve got lovely employers who have been very supportive to me during this pandemic, but I know for lots of musicians, this is a devastating time for them with all their upcoming gigs and live work being cancelled. The entertainment industry has taken a real hit in general, so if you have the means, you can show your support by showing some love to independent musicians by buying their music or merch, donating to their Spotify page funds or attending their online gigs!
Music Bugle – If you had the opportunity to talk to one of your musical influences, who would it be?
Yazmine MB – That’s such a hard choice because I have loads of influences, but I really would love to sit down with Etta James! She’s such an amazing woman and has a real story. She’s built a beautiful legacy and had such a long, successful career, so I’d love to tell her how much she’s inspired me and ask her how she kept that voice so good for so long!
Music Bugle – Of course, this depends on how the COVID-19 pandemic plays out, but did you have any kind of set plans for the rest of 2020?
Yazmine MB – Of course! Although any festival appearances and live work is probably off the table for 2020, I have been busy writing songs and planning visuals, so I’ll be releasing lots of music this year and am planning on releasing an EP this winter! I’ve also got a funk band called FAZE, so we’ve been planning our next moves and will be recording and releasing music throughout the rest of the year too.
Music Bugle – What made you want to become a musician?
Yazmine MB – I have genuinely just loved playing and writing music since I was really young. I get joy from so many other things too, but music is what has stuck with me through all my phases! I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else long-term, which is why I took the plunge and went to the BRIT School instead of doing traditional A-Levels like I’d planned. Obviously, one day, I’d love to be successful and be in a position to use my platform to do good and donate money to causes I care about, but I am really enjoying the journey and all these amazing milestones, like my first radio play and my first interview here on The Music Bugle. Hurrah!
Music Bugle – What frustrates you the most about today’s music industry?
Yazmine MB – What really frustrates me about the music industry is what I call the “chicken and the egg” scenario. From what I’ve seen so far, a lot of big labels and press want you to have built a certain following or get to a certain point on your own before they consider you, but that’s really hard for some people to do on their own. Often, to get a large following or fanbase, you have to be signed or have some sort of outer support to help you, so it goes round in a circle! I know so many talented artists who are just underrated or don’t get the attention they deserve because they simply haven’t got the budget or the outer help. Unfortunately, it’s not just about talent anymore, especially when you’re an independent artist. You have to be a producer, an A&R agent, a gig booker, a director and loads of other things to give yourself a good chance, so I wish some labels nowadays wouldn’t look at the numbers before they look at the artist because to me, the music is what really matters. If your music is good and you’re talented, an audience is always there waiting to hear you!
Music Bugle – What do you feel people should know about you as a person?
Yazmine MB – I want people to know that although I’m an artist, I’m just a regular person too! I’m very creative and love performing and wearing awesome outfits, but there comes a time of the day where I take off my makeup and just go and chill out with my family and make a nice dinner or walk the dog. I think a lot of people are under the impression that artists are always in artist mode when they really aren’t! With social media nowadays, it’s also very easy to create a facade of the perfect life as an artist or musician, but I want to keep it real. What you see on social media is only like five percent of my actual life!
Music Bugle – What is your favorite set of lyrics from one of yours or any song?
Yazmine MB – It may sound a little silly, but I just love all the lyrics of “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood. It’s kind of an old song. I played it on repeat during my slight emo phase at school, but it still gives me the chills and makes me feel hopeful and calm when I hear it. I just know real thought has gone into the lyrics as they’re so poetic and the iambic pentameters – dum-de-dum-de-dum rhythms – are just so well-placed, it feels very rhythmic and just awesome. I really love this particular part …‘These hearts adore/Every other beat the other one beats for/Inside this place is warm/Outside it starts to pour…’ because I love the use of pathetic fallacy – talking about the weather – in poems and songs. It really sets the scene and takes you to another place entirely. This song will probably stay in my playlist forever as it just never seems to lose its novelty! Apparently, I am not alone in this, as I’ve seen a lot of tweets about this song recently. Loads of people still playing it on repeat – it appears everyone in my age-group is living the same musical life! (Laughs)