Jazmin Bean

First bursting into the music scene in 2020, Jazmin Bean ensnared the hearts of fans with their bold makeup style & an intriguing intensity to their music.

They were only 16 when they released their hit “Hello Kitty,” and their project Worldwide Torture was a capsule of the teenage experience, full of angst and raw emotion. Behind the scenes, however, Bean was going through a series of extremely traumatic and difficult experiences, which they have since opened up about. 

Their debut album, Traumatic Livelihood, is a reflection and retelling of Bean’s trauma, with lyrics covering topics like addiction, sexual abuse, and self-hatred. The subject matter is grim and stomach-turning, but sonically, the sound is more pop adjacent than Bean’s past work. There’s a stark contrast between the lyrical content and the upbeat instrumentals, but both aspects fuse together so cohesively that it isn’t jarring in the slightest. Despite the dark themes, this project seems retrospective, and in a strange way, feels hopeful. It’s evident that Bean has made significant progress in their healing journey, and these songs feel more like a therapeutic reflection than a cry for help. It’s still heavy in terms of subject matter, but it’s not an inherently sad album.

Following the release of Traumatic Livelihood and in the midst of a mini UK acoustic tour, 1883 sat down with Jazmin Bean to chat about the record.

Thanks so much for taking the time to hop on here, I really appreciate it! I have to congratulate you on the release of your debut album, Traumatic Livelihood, how are you feeling about the response to it so far?

I feel really good, everyone’s been really positive. I was just saying to someone else that I haven’t seen a whole lot of negativity. Maybe only from people that just really only like one genre, and this just happens to not be that genre that they like. But, I don’t know, I guess I just expected more people to be like, ‘this is rubbish!’ because, you know, the internet. Twitter people. I expected people to just be like, ‘to me, this is not good.’ It’s natural, it comes with everything that you do. But, I really haven’t seen a lot. Maybe I shouldn’t speak about it, I might manifest it. But yeah, everyone has been responding really nicely!

Yeah, that’s great. Not everyone is going to understand everyone’s art, but that’s awesome that it’s been a mostly positive response so far!

Yeah! I don’t know, I feel like people have been really nice. People are really honest on the internet, in a way that’s not the kindest. I just expected a whole lot of that, but I haven’t been receiving it. 

Can you tell me a bit about the creative process behind this record? I know you were working on a different album that you scrapped, was that a decision that came naturally or was it totally intentional?

It wasn’t super intentional. At some point, I had a mashup of the two albums. Slowly as I started making new songs, I would just think, without a doubt, ‘these new songs are so much better than the old ones.’ It was just natural. Even towards the end, there were some old ones in and I just wanted the best ones. By the time I had to confirm the songs, I just felt like they were so outdated and came from a different person. I was working with a lot of different producers so there was no overall sound, whereas this album it’s mostly with one person. If it wasn’t with that person, it has been reproduced by that person. I feel like it has a cohesive sound and little sounds that you can recognize as sounding like the album if you hear them somewhere else. I love that about this. The other one was just super random.

It definitely has a cohesive sound, and cohesive theming throughout. I read that you were a bit nervous when you started songwriting for this record, can you tell me a bit about how your relationship with songwriting progressed throughout the album creation process?

I actually can write a cohesive song now! Songs that have a structure instead of being, like, 8 minutes long. Which is really great. My producer really pushed me with a lot of songs, to make them better. Normally that wouldn’t work, but it works with us. You would think having two stubborn people would cause conflict in the studio, but it really doesn’t. I used to be really stubborn, I wouldn’t even want producers’ input. I was such a control freak, had to have my vision exactly how I wanted it. I feel like that set me up for failure because there are probably so many things I never tried that would’ve worked great. 

He would take a lot of my choruses and delete them and put them into the verse when I would go to the bathroom. I would come back so upset, so mad at him. But he would be like, ‘it can go back to the chorus if you don’t like it. Use it as a verse and make a better chorus so everything is catchy.’ I would be so against it, and say that I’m going to put my chorus back. But then, obviously, I would write a better chorus. That was “Shitshow”, the first verse was supposed to be the chorus and he took it away and made me write the actual chorus. Which, thank god, because that chorus is so nice. But yeah, things like that where I allow myself to be helped. I didn’t really have that on Worldwide Torture.

Absolutely, learning to be more comfortable with collaboration and change.

It’s so nice. Like, nobody looks at the freaking credits. It really doesn’t matter. You don’t need 100% of the credit. Being able to collaborate with people who might know more about this thing than you is great because you don’t know everything. This is the first time I’ve been co-directing with someone, which is a mission, and I’m not sure if it’s my forever plan… I do love to solely direct. But, it’s been really nice in music and visuals to see what other people have to say. You know, people who have worked their whole life doing this one thing.

Totally, and I feel like it helps you grow as a creative, too. To be around people with different ideas who bring different things to the table.

Totally. It’s a bit daunting at first, because you’re like, having to come to one conclusion with multiple cooks in the kitchen. I also find it really hard to be like, ‘I hate that’. Generally, if I know someone’s worked really hard on something, I find it really difficult to say I don’t like it. Especially during the mixing process, I usually have to tell someone else I don’t like it so then they can tell the person. Just little things like that, it’s really hard for me to be like, ‘I don’t like it, period.’ I guess it’s getting better. Sometimes you’re going to have those moments where you don’t like it, and that’s okay. It’s your thing. They might just be thinking of their thing because they’re a part of it. I’m getting better at that side of things. Really getting the vision right, instead of just being like, ‘okay it’s fine.’ I know everyone works super hard and has worked super hard on this project. There have been so many little hands from different areas that have made it what it is. I’ve worked so hard as well. I think when an artist releases an album, you just think it’s them. They learned 50 instruments, set up the whole thing for their tour… there are so many cooks in the kitchen that I think don’t get acknowledged when you’re releasing such a big project.

Yeah, there’s so much behind the scenes that the listeners don’t know. With this album, I think what’s so special about it is that it feels so reflective. While the topics and themes are heavy, they’re being explored through a lens that feels removed and almost healed. I wanted to ask specifically about “I Know What You’ve Done”, which has some really heavy lyrical content, but there are themes of karma in there too, which makes it feel so powerful. Can you tell me a bit about that song?

I felt like I was feeling really revengeful for no reason. Well, there were lots of reasons. There were people that I felt had hurt me, and spending a lot of my energy wishing them unwell. I was wishing for them to not have a good time. That’s so silly because I can bet that they aren’t thinking about me. It was like that for a while, and then I came to a conclusion before I wrote that song where I felt like I needed to forgive people. But, that takes so much work, and you might not even get any acknowledgement back from them. There’s not a lot of two-sided closure in forgiving people, it’s mainly for yourself in the end. But then it’s like, why would I forgive someone that was bad to me? 

I felt like I had to write that song to purge it before getting to the point of forgiveness. I don’t know if I’m there yet, but that’s the goal. I think it’s a good thing to do. It can take a while to actually forgive someone. I’ve forgiven one person, maybe one and a half. It’ll probably take more time. I wanted to purge my revengeful mindset before I did that. Or I felt like it would be in me forever. I hoped those people would have no lives, flop, and get nothing they want. That they don’t succeed. I think it’s very natural when they don’t care about your well-being or actively cause you pain. But I think there’s no point, because they aren’t even thinking about me. I think when people hear that song, they’re like ‘oh, you’re nasty,’ but everyone has moments like that! Where you just hope they flop.

It’s nice that you were able to channel it into art like that and free up your headspace in that way. The other track I wanted to ask you about, is my favourite from the album, “Fish.” Underrated. 

It is underrated! The funny thing about “Fish” is that I didn’t like it for a really long time. When I was writing it, I was going through quite severe writer’s block. I made some really great songs, then I started trying to make a “hit” in the midst of it. I was working on big writing sessions, working with a different producer every day. I was really tiring myself out. The day I wrote “Fish,” I was with my friend Jess, who did a lot of Worldwide Torture. She’s a longtime friend of mine, so she didn’t mind that I was in a sour mood and felt totally uninspired. I was playing this fish mobile game, which I had to delete because I started spending money on it. It was the first thing that came to my mind, which was not having a good time. So when I left it, I was like, ‘I don’t even want to hear it.’ I guess some A&R got sent it… everyone, like my mum and my friends, were like ‘we love ‘Fish’!’ I was like, I hate ‘Fish!’ Slowly, as I started working on it more, I was like, okay no, I really like it. 

It is underrated, like all the album reviews I’ve seen… Now that I love it… I’ve actually taken great meaning to that song now. When I wrote it, I wasn’t really going through what I was writing about, it was falling on deaf ears for me. I can relate to it a lot now, which is weird. There are a lot of songs where I was writing from the perspective of the past, now I can relate to them more than I ever have. All of the album reviews I’ve seen are like, “I think ‘Fish’ is the weakest one.” I’m so happy you love ‘Fish.’ All of the people in my life have great taste, that’s one of their favourites.

I love it, it’s so cinematic sounding to me. What do those lyrics mean to you now?

I think just recognizing that there’s something wrong. And the mentality of being like, “I’ll just try again tomorrow. I fucked it up already, I’ll try again.” Very much recognizing a problem, and feeling like a little fish… giving up. I really love the bridge. Feeling like every day you’re like, ‘this is going to be the day, I’m really going to try!’ And then you just fuck it up. 

Yeah, just in a cycle. I love that song even more now that I know that it was inspired by a fish game!

It’s such a fun game, but you cannot get it because it’s so addictive. I also play Beat Star… that one you should get. It’s like Guitar Hero but for your phone. Honestly, my goal is to have a song on Beat Star. 

Shifting gears, this album was written following so much trauma and hardship that you endured. Do you feel that creating this body of work was necessary for your healing journey? What was it like to revisit some of those emotions?

I think it was definitely beneficial because there’s a lot that I say in songs that isn’t easy to say in real life. I can be so incredibly honest in my songs, and say what’s really on my mind. This album really means a lot to me, and I think I was really able to address some stuff. I was able to find new ways to deal with stuff. I made it during such an important time of my life, I’ll always remember it. I literally got it tattooed on my chest. I have “Worldwide Torture” tattooed on my hands, now I look down and, I do still love it, but I’m like ‘that’s kind of a choice.’ I don’t know. How could I ever regret this album? It’s such an important piece of my life. Even if one day I hate the music… which I don’t think I will. It has so many influences that I’ve loved for 10+ years now. I think if I one day grow out of the musical style or visuals, the era of my life was so important. I think I’ll always love it. But, it’s hard to know. Everyone has songs that they outgrow.

It’s just part of being an artist, I think. You never know how you’ll feel in 10 or so years, you know?

I think I’ll like it. For some reason, I just have a feeling.

I feel like this is a project that’s going to resonate with people for a long time, so even if you eventually feel you’ve outgrown it, the legacy will be carried on.

I hope so, I’d really like for it to be my Born To Die moment. That one album. Honestly, that’s not even my favourite Lana album, but you know what I mean. Like how MARINA has Electra Heart. The one.

Absolutely. Do you have a favourite memory from the creative process? Is there a specific moment or session that stands out to you?

When we made “Shitshow.” Oh my god, that was the first time me and my producer got excited. Normally you make a song and sit on it, then go in again. You get excited, obviously, but “Shitshow” was the first time we really shocked ourselves. It’s always on the days when you’re not feeling it. That one was the first one where we really thought it was good. Same with “Favorite Toy,” but it was less of a crazy moment because we had done a demo. It sounded so different, and we went back and worked on it. “Shitshow” was just one day, we went in.

That’s when it clicked.

Yeah, we just thought, ‘this album is going to be good.’ Before we were figuring it out. That was the first time we really thought that the album was really good, or as good as it could be.

Before the album came out, you had a listening party with some of your fans. What was that experience like?

It was so good! It was about 25 fans, they had to RSVP. I think it was just the first 25 to RSVP, and then I picked some superfans that I recognize the names of. I wasn’t supposed to sit in on the listening, because I feel like that’s sort of weird? Like they might be distracted or something. Last minute, though, I decided I wanted to experience it with them. I came in right before and made myself known, so that people wouldn’t be looking over and being like, “wait, is that…?” It was a really dark room, so I probably could’ve just snuck in and sat myself down. It was really nice. Obviously, nobody was speaking, I feel like my fans are quite respectful, and nobody had phones. They really didn’t want anything to get leaked… not that it would really affect me, but I still really wanted people to be surprised. Nobody was speaking, so I was judging people’s movements. One person in the corner was having really good reactions, not to the song in general but to specific moments. I was looking over at them, trying to see. Then people were saying their favorite songs after, it was a really great experience. I’d definitely like to do it again for the next one. 

It’s cool that you were able to share that experience with them before it was released to the world! Also being able to gauge reactions in a controlled environment like that.

Yeah. Of course my fans are so sweet, so I think it went really well. It was my first time doing anything like that.

Could you tell me a bit about the visuals for this album/era? All of the music videos have been absolutely amazing.

So for the visuals, I’ve only done a few, and I would love to do more. I wanted everything to feel very floral, very sunny, a spring vibe. I wanted to incorporate all of that. I wanted ‘Piggie’ to feel like a merge, a transition into the new stuff. I tried to incorporate some vibes from Worldwide Torture, I feel like it was the most similar. It’s just been evolving, and I can’t wait to do new ones. Some of my best video ideas are for ones that aren’t out. I have some really good ideas, like ‘Best Junkie You Adore.’ We have a video in the can, or nearly, for another song that we shot with ‘You Know What You’ve Done.’ I’d love to do one for ‘Best Junkie You Adore,’ ‘Is This It’. I want to learn choreo. I feel like ‘Is This It’ is the only song I could learn choreo to, the beat… the chorus… That’s the only one I can envision choreo. I’m not a choreographer, so probably they’d be able to envision more than me, but I’d love to do choreo. It’ll take some practice, I’m not really a dancer.

“Is This It” is my other favourite on the album, so good.

I love that one. I thought people would be bored because I performed it a lot on tour, but I’m so happy that people love that one.

Your personal style, in terms of both fashion and makeup, has evolved alongside your music over the years. Do you feel that they go hand in hand?

I think so. I just kind of go with whatever I’m feeling. I had a phase transitioning into Worldwide Torture where I’d just put on the makeup that I knew I wore, instead of what I was feeling. Similar to style, I felt like I had to represent the brand that I wasn’t feeling anymore. A lot of people have taken some time to get used to that, but they just have to get over it. They have to get used to me now, and then it’s going to change again. Then they’re gonna like the old me, they’re always gonna like old me. I don’t really mind. But yeah, I’m hoping that it kind of goes. It would be weird if I had the nose and everything while singing ‘Black Dress.’ It just seems so silly.

Definitely, it’s all just self-expression in different forms.

I love it when an artist puts out a new era, and immerses themselves in a new style.

Absolutely. To go along with the release, you’re doing a string of acoustic shows across the UK, what has that experience been like?

It’s been good! We’re in Glasgow right now, we do Glasgow tomorrow. It’s been really nice, it’s been lovely to meet everyone. And, of course, perform the songs acoustically. I’ve sung “Best Junkie You Adore,” “Terrified,” “Is This It,” “Favorite Toy,” and “Traumatic Livelihood.” Especially “Best Junkie You Adore” and “Traumatic Livelihood,” since they are more instrument filled, it’s been really beautiful to hear them stripped back. I didn’t expect that. It makes me want to do live shows, just acoustic.

My final question for you today is: what do you hope listeners take away from this album?

I hope that they feel comforted. I don’t want it to be an album that they use to be sad. I hope they can use it for happy moments, and make memories to it. Not just, ‘okay, I’m going to use this song to cry to,’ which is also an amazing experience, but I want them to be able to listen to it all the time. I have songs that I only listen to when I’m upset or something is wrong, I don’t play them otherwise. I don’t want that to be the case. I want it to be songs they can use for all different emotions and times. 

I think it feels like a hopeful album, not necessarily a sad one.

That’s what I was trying to get across. People say it’s a sad album, but I think it’s a happy album.

Traumatic Livelihood is out now.

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