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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Jasmine V Is Getting Straight A’s in R&B
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

With a hit single featuring Kendrick Lamar titled “That’s Me Right There,” and a recently released EP of the same name, 21 year old singer Jasmine V is taking the R&B world by storm. Her journey, however, has been a long and winding one.

While she just celebrated her 21st birthday earlier this month, Jasmine V has been in the industry in some way, shape, or form, since she was 12, signing with Dame Dash before she was a teenager, and even spending two months performing in the Philippines while being managed by boxing legend Manny Pacquaio.

Currently, Jasmine V, who is on Interscope Records, is working on following up her EP with a full length album, which she’ll begin recording in January, and I caught up with the songstress to find out more about her music, and her unique path to success. Jasmine V also discussed how one of her songs helped a domestic violence hotline see a 50% spike in callers, and the perils one might face if they assume she doesn’t understand a foreign language.

Adam Bernard: You have been in the industry since you were 12, and Dame Dash signed you to a deal. The music industry can swallow full grown adults whole and spit them out, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for a 12 year old to try to take it all in. Remembering back to that time, what do you wish, in retrospect, you had been less naive about?

Jasmine V: I think, honestly, from day one, I thought everything was going to be easy, and I think what I regret most is probably thinking that everybody was my friend. I used to think everybody was my friend, and everybody had the best interests for me, and I (now) realize that they didn’t. I think if I could go back, now that I know people’s true colors, I’d be able to pinpoint the people I should have been around.

Adam Bernard: Was there a light bulb moment when you were like, “This person’s not really in my corner, maybe all these other people aren’t either?”

Jasmine V: Definitely, because I’ve always felt like you spend so much time, and invest into people in the music industry, and even in real life, and you waste all those years, and all that time, and all that effort, and you're like, “Oh wow, well I probably shouldn’t have hung out with that person. I probably should have listened to what this person was saying.” It’s a learning experience.

Adam Bernard: On the more positive side of things, tell me about the first time you thought, “Wow, I’m really making it.”

Jasmine V: I had always been doing things independently, and I think when I got with Interscope, and I did the song with Kendrick (Lamar), and I then I ended up starting to put out music, because I (had) never really put out an album or anything, I think that’s when everything started to feel real. When I was able to have music for my fans that had waited for years for me to put anything out, I think that’s really when it became reality for me.

Adam Bernard: So there was a good six to eight years of work before you felt you were making it.

Jasmine V: Oh definitely. It was a lot of hard work.

Adam Bernard: You recently released an EP titled That’s Me Right There. What was going on in your life that inspired the content of the songs?

Jasmine V: You know, it was just going through different emotions, relationships, friendships, working, family, and I think a lot of those personal influences are really great to put into songs. I get into the studio, and even before the sessions I’m always talking to the writers about the things that are going on in my life, and we find a subliminal way to put that in a song.

Adam Bernard: You mentioned the EP covers relationship issues, and you’ve had multiple relationships that have made news, including one with a certain young Canadian pop singer (Justin Bieber). You co-starred in his “Baby” video, toured with him, and, for a brief time, dated him. When you see the trouble he now gets into on a regular basis, does any part of you want to give him a call and be like “Yo, get your act together!”

Jasmine V: It’s crazy, because I know him, and I know the great person he is. The industry can do crazy things. You have so many people that are opinionated, so many people who want you to do this, and want you to do that, that sometimes you forget that you even have control over your life. There are so many people telling you what to do.

I feel like some people have their breaking points, but it’s all a learning experience, and people deal with it in different ways. For him, or any individual, even myself, we stress out, and we look for different outlets to help the pain, or to feel normal, but like I said, we all deal with it differently.

Adam Bernard: You’ve also been very open about surviving an abusive relationship. You wrote a song about it titled “Didn’t Mean It,” and the video is extremely powerful. Now that you’ve had a few years of being out of that relationship, and can reflect on it, what do you think were the emotions that prevented you from leaving for so long?

Jasmine V: I think it was the fact that it was a hard situation, and nobody really knew about it. Once I had the strength to get out of it I was more open about it with my family and my friends, and they were really supportive.

It’s hard to be the person in the situation trying to get out, because you’re not seeing what everybody else is seeing.

When I got out of the situation I wanted to share it, but not in a negative way, (I wanted to) almost make it a positive outlet, make a video, and put the (domestic violence) hotline at the end. The calls increased by 50% on the domestic violence hotline, so the fact that that was a part of what we did, and it helped a lot of people, it was probably greater than anything.

Adam Bernard: Do you ever think about how putting that phone number at the end of your video may have saved somebody’s life?

Jasmine V: All the time. I get emails, and I get tweets, (from people who) are like I helped them get their mom, or their dad, out of a situation, or themselves, people that are close to them, so it was amazing.

Adam Bernard: You have to be on the receiving end of a lot of hugs and tears whenever you perform that song.

Jasmine V: Oh yeah, definitely. I even have fans, to this day, they give me letters, and when they see me in person it’s like their whole story. It takes a lot to share it with someone, so the fact that they’re able to share it with me is awesome.

Adam Bernard: Domestic violence has become an even bigger issue this year because of the Ray Rice elevator video. Has the NFL’s handling of that situation affected your enjoyment of the sport?

Jasmine V: To be honest, I’m not a very big sports fan. The only sport I really watch is basketball, but I never talk about anybody’s personal situations.

Adam Bernard: OK, but in the realm of sports you were at one time managed by boxing great Manny Pacquaio. How old were you at that point, and was his management style as meticulous as his in-ring performances?

Jasmine V: I think I was 16 when he managed me, and Manny is an amazing person. He boxes, he's a good husband, a good father, a good person all around, and he also sings. He’s amazing. Living in the Philippines there’s always karaoke, so he’d be singing and everybody joined in. It was a good feeling.

He was like a big brother, so yeah, he was on point with everything, which was crazy, because you wouldn’t think that one person could have so many different skills with everything.

Adam Bernard: You also sung the national anthem at a Floyd Mayweather fight. Was this something you kept secret from Manny? How did that go over?

Jasmine V: At that time I wasn’t managed by Manny anymore. (He just managed me) when I did the whole run in the Philippines.

Adam Bernard: Did you ever hear him utter Floyd’s name under his breath, or call him a chicken, or anything like that?

Jasmine V: Oh never. You would never hear anything negative come out of Manny’s mouth ever. Never around me.

Adam Bernard: You did that run in the Philippines when you were 16, and I know you’ve hit the road a number of times since then. What’s been the wildest, or most interesting, thing you’ve seen, or experienced, while on the road?

Jasmine V: I think (it’s) the different things to do in every city, or being around different people, meeting new people. There’s always somebody new to meet. It’s overwhelming.

For me, I take the experience, and the lifestyle, of every place I go to and try to incorporate it into my style, or my music. I really like to observe everything I’m around.

Adam Bernard: What’s the most lost, or out of your element, you’ve felt in a foreign country?

Jasmine V: I think it’s when people try to speak to me and I can’t understand. In the Philippines I can understand, but I can never really speak back, and I used to get made fun of in the Philippines by people that were on the network because some of them would think that I couldn’t speak Tagalog, which is Filipino, but I could understand it, so I would hear them talk about me, and all that, and talk about how I couldn't pronounce the accent right. That was the biggest struggle, being able to talk to somebody, but you can’t really talk to them how you want.

Adam Bernard: When the cameras were off, did you ever say, “Hey, by the way, I understood everything you said.”

Jasmine V: Oh yeah. There have been so many times I could hear people talking about me, and I’d walk past them and I would reply to what they said, and they’d be like oooh k.

Adam Bernard: Do you have a favorite moment when you called someone out who said something especially nasty?

Jasmine V: There was one time I was in the mall, I was in Victoria’s Secret, and I was buying underwear, and these three Filipino girls were in line, and they were talking about my choice in underwear, which is really irrelevant. They were talking about me in Tagalog, “Why is she buying that underwear?”

I looked at them when they were done and I was like, “I buy this underwear because I like it, just the same reason you’re in here buying whatever you’re buying. I don’t think you really need to talk about my choice in underwear.” They were like, “Oh, you speak Tagalog!” I was like, “No, (but) I understand everything you’re saying.” They were like, “Oh my gosh,” and then they tried to have a conversation with me, but it was just kind of funny.

Adam Bernard: They can’t try to dap you up after that, and act like you’re all cool. They were talking about your underwear.

Jasmine V: Yeah, exactly, and I’m always nice. I’m like, “It’s OK, you didn’t know,” but as I walk over there I’m like yeah, I’ve always wanted to do that, so in that moment I was so happy that I actually got to (confront) somebody for the first time.


Interview originally ran on Arena.com.

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