Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Yasmin: Striking out on her own

Yasmin Yasmin Yasmin Yasmin

“I loved the tempo of the nineties because everything just had a bit more of a groove a bit more of a mood and a vibe. I would give anything to go back to that time the age I am now.”

Imagine you were given a lemon and bit into it to only to get the taste of orange instead of the bitter and sharp experience you expected. You knew you were going to get something citrus but the sweet taste of citrus orange, that would be refreshing and surprising all in one: ergo Yasmin. It has taken Yasmin a little over a year to go from unknown songstress to one of the freshest talents in the UK who will be definitely one to watch for 2011.

Her two collaborations with the equally talented UK acts of Labrinth who produced the crazy track ‘Finish Line’ and her feature on Devlin’s anthemic single ‘Runaway’ where Yasmin sings a powerful and emotive hook has set the foundations for her emergence. With that initial and phenomenal success she strikes out alone with her excellent first single ‘On My Own’ to be taken from her debut album.

It is an absolutely brilliant single which immediately had me reminiscing with its telling old skool beat produced by the urban producer who seems able to put his hand to any genre, Shy Fx. He goes in hard with this rolling old skool beat superbly blessed by Yasmin’s soft but telling vocals backed up by some great song writing. It is indeed the type of single that every artist would want: different and catchy like the current bout of flu.

We meet in down town London and while she is slightly late due to the wonderful transport system this rather bohemian beauty quickly settles down and we hit full blown conversation like old friends. She easily engages me particularly with her Manchester/ Glaswegian accent and highly ambitious character.

It is this ambitious streak that saw her forge her path for a life of something different,” I was at university studying physiotherapy and in the first year I realised it was not for me. I wanted to do a recording arts degree which was a lot of money. My dad said he would not pay for me he said go and study something like business studies and then I will think about it. I studied it for six months and it was the worst.” It’s no surprise that she adds: “I am a hustler I cannot even lie. I moved to London when I was nineteen and I knew hardly anyone bar one or two hook ups to get to dj at certain clubs. A lot of the clubs I started at were West-end clubs and so a lot of celebrities pass through. The thing is I am not afraid to talk to anyone and I would just go up to anyone tell them I was DJ'ing and that if they liked what they heard then call me.”

This in your face brazen attitude saw her even chat to the mighty Quincy Jones,” “I walked up to him [Quincy Jones] and told him I was a DJ and that if he ever needed me to call me” She duly pops out this brown coloured card embossed with the iconic name which as she states is a “powerful card”.

Her path has not followed the formulaic “I always wanted to be a singer” mould. Whilst a love of music is the prerequisite for wanting to be a singer the fact that she chose the male dominated world of Dj’ng initially as a way to satiate that love of music, epitomises her independent streak. “You constantly get patronised all the time. People think they can take the piss all the time. In a lot of scenarios I have been even gigs where people have not heard me before but once I get on the decks people cannot tell me that I do not deserve to be on there.”

She is definitely right. Five years as a DJ and she is without exaggeration a well known name here and Stateside for her exploits as a hip-hop DJ. Currently the tour DJ for the female rap star Eve, her DJ’ing talents have caught the eye of some of the biggest stars around like the global behemoth Dizzie Rascal and others, ”I supported NERD at Roundhouse in 2008 because I literally called up the events company putting on the show and asked if there was any dj supporting and they said “no” and I said can I do it and they were like "yes”. So I was like hey that was easy enough.” She adds seriously when asked how she has been so successful as a dj “I think it is how you think. To me I dream so big and I believe it will happen. You have to have a positive state of mind. When you put yourself out there in a good way then you are always going to get opportunities.”

Perhaps she missed the irony that she could be so positive in one sense but initially (as she states) be so nervous to take the challenge of singing, “I have always enjoyed singing and I listened to a lot of Rn'B and Soul and I love a woman with a big voice like the gospel singers. But my voice was not like the people I admired and so I just thought I could never be a singer. I met people however that had confidence in me and told me I had a voice. They said that did not have to sound like the people that I so admired and I really embraced that and it really helped me”

At still only twenty one, Yasmin seems older than her years which may be due to her knowledge of music from the past. We start to then talk about her inspirations and for all you older heads out there you will be pleasantly surprised,” I love Blues and I like Soul, and I love the tempo of the nineties because everything just had a bit more of a groove - a bit more of a mood and a vibe. I would give anything to go back to that time the age I am now. It just seemed like a really fun time a really productive time. I just think when they were making these tracks did they ever realise that they would become classics.” And who can dis-agree and she clearly means every word as she literally melts with admiration as we talk about R Kelly, to Keith Sweat, to different iconic rap artists. As we get lost in a haze of beautiful reminiscing we smoothly (like some nineties Rn'B crooner) get onto to her highly anticipated album due for release this summer.

“I have been making songs from November 2009 and everyone was loving what I did but I was still not happy and it was in January I made the track with Labrinth ‘Finish Line’ and then I knew that is what I liked and that this was my sound. I knew when I heard it was heavy and I was just so happy.” She adds with an expansive hand gesture,” I love a great melody and that is what I take from RnB. I also love Tricky, Massive attack Portishead and that is how I see my sound; little flavour of that era with a mix of 2010 and that freshness. The album will be very fresh but it will also be very familiar, that is what I went for in the album”

As a DJ she evidently has a good ear for a banging track and so I am seriously keen to hear what Yasmin will bring to the plate with this album. With heavy weights like Shy Fx and Diploy on production and a host of favours that I sense she can and will call in, the album has the foundations for something wonderfully different. Furthermore a summer drop for the album seems to be a great marketing move for a lady who has a great deal of marketability because she is fresh, gorgeous and likeable.

With that I am out of there to leave her to complete a string of other interviews for the day, and the words, “I am young but I am old skool” resounding in my head.

Yasmin's debut single 'On My Own' is available from Jan 30 on the Ministry Of Sound label.
Words Semper Azeez-Harris

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