JoJo Interview: The “Disaster” Singer Answers Our Questions And Yours
As any fan of JoJo can attest, the wait for Jumping Trains, the singer-songwriter’s third album, has been a long one. In fact, this month marks five years since the release of her last LP, The High Road (which produced the Top 5 smash “Too Little Too Late”). But the past year has been a prolific one for the 20-year-old singer-songwriter. In fall 2010, she dropped her first mixtape, and last month saw the release of new single “Disaster” .
JoJo is now winding down her tour with Joe Jonas and Jay Sean. Last week we had the opportunity to hop on her tour bus after one of her gigs for a chat. “People have grown up with me in a sense, but they haven’t gone on the journey, because I haven’t been in the spotlight,” she told us. “So they haven’t gotten to see me maturing. For some people it might seem a little sudden. But for me, I’m testing it out and seeing how it’s being received.”
Plenty of you tweeted at us with questions for JoJo. Head below to read what she had to say to us — and you.IDOLATOR: What has doing this tour with Joe Jonas and Jay Sean meant for you? JOJO: It’s meant that I get to test things out. This has kind of been a safe place. Of course, there’s great importance in everything — every moment that you share with people, every time you perform: I got to see what works and what doesn’t work; what’s too much and what’s not enough; how the new material is received, and how this young adult JoJo is received. People haven’t necessarily gotten to see me. The response has been really great. This tour has given me the opportunity to be comfortable with myself.
How was the experience of releasing the Can’t Take That Away From Me mixtape last year? JOJO: That was scary. But the reason why we did it was because the people that support me had been waiting for so long, been so patient. And I just felt like, how could I keep asking them to wait? It wasn’t even my intention to have that big of a gap. But [my fans] deserved something, so I released music on my own terms, through Rap-Up, who I have a great relationship with. And I was able to take some chances and showcase my songwriting.
Here’s a fan question: @IceBlue_Eyed wants to know when the video for “Disaster” premieres. Also, what will the concept be? [Note: Upon asking this question, JoJo’s manager jumps in and tells me the video will arrive by the end of October.]JOJO: Benny Boom directed it. The concept is, I wanted to show young, crazy love and how passionate it can be — how you get wrapped up in it, and it’s awesome and it’s fun and sexy. I also wanted to have a dangerous element, so my boyfriend [in the video] is a motorcyclist. This video is a little rock and roll. It’s colorful.
@GeMini_TeamJo asks if you plan on promoting “Disaster” and the rest of your new material outside of the US?JOJO: Absolutely. We have plans to go overseas, hopefully after we’re done with this tour. We’re just scoping that all out because international presence is really important to me. And I really want to travel abroad more than I ever have before, because I was a minor [when the last album was out]. There were restrictions on how much I could work.
You recorded about a hundred songs while working on Jumping Trains over the years. @BrendanJAce asks what will happen to the songs that don’t end up on the LP? He says he can’t imagine them going to waste. JOJO: It’s not necessarily that they’ll go to waste. I would love to maybe shop them to other artists or to perhaps put them on a mixtape or something like that. I don’t look at it as waste, because it’s like if you do a painting, just because it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t mean that it’s not art. For me, music is therapeutic. A lot of the stuff I was writing was autobiographical. It was just something that was flowing from me.
The one and only @DrewSeeley tweeted and asked if you’d be down to record a song with him. JOJO: Sure!
@atlantictiger wants to know how your songwriting has changed throughout your career.JOJO: I’ve become less afraid. I trust myself. I found myself, with this album, putting myself in situations or keeping myself in them just to see how many songs I could milk out of it. It might not be the healthiest thing. But my songwriting has changed just in the fact that I’m not afraid what people are going to think about me, or my truth. No one is perfect. Everybody does things that they’re not proud of, or that they’re embarrassed about. But I’m not afraid of talking about it. So I just think I’ve become bolder.
@DanComeau92 points out that you’ve said before “Elsewhere” is your favorite song on Jumping Trains. Why? JOJO: That song is on my heart. And I had written down this word because I’d said it to somebody. He said, “Where are you going?” And I said, “Elsewhere.” To me, it was such a loaded statement. I’m not going to be with you! I’m taking all of me and going elsewhere, dawg. It doesn’t matter where. Not towards you. I was just so vulnerable at that moment. I worked with some of my favorite producers, Da Internz, who have a few records on my album. There’s so much passion on this song. It’s one of my faves.
One of the tracks on the album that stands out to me is “Lie To Me,” which is somewhat in the dubstep vein. What can you tell us about about the vibe of the song? JOJO: There’s a song that Danja did that set the tone for other up-tempos on my record, because I didn’t want the up-tempos to sound like I was chasing a trend. I wanted something that was a little different. I didn’t want it to be a four-on-the-floor dancey type thing, but I wanted people to be able to dance to it. So, “Lie To Me” came from that. I heard the track — it was Da Internz — and I felt like there was tension to it. I felt like it was sexy and it was twisted. Of course, I can’t write about something unless it’s on my heart or I’m going through it, so I was like, okay, let me pull from where I’m at. If I’m in love with someone, do I really want to know if they’re doing other things? I don’t know if I do. As strong as I am and as much as I don’t take BS from people, sometimes you’re in a position where you just want to live in this blissful ignorance with somebody, because the truth is too much to handle. And I’m so crazy that, the truth just might not be what I need to hear! [Laughs]
You make lyrical reference to Michael Jackson in another song on Jumping Trains, “Sexy To Me.” Was he someone you grew up idolizing? JOJO: Absolutely. Oh my gosh, yes. I had posters of him in my room. He’s incredible. I used to watch his tour DVDs. I think Dangerous was my favorite album of his at the time, and I loved his HiStory double-CD. I was fascinated by him. I mean, for an artist to say that they weren’t inspired by Michael Jackson — what’s wrong with you? He set the precedent.
@TheReignOfRyan tweeted and said that you love jazz. He wants to know if you’ve ever thought of recording a few jazz songs?JOJO: Oh my god, I would faint at the thought of it — but faint from excitement! [Gasps] I love jazz! Yes, I would love to do that. I listen to jazz all the time. Jill Scott is one of my favorite artists. Not that she’s a jazz singer, but there’s a lot of jazz influence. She recorded this cover of “Good Morning Heartache,” which, there’s a small saxophone solo at the beginning, and I listen to that every day. Jazz makes me feel so many different ways.
Maybe you’ll end up on Tony Bennett’s next Duets album. JOJO: You don’t understand! That’s like — [screams] — orgasmic.
Have you listened to his new album? JOJO: I haven’t heard it yet. But trust me, it’s on my list of things to get.
We’ll end on this last fan question: @Sildeneb asks what the biggest personal change you’ve made in recent years is. Also, what is one thing you would like to change? JOJO: It’s such a heavy question. If I could change one thing, I would just kind of go with the flow more. I wouldn’t be so anxious or aggressive. I’m just kind of on edge sometimes because I want things to be so right. So I would trust in the plan that is beyond even my seeing. As far as the biggest personal change, I believe in my place more. I’m a lot more comfortable on stage. I live more in the moment. I understand that that’s kind of going against what I just said, but when I’m on stage, I’m more able to enjoy myself. I’m not so afraid. I’ve come into myself a little bit more, but that comes with the territory of growing up.
“Disaster” is available now on iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 store. Jumping Trains will be out in early 2012. Above JoJo photos by Gino DePinto / AOL Music.