Jasmine Villegas Talks “That’s Me Right There”, Her New EP & An Old Writing Session With Nick Jonas: Idolator Interview

Mike Wass | October 23, 2014 12:25 pm

Jasmine Villegas completely reinvented herself in 2014. The 20-year-old, who came to fame playing the love interest in Justin Bieber‘s YouTube-conquering “Baby” video, relaunched as a fierce urban-pop diva — complete with a major label record deal and a surprise feature from rapper Kendrick Lamar on new single “That’s Me Right There”.

The rising star recently dropped by the Idolator office in Los Angeles to pose for a photo shoot (above) and spill the beans on this exciting new phase of her career. Jasmine opened up about her upcoming EP (she has a collaboration with Jeremih in the can), writing songs with Nick Jonas and the evolution of her sound. Find out all you need to know about the lovely Latina after the jump.

Did you co-write “That’s Me Right There”? When it comes to all the songs I put out, I always make sure I’m a part of the writing process so that it always comes from me. I’m not comfortable writing songs on my own, I haven’t got to that point yet. [The song] is basically talking about being in a relationship and being confident in yourself knowing that no girl is going to take your man or no guy is gonna take your girl because you’re confident with who you are, and y’all have that bond.

When did Kendrick Lamar come into the picture? We didn’t know who we were going to have on the song. There was no feature. We just recorded the song and thought it would be cool to have a rapper. We were just going through all these different names, and Kendrick popped up. Everybody said it would be so perfect. We are on the same label and I would see him in the studio hanging out.

When I found out I was gonna get him on it, I didn’t want to tell anybody because I didn’t want to jinx it. They actually surprised me. I was at rehearsal and they played me the song acting like I had to approve of the mix. I heard his verse and I was in total shock.

How did you feel when you first heard his verse? It’s such a blessing and its almost unrealistic because I haven’t put out music for a while for my fans. This is my first official single on a major label for Interscope and it has Kendrick Lamar on it! It can’t get any better than that. And I’m still growing, but I think I’m coming out with a sound that is me for once.

When can we expect the EP? The EP comes out the beginning of November, and the album will come out the beginning of next year.

Who else did you work with on the EP? I worked with a producer named Harmony Samuels, who did “That’s Me Right There,” a writer named Carmen Reese, Sam Hook, A-Rod, I worked with a producer named Sounds. We’ve traveled and recorded in different places. I’m just really thankful that they get me and my sound. I have an idea of what I want to be perceived as, and they got it on-point.

Is this new era more hip-hop/pop than your previous music? It’s pop-urban, so it’s rhythmic and it can lean both ways. I think that’s important, because I’m not fully pop or urban. Music is always changing, and one sound isn’t gonna stay forever so when you have that diversity you can move back and forth between both.

Is Kendrick the only feature on the EP? No, I actually have a song with Problem and Jeremih which I’m really excited about. And we’re still in the works for more features.

Tell us more about that song. What’s funny, is when I was in the studio with Jeremih and he played me “Don’t Tell ‘Em”. Me and my manager were like, “Yo, that’s a hit! You have to put that out.” It’s such a feel good song. The song [we did] is called “One Night.”

Are those songs also going to be on your album? Yes. The songs on the EP are also gonna be on my album but I’m actually still in the recording process. I just finished Macy’s Hispanic Heritage Month tour, so once that’s all done I’m gonna come back to LA and finish up the album.

What song do you feel the most connected to? There’s actually a song that’s gonna be on my EP and it’s called “Saturday Love,” it’s produced by Harmony Samuels and also written by Carmen Reese. It’s a two-part song, kind of like a Justin Timberlake song where the beat changes and it’ll go into a completely different song. A majority of my fans are young girls, so we do go through heartbreak, falling in love, getting cheated on.

So the song is about being in love with a guy who’s not really in love with you the way you are with him. And he just treats you like a second option. Like, I don’t want to be a Saturday love. I don’t want to be the girl you call when the other girl cancels. It’s her way of saying “I’m done.”

Is that something that you experienced personally? Oh yeah, definitely. I’m about to be 21, so I’ve been through some things! I’m not quite sure I know what love is exactly yet, and I feel like everybody has their own output on it and it’s not the same for everybody. I’m still learning and I definitely did go through something like that before. It hurts but we all get through it.

Is it hard to put that much of yourself out there? It’s not really hard for me, except for the part where you don’t know how people are going to take it. Because you can’t please everybody. But I think it’s really smart to be open with your fan base and supporters, and just give them the real you because it’s not a facade. I think it’s great to be real with people who are watching you, because that’s how they fall in love with you.

Let’s go back to the beginning! The first time we saw you was in Justin Bieber’s “Baby” video. How do you feel about it now? It feels like it was yesterday. I was so excited to be on the set of his video. I had no idea it was going to have over a billion views or get the reviews that it did. I’m thankful for it and it was a great opportunity, because I went on tour and built all these fans and I still have all those supporters to this day. It’s just great.

Is it hard to shake because people associate you with that video? People do bring it up a lot, but at the end of the day I feel like there’s really nothing I could do because that is how a lot of things started. It did give me a really big push. If you bring it up to me, that’s fine because it’s a big part of my career.

Did you also write with Nick Jonas at one stage? Yeah a long, long time ago. I think I was turning 17 or 18. We never put out the song. It was around my birthday, I think, and being in the studio with Nick Jonas… he’s so talented. I don’t even know how me and him got into the studio, I just remember walking into the studio and I was like, “Oh my god!” because I used to have the biggest crush on him when I was younger. But it was a great experience and his writing skills are amazing. And he’s with Ms. Universe, so it doesn’t get any better than that! That’s so crazy!

Did you see that shirtless photo shoot he did? Yes! Oh my god, it was so beautiful. A lot of my guy friends were telling me it was a Mark Wahlberg tribute, and I thought it was kind of cool.

Who inspires you musically? I love Alicia Keys, she’s my idol. And Beyonce never ceases to amaze anyone, she’s awesome. I’ve seen her performances lately and every day she’s evolving and doing something out of the box. I think that’s really, really important when you want to stay relevant. I was talking to my brother about it and he said, “When you feel like you’re at a standstill, that’s when you have to make moves and switch up your whole thing to keep going.” You should never feel like you’re stuck in one place.

What about the girls your age… like the Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande? Who do you feel a connection to in that market? I feel we’re all really different. Like there’s also Becky G and Tinashe, we’re all in the same in a sense that we all have something to bring to the table and we all have a message and a story to tell for our fans. We all stand for different things, but I feel like we’re the same in that standpoint. But as artists, we’re all individually different and have different types of music. I just think it’s really good that we’re all able to be here and have such a strong fan base, and be role models to young girls.

Okay, lucky last question. What is your favorite song of the moment? I’ve been listening to Tove Lo a lot, and I can’t pick one song off of her album but I think it would have to be “Habits” – that’s a really good. Oh, and “Moments”!

Do you like the original version of “Habits” or the remix? I like the original version. My best friend Allie showed me the remix, and I love it too, but I think I like the fact that I can listen to her words on the original version without them being chopped and screwed.

Photo Credit: Josh Fogel

Are you excited for the next phase of Jasmine’s career? Let us know in the comments below.

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