Jasmine Jethwa’s journey to singing begins in a melting pot of Western and Indian culture, influenced by the personal stories of her London upbringing and with a mesmerising, natural command for melody and harmonies. Born and raised in South London, Jasmine wasn’t always set on being a musician. As a child, she used to visit her Grandad who worked his way up from humble beginnings in North Shields to becoming a successful scenic painter, creating backdrops and sets for countless theatre shows and Ballets across London and the world. After watching these performances of sinuous dancers in front of a backdrop of beautiful scenery, Jasmine fell head over heels for dance. She began determinedly training for 18 hours a week from a young age, learning contemporary, jazz, ballet, tap & modern. “I was always writing music on the side on my worn-out old keyboard,” she laughs, “But I never thought I was that great, to be honest. I can read music a little bit and play keys enough to write melody but, but it’s more just the melodies and the writing that I feel like I’m good at... So I liked music, but I thought: dance is what I’m gonna do.” However, as Jasmine went on to study dance full-time in college, she found herself falling out of love with movement and instead more drawn to what had merely been her hobby on the side, looking longingly at the music studios across the hallway. Eventually, She trusted her gut and left that school to focus on music. “I definitely like a drive and rhythm to my songs,” she says when discussing whether her dance background plays any part in the type of music she makes now, “I want to feel like I can move to it or be moved by it emotionally.” Jasmine makes swaying, folk-tinged acoustic pop songs with a full voice that teems with rich emotion. Her sonic palette makes sense when she describes the music she was most interested in growing up. “The earliest memories I have are of driving down to see my grandparents, and we listened to different music in the car on my dad’s iPod,” she recalls, “There’d be David Gray, Tracy Chapman, Dido, Gipsy Kings, The Eagles – old songs, classic albums. And I feel like they went into my psyche. I’m obsessed with any kind of acoustic, well-played guitar.” Though she cannot play the instrument herself, she often collaborates with different songwriters, one of which is her friend Jez, to make sure the guitar is always a focus point in her tracks. She also references her love of R&B and a current new love with Fontaines DC (“the first time I heard them they grabbed my heart; if my music does what they and other artists do for me and moves them to feel something, I’d be happy”). There is also mention of the emotional resonance of watching Bollywood films with her Gujarati grandmother back when she was a kid: “In terms of vocals, I do think that’s made a bit of an impact,” she says of those Hindi songs she internalized. In 2020, Jasmine released her debut EP, Hurricane, to acclaim from BBC Introducing, Clash, gal-dem, The Independent and more. The record was deft and tender. Now, she is gearing up for the release of Same Streets But I Don’t See You Around, her mesmerizing second EP, which deals with the fallout of romantic heartbreak. Tracks like ‘Golden’ are a stunning look at people who are on different pages, trying and failing to make it work. Sometimes the record is gentle, sometimes it’s acerbic (on ‘Money to Burn’ she laments, “If I had a penny every time you cared, I’d be poor as a poet in a broken bed”). These are lyrics that draw from her reality and then exaggerate on it, she explains. The release is also grounded in a period of time that has seen the world change, where the grief of losing people whether through heartbreak or passing away is more prevalent than ever before. Some of these things are directly conveyed on the record, and there is a sense of spirituality and candour of feeling that floats through. For Jasmine, this is rooted in her South London upbringing: “There’s a sense of community I’ve grown up with. I like the idea of being accessible, I want the music to be like open-arms – I think that aspect of growing up here has affected my character, and I want that to be in my music.” The dance world’s loss is music’s gain. Jasmine Jethwa’s songs are a reminder that we can’t know the future, but we can lean into the poetry, the cosmos and the depth of feeling, and let it all hold us.
Singles & EPs