Last fall Jasmine Power showed up on the scene in Nashville, Tennessee. We met through a mutual London friend and fellow Word of Mouth interviewee, boutique owner Eliza Poklewski Koziell, and immediately hit it off. The ambitious Welsh singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist, currently based in London, was advised to come to Nashville where she could “share her stories.” Power, who grew up in a cottage on the West Coast of Wales, had lots of thinking time as a child, which gave her a tremendous amount of space to be creative. She credits her parents for sparking her intense interest in music. Classical was the soundtrack every morning, World music, ska and classic pop bands in the afternoons and jazz in the evenings. An appreciation for the arts was omnipresent. As soon as Power could sit at the piano bench, she began playing. She began her training on cello by Suzuki method, which taught her how to play by ear, transcribe notes, and become one with the music. Once she fully understood her voice, after years of singing in Welsh choirs, Power, who also dance trained professionally throughout her youth and teens, began singing lessons at age 17. She would continue on to attend the most prestigious conservatoire in Wales, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, followed by Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. She went on to release her first EP, Stories & Rhymes, in her early twenties. The music, a mixture of soul, jazz, and cinematic pop, is an amalgamation of her varied personal taste—while she listened nonstop to Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald as a girl her teenage pop and hip-hop phase is also there along with her love for film soundtracks. Her personal and professional goal is to say something of significance and be a positive presence in this crazy world.
Welcome to Nashville! What is your favorite thing about this city?
The tall trees are spectacular and I love the attitude of the people here – it’s pro-active and breezy, warm, positive and fun. I feel incredibly creative here perhaps because people walk around with a smile on their face, which reminds me of Wales.
What is your number-one prerogative musically?
I want people to feel understood, inspired, and hopeful after listening to my music. The artists that I love helped me to sustain that sense of belief in my dream and life during harder times. Their music brought me peace, motivation, and made me think. It is my purpose to do the same for my listeners.
You’re a very political, well-traveled young person. How did you get to be this way?
As an artist, I have freedom of speech, which is an incredible gift. I come from an extremely political and ‘do good’ family. I feel a sense of duty to speak and sing for those who are silenced in the third and Western worlds.
What are your thoughts on the power of word of mouth?
Luck comes when you put yourself in the right spot. If you hide away in an ivory tower, no matter how good you are, no one will ever find you. Similar to Wales, Nashville has a sense of community. If one person with a good reputation speaks highly of you then the doors start to open. Most of my success has come from being bold and saying “hi” to strangers.
What are your thoughts on social media?
I think making an impression in person is so much more powerful than gaining new followers or sending someone to your website. I’m old school and am willing to go round and round with my records or sing for someone live at the piano. I like to keep communication real. That’s just who I am.
Same. You released a new song last week with cult favorite, alternative artist Amanda Palmer, called “Mr. Weinstein Will See you Now” about the #metoo movement. How did this collaboration come about?
I was on a writing trip with my song-writing team ‘Sketch&DoddsPower’ when my co-writer got a text from Amanda Palmer who he had met in a library. She asked if we wanted to have dinner. We didn’t know anything about one another at the time, which made it a bit cooler. The second I saw her I thought this is the kind of woman I want to be friends with. She is raw, real, and looks you straight in the eye while listening to your story. She was also a great conversationalist who could talk about politics, current affairs, and things beyond music. After dinner she asked me outright, “Can you play for us?”
And did you?
Yes! I think it’s so important to be able to turn the switch on when you need to— even if you’re not in the mood to perform. When you have a chance and it feels right, it’s very important to go for it. After I played her some songs on the piano she expressed that she was taken back by my artistry and improvisation skills and that my voice “reminded her of a cello.” She thought we might work well together as co-writers.
Did she return the favor and perform for you?
Absolutely. I then asked her to sing! I found her music to be wild, free, and edgy. She’s also a brilliant pianist who I knew I could learn a lot from. A few days later she called upon me. Because she is crowd funded by her fans, Amanda can do anything at the drop of a hat. She makes the music she wants to make, and releases it on her own timeframe which is so inspiring to me.
Why did you want to cover the #metoo movement in a song form?
Songs can be so powerful. The topic arose as soon as we entered the space and within five minutes the words began to flow. It was a subject we both felt passionate about and it took two women in a room together to write it. I think this #metoo movement is starting to make women feel empowered. We can be who we want to be in the entertainment industry without ever needing to compromise our morals. Times are changing for the better because women are banding together.
If you could sum up “Mr. Weinstein Will See you Now” in one sentence what would it say?
Women are the ones with the power and no man can ever take this from us. Always listen to your intuition and follow it.
Love it. What was it like to write explicit lines such as “just turn me over fast and let’s get this over with?”
We were excited to write a song that was to the point. It almost gives me shivers thinking about it. There was no sugarcoating what it feels like to be taken advantage of. As we wrote, I felt more and more angry for what women have gone through all around the world for centuries. My hope is there will be ongoing movements where women can feel safe enough to share their stories and leave situations that are unhealthy. Men, as many great ones as there are, must show more respect to women and stop abusing their power. It’s quite simple; the line should be drawn when a woman says “no”. As first world citizens we are lucky to have the support to walk away from potentially traumatizing situations. I want to bring my children into a world where there is true equality and mutual respect, in both work and relationships.
Why do you think writing in a straightforward fashion was so important?
I wrote a lyric that says, “Won’t have you in me. Won’t have you near me not at any cost, run now girl run.” I cringed with horror when I wrote these words but it felt necessary. Part of me felt weary about my grandparents listening to the song but, at the same time, I also know they will be proud that I stood up for something profound. Amanda and I wanted to encourage women to succeed on their own along with help from good people.
You have a solid, strong core. How did you gain your confidence?
Self-worth can help you to avoid terrible situations and take you to extraordinary places in life. I’ve not always been this way and have certainly made many mistakes. We are all full of insecurities. However, one way I became more self-assured was through participating in extreme sports and by reading about women who had stood up against society. Suffragettes, in particular, showed me how powerful humans can be when we stick together.
How do you feel about the direction that feminism is going in?
I feel very strongly that we should relish in our femininity and not try to imitate men. My hope is that by being open about the struggles women go through men will better understand and empathize. Pretending that men and women function in the same way helps nobody and isn’t the kind of feminism I wish to support.
What else gives you confidence as a female artist?
Hiking mountains alone. Travel, which has been huge in terms of opening my perspective and building inner strength. Finding places where I can make an impact and people who I can share with and learn from. Lastly, I believe that self-acceptance is the key. We are as beautiful as we feel. Stand in front of the mirror everyday and tell yourself that you are wonderful just as you are.
Where did you learn all of this great advice?
My mother always told my sister and I that we were beautiful and wonderful. If a man complimented us then great, but we didn’t need that to feel good about ourselves. I think it’s dangerous to go near the opposite sex if you don’t have substantial self worth. Then you are reliant on another to make you feel good.
Was there ever a period of your life where you based your confidence on your career success?
Yes. Any career is a journey and if you have a year of no interest or a song that does not get noticed then you can very easily get depressed. In 2016, after I released my debut EP, ‘Stories & Rhymes’ which did very well, I had a total freak out. I had gotten a good bit of success in the UK and Europe yet something didn’t feel right. One night after a big show I went to bed and started to question what was happening. What I realized was I needed time to reflect and check in with myself. For so long I thought, when I get here I’ll feel this, which isn’t a healthy way to carry on. It’s important to be present in every step of the path.
How do you stay grounded?
When I’m afraid to be alone and don’t want to be with people I turn to nature. Back home in Wales, I go swimming in the cold sea, hiking along the coast, and surfing until I can’t think anymore. Standing on the jagged coastline and breathing the fresh air, allows me to strip back to who I truly am, which is nature woman. There is something about the raw landscape of Wales, which reminds me that everything is and will always be okay.
Do you have any personal mantras in terms of your work?
I want to pursue my passions out of love and the desire to make a positive impact on the world with my songs. More than anything I want to be a good, inspiring energy for others and deliver important and relatable messages. If I do that then I am succeeding.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Landing in the Andes-Patagonia alone and hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, which starts in the French Pyrenees and takes you to the Northwest coast of Spain. I hiked for six weeks straight until I knew who I was without music. Even though I went a little crazy at times it brought me back to my purest human form and put everything into perspective. Once you let go of fear, life starts to flow.
Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming album?
Each song, which I’ve been writing over the course of the last few years, is a journey of my own life as well as those I have observed around me. It’s an intensely emotional process to turn the deepest experiences of your life into sounds. I am working with two madly creative producers who have taken me to musical spheres that I didn’t know existed. There is nothing more exciting than working with people who get what you do.
What have you learned while making this record?
To be patient and listen to my heart, which always guides me where I am meant to go.