Growing up in South London with a West Indian and European heritage, Jaz Karis first found her love for music from a youthful age. Having been introduced to an array of genre’s including Gospel, Soul, Jazz, R&B, Reggae, and old school classics, Jaz soon found herself on a journey musically and now stands as one of the UK’s best R&B acts.
Today, Jaz Karis unveiled her brand new EP titled, ‘All Eyes On U’. Pushing boundaries and exploring her sound further, the rising star proves her versatility and only certifies her position in UK R&B. Spread across five tracks, the EP opens up with a song that instantly takes you to another world, glazing the instrumental with her buttery and silky vocals, “Garden Rain” set’s the tone for what’s to come.
We caught up with Jaz to talk all things ‘All Eyes On U’ and more…
I want to take it back to the beginning, what was it like for you growing up? I know you grew up in South London and you come from a mixed background. How were you introduced to music?
I grew up in Forest Hill, but I think everything really started when I moved to Croydon at the age of 8. I got into music from church, my mum would always bring us, and I got involved in choir. I had already been playing and having piano lessons from a really young age but singing came from choir – church productions and stuff like that! From there it went to school shows, once we moved to Croydon, I knew the BRIT school was there and that was always in my eyesight as somewhere I really wanted to go. That is how it started! Once you hit BRIT – that becomes your entire life!
How was BRIT?! Did you find it helpful? Would you recommend people to go there?
Yes! 100%! In the music industry, you are always going to come across people that have been to BRIT – literally they are everywhere! It’s definitely helped me out, my whole band is from BRIT, so I’ve met some great people! The vast majority of music I listen to, I would never have been introduced to if it wasn’t for BRIT because you meet so many different people there and you learn about so many different styles of music that I appreciate it more, whereas before I wouldn’t listen because I don’t like it.I really appreciate different sorts of music now!
You’ve stated that you look to artists like Amy Winehouse, Miguel, Alicia Keys and Erykah Badu for inspiration – Why these artists in particular? What made you gravitate toward them?
They have a sort of freedom about their work which I love, I’d love to admit that with my music. If you listen to their music, it is completely them, it sounds like something that they wanted to do – it just sounds pure from their soul, that is why I love to make music like that!
We must talk about your COLORS performance of ‘Petty Lover’! It is currently sitting at 10 million views – which is incredible! What was this experience like? I presume it boosted your name further!
It was incredible! Like you just said, it catapulted my existence in the musical world! *laughs* I was really nervous because I have always been a fan of COLORS and I always wanted one so when the call came, I was really scared! But it was sick! When we were there, they made me feel really calm and it was wicked experience! The aftermath, I could’ve only prayed it had done this well and it has, so I’m really happy with it! People still find me every day from COLORS so it’s done it’s job! *laughs*
Let’s talk about the ‘All Eyes On U’ EP! This EP varies in sound, we open the project with a beautiful, nature and jazz infused feel and then on tracks like ‘Worth’ and your collaboration with Juls on ‘Let Me Down’, they have a more summer and up-beat feel – How did you approach this project sonically? Did you have a vague sound in your head prior to starting it?
Not at all! Because of the time we were in, this whole weird period of life where everything has happened, I just wanted to make what I wanted to make! It had no direction – that’s really not like me, I’m very much a control freak! This EP is a mix of different sounds, I feel like every song is different on it and I didn’t do it on purpose, but it was an accident that I now love! It’s a very raw and natural EP, it came together by itself, it’s not necessarily perfectly produced or mixed to a t, but I love how it’s rough around the edges! There was no actual plan! Because I am independent as well, it’s like when else can I do that?! If I can put out music that I want now, then I might as well just do it!
You have various projects behind you, how do you think this one differs in comparison to the others?
I think this one is completely different! There are some sounds on there that I have never tried before, the effects on my voice and stuff like that! This one is quite wild, it’s like a wild card and I think some people will really love it and some people might not get it but I think all of that is fine – I guess that’s what a wild card is! *laughs*
I know you just said your independent – Do you have a lot of input into your music? For example, collaborating with Juls, do you let him lead or do you go to him with an idea and work on it together?
That’s why this point has been quite difficult because I love to be a part of the music process, being in the room and creating a vibe etc! With Juls, he had already made the song and I loved it! My mum was playing Lovers Rock all over the house whilst we were cleaning so this just felt like home and natural! I just jumped on it with a demo and then re-cut the vocals, it was really easy and I love that song!
How long did it take to curate this this? Was it literally through this lockdown period?
Yeah literally! There a couple songs that I had started before and just finished off during the lockdown period, but the majority were brand new.
Oouu girl! You was in your bag!
I know this isn’t the easiest question! What’s your favourite track off of the EP and why?
Okay I have a favourite and a personal! My personal is ‘Garden Rain’ because this is my favourite song I have ever written regarding lyrics! Then sonically to listen to, I have a guilty pleasure of ‘Issues’ which is the one with all the auto-tune and guitars! For me listening to it, I really like vibing to it, it doesn’t sound like my song so I think that’s why I love it so much because I’m living in a different experience! *laughs*
Would you say that song challenged you more sonically?
I think because we were messing around and there was no pressure, I didn’t think I’d actually ever release it! When this EP idea had come and I had it, I thought it would be perfect for it! It was hard for me to make the decision to put it on there because I was scared it wasn’t going to receive as well as I’d like – but I’m really glad that I chose to keep it on there!
Do you ever find it daunting baring all in your lyrics, knowing that that many people are going to be listening? Or do you think you’ve reached a stage in which it’s something your more comfortable with?
I think so far, I am not afraid! Sometimes I can be very petty, my song ‘Petty Lover’ – that was literally me being petty on a track! Sometimes I just want people to hear what I have to say, it’s easier in a song to do that instead of talking to someone. I’m at the point where I’m happy to let people know, I think with music that’s where people go to release so I’d be happy if someone else were to touch into my song and say ‘That’s exactly how I feel!’ – that makes me happy!
One thing I never knew, was that you actually wrote a song for Justine Skye named ‘Secrets’! Tell us a bit more about how this came about? That is insane!
Thankyou! *laughs* Obviously I write my own stuff and whilst making my last EP; P2J the producer is a really good friend of mine and we became really close whilst the making the EP! He at the time, was working on Goldlink’s album and at the same time when he was working over in LA, was working on Justine’s – she had an EP coming! He was working on three things at once and I was one of them. He must have played her this song ‘Secrets’ that we had done in one of their sessions, I wasn’t there, but apparently she really loved it and was like ‘I want that song!’. It was meant to be a part of my EP so at first, I was like ‘But that’s my song!’ *laughs* Then I realised the gravity of it all, If I am trying to get big in the song writing world; they always say you should never be afraid to write a better song and be not afraid about losing one. If I didn’t let her have it, yes it would have been on my EP and I don’t know what that would have done, but at the same time it’s gotten me a lot further in the song writing realm from just doing that! I was grateful for the opportunity, the people on her album are incredible so to be one of the names on there is wicked!
Recently, more women have come forward with their experiences in the music industry. Throughout your career so far, how do you feel it is to be a woman in the industry and what advice would you give you young women who would want to pursue a career in music?
Be brave! It’s a very very difficult industry let alone being Black and a woman! You can never quit! There are going to be a lot of doors shutting in your face and a lot things that you shouldn’t take personally but you might end up doing – you have got to develop a thick skin and that is something that I have struggled with! Never quit, there are so many times where you might just feel to do that. Never compare yourself to another woman in the industry – that’s one thing the industry loves to do to women, and I hate it! I don’t think we should do that, there is enough space for everyone to win and I think they just like to compare women for the sake of it!
A lot of people like to say R&B in the UK is underrated, do you agree with this statement or do you find it frustrating when people say this?
It is such a difficult question! The market in the UK; it’s not there right now for R&B, there’s so much talent here but where do we see it? They might have an R&B show on a radio station or something like that but the UK is very focused on pushing one thing at a time and right now that is Rap, Drill and Pop; Pop is always going to be there but that’s what is going on right now! It’s almost like they won’t put up another platform, R&B could be massive here, but something is only massive until the US co-sign it!
It’s so annoying!
Yeah, it’s really annoying but times are changing and there is a lot more stuff coming forward! I think the future is bright, right now there isn’t enough, but the future is bright!
What else can we expect this coming year?
Expect a lot more music! A lot more visuals, that is my priority to do a lot more cool visual stuff – that would be me! Oh, and a lot more song-writing as well, let’s put that in the works!