Our NEXT UP series is a music discovery initiative which showcases the next big things in Afro-influenced music from across Africa and beyond! In this edition, we speak to UK-based R&B songstress That Girl Jared.
That Girl Jared is a UK based R&B singer of Congolese descent. Her unique Afrofusion sound is heavily influenced by 90’s R&B music. Jared’s blend of old school and contemporary afro vibes takes listeners on a sonic adventure that explores the best of both worlds!
How did you get started in music and what gave you the motivation to stay with it?
I got into music quite young. There was always music playing in my house. In the car. It’s something that made me happy and that I could escape into. It was my primary school teachers that pushed my mum into getting me to join a performing arts school and that’s how I really got started.
What motivates me at this point is the feeling of being happy, so I stay motivated in life by doing the things that I love. I have a passion for creating music and sharing it with people. It has been a positive experience more than anything and the messages people send me, the encouragement and genuine interest in my music keeps me going.
Walk us through your creative process. How are you inspired? How do you compose most of your music?
I’m inspired by a lot of things. Life experiences, interactions with people, relationships, everything! My songs, in particular, are about relationships, or songs with lots of positive affirmations delivered in a saucy way (laughs).
My creative process is pretty non-existent. I can go long periods of time without writing anything, then I’ll have burst out of nowhere and make three songs back to back in a day. The music comes to me at very random moments but all at once. I could be anywhere doing anything and my mind will just start creating a song, a beat then as soon as I can get to my computer, I just freestyle record it and perfect it from there, I barely write anything down. From there I’ll reach out to a producer to bring it to life, find a beat online, or make one myself.
Which musical genre is your stronghold and if you could dabble in another genre of music, what would it be?
R&B and Afro-fusion is my stronghold, but if I could dabble in anything else it would be full-on 2000s urban pop music, with overly dramatic bridges, key changes, and dance breaks… like full-on.
What is the most difficult thing you have had to endure in your music career?
As an independent artist, this is basically what it is throughout (laughs). Difficulties (laughs). The most difficult thing I’ve had to endure in the music industry probably is dealing with the professionalism of others. It can all be very tiring the whole networking aspect of it. I don’t have a manager so I deal with everybody live and direct and it can be draining at times. You exchange contacts, now all of a sudden you are getting crazy messages and if you don’t respond how they want you to or when they want you to, you are now unfollowed on both theirs and their company’s page. It’s super weird, egocentric, and kind of psychotic.
Also, I think the artist is always at the bottom of the food chain which is crazy because we are the ones providing the content for anyone to work with In the first place. To get the visibility you need to seek services of others obviously, like making a video, getting PR, etc. but there are a lot of high prices for hyped-up services and terrible quality on deliverance. That’s why it’s important as an artist to be able to do a bit of everything yourself. Don’t even get me started on anything else because this will turn into a whole artist’s rights speech (laughs).
Is the global coronavirus pandemic having any effect on your music/career? How exactly?
It’s a bit too early to tell, as I just started releasing stuff again. But I think with the global pandemic and everybody being at home, the light will definitely shine on more undiscovered creative talent.
Which artists do you consider your biggest musical inspirations?
Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Missy Elliot, Aaliyah, Brandy, Timbaland, Usher. Literally 90’s R&B.
If you can have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
That I did whatever I wanted to do regardless of what other people thought.
What would make you want to collaborate with another artist?
I would want to collaborate with an artist based on their talent and if we share similar vibes. I like to create music from scratch so if they’re up for that too then let’s go!
What are your dream collaborations?
My dream collaboration would have to be Shay, she’s a gorgeous, crazy talented artist from Belgium and I think we would make the sickest song together.
What is the unique element about yourself as an artist and/or your work that sets you apart from other artists?
I think the unique element about me is that I’m me. Whether I switch it up between genres or mix everything together to make a new one it’s always got that secret signature Jared sauce on it that you can’t get anywhere else.
What new age Afro-influenced artists are you currently listening to?
I don’t listen to many Afro artists but at the moment I am listening to Shay, Burna Boy, Darkoo, Teni, and Nkiru.
Tell us about the new material you are currently working on.
Yes, I am currently working on a project but for now, I am just releasing single works of art. My recent body of work is a vibe! A mixture of my different moods. The underlying message is just confidence, in yourself, in what you are doing, in your ability to deal with certain situations. I’m confidently mixing genres of music that I love together and creating sounds that are a bit different. I’m confidently being comfortable in my own skin with my visual presentation. Confident in my thoughts and not seeking validation from anybody. This recent body of work is me revealing my true self and that’s all I’m interested in doing from this point onwards in life. Period.
What is next for you?
What’s next for me is overcoming this global pandemic, releasing more music, traveling more, making money, and staying moisturized.