There’s a buzz around Yasmin – the latest new girl on the musical block.
I can’t get enough of the 22-year-old who originally hails from Manchester via Glasgow and has now settled in London. Think early 90’s soulful vocals spread over atmospheric Massive Attack Style beats – with a handful of dubstep thrown in courtesy of Shy FX on debut single On My Own, released on January 30.
And the half-Iranian lady isn’t just a pretty face (she’s been snapped up by Storm Models) as she initially wowed the likes of Pharrell Williams with her nifty DJ skills. Plus she’s already had a Top 20 hit by featuring on rapper Devlin’s track Runaway.
My gal Natalie Edwards caught up with the budding trailblazer to chat about feisty female chart rivals, fashion and her rumoured romance with Tinie Tempah!
So tell me Yasmin, how did you make the switch from being a DJ to becoming a hotly-tipped artist?
I was always a massive music fan and music lover and that sort of led to my DJ career. A friend of mine was a DJ and I always use to nag him to play certain tracks. One night he was like ‘Right, I’m going to the toilet – play some tracks until I get back’ and from then I just caught the buzz. But I was always singing and writing songs. I would socialise with musicians and producers and they started believing in me and encouraged me to pursue it so that’s what I did.
And you moved from your home in Glasgow to London to help with that..
Yes in April I will have been in London for three years. It was quite daunting but I’m the type of person that takes things head on and doesn’t get intimidated or scared by things like that. I saw it as a big challenge and London as the land of opportunity.
Feisty females are dominating the charts at the minute. Does this excite you?
I’m very much about ‘Girl Power’. I know it sounds very nineties and Spice Girls-ish but it’s nice to see girls who are genuine and talented and not gimmicky and manufactured. So for me it’s more the merrier. It would be incredible to have even more girls who have something to stay and who are truly talented. It’s great for the whole scene and the women in the industry because it’s gets so stereotyped – the more women that can help fight that is great!
I guess most people expect all you girls to be bitching about each other and pulling hair extensions out…
The thing is, it can be like that. I just know myself and I’m from a very genuine place. I’m not very egotistical and don’t want it to be all about ‘me, me, me’. I come from the DJ scene which is like a community and I kind of want that same community – like a movement – where we are all supporting each other. So if I’m not having a Top 10 hit one week someone like Emeli SandŽ or Katy B will be. I think rather than having one great artist, it’s so much better to have a group of great artists all pushing music forward and that’s what I’m about. That’s why I am so excited about this year as there are so many great people coming out with new music.
Who are your favourite fellow ladies in pop?
I’m a big fan of Robyn – I think she’s incredible and a wicked writer, performer and singer. I also love Jessie J and think she’s proper ballsy and will be a huge popstar. Katy B makes me smile whenever I meet her as she’s the sweetest girl and every time I see her doing well it makes me feel happy. It’s a healthy place for women at the minute.
Are you aware of the buzz around you for 2011?
I’m flattered. I love doing interviews as it gives me the chance to be heard and understood as I think I’m an easy person to stereotype if you don’t know me. It happened with my DJing and people were like ‘you only got it because you’re a girl’ and ‘you only got it because you look like this’. Eventually over time people started to understand me and see that I was the real deal. I’m not interested in being famous and would rather be respected for my music than be a public figure.
Is there any truth in the rumour that Pharrell helped you get signed and is now a mentor?
You know what it’s like – people add on to the story. Soon it will be ‘Pharrell is your dad’! I’ve met N*E*R*D a handful of times and I supported them at The Roundhouse in 2008. They were back in London the following year and when they were leaving Pharrell threw a small leaving party. It was really private and intimate get-together and he asked me to DJ there. So I got to hang out and speak to his manager and off the back of that I got to DJ for Eve. So N*E*R*D and Pharrell did manage to get me some great opportunities and I’m very grateful for that. You never know, one day he might get me into the studios.
Did Pharrell give you any good advice?
Not really but I remember when I was DJing at his little party there was a real laid back vibe so I was playing a lot of funky soul and chilled R&B. Pharrell just came up and he was like: ‘Look I just want to hear dubstep’. I asked if he was sure as it was such a chilled-out summer evening party but he was like: ‘Trust me, all I want to hear his dubstep’. It was his party so I had to play it. He just sat there vibing and everyone else was looking at me like: ‘What on earth are you playing that for?’ So there you have it – Pharrell loves dubstep!
And I also hear that you’re chummy with Will.i.am?
I DJ’d once when he had a party. He signed my friend Natalia Kills so I have run into him a few times. He’s awesome and very eccentric. You can tell he was born to be a star and he’s very ‘yap, yap, yap’ all the time and ‘music music’. He’s really cool. The way he talks he can convince you that your own mother is a cabbage. He can talk you into anything because he’s so persistent.
Do you think he’ll help you break America like he’s doing with Cheryl Cole?
I don’t think so. I’ve been chatting to some labels in America but nothing has been set in stone. It’s nice to have any interest from America at this point. I feel that I have to kind of represent in Britain first before I can even think of going off over there.
So fill me in on what we can expect from your debut album…
It’s about three-quarters done now and by the end of February I’m looking to have it all wrapped up. The first single On My Own is with Shy FX and I have also worked with Labyrinth on two tracks including one called Told You So.
Is there anyone else you’re hoping to get on the record?
I’m really want to work with a guy called Jerry Wonder who did a lot with The Fugees. Plus Salaam Remi who’s a wicked producer and has worked with Amy Winehouse so we’ll see what happens.
What kind of sounds can we expect to hear?
Personally I’ve really grown to despise this over-produced, over-compressed pop-electro noise. Everything now is the same and it’s like one big song on the radio. It really feels like now it’s a new year and a fresh start and there are so many new artists coming through. My sound is gritty and British and it has a lot of soul. There are a lot of gritty beats and I like gritty, hard production. I get a lot of inspiration from real-life situations and songs that people can relate to. That’s what I love about other people’s music when I listen to it.
And I hear you’re striking a pretty pose by also taking up modelling?
I’ve been talking to Storm and they’re going to take me on as a special booking and do bits and pieces. But I won’t be on the catwalks or be doing photoshoots for anything that isn’t music related. I’m not tall enough or skinny enough to be a proper model sadly but I’m cool with that.
And the fashion world is adoring you’re style…
I love clothes but most importantly I love being comfortable. I love vintage and quirky accessories. It’s really flattering when people comment on my style and say they like it. No designers have got in touch yet but in my video I worked with Gisele Ganne who designed my incredible rings and Maria Francesca Pepe who designed the big cross which I wear on my single cover. I adore the cross and am keeping my fingers crossed that they may send it to me as a gift!
There have been reports that you are dating Tinie Tempah. Is there any truth in you breaking thousands of girls hearts?
Not at all. We’re friends and that’s as far as it goes. Obviously nothing like that has even been written about me before so it was kind of like ‘Oh my God!’. I am friends with lots of people in the industry so I’m sure it’s not going to be the last time that it happens. For me I am very much focused on my music so it’s kinda annoying that people will be now asking if I’m dating him. But you know, it happens and people do find it difficult to believe that girls and guys can just be friends. But that’s really all it is.
Are you single?
I am. I don’t really have the time for anything. I am really into what I’m doing but hopefully there will be time at some point. I’m just waiting for Johnny Depp to give me a call!
Yasmin’s fabulous debut single On My Own is out January 31