Jojo – Interview Sep 28, 2006 2
At the ripe old age of 15, Joanna Levesque—a.k.a. JoJo—has experienced more success and acclaim than most recording artists achieve in a lifetime. She signed her first major record deal at 12, debuted with her now-worldwide multi-platinum album, JoJo, at 13, and became both the youngest solo artist ever to score a #1 hit single on the Billboard charts and the youngest to be nominated for an MTV video music award. Add to that a whirlwind world tour, a starring role in the box office-smash, RV, and a chance to sing for the President of the United States twice, and you’ve got the stuff of teen dreams. “I feel so blessed, like someone is looking over my shoulder,” JoJo says. “I’ve also learned that when you have a positive outlook and surround yourself with a great team, you will go far.”
JoJo is now poised to hit the stratosphere. Her much-anticipated new album, The High Road (Da Family/Blackground), showcases a talent that knows no bounds. In just three years, her voice has gone from exceptional to enormous, while her confidence and maturity have soared to heights far above her age. “This album will show people what I’m really made of,” she says. “I want the world to see I’m here for the long run, and not some flash in the pan.”
We interview Jojo!!
How much has life changed going from the first album to your life today?
A lot has changed. I feel like I’m a lot more sure with the situation now. When I first recorded I wasn’t sure what to expect and everyone was older than me—everyone is still older than me, I’m still the young’un, but I’m more confident as a singer and as a young lady.
Was the record label more open to your opinions this time then the first?
They were a little more open about my opinion this time—not that they weren’t on the first album. That is what’s good about being with a label like Blackground. They are pretty understanding and they know that—I’ve never had a problem standing up to something. I will voice my opinion and I will be heard. And its not in an overpowering way, I just want to make sure I’m pleased with the end result of the product.
What was it like in the studio this time around—were you more confident?
I definitely felt more confident recording this album because I know how to go into the studio and how to work with producers. When you go into the studio you have to have a relationship with the producer while recording. Also, this time I knew how to warm up my vocals and what to expect.
Did you have to go in and say “I want these types of songs” or do they already know you well enough?
Well my executive Producer is Vincent Herbert and I’ve known him since I was twelve, actually since I was eleven, and he is very good at picking songs he thinks I’d like. He does like to throw curveballs sometimes and try different things. But most of the time we have the same taste.
Were you ever worried coming in they might want you to do sexier lyrics because you are older now?
I’m not afraid of it because I think you control where you want to go personally. I would voice my opinion and when I turn eighteen and if they come to me with those things I won’t do it unless I want to do that. I’m not into doing something way over the top.
There is a certain kind of innocence to the album. I guess that is the easiest way to describe it. It’s a nice change from most pop albums.
Yeah there is innocence and that is important because I’m only fifteen. I’m going to be sixteen in December and I will learn a lot more and you will hear that. I was only thirteen when the first one came out and fifteen now and I want to wait until I’m eighteen to make the next one. So you will see different sides of me every time.
The amazing thing is to hear your voice and not instantly be reminded of how young you are.
I know it’s crazy. I’ve been singing for so long.
I was curious about the songs and how you came to choose them—first being “Too Little, Too Late”.
It was one of the first records Vince played for me and I wanted it as soon as I heard it over the phone. The moment we finished recording it I knew that I wanted it to be the first single. I also did two songs with Dianne Warren.
She is a legend.
I love her. She is so talented and so nice. I had so much fun working with her. It was such a positive experience. We recorded the songs so quick.
Her songs have been huge international hits with artists like Celine Dion.
I was nervous when I first met her but she is so different than how probably most people would expect her to be. She is off the wall, funny, and a rocker. She is really cool. She is different then I expected.
Did you ask her for any writing tips?
She writes a song a day. She is constantly thinking so I watched her.
Do you ever hear one of your songs after you’ve finished and think “wow, this is my song!”
I get excited like that for a lot of my songs, especially when I recorded “Too Little, Too Late”. I get so excited in the studio that I’m jumping up and down and hugging everybody. I get so happy. I’m a music person and when I hear music that excites me it makes me happy.
Is it easier to make songs your own now?
I listen to so much music that it is kind of easy for me to try different things and make it my own style of songs when I’m in the studio.
Did you co-write on the album?
I did write. We recorded like thirty-five songs for the record. We narrowed it down and I think we kept one or two songs of my songs for the album.
Anymore plans for movies?
I’m reading a lot of scripts but I don’t want to jump into something unless I’m 100% ready. I really want to focus on this record because I’ve put a lot into it and I want to ride it out as long as I can.
+ Charlie Craine