Having made a name for herself in the Far East, Jessmo’s music is now ready for global domination. An artist with personality throughout her tracks and passionate about songwriting, I caught up with Jessmo to chat about her background, songwriting process, what’s to come next and much more.
Welcome, Jessmo. You’re based in Singapore, right? What’s the music scene like there?
Obviously may be different at the moment because of the pandemic, but what’s it usually
Hello! Thanks so much for having me, I really appreciate this opportunity 🙂 Yes, I’m currently based in Kuala Lumpur for over a year now but Singapore is still very close and I’ve seen my fair share of the music scene back home. Well I can only speak from my experience and of course this is not a blanket statement that represents the entire music scene in Singapore. As brutal as it’s going to sound, the music scene in Singapore isn’t the most “thriving” or nurturing environment for a musician or artist to grow and express themselves. There is a major lack of venues and opportunities like music festivals for performances and the ones that do, are highly curated and controlled.
Everyone listens to mainstream charts from the US so the same few songs are always on rotation in
people’s headset and the radio. People don’t generally believe in a homegrown artist unless
they have a stamp of approval elsewhere. It is a shame and I have never expected it to change or improve anytime soon. But I understood this from the very beginning when I set out to build my career that the music scene in Singapore is extremely limited and and thus, moving to Europe at a very young age to learn and seek opportunities instead. Afterall, the media is extremely accessible and globalized today so there is no reason for any artist to restrict themselves and strictly tag a specific location to their artistry.
What’s the story behind your stage name ‘Jessmo’?
Haha well I used to hang out with a group of good friends back in high school where I was
the only girl in the group. More often than not I would get very emotional about things and
potentially slip a couple of tears here and there. And of course boys will be boys, they
started teasing me by calling me Jessmo, which was derived from “Jessica” and “Emo”.
Highschool can be cruel sometimes, I’ve also been called many other names like “giraffe” for
being tall, but thankfully my mind was strong enough not to focus on these negativity that
was thrown at me. I was very much determined to turn them into the building blocks to
build my career instead. I wanted a name that’s meaningful and representative of who I am, so what better than to use something that once had a bad connotation to it and turn that into my strength.
How has your background affected your songwriting?
I’ve been through a lot of difficult times since I was a little kid and I think that has groomed
me into someone who is extremely in touch with her feelings. Some of my friends might still
remember the very first song, “Birds Over The Green” that I published and it was a rather
cringey song but I wasn’t afraid to translate and pen my feelings down as it is. That really
helped me through a difficult chapter in my life when I decided to leave college early into a
society that doesn’t appreciate anything that’s sticking out from the norm, and carve a path
of my own instead. Since then, I wasn’t afraid to be in touch with my emotions anymore and
that really defined and made the person I am today. I do see it as a blessing as emotional songs are always appreciated as your audience can often relate to when they hear one, and
know that they’re not the only one dealing with certain feelings and emotions alone.
You refuse to follow a tradition, which is fantastic. Do you write from a personal approach,
if so why?
Thank you, I would really love to see how far I can go without following the tradition, that’s a
challenge I set for myself. But yes, I think most of my songs have actually been very personal at some point in my life and inspired by personal relationships at that moment when it was written. But whenever a song is completed in its entirety for publishing, it’s just like a chapter closed and archived for me. I don’t really live in that song after and once I put it out there, it almost belongs to everyone who listens to it. That’s the beauty of songwriting isn’t it. I really don’t feel any attachment to the narrative in the songs after.
What’s been your best or favourite achievement to date?
My proudest achievement to date was definitely my debut concert in Singapore 2 years
back. It was a show that I poured all my heart into, from concert production, stage crew,
backline, marketing, acquiring sponsorship, visuals, band rehearsals and to the final
performance itself. I really wanted to push myself to the limit and see what I could achieve
with very limited resources and being an independent artist. The show turned out to be a
sweet success. The entire journey really wasn’t easy but upon standing on that stage and
singing and dancing my heart out on stage to the 200 over audience that came, it was worth
every since tear and sweat in the process. I couldn’t have done it without the support from
my friends and family and the sponsors that believed in my craft. It was definitely an
unforgettable and most fulfilling evening that will be etched in my memory for a long time,
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your debut EP, what inspired you to write, record
I wanted to put out a couple tracks that define my sound since I’ve shifted into production
work myself and I thought that a 4 track EP would be perfect. All 4 songs came from very
different backgrounds and wrote at different times in my life in the past 2 years but I never
really got to publish them properly. However I realised that they all have a consistent
emotional-but-strong theme to it and I liked that, so I decided to polish them up and put
them out with an uplifting dance pop production attitude into it. It’s very ‘me’ according to
my friends as well.
Most of them are inspired by past personal relationships that often ignite the most
complicated feelings that would send me into exile mentally. I always wanted to have the
upper hand in such situations so what better than to archive and put these chapters away
into songs. Once I gathered and selected the songs that I’d like to publish, I went to record
them in LA all in one week and the tracks were done then. It took a long time for me to
publish them because I kept waiting for the “right time” but most artists will know that
eventually, you will reach a point but to take a deep breath and publish them even though
you think that there still might be changes you’d like to do to them.
How would you describe your debut EP ‘Dance It All Out’ in three words?
Uplifting cry dancing. haha!
What can we expect from you next?
A complete debut album for sure. I think having a body of work will really help listeners
understand my sound and direction as an artist. I’m also working to get some filming done
where you’ll finally see me being featured in performances. I just want to keep working on
albums after albums that I’m proud of and never let my creativity slip away, in parallel to the
multitude of distractions one have in their day to day lives. To leave legacy in a sense. At
some point I would also love to start touring and performing live around the world once all
the madness in the world has subsided.
Listen to Jessmo’s debut EP NOW!