We Interview Insanely Talented Songstress Jane Macgizmo
Jamaica’s answer to genre-bending excellence.
Jane Macgizmo’s entire aesthetic is one hard to ignore. Born outside of Mandeville, Jamaica, the singer-songwriter infuses her unique and unparalleled sound with traditional Jamaican styles, producing bop after bop. From an early age, she became immersed in music and the arts, learning how to play piano, trumpet and the flute among other instruments. The artist eventually went on to composition, writing and recording songs in her bedroom as a teenager, whilst later excelling in photography, video editing and graphic design.
Her 2016 debut single ‘Babylon,’ was an instant hit, with a deep bass line and luscious vocals accompanied by an alluring visual showcasing one of Jamaica’s plentiful breath-taking landscapes. Her dancehall-infused second single ‘Too Late’ was played in heavy rotation on national and international radio stations, before ‘One Away’ completely stole the summer and she collaborated with Koffee on the track 'Blazin'. Her latest electric offering ‘Midas’ has us eagerly waiting to see what’s next from the all-rounder…
Why do you think the blurring of music genres is so important?
It’s not so much that I think that it’s important versus it just being an expression of myself as an artiste. So it's important to me because I listen and love so many genres of music that I couldn’t just involve one sound in my music.
How would you describe your personal aesthetic and what do you want people to know about your craft?
My aesthetic is bold, beautiful, rebellious, sexy and wise. And my craft is a mix of my personal experiences and the fantasy world I live in in my head.
What advice would you give to those trying to break out of the mundane 9-5 lifestyle to follow their dreams?
If you are going to take the risk, take it early. Music is something that requires 1000% of your effort to really make something of it as well as something worthwhile. But it doesn’t hurt to also have an education or other skills to fall back on if it doesn’t work out.
You have discussed your parents’ desires for you to become a doctor, as musical pathway being seen as taboo. Did you ever resist your musical calling, or have you always nourished that side of you?
I think my entire journey with music has been that battle because I never got that foundation of confidence of ‘you can be anything you want to be’. So music has been a journey for my sense of self and knowing who I am outside of what my parents wanted me to be.
Who would you cite as your musical influences? How do they influence you outside of your own personal sound?
I think my influences have always been hard for me to cite just because there are too many! I love just finding new artistes and new sounds. I think just having good taste in music and being a true music fan just influences me to think different and expand my mind creatively. But I know one definite original influence was Bob Marley for his style of writing, which was also Lee Scratch Perry on a lot of them.
You were mentioned in Complex UK’s 10 Jamaican Artists To Watch, alongside artists including Lila Iké and Royal Blu. How does it feel to see Jamaica receive the widespread recognition it deserves?
Jamaica has always received widespread recognition but to see new sounds getting recognition is all I’ve ever wanted since I came on to the scene.
Your debut single ‘Babylon’ erupted onto the scene in 2016, with a visual that is both astounding and alluring. What was the inspiration and creative process behind the song?
I had just decided I'm gonna make a song and go into the studio so I was just finding free instrumentals and freestyling on them. Babylon was the first thing I freestyled, although it was first a marijuana song. After recording it, I just didn’t know if I wanted my first song to be about that so at the time I was just so depressed in my 9 to 5 so I had come up with a hook separately that said ‘Free from Babylon’ so I switched out the choruses and that was that!
The track received some backlash because people were unable to strictly categorise it as reggae. How do you respond to those trying to mould you into what makes them comfortable?
Well, it’s my life and no one else can be me and I find great joy that in my music I have that freedom. People are very quick to stereotype that, it’s like how can that be? Everybody can’t be the same. I am allowed to be one thing and something else at the same time. There are no rules and if there are, artistes are supposed to break them.
Spill the beans, what does the future hold for Jane Macgizmo?
I always get this question and just tell my immediate plans but now I’m at a point that I realize my career and just me as a person are quite unpredictable so nothing truly goes as planned, ever. So I stopped planning and that’s when things go better than planned. But I’m sure there will be more music and more growth for me as an individual. That’s all I will say for now.
Next Up, Koffee "Come In Like A Rapture" As First Woman To Win Grammy Award For Best Reggae Album