With her COLORS video reaching two million views in two months, there’s no doubt about the vast number of UK talent reaching different areas of the world. One person to add to this list is Jaz Karis. With comparisons to Jorja Smith and Mahalia, we caught up with Jaz to speak about her views on the R&B genre in the UK and her music experience so far.
Hailing from South London, Jaz Karis is an intelligent soul, which adds to her soothing and luscious vocals. Her friends describe her as interesting and generous, but has an opinionated side to her personality, which clearly shows strength in her inner being. She has been active within music scene for four years now, including her journey through BRIT School. With a recognised alumnus, BRIT has a reputation of turning students’ dreams into reality. Jaz states that her school aided her with embracing different sounds and improving her creativity. “It throws you into a world that you either reject or embrace and you start learning about yourself”.
Growing up, Jaz has been exposed to R&B and Soul music, but she doesn’t primarily put herself into the R&B field, stating that she’s open to explore different genres of music. Her two EP’s; Into the Wilderness and Live at the Dairy are both diverse projects, with one being a Live EP. With her Debut EP, every song indulged becomes individual, contextually. “I guess I produce what I want really! All of my music comes from real life situations, whether it’s love or sad emotions”. There are also influences of the gospel church as well as soul and jazz inspirations, being brought up in a church environment. Jaz named a few artists that she has been inspired by, with the ‘free spirit’ Erykah Badu, Frank Ocean and Amy Winehouse leading the list.
The R&B and Soul scene in the UK has been growing recently, especially for female vocalist. Jaz may fall into this sort of category on a Spotify playlist, but we wanted to find out her views on the genre. “An R&B song is basically like someone pouring out a story on a song, which can be heartfelt. There used to be a lot more attention span for R&B music in the past”. People still love R&B music, which is evident with talents on the rise such as Mahalia, Nao and Karis herself, but there is belief that these artists still may not be receiving the exposure that they truly deserve. “Afro-swing for example is easier to gravitate towards and sing along to”. Asking Jaz as to whether the UK needs a R&B platform, which could possibly do a similar job to what GRM Daily and Link Up TV are doing for their respective genres, she highlighted that “It would definitely help but I don’t know how they would go about building this. We are a visual generation nowadays”.
It’s all about taking risks when you’re an artist, whether you experiment with your sound or visuals. ‘Sugar Don’t Be Sweet’, which is one of the 6 songs from the debut EP, took inspiration from a book Jaz was reading, called ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. Whilst unmanaged and unsigned, Jaz took it upon herself to lead her creative mindset, composing ideas for a visual to go alongside her acclaimed song. With her ideas reaching several directors all over the world including the UK, she encountered a Venezuelan artist, Jesus David Mora, which led to a collaboration over WhatsApp and FaceTime. The overall outcome, a subtle anime themed video, creating a strong and similar message, but through Jaz’s interpretation. “I literally wanted to recreate the story to how I saw it when I read the book. Having the right people around you to help with a vision is important and I love people who have a genuine love and passion for art”. Collaborations with the likes of Sillkey, Blue Lab Beats and Tinyman, show that she isn’t scared to work with anyone and if the positive energy flows, the creative process becomes smoother, in order to create an organic and uplifting project.
Although the studio is where the magic starts, Karis enjoys live performances more. Travelling to Germany recently, she arrived in Berlin and then pursued Hamburg, which was home to the Reeperbahn Festival 2018. With people also travelling into Germany to watch Jaz perform, she is surely making a stamp around Europe. Posing a question to find out if travelling was important to the exposure of music, Jaz explained that she loves to travel a lot and that it is inspiring to know that fans who speak different languages and come from different backgrounds can come together to sing her songs. “I enjoy sharing my music! Music has its own language and it is amazing to have people in Germany know my lyrics. I do believe my fan base is growing now”. With the addition of her COLORS video ‘Petty Lover’, her sound should be reaching thousands if not, millions of music lovers, who are eager to engage in new music.
It is important to delve into an artist and understand their mindset, passion and reason for every move they make on their journey. For Jaz, we can tell she is very experimental, with her music diverting to a mix of soul and jazz, allowing such joyful escapism and this may just be the case for her next objective. Planning the release of another project with the addition of more live performances, do make sure to check out Jaz Karis’s social media sites, to keep an eye out for upcoming shows and new sounds.