Jazzie Martian believes he thinks differently to other musicians because he was a dancer before he was a singer. He grew up in Nottingham on what he calls ‘a blocky estate,’ finding street dance as a teenager and getting into House, Vogue and Hip Hop. The first time he’d performed his own music live was for the Amex Gold Unsigned competition in 2022. Jazzie’s music covers multiple genres – in one song, you might hear elements of Soul, Pop, Reggae, RnB and Grime – which is how he likes it.

Six months since his song “Future” became the soundtrack for the Amex Gold advert, and moments after his first shout-out on BBC Radio 1, we sit down for a question & answer session to ask him how things have changed.

Q: Congratulations on your success last year. How have things been for you since then, and what have the opportunities led to?

A: Since being announced the Amex Gold Unsigned winner, and the Prime Video documentary dropped, I’ve had time for reflection, which you don’t expect. It’s rare for such a new artist to review their struggles, but also their happiness and smiles – but to do that was definitely a game-changer. I’ve seen and experienced the true drive you need to succeed in this music game.

Q: How has American Express supported you throughout the Unsigned process?

A: They’ve supported me in so many ways – I feel like they helped me to understand and get a firm grip on who Jazzie Martian is, what he’s capable of. There is also the element of when the lights go off on the show, but the lights are still on in your career, you the artist have now got to do your job… it’s that behind-the-scenes, background help that gets you ready to put the lights back on for another performance.

Q: Could you describe a typical week now?

A: Some weeks, it is no time off. Then, to be as real as I can get, there’s nothing – because that’s how work happens. I think the power in what I’m learning is that in the time of silence you need to find another goal within the same goal. Something that can help the process keep moving.

Q: What are you most excited about at the moment?

A: Performing – it’s where I’m at home. I’m excited also to collaborate as I’m excited to see other people’s worlds. I love things that are not yet touched but everybody’s scared to try, so I’m excited to meet people who are also not scared.

Q: What has been your favourite performance and is there somewhere you would love to perform?

A: The beautiful thing with Amex Gold Unsigned is that it allowed me to have the first performance of my own music – I was pretty much dreaming a dream and hoping that I could get a chance to show everyone. And now we’re here. One place that I definitely want to be one day is Glastonbury, because the time I last went, I was performing – dancing – on the stage with Pharrell Williams and Mark Ronson. Later I watched Ed Sheeran perform ‘Bloodstream’. He did that hum and I watched the whole crowd hum back. It blew my brain. And I said to myself: ‘I can’t do this background thing anymore.’ It was nice!

Q: You describe your musical style as ‘genre-fluid’. Is it important to you not to be pigeonholed, and are there any genres or themes that feature regularly?

A: It’s a ‘sky’s the limit’ approach to my creativity. I say ‘genre-fluid’ because I want to find supporters who love Jazzie Martian, and for them not to expect just one lane. In ‘Future’, you hear remnants of different genres in it. It’s a very Dancehall and upbeat Pop type of tune, then in the middle it goes into this very soulful R’n’B ballad, then it goes straight into something else. That’s my definition.

Q: You wrote your first song in 2015. Where do you draw inspiration from to write songs now, and how often do you tend to write them?

A: We’re all normal human beings and we all go through normal situations, either relationships, friendships, work, business. A lot of my inspiration comes from that in particular… I’m not different to anybody else, it’s just that my creativity is just a tool that I talk through.

I have a crazy process on writing songs. I don’t sit down and write all day, because I love other forms of creativity – painting, writing, drawing. Music comes to me like a conversation. I could be having one with somebody, and a word gets drawn up and, as crazy as it sounds, my brain will start to write a song. It will link to the emotions I have, then it will also use what it sees around it, and it will start to create this story.

Q: You said in the Unsigned documentary that your creative juices run differently from a lot of other musicians. What did you mean?

A: I realised that because I was coming from dance, a lot of my musical ideas were broader than I comprehended. For example, I grew up on a lot of Reggae and Motown, and, on the side of that, on your Skeptas and Grime. So, when I started to make music, I wanted sounds that made me feel comfortable. But I love all sounds!

Q: You collaborated with producer Jauntin on ‘Future’. What is your approach to collaboration, and are there any other people you’d love to work with?

A: There are definitely a few producers and artists where I feel like we could open each other’s creativity and unlock new things. I would love to do a song with Ella Mai.     I know I could create something crazy with Coldplay, Frank Ocean, and so on. Producers-wise, the way I’ve worked so far is that I will have a normal conversation, and any work comes from having a connection as well as trust.

Q: You’ve said you get nervous performing live. How do you cope with that, especially now that more people are going to hear live music again?

A: I get a buzz being on stage, so now my nerves disappear the moment the music starts. As an artist, we all have major trust in ourselves, but we also have major doubts. Those moments on the documentary were the first few times I’d performed, so the doubt was coming from whether all of me was ‘right’. After those first few times, I realised: ‘all of me is fine.’

Q: What’s next for you in 2023? What can we look forward to and enjoy, and what would you love to do more of?

A: I’ve got some great music and cinematic music videos coming, and some new ways of viewing artists behind the scenes. I’ve also got a clothes and fashion brand releasing. And just look out for Jazzie performing. That’s my main goal for 2023 – to make sure that the UK and the world, if possible, recognise Jazzie Martian, get a taste of Jazzie Martian, and have fun.

To learn more about the Amex Unsigned 2022 competition and Jazzie’s journey, watch Unsigned on Prime Video.

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