Auckland, New Zealand isn’t the first city that comes to mind when you think of Rnb music, but with the beautiful, and I do mean beautiful, new voice by the name of Janine and the Mixtape release of her project “XXEP” back in May, NZ will now be put on the map. She blew us away early with the release of her EP “Dark Mind” in 2013 that had us asking “who is this new artist and where did she come from AND why is her voice that damn good?” Well, she quickly answered that question as she continued to create music that put you in a mood to be in love. Her signature sound is one to put you in a mood to love, cool you down after a stressful day, and get you ready for a night of love makin’. The singer sat down with Rnb Magazine to discuss her move from New Zealand to New York to pursue her dream, leaving behind family and a 5 year relationship, and a lot, lot more.
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I’ve loved music since I can remember. I’ve sung since I could make a noise.
Who were (are) some of your musical influences?
I grew up listening to Mariah Carey, Donna Summer and Celine Dion when I was really young. I love R&B, Aaliyah was a big influence. I couldn’t escape the girl band phase so they affected me too. Biggie, Kanye, Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, Album Leaf. I have so may influences from R&B, Pop, Hip Hop, Indie, Ethereal, Synth Pop, Punk. I’m influenced by so much music but also life. All my music is about things I experience and feel.
Tell me about Janine as a child. What was it like growing up in Auckland?
I was a bit of a tomboy. On Saturdays I’d play rugby with the boys and then go home and shower and put a dress on to go to a singing competition or dance exam. I looked so funny in a dress with cuts and bruises all over me. I grew up on the outskirts of Auckland on a farm and then as a teenager I started going into the city to do open mic nights and hanging out with the city kids so I had a great mix of culture.
Let’s talk about your EP “Dark Mind.” What is the inspiration behind the title and what is your favorite track off the EP?
Dark Mind EP was really about that. My mind was in a Dark place from some bad things that had happened in my life. The EP was about taking something negative and making something beautiful from it. I’d have to say “Hold Me” is my favorite track because of what it has done for me but I also love “Dark Mind” and I probably listen to “Let it Run” the most.
Tell me about your EP “XXEP.”
XXEP (pronounced ex’s EP) was about all of the experiences I had post “Dark Mind EP.” I had a lot of changes in my life from leaving everyone I knew and loved in New Zealand and moving to New York, to coming out of a 5 year relationship and dating, to going from being extremely broke to signing a deal with Atlantic Records. It’s about my growth through that process.
Let’s talk about your single “Hold Me.” Tell me a little about the song?
“Hold Me” is about being vulnerable. I was actually quite young when I wrote that song and was terrible at asking for help. This was me saying I need help. Sometimes the best advice you can give is staying silent and giving someone a hug and a blanket and cuddling up.
How did you link up with Pusha T for the remix? Was this premeditated or did he reach out to you?
The Pusha T feature was dope. I used to crank “Fear Of God” In the teeshirt shop I worked in in Auckland city before moving to the US to chase the dream. After I had a television sync on “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” “Hold Me” started to do really well and Atlantic Records asked if I would want Pusha to feature. I was obviously quite stoked. So maybe in a way I premeditated it.
How was the tour with Floetry?
Tour was absolutely amazing. It was such an honor to open up for Floetry around the states for 50 days. The response was incredible, I had lines of people who hadn’t heard of me until that night buying Cd’s that I singed and took photos. The crazy thing was in every single city some people knew the words to my songs. That’s so moving coming from the other side of the world.
Which city do you find has shown you the most love on tour?
That’s so hard to choose! I played 30 shows and they all showed me so much love. Some places were a wonderful surprise though. Like Denver, that place was packed out with so many of the most supportive fans. San Francisco was like that too. I actually loved every show and every person who came out to support live music.
Do you get stage fright? If so, how do you overcome it?
Sometimes, I’m actually much better in front of big crowds than a few people. If I do I just take a big breath and hold it until my heart rate settles down and then use the energy to do what I gotta do!
Where do you see yourself, this time, next year?
Hopefully I’m touring my album. I just want to be doing what I do with a bigger audience and developing my label “Little Mixtape Records” so I can bring other artists through.
What is one thing you want fans to know about you?
I just want them to feel when they listen to my music. Whatever it is, I just want them to feel and know I’m so grateful for them.
Oh trust me Janine, we are definitely feelin’ your music, your sound-hell your whole vibe. Let me tell you what I predict for Ms. Janine. I say this time, next year, she will be performing at awards shows, selling out venues all over the world, and a number one album. Don’t forget, Rnb Magazine was the first to tell you this. Better yet, how about you check back in next year and re-read this interview.
Interviewed by: Simone Grant