Indie music: Write Chix's Jazzy mines the R&B indie scene
Jazmine Bailey doesn’t have her sights set on conquering the Los Angeles indie music scene, despite being a native. The R&B singer-songwriter, who goes by Jazzy, is actually feeling the itch to escape.
“A lot of people I talk to say, 'Don’t leave, you’re in the heart of it all.' But I think New York is a better market for shows. Every show that I’ve done [recently], there hasn’t been one in L.A.,” she says while lounging inside a bohemian-chic-decorated recording studio in North Hollywood. “I’ve done Philly, Baltimore, New York, Boston. It’s more for that independent grind.”
Previously signed to Jamie Foxx’s Foxx/King Entertainment and well-regarded locally as one-half of songwriting team the Write Chix (with longtime collaborator Bobbie-Cheri Gobert), the 25-year-old Bailey started working L.A.’s indie R&B scene with her first self-released project, “Oh Jazzy” in 2005.
She then went on the road as Melanie Fiona’s backup vocalist during the European leg of Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark tour and continued collaborating with Gobert before releasing last year’s “Beauty and the Beat.”
One track from the mixtape, the sticky dance-R&B/pop jam “Remote Control Me,” garnered Bailey attention but not the way she'd hoped. When the track was mistaken as a Keri Hilson outtake and posted on YouTube, it racked up more than 2 million views -- without Bailey’s name credited.
“We wrote it for Rihanna, and that’s who the intent was for. But then that happened, and it's like, well this is gonna go nowhere now," Bailey said. "It’s funny because her label made them take it down. It just disappeared.”
Bailey says she has little desire to ink a deal a major-label deal. She only pressed 5,000 hard copies of “Oh Jazzy,” which quickly sold out -- not bad considering she offers the majority of her music as free downloads and hasn't aggressively toured or released a slew of music videos.
“I don’t think it's necessary. I always say, ‘If it comes to me, and it makes sense to me and my team then I’m 100 percent for it.’ You don’t want to turn away from a deal,” she said. “But I don’t want to sign my life away to somebody. They need to find a way to get onto this method. Now you can do it yourself. We don’t need a big label or their name to support ourselves.
“I’ve been in record execs' offices, and they aren’t impressed by me,” she continued, explaining that she has little interest in doing pop music. “I’m not touching it with a 10-foot pole. I was very closed minded with what I wanted to do. I'm not willing to bend. I think me being true to myself works better."
Bailey is currently working on her next project, which she hopes to release in January; she's recently logged studio time with Busta Rhymes for his upcoming disc.
You can download her mixtapes, including this year’s “Letters to a King.”
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photos: Jazzy. Credit: Ashley Nguyen