Interview: JoJo Talks André 3000 Inspiration, Her "Agape" Mixtape, and Finding Her New Sound

Interview: JoJo Talks André 3000 Inspiration, Her "Agape" Mixtape, and Finding Her New Sound

JoJo released her second mixtape, Agápē, back in December, and the 22-year-old Boston native has been working ever since. After moving to L.A. from Boston, she found her own sound and started having some fun with her music—and thus, Agápē, was born. 

Agápē showcases JoJo's ability to write exactly what she's experienced without abiding by anyone else's rules. Today, she releases her latest video for "André," a track she says was inspired by André 3000 but is more than that, which she explains further in this interview. Read on to hear about her inspiration, her future plans, and how she's made music fun again for herself.

Interview by Lauren Nostro (@LAURENcynthia)

You dropped your latest mixtape, Agápē, on Dec. 20 of last year. It's shown your growth as an artist and you sound like you're having fun with it. How did you find that new sound and what inspired it?
Just as we’re all doing in our early twenties, trying to find ourselves, that's where I’m at. Just ingesting and digesting as much music as possible. Experiencing things, writing through it. On this mixtape, my friends, The Backpack Kids, who I did this with gave me a safe place to be myself. There was no expectations. We just went in and did it because we love music. And we just love everything about it, so that’s why I call it a labor of love.

 

On this mixtape, my friends, The Backpack Kids, who I did this with gave me a safe place to be myself. There was no expectations. We just went in and did it because we love music.

 

What was the process like on recording Agápē like for you?
We wrote the songs in like six days. We did a song a day. I had “Can’t Handle the Truth” and “Andre” which I had done previously. We just had fun. We made sangria and ate cheese.

On “Interlude Trois: Love This Shit” you’re singing or saying at the end, “We’re drunk,” and it sounded like you all had fun recording the album.
Yeah, we were just having fun and I think that I had lost the fun in music because of things out of my control, things that have just taken the fun out of it.

The business side of it.
Yes, and I really connected to the experience this time. Just really living in the moment, and I just love writing and recording, I love the whole process.

You've written for other artists, too. Is that something you have been working on lately?
I haven’t gone into a session for an artist and come up with a song. But basically, we were shopping some of my songs. I have so many and I’m super open to hear them on other artists. There’s actually some things in the works but it is my desire in the future to be that person that people can call on when they want a song, because I feel like that’s something that’s important to me, too. I really want to expand as a writer, but I’m focused and committed to my own stuff for right now.

 

I’m not officially working on a third album. I’m waiting for all the things to come together. But in the meantime, my desire is to tour my ass off.

 

What about an upcoming album? Are you working on something like that now?
I’m not officially working on a third album. I’m waiting for all the things to come together. But in the meantime, my desire is to tour my ass off and stay as busy as possible with that because I’ve never really experienced the touring scene, so I’m super excited.

Who would you like to go with you?
I think my friend (I Am Other's) Leah LaBelle is going to open up, which will be cool. There’s this band out of Boston called Bad Rabbits that I would like to do stuff with. I just want to play. That’s really it. I just did a show at the Roxy in L.A. and it sold out. It was really encouraging because I had never played L.A. before, by myself. 

You're an East Coast girl but you've moved out to L.A. within the last few years, right?
Yes, 3 years ago. I couldn’t move forward with my career in Boston. I was going to go to school.

—Where at?
Northeastern University. I was going to go for Cultural Anthropology and I was excited about that but I was told, “Your album’s coming out so don’t go to school.” So, I didn’t.

 

My dad and I really have come together over music. We’ve had our ups and downs as most people do with their parents, and we really bonded over music like The Beatles, just really cool stuff. One of our favorite things to do together is jam, sing, we harmonize.

 

Do you regret not going?
I think I made the right decision for the moment. I think I’m getting a good education just living and being in the world, to be honest with you. I would go back undoubtedly. It’s a desire. 

Your family's still on the East Coast, though. Speaking of, that was your dad playing on "Interlude Duex: Joel's Jam?"
My dad and I really have come together over music. We’ve had our ups and downs as most people do with their parents, and we really bonded over music like The Beatles, just really cool stuff. One of our favorite things to do together is jam, sing, we harmonize. He was like, “Jo, I got really good on the harmonica, you want to hear something?” We started jamming and I just recorded it. I tend to record people all the time when they don’t know.

What were some of the most important songs to you on that mixtape?
They’re all important to me for different reasons. I think the first one, the intro “Back2thebeginningagain,” it felt really good to get that off my chest and to take a jab at the industry. Listen, I’m not anti-industry at all. i love the process and I love working hard and all that but it was cool to just touch on that.

People have asked you a lot about “André” because that was inspired by André 3000. 
It’s not a creepy ode to being obsessed with him, FYI, but it’s just what he represents is what totally I find attractive in a man; someone who’s an individual, someone who’s themselves unapologetically. I just think that’s such a turn on.

You released "We Get By" as the first single, why that song?
That was the first song that we wrote for the mixtape. It’s the mission statement for what we were going to expand upon, and I was touching on the feeling like you don’t belong anywhere but you still feel like you’re going to be okay no matter where you’re at.

Why were you feeling like that?
I feel torn sometimes between Boston and L.A.

L.A.’s the career and then Boston’s home.
Yeah, I feel that internal struggle. The song just came from my feelings. [Laughs]

Agápē is a body of work where you can really tell that you had fun creating it, and got a lot of feelings out at the same time. Anything else coming up for you?
I’m constantly writing and recording and I have some ideas and things for the album but I haven’t officially gone in and planned anything definite just yet.

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