Ohrangutang

“There’s a lyric in ‘Right On Time’ that goes, ‘This is real life—it doesn’t go how we planned,’” JoJo tells Fuse. “And that’s kind of how I look at things.”

After a decade of false starts and label drama, it appears that, at long last, things are working out for Joanna “JoJo” Levesque, who broke through in the mid-00’s with the pop hits “Leave (Get Out)” and “Too Little, Too Late.” A years-long struggle with Blackground Records followed the release of her 2006 sophomore LP The High Road; JoJo issued a series of EPs and mixtapes while patiently waiting to start fresh on a new label and make good on her vocal promise.

That new leaf finally turned over the past year, with her first official releases on Atlantic Records: III, a three-single (or “tringle”) collection in August, and the two #LoveJo EPs, with the four-song #LoveJo2 dropping on Dec. 18. JoJo issued the four-song collection two days before her 25th birthday and in the final week of a fall U.S. tour, as a means of commemorating an eventful 2015.

“I wanted to do something for the people who have supported me, and also for myself,” she says of the EP release. “Of course, some people are like, ‘Put out the damn album!’ I’m just in a place right now where I keep releasing content, and the next one will be the album. This is a nice way to put some stuff out without having to do it officially.”

The EP features a cover of Soul II Soul’s “Back2Life,” a remix of the tringle jam “When Love Hurts,” and two new ones, “Right On Time” and “Thinkin Out Loud.” JoJo says that she had been road-testing some of the new tracks on tour, which kicked off on Nov. 2 and boasted ticket sales beyond the 25-year-old singer’s wildest dreams. 

“We put out these 24 tour dates, and I think the expectation wasn’t great in terms of selling them out — and then we did,” she says. “The response has been breathtaking for me… I know that my expectations have been exceeded, and I’m excited for building the career that I’ve wanted for a very long time.”

That career, which has inspired such an impassioned online fan base (JoJo has 712,000 Twitter followers and 2.6 million Facebook likes), was reignited thanks to the EPs and three singles. Next up, finally, is a new album, JoJo’s first for Atlantic. No release date has been tossed out yet, but JoJo expects the ball to start rolling soon.

“We’re essentially wrapping things up,” she explains. “In the first week of January, I’m taking a week of silence. I’ve gone through a lot in the past few months, and I want to hone in on what it is that I want to say while I wrap up this album. I think there’s space for about one more song that could come out of this. So I’m not gonna speak, I’m just gonna recover my voice and my mind, be totally alone, and keep writing and processing things.”

For JoJo, this second phase of her career has been extremely hard-fought, and will be cherished. “This is what I love to do,” she says, “and I feel like myself again.”