You may only now be hearing about pop singer Jasmine V—she just released her first EP That’s Me Right There, whose title track features Kendrick Lamar—but you’ve almost definitely seen her before. After all, she played the love interest in Justin Bieber’s 2010 “Baby” video (and was once his love interest in real life), which helped her build up nearly 1.7 million Twitter followers. Jasmine, who turns 21 next month, was first signed at the age of 12, but due to the vicissitudes of the music business, won’t be releasing her debut album until next year. Here’s what he up-and-coming star (full name: Jasmine Villegas) had to say about it all.
Your new single “That’s Me Right There” features Kendrick Lamar. How did that collaboration come about, and what was it like working with one of the top rappers in the game?
I sat down with my manager, and being on the same label as Kendrick, that idea came up. I didn’t know if it was gonna happen because at the time he was really M.I.A. working on his own music. But it ended up happening, and I got to actually sit down with him before he recorded it. He asked me how to approach the record, and I told him, “Listen, you’re Kendrick Lamar, everything you do is amazing….” It’s still a shocker to me that my first single is with Kendrick Lamar.
What else can people expect from the new EP?
One of the songs is called “Walk Away,” and I’ve never really sang or recorded a song like that—the song is kind of like a dance record, and I never really do dance records. It was a little bit of a struggle, but I think I ended up getting it.
Earlier this year you performed at A Night of Comedy sponsored by the National Council of La Raza and Fuse’s sister network NUVOtv. What was it like performing your music on a bill with all those funny people?
It was awesome. I had my dancers with me that day, and I got to see a lot of great people there. Anjelah Johnson, who’s really funny, went on right before me. I was kind of in shock because I used to watch her YouTube videos all the time.
You’ve had small parts on TV and ads before. Do you think you’d make a good standup comedian?
I feel like I’m funny, but I don’t know if I could stand on stage and entertain people for an hour. I don’t really tell jokes. Me and my friends will chill or hang out and roast each other, back and forth, but nobody else really gets our humor.
What can you tell us about your first album, which should be out next year?
I still don’t have the specific date for it because I’m in the studio right now. I’ve been working a lot with Jeremih—I have a song with him. I usually do a lot of mid-tempo or slower beats, but this album will have some more up-tempo songs. Also, I make sure my songs are relatable, because a lot of my fans are girls. I make sure to sing and help write songs that can help them get through any situation.
What kind of songs do you personally listen to in order to help get you through certain situations?
I do like depressing music. I’ll listen to a lot of Bruno Mars, and Tove Lo is amazing—I like listening to the song “Habits.”
You call your fans Jasminators, which sounds very militaristic. How dedicated are they to Jasmine V?
They’re really intense, and they’re dedicated. I have honestly one of the best fan bases ever—not to toot my own horn. I’ve always kept it real with my fans, sharing my personal life, things I’ve gone through, instead of hiding anything. Like I went through a domestic-violence relationship, so a lot of my fans knew about that and were there with me through that.
Do you ever worry that you might be giving out too much information about yourself, like when you talked about dating Justin Bieber?
I mean, there’s certain things that you should never put out. But there are some things you can share and make a negative into a positive. I put the domestic-violence hotline number at the end of one of my videos, and the calls increased by like 50 percent. It was a great feeling to know that I could help even one or two people.
Given your acting background, do you have a dream role?
I always tell everybody I want to be in The Walking Dead. That would be my dream role. I don’t care if I’m in just one scene, and I die in that episode.
Would you want to play a human being or a walker?
I would take either role honestly, but I don’t think I’d make a good zombie. I’ve actually tried it—at home or just messing around with my friends—and I didn’t do such a great job. [Laughs.] It didn’t look or sound good, so I’d rather just play a human being!