On the verge of releasing her debut EP, Jazzie Young isn’t wasting any time getting to the heart of the matter. The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter who’s barely beyond her mid-20s sounds like she has experienced enough damaging distress in the past half-decade to last a lifetime. Yet, Young has found a way to rise above the dramatic upheaval. Supported by a plentiful mix of musically gifted family members (led by a prominent ‘60s human peace symbol) and friends, she is sharing her story through seven moving chapters of song on Grown Up & Grown Apart, which premieres in its entirety today at PopMatters.
“All of the emotional growth that took place through the beginnings and endings of my platonic and romantic relationships over these past few years” landed on this EP, Young states in an email interview for this article accompanying the premiere. With every track “rooted in my personal experiences and most intimately felt desires and wounds” while making them feel “like a journal entry,” Young continued a search for her musical identity.
For listeners just getting on board, she explains, “The music style ranges from more folky singer-songwriter to indie pop, and the storytelling focuses mainly on the more uncomfortable and personally kept emotions we all experience.”
Get a sneak preview of Grown Up & Grown Apart now, a day before its official release. Then read on to learn more about the new EP and its most heart-wrenching songs, along with Young’s musical upbringing, the part her fabled father played in it, and when she discovered the popularity of his band’s most iconic tune.
Coloring Her World
Despite filling an EP with stirring material, Young maintains that writing songs like “grown up & grown apart” and “fake love” was “surprisingly easy for me. I think a lot of the emotions that went into these songs were coming from a place of deep reflection and examination of my past.
“So, at the time of writing them, I was really coming to terms with how certain situations and people had made me feel, and there was a deep sense of resolution once the song was finished. Like I had revisited these experiences, felt the emotions, poured them into these songs, and by doing so was able to let the past and the people in it go.”
Asked to cite examples of her most gripping songs on the EP, Young lists “violet” and the title cut, but for different reasons.
The first “is such an intimate song because it’s about this version of a girl that I wish I was,” Young confesses. “The song is touching on the feelings of longing for someone that you think is better than you are. That’s such a vulnerable topic for me but also, I think everyone has a ‘violet’, so it’s really relatable at the same time.”
It all seems so easy for her / Moving by without a care in the world /
And I wonder if I could ever be like her / A lonely girl who wants to be adored.
She describes “grown-up and grown apart” as “such a bittersweet song about a relationship or friendship you wish had turned out differently than it did, while still being able to accept the reality of the situation. There’s a lot of tenderness in that song, both the melody and the lyrics. It’s by far one of my favorite songs I’ve written to date.”
Your voice is a familiar sound / I still have your old number / wonder if you’d pick up / If I called.
Another of her personal bests is “spaghetti stains”, a last-minute addition written last July after Young had recorded the rest of the EP that was headed for postproduction.
“I loved the song so much I told my producer I had to have it on the EP, so I traveled back up to the Bay Area to record it,” recalls Young, who was so pleased with how its production “went so seamlessly” that “spaghetti stains” was released last October as one of the album’s first singles. “I think we only had one round of revisions on it before the final cut. I love when that happens.”
Most of the songs from the EP were either written or finished in the past year, according to Young, who in 2019 did release her first single — the piano-driven “If You Love Me”, which isn’t on the album. “Lost”, one of the EP’s most gorgeous tracks, followed in 2020 as the second single release, ensuring her formal introduction to the recording industry.
Guided by her breathtaking Dido-esque vocals, it also intensified Young’s desire to keep working with The Digital Halo’s Shawn Guess, who produced both cuts at his studio in Aiken, South Carolina, then took on that role for Grown Up & Grown Apart.
Who was the mystery man responsible for making this collaborative conception happen when he introduced Young to Guess a couple of years ago? Remember Jesse Colin Young, the lead singer/multi-instrumentalist of a 1960s-era folk-rock-pop group known as the Youngbloods, who promoted peace, brotherhood, and tenderness when “Get Together” was released in 1967, smack-dab in the flower-powerful “Summer of Love” and two years before Woodstock? He also happens to be Jazzie’s father.
Called by one notable producer “practically the musical voice of the peace movement for a short time in the late ‘60s”, the singer-songwriter built a home studio on his Northern California property in 1970. Fifty years later, Jazzie recorded her Guess-produced EP in that same ridge-top setting. Its longevity is remarkable, especially considering the studio survived the devastating Mount Vision wildfire in October 1995 that destroyed Jesse’s family home on Drakes View Drive in the Marin County town of Inverness.
“It was honestly so amazing to be back there and record this piece of work in a place that feels like home,” asserts Young, mentioning that Ethan Turner (the EP’s recording engineer and Jesse’s godson) is the studio’s longtime caretaker. “We would visit the studio and the property where our house once stood every time we’d go to the Bay Area. There are a lot of memories I have visiting the spot prior to recording. I’ve seen my dad and three of my brothers record there before me, so it felt like a really cool full-circle moment. I think my comfortability with the location also lent itself to the intimacy of these songs because I felt so relaxed during the process.”
Songwriting came naturally to Young, who was born in 1994 in Petaluma, California, in the West Marin Bay Area, then nicknamed “Jazzie” as a toddler. “My real name is Jasmine but really the only person who sometimes calls me that is my mom,” she reveals about Jesse’s second wife, Connie Darden-Young. “I just always felt like [Jazzie] personified who I am on the inside more than my full name.”
Jazzie grew up on Hawaii’s Big Island and started playing classical piano and violin when she was 3 years old, later adding ukulele and recorder to her repertoire. Only 14 when wrote her first song, “Falling From Grace”, after learning to play a Taylor acoustic guitar, Young kept music in the back of her mind while earning a degree in business with a minor in environmental studies at the University of South Carolina.
“I got a business degree because I felt like it was something that would be helpful in any career that I wanted to pursue,” notes Young, who moved with her family in 2006 to Aiken, South Carolina, her mother’s hometown. “And as for environment studies, environmental topics have always been an important conversation in my house growing up, so learning about that was just something that I felt was both interesting and important.”