Jazzie Young
Photo: Amy Ryerson / Courtesy of the artist

Jazzie Young’s Blood Ties Help Connect Past to Present With Her Moving Debut EP (interview + premiere)

Indie pop’s Jazzie Young appreciates her fabled father’s musical legacy and his sage career advice, but wants to make a name for herself, and the upcoming release of Grown Up & Grown Apart serves as a proper introduction to a brave new world.

Grown Up & Grown Apart
Jazzie Young
7 May 2021

Parental Guidance

Getting “the support of my wonderful parents” helped make Young’s musical dreams that go back “probably for forever now” come true. “They were the ones who introduced me to music,” she continues. “Learning piano and violin when I was growing up and being able to go on the road with my parents [Connie played violin and viola] on summer vacation was a great learning experience and definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities.”

Jesse, born Perry Miller on November 22, 1941, in Queens, New York, was co-founder and frontman of the Youngbloods and continued his long, illustrious career as a solo artist after the group disbanded in 1972. While the studio certainly has been an asset for his children, Young hopes to make a name for herself without leaning too much on her father’s prominence.

Her parents, still living in South Carolina, are safe as the pandemic winds down, she reports. Jesse, who retired temporarily from music in 2012 after being diagnosed with Lyme disease, released an album in 2019 called Dreamers with a band that included his son Tristan, followed by new acoustic takes from his songbook for Highway Troubadour in 2020 when he also started a podcast called “Tripping on My Roots”.

Jazzie manages to stay in touch with dad and mom daily, saying, “I think it would have been a lot harder on me if FaceTime wasn’t a thing,” since she’s been unable to visit them in over a year.

Jazzie Young
Photo: Amy Ryerson / Courtesy of the artist

“I’ve met some great collaborators through him, like [photographer] Amy Ryerson, who I’ve collaborated with on multiple projects now,” she admits. “But both my parents know that I want my music career to thrive outside of my dad’s success.”

Young also appreciates the best piece of advice she received from her father: “Be me and stay true to my vision and my music,” she remembers. “He’s always been so unapologetically himself and that’s something I admire deeply about him. There are so many opinions that are thrown at you when it comes to music, but I’m learning to balance taking advice while also staying true to what I want.”

Besides, Young in her youth may have stored away her limited knowledge of the Youngbloods, a group that includes her family name. Though she remembers first hearing “Get Together” as a baby, the popularity of that groovy track some called the “hippie national anthem” failed to register with her until much later. “I didn’t realize how widespread it was until people from my school were freaking out because they heard my dad’s song in Forrest Gump,” she proclaims. “But I’ve always loved the song, I think the message behind it is timeless.”

Getting in Tune

If a chance to make musical connections with some of her father’s acquaintances was a way to get ahead in her formative years, Young never entertained the thought.

“I didn’t actually meet a ton of my dad’s colleagues as a child, or if I did I was too young to understand the importance of their contribution to music,” she declares. “I think the artists I grew up listening to like No Doubt, Led Zeppelin, Cat Stevens, Avril Lavigne, etc., influenced me musically more than ones I met during my childhood.”

However, mutual friends and family members helped Young assemble a number of key components for this EP, starting with Guess.

“Throughout the past few years he’s been very instrumental in allowing me to explore my music and figure out how I want to present it,” Young says of Guess, who shares an Aiken connection with her dad. “So, when the pandemic hit and I had written all these songs and really wanted to turn them into a body of work, I asked Shawn if he’d work on them with me since he was someone I trusted to help me bring my vision to life.”

Jazzie Young
Photo: Amy Ryerson / Courtesy of the artist

Bay Area musicians Lewis Patzner, who plays cello on “violet” and “spaghetti stains”, and multi-instrumentalist Matt Montgomery (mandolin on “in reality” and the violin on “violet”) were introduced to her by Turner, Jazzie’s 52-year-old “god-brother” who’s regarded as a real brother, one that “provided such a chill atmosphere” in the studio.

“I’m a huge fan of the cello and the amount of emotion it can lend to a song, and Lewis really brought such beauty to each part,” Young contends. Regarding Montgomery, she adds, “Ever since hearing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Going to California’, I always wanted to have a song that was mandolin driven, so that was such a dream come true for me.”

Sally Stempler, whose “impeccable ear and knowledge” contributed to the harmony arrangements, was another family link through Jazzie’s parents, along with her 29-year-old brother Tristan.

And Donald Vega, a Juilliard School graduate who “added his piano genius” to “violet” — “one of the hardest songs to get right postproduction, and we had to go through about three different versions,” Young points out — previously performed and recorded with her dad.

“Having people who are recommended through people I know and trust is always important to me but especially this past year because all of the recording was done remotely and I had to really trust that these people knew what they were doing and understood the direction of each song,” suggests Young, who downplays her own piano and guitar contributions to the EP. “I’m not as well-trained as some of these musicians. My playing is really the bones of the song and a place for the other musicians to take off from.”

All That Jazzie

After moving to Los Angeles in the fall of 2017 and now living near her best buds and gal pals on the city’s eastern edge where the “vibe, in general, is a lot more chill,” Young spent the pandemic quarantining with “just a few close friends” while building “healthy and emotionally satisfying friendships.”

That’s certainly a worthy achievement, but according to Young, making the EP qualifies as her most meaningful accomplishment in 2020. “I poured my heart and soul into every song and have since put a lot of effort into the visuals for each video to make sure they do the EP justice,” exclaims Young, who hopes to eventually record with a band of her own, then tour with them by 2022. She already has new material and would also love to bring some cover tunes into the studio this summer.

A “huge film addict” who would consider a job letting her delve “deeper into that side of myself,” Young will stay busy working on visuals for four more songs from the EP.

A trilogy series detailing her emotional journey in music videos that “tend to lean toward story-driven and cinematic style” will be followed by an animated music video for “in reality” created by Sabrina Valdez and Lacie Kraich. And if that isn’t enough to keep her occupied, she has a unisex sweatsuit clothing line named after the album.

Still, Jazzie might decide to close out the year on an even higher note as Jesse Colin Young heads toward his 80th birthday. Is a duet or other shared recording project in their future? “We’ve talked about it a lot,” she discloses. “I would love to do that with maybe one of his old songs. I’m sure it will happen, we just don’t have it on the books quite yet!”

If Father Really Knows Best, expect “Get Together” to be the resurgent rallying cry of these roaring ’20s.

Jazzie Young
Photo: Amy Ryerson / Courtesy of the artist