Individuals who acquire fame from music, sport, film, etc, often have their talents overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of being a celebrity. So, taking the time to understand just how hard Jasmine Ortiz has worked for her success at such a young age is inspiring. From her first piano lesson at three years old to be the only other artist to film a music video in the University of Miami, alongside Drake of course. Accelerating her way forward since then, dabbling in the music and acting world, her resumé is extensive and her music is a fitting piece of who Jasmine is, she thrives for the best outcome no matter what she is working towards. With her latest release ‘21’, we caught up with the star to discuss all of her achievements so far…
How have you been this past year?
This past year has led to a lot of personal growth and introspection for me, really starting with the isolation of quarantine, and continuing when the world began to open up again and I was able to move to Los Angeles (from school in Miami), and get back in the studio. I have worked hard to maintain my mental and physical health as much as possible while continuing to work on music projects.
Congratulations on your latest single success for “21”! You describe the track as being birthed from realising who matters, how were you able to flip such a difficult time for so many people into a catchy pop hit?
It was really important to me that 21 would be as relatable as possible to anyone who felt really alone in the past year; to the people who were holding on to memories with their friends instead of seeing them in person. So many people were forced to stay home from their schools, jobs, places of worship – basically, the places in life that give you a foundation of community – for what felt like a never-ending amount of time.
This song was written right after I returned to in-person classes at the University of Miami for the Spring 2021 semester. It was a reflection of how lost I felt in the 10 months I was away from campus and my friends there. It also dissects the nostalgia of simpler times in the past that got me through difficult moments; and the realization that even with 10 months between us, nothing much had changed in our friendships.
The music video for “21” was recorded in the University of Miami, the only other artist to record there is Drake! What does that mean to you? Do small milestones like that display how much your hard work has paid off?
As a student at the University of Miami – and a huge Drake fan – I couldn’t see a better way to pay homage to them both than by re-creating some of my favorite elements of the “God’s Plan” music video within the video for “21”. The scenes on campus were some of my favorites to shoot because as a rising senior those locations hold a lot of meaningful memories to me. The stairs where Drake gave a UM student a scholarship check are within the Frost School of Music at the Patricia Louise Frost North building (which we call PLF North), where I’ve taken classes since my freshman year.
The famous shot on that balcony where Drake had a crowd of UM students below was shot at the Donna E. Shalala Student Center Complex which we nickname Shalala. I have been attending events, conferences, interactive experiences, club meetings, and seminars in that building for three years. It felt incredibly monumental to be able to film this love letter to my school and friends at the very locations where I truly bonded with them. I think it is a huge testament not only to my hard work, but to the immense role that UM has played in my development as an artist, and to the belief, they have in me to succeed.
You have the most extensive portfolio from such a young age, what has been a constant level of drive for you while being in this industry?
The love and support of my parents have been invaluable in allowing me to continue on this path with success and determination. They have held my head up through all the difficult moments and have helped guide me towards the greatest ones. I am so incredibly grateful for the role they have played in shaping who and where I am today. I have also always had a deep passion for songwriting, playing instruments, and performing, and I know that the more work I put in, the more fruitful that work will be. I am constantly writing, producing, recording, or developing new ways to get myself out there.
You fell in love with music when you started playing the piano, what was the reason that you started those lessons? Did you have a musical upbringing?
I started piano lessons when I was three years old because of something crazy I did at only two and a half. My parents were dining at a restaurant in Atlantic City, NJ; an old-fashioned style prohibition era theater. While they were enjoying their meals, I crawled down from my high chair (something I was prone to do); and walked up to the old-fashioned stage where there was a baby grand piano. I sat down on the bench and began plunking out a little melody. By the time my parents noticed, I was already getting the crowd’s attention and loving it. My mum ran up onto the stage to get me down and I refused to leave; then she reasoned with me that I could get a toy piano at home to use instead. After bugging her for the months that followed, eventually, I got to sit in on a piano lesson with a teacher who normally refused to take any child under five.
My mum convinced her to give me a chance because I was adamant, even if just to tell me to come back in two years. Once the half-hour lesson was done, my teacher told my mum she would break her own rules and take me on. She then showed my mom everything I was able to learn within one lesson; quizzing me on what an octave was, where middle c was, and even copying a short melody she taught me. My mum was astonished, and I was with that same teacher from the age of five to the age of eighteen.
Looking back now at your younger self, how has your childhood shaped the musician you are today?
I think that every experience I had as a child made me a better musician in the long run. I learned that discipline was a necessary component to success. I picked up different instruments and it expanded my musical vocabulary. I was also really encouraged to find my own voice, no matter what that meant. My parents were always really supportive of my dreams.
Who would you say Jasmine Ortiz makes music for?
I make music for anyone who is willing to connect. Whether they’re 14 or 42, my songs inspire the hope of the future and the nostalgia of the past. “21” in specific is about the experience of college-aged people moving through life in that space between childhood and adulthood. Teenagers can also relate to being in this space, and people who are older than 21 can remember what it was like to be there.
You are a Model UN delegate representative and winning Model UN competitions in schools such as Harvard, Columbia, and George Washington in DC. What does this kind of academic success mean to you?
Model United Nations is where I first found my family at the University of Miami. Not only are we a team with awards at countless prestigious schools, but we are also a group of friends who are determined to help each other succeed. My experiences with Model UN have taught me the value of loyalty, teamwork, and communication. The activity itself has allowed me to grow immensely as a public speaker, negotiator, policy developer, networker, and writer. It has opened my eyes to some of the world’s most pressing issues from a global perspective. I relish the opportunity to delve into these complex topics and debate them with other highly skilled students, as it feels like a natural continuation of many of the academic passions I had growing up. I have always been interested in politics and learning more about the world, and I think academic and educational endeavors like this are the best vessel to allow young people to understand their ability to make a difference.
You have recorded songs in English, Spanish and Chinese! Do you think you will ever delve into the K-Pop or Reggaeton genres?
I really enjoy the multitude of languages and styles coming into the forefront of the industry today. The success of K-pop groups like BTS and Reggaeton stars like J Balvin and Bad Bunny on the world stage has been incredible to witness. If the opportunity presented itself, I would always be open to creating music with a K-pop artist or Reggaeton artist in their own style. I have made a lot of Latin pop in the Reggaeton lane in the past, so it’s something I’m very familiar with and fond of. I would love to dive right back into that genre at some point in the future.
If you weren’t doing music what would you be doing?
The things I would be doing if I wasn’t doing music are things I’m still currently invested in – pursuing education in the political science realm; working on policy development with different organizations, working with Best Delegate, and teaching middle and high school kids how to participate in Model UN, and being vocal about current sociopolitical issues. One of my long-term goals and passions is to work in the nonprofit or social advocacy world while utilizing my platform as an artist to reach more people. I am even interested in possibly going back to school in several years for a graduate or law degree.
You are someone that strikes me as the life of the party! If we were in a club right now and your song came on, what is the drink you are drinking with your music?
I’m definitely enjoying finally being 21 and getting to order all these cool drinks at the bar! The drink I would pair with “21” is a classic Mai Tai with a yummy “cherry on top”.
You are still so young, and you have had a journey like no other, what is next for you?
My next steps are to continue releasing music and working on developing my sound as an artist. I believe that I am currently in the first phase of many in my musical development, and I want to lean into that process as much as possible. I am also looking forward to developing and releasing my first EP within the next year.
I love it when an artist can look back at interviews and see their progress and journey, where do you see yourself this time next year?
By this time next year, I will have graduated from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, and I will have produced/recorded my EP by then and increased my social media presence by a substantial amount. In addition, now that COVID restrictions are lifting, I expect to have done many more live shows, presentations and meet and greets to promote my music more directly. I also hope to have traveled across the country and some international locations; all for the promotion of my music. Finally, with the new marketing and social media experts we are beginning to work with, we hope to have a song that has resonated with a lot of people and be able to perform on TV shows and other larger media venues all the while continuing to expand my brand.