By Colby Tortorici, April 2019 Issue.
Fans of the singer JoJo are on the edge of their seats as they wait to see her perform at Phoenix Pride. Headlining Saturday’s show, the singer follows in the footsteps of previous headliners such as BeBe Rexha and Daya. With smash hits under her belt such as “Leave (Get Out)” and “Too Little, Too Late,” expectations are riding high to see what JoJo is going to bring to Pride.
Echo got a chance to talk with the singer about her career, what she wants to do next, and her connection to the LGBTQ community.
Echo: The lead-up to your third album, Mad Love (stylized as Mad Love.), was anything but a smooth ride. It took almost a decade to be released amongst complications with the label. How did these issues influence the album lyrically, along with your new, less teen-pop focused sound?
JoJo: In that time between The High Road and my third album being released, I recorded several different albums that didn’t come out. Honestly, I felt defeated and depressed. I threw myself into a couple of serious relationships and ended up basing Mad Love on my experiences with all kinds of love. looking for it in all kinds of ways, it was influenced by life — how things never happen how you think they will — and learning to be more fluid.
Echo: You were also far more involved with the writing and producing process of Mad Love, how did this affect the end result of the album? Do you plan on staying similarly involved with your future projects?
JoJo: These were my little stories that I had lived, so it made the experience a lot more emotional for me because I was invested in every lyric. I love songwriting and producing music, so I plan to be all up in it in the future.
Echo: How did the decision to re-release your first two albums under Blackground at the end of last year come about?
JoJo: Every day I would read comments on Twitter and Instagram asking why my first two albums weren’t on Spotify/iTunes etc.? And for years I responded the same way.“ my former label just hasn’t made them available”, but it bothered me, and I hated that that was the only answer I had for my fans. So, I wanted to come up with a solution, and realized that if I went back into the studio, recreated all the tracks, and resang all the vocals, it would be within my rights to release new versions of my first two albums.
Echo: As you continue to work on your fourth album, where do you see yourself heading sound-wise?
JoJo: R&B, hip-hop, and soul are what have always made me really excited since I was a little girl. So, I’m currently following that feeling.
Echo: You featured a gender non-conforming person in your video for “Fuck Apologies.” where did your connection to the LGBT community form?
JoJo: Life. Not “fitting in.” Feeling “left out” or like “the only one.” Hard times. Resilience. As a teenager, I naturally gravitated toward communities where like-minded people lived by the principle that no person is above or below the next — coming together to feel something bigger than ourselves. Music. A vulnerable moment. Our humanity.
Echo: What drew you to perform at Phoenix Pride?
JoJo: Playing Pride [shows] is one of my favorite things! And Arizona has a special place in my heart, as it’s somewhere I’ve taken a few solo vacations to be in nature and connect to my inner voice.
Echo: What is your set going to bring to Pride that will be different from what we’ve seen in the past?
JoJo: Putting a new show together and I’m super hyped to do it and put some new feels into these songs. It’ll be a throwback thing as well as a modern moment.
Echo: Your music and relationship with your fans are very open and personal, what is the most important piece of advice you would give to LGBT kids out there who don’t have anyone on their side?
JoJo: There is nothing in this world you can’t overcome. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you may seem, and more loved by this universe than you can fathom. Please don’t give up because this world needs you here, being you. Know that even if you’re in a town where you are made to feel isolated, you are not alone. You will meet people who will show you the love, respect, and dignity you deserve.