How were you able to get signed to Interscope? I signed the paperwork on my birthday, June 29th. I was very excited ‘cause I’ve been grindin’ so long. I was actually in negotiations with Cash Money so it was like a bidding war, but Interscope came with the right stuff in the paperwork. Maddscientist brought me out to L.A. to write for The Pussycat Dolls. He was like, “If you ain’t signed to Cash Money yet, come out to L.A. and we’ll see what’s good.” I’m a loyal person so I was tryin’ to let Cash Money get they stuff together, but it was takin’ a lil longer than I expected. I went to L.A. and cut a couple songs. Erica Grayson, who’s my A&R now, walked in the studio while I was cutting my songs and she liked my vibe. It just went from there. A lot of people say they gon’ do stuff, and sometimes you hear stuff over and over and stop believing. But when I got back to the East coast my lawyer already sent me the paperwork. I always wanted to be on Interscope ‘cause personally I feel it’s the best label. What are the specifics of your deal with Interscope? The great thing about my situation is me and my manager, Erskine Isaac, own a production company called Leftfield Productions, and I signed myself to my own company. I have two acts on the production company/label – the Jack Boys are from Jacksonville and the other guy is EZ B, a.k.a. Green Socks, out of Atlanta. Everyone I’m looking for on the label has to be a leftfield artist, not afraid to take chances. What’s up with your alias Jesse Jane? Is that an alter ego? Jesse Jane is my alter ego. I had started writing for a lot of pop artists and discovered a side of myself that mixes urban and pop fusion, and it created this wild-child, outlaw type person. It’s like Jesse James and the outlaws. I’m an urban artist, of course I’m from the hood, but I have a worldly aspect on how I write my music. I write urban music with a pop formula. Jesse Jane helps me get into character, and Alja is straight from the hood R&B. You can definitely hear your influences like Missy Elliott and Prince in your music, and you have that Cindy Lauper pop thing going on with your style… Yeah, I love Cindy Lauper. When people ask me to classify my music, it’s hard to put myself in a box but people want to know, so I tell them Missy Elliott is my mother; Prince is my father; T-Pain is my cousin; Andre 3000 is my brother; Madonna is my auntie; Cindy Lauper is my godmother; and Michael Jackson is my goddaddy. [I’m influenced by] all the styles of people that weren’t afraid to be them, stuck to what they wanted to do and believed in it.
In your experiences so far, from a female artist’s perspective, is the music business is as shady or sexist as everyone makes it out to be? With everything you do in life, there’s gonna be some type of obstacle. In the music industry, it’s especially hard for women because if you ain’t sleeping with somebody or those types of things, it can be hard. But first impressions are everything, so if you present yourself like a lady, and you let a nigga know that this is what it is, if you like my talent that’s what’s up but it’s nothing else, I think that’s what’s important. You gotta stand your ground and let them know who you are so you don’t have those problems. Jacksonville is your hometown, but you’ve lived in some other cities. Do you think it was necessary to leave the nest in order to get your career going? I do think it’s good to branch out. Jacksonville is one of the largest cities, but we’re just now starting to get on the map as far as entertainment. If you feel like you’ve achieved something in a certain area and you’re still not getting to where you need to be, it’s important to branch out while still representin’. If you’re out networking in different cities and states, bring that energy back to your hometown and don’t be selfish. I moved to New York and it taught me a lot. If you ain’t goin’ to your auditions or goin’ to work...you gotta walk in the snow and rain to the train, it taught me independence and the grind. My mama wasn’t there, I had to get up on my own. I was a back up dancer for Sean Paul, Maxie Priest, and Shaggy. After I started dancing for Sean Paul, I moved to Atlanta to focus on me. My grandmother taught me that you only live once so make the best of it. What’s going on with the music you’ve been writing and recording lately? I’m working on this record, and I really wanna tell you the name of it, it’s so cool and I wanna put the record out there before anyone else does. But my single is definitely “Perrtiest Girl” featuring Missy Elliott. Wayne just did a verse on it as well. We’re gonna get Three 6 Mafia on a song called “Lava In Your Speakers.” Everything is really up-tempo, high energy, 808, crunk, kinda like early Missy Elliott with a lil more hood, down south swagger. A lot of people might not remember, but weren’t you on a reality show a while ago? (laughs) Yeah, I did the show Are You the Girl, where they was trying to find another member for the group T.L.C. I made it to the fourth finalist. I didn’t make it but everything happens for a reason. Television doesn’t portray you as the person you really are, but I was just thankful for the experience. I even see Chilli and T-Boz in Atlanta today and it’s all good. // OZONE MAG // 19