“Look at me now,” JoJo opens her new album singing, fifteen years on from the first time she became a household name.
“Leave (Get Out)” hit No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts in 2004, before “Too Little Too Late,” the lead single for her second album, made it even further to No. 3 on the Hot 100. In 2008, JoJo promised via Myspace that her third album would make its arrival into the world just in time for her 18th birthday.
The album never happened.
In 2015, alongside releasing new, remarkable music and coining the phrase ‘tringle’, JoJo made her return with convincing songs we adored at the time and then in 2018, re-recorded and re-released her first two albums, JoJo (2004) and The High Road (2006), after they’d been pulled off the streaming services.
With all her masters intact, she’s doing music on her terms and no one else’s. Her new album, Good To Know, is out on Clover Music, JoJo’s own imprint with Warner and it’s distinctive, personal pop music with a self-described “sexy” edge.
Pop it on, read along, as she taps into a Skype call I’m late for from her Cali apartment. She’s trying to practice piano. Nic Kelly in bold, JoJo in not bold.
How long have you been trying to learn piano for?
Oh god, on and off for years, but I’ve never just sat down and dedicated like, an hour a day. And now I just have nothing but time. So I’m learning how to like, do different programming on the computer and just trying to make the most of this quarantine.
It’s like an upskilling opportunity, isn’t it? Something we haven’t had before?
Who’s this beautiful animal?
This is my angel. Her name’s Agápē and she is a healer, I must say.
What a magical animal. It’s raining outside. Where are you at the moment?
I’m in LA.
It never rains in LA.
There’s many songs about how it never rains in LA but we’ve been getting a lot of rain.
Is there a particular favourite song about it raining in LA that you’ve got?
Yeah, I think of Frank Ocean’s… [SERENADES ENTIRE FIRST VERSE AND CHORUS OF THINKIN BOUT YOU]
Congratulations on having an album ready to go. This is exciting news.
Woah, thank God right, because who knows when we’re getting back in the studio? Thank God we had this done?
It was perfect timing, managing to get it all in the bag. I know you had some tour dates and stuff ready to roll, but that’s not deterring you from putting this out, is it.
No, not at all. We’ve already rescheduled the tour. It’s moving to the end of the year. It’s just crazy how like the months of 2020 are just flying, but what’s amazing is that I’m consuming so much music and so much good content right now, that I feel like it’s actually a pretty good time to be releasing material. And this album, Good To Know is really a product of wanting to escape yourself. And that’s something that is really hard to do whilst we’re locked down, so it’s actually kind of ironic that it’s coming out.
Talking about escapism, and I know Man is about like finding the contentment of being single until the right person comes along, which is a big mood.
Yeah! The album starts with wanting to, like, distract myself from myself. Wanting to really not spend the time with myself that I think is important for everybody to do before they move onto that next phase of life, which looks different for everybody, but I had never really been single, like my whole adult life. And so where man falls on the album, in the middle, is at that place where I realise “you’re gonna need to be alone for a little while and learn to really love yourself.”
Does having a dog help with that?
I think having a dog helps with everything. She’s so amazing. I really lucked out. She’s a rescue and I got her at a shelter. I went there with an ex-boyfriend actually, we wanted to get a pet together – because it’s always such a GREAT idea to get a pet with somebody you’re dating! We went there to get a cat and he, like, broke out in hives because he got scratched by the cat and I’m still thankful for that because had he not been allergic to cats – and we didn’t know – I would have never lucked out and gotten Agápē.
Were you always a cat person?
I’m an animal person. I just love animals. It’s about the spirit of the animal just like it is with people, you know, it’s a vibe thing. Either you vibe with the animal or you don’t. I hate some house cats and then some I’m like, you’re awesome.
I love this energy connection thing. It’s what I’ve been trying to do in 2020. Even pre-Corona, the whole vibe of this year was about connecting good energies with one another.
Is that one of your like, favourite things to do? To be the connector?
I think it’s weirdly like, I feel like I’m not worthy of having the good connections – it’s like an anxiety thing – and therefore I want to connect other good energies with one another. I think that’s that’s kind of where it comes from.
You are worthy. But that’s some self-awareness tea that you just spilled.
Actually I felt an energy connection watching the making of the album, the first episode that came out with you and Lido, because Lido is just a beautiful, magic, giving man and you have the same energy about you. Did you find that experience really special?
Oh yes. I love Lido. From the moment I walked into the studio and we were introduced, I was like, “I think this might be my guy…” I felt like I might have been waiting to meet this producer. Because I don’t make beats. I write and sing and I needed somebody to help me make sense of everything. I wanted to create a partner. I’m just very inspired by his process and his openness, the way he thinks about things. It’s always about storytelling and details, and I just loved that.
Let’s talk about the sound of this album. Man has got that real kind of like thumping RnB beat – what’s the rest of this album sound like?
I think the best part about being an artist in 2020 – besides the Rona – is the fact that genres don’t matter as much. But, like, RnB is the music that I fell in love with first and it definitely inspired this album, there’s a lot of hip hop in the production, but I just wanted to start with dope songs first. The album is very sensual and sexy. That’s like a just a favorite zone of mine to be.
Sexy feels different when you’re single, doesn’t it?
It’s powerful. I love that. I wasn’t even really dating at all during the making of this album, because I really wanted to save all my creativity… I just wanted to save everything for me.
good to know is out now.