Jaz Karis on her musical journey

Written by Alicia Hurst by Emelie Bodén

Jaz Karis is a British singer-songwriter known for her soulful vocals and introspective lyrics. She developed a love for music from a young age, initially through dance before transitioning to singing. Influenced by a diverse range of artists Karis has cultivated a unique blend of R&B, soul, and jazz in her music.
She gained attention with her debut EP, “Into the Wilderness,” released in 2019, which showcased her emotive storytelling and rich vocal delivery. Since then, she has continued to release music independently, garnering praise for her authenticity and artistry.
With a growing fanbase and critical acclaim, Jaz Karis remains a rising star in the music industry, admired for her captivating performances and genuine approach to her craft. In this interview we dug into Jaz Karis path to becoming a musician, what inspires her and what we can expect about her new single “MET YOU AT A BAR”.

Can you share how you got into music? From church choirs to sold-out shows, was there a moment that shaped your approach to music?
I’ve always loved music since I was little & at first it was actually dance that I think sparked my love for it. I studied tap, ballet and street dance before I developed my love for singing. I do think however the most defining moment for me was when I left Brit, I knew I had to start really approaching music more like a career than something I just loved to do.

Who are your musical influences? Your parents played different genres at home. How do these influences come together when you create songs, like your new single “MET YOU AT A BAR”?
Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, Destiny’s Child, SWV, Chris Brown, D’angelo, Frank Ocean…the list goes on! From the music to the melodies and stacked harmonies, I think what I loved most with music was the storytelling and how these artists in particular approached saying certain things differently.

How did you create your new single “MET YOU AT A BAR”? What inspired the collaboration with Tone Stith and the song's creation process?
Like always I tend to draw a little inspiration from real life experiences & I did in fact meet a guy in a bar that matches the description in the song(minus the girl)lol. I think then just jamming with Prodigal sons(producers) brought out all the other elements and inspired me to go down a different route with the storytelling. Also, I realised once I hit the chorus that I would love a male P.O.V when you’re out and meet someone & I immediately heard Tone on the song. I played it to him in New York and he loved it - I was so happy when I got his verse the next week!

Any dream artists you'd like to work with? You've collaborated with various artists; if you could choose anyone, living or deceased, who would it be and why?*
Oooo such a tough question but I do think my dream collaboration has always been Frank Ocean or Chris Brown. I was a die hard Chris Brown fan when I was younger, he was my first concert and I still love his music to this day. And then Frank Ocean to me is one of the best songwriters we’ve ever had, I love his approach to music.

What's your favourite song you've written? Is there a track that means a lot to you, and what's the story behind it?
‌Another tough one, but I think it’s a toss up between ‘Come outside’ and ‘Side of you’. ‘Come outside’ is really my heart on my sleeve, vulnerable apology and just asking to be seen as what we are - imperfect humans. So that song really has a soft spot with me. And then on the contrary, ‘Side of you’ I really think I was in my bag haha! I was really angry writing that song and I think from the first line I was talking some real stuff. I love how direct it is and actually have practised being that real in my everyday life since.

Growing up with Gospel, Soca, and Soul playing at home, how do these genres influence your unique blend of R&B, Soul, Amapiano, and Afropop in your music today?
I think the music I grew up on just developed my love for soul. I think anything with feeling & chords/melodies/words that moved me were installed in me from a young age because of this.

From primary school talent shows to your sold-out headline show at Lafayette, can you share a memorable moment or performance that stands out as a defining experience in your musical journey?
I am so blessed and grateful to already have so many moments to choose from but I will say that I left my last headline show feeling so elated. To hear the biggest room, full of people yet, singing back my songs word for word was a high I will always be chasing again and again.

Your love for nostalgia and fiction, citing influences from D'Angelo to Enid Blyton, adds a unique touch to your perspective. How does this influence translate into your songwriting and the stories you want to tell through your music?
I like to think I have a ‘Disneyesque’ outlook on a lot of things. This definitely helps me to romanticize storytelling through music and words but also can get me into trouble sometimes in the real world lol. But hey who wants to live in the real world all the time?

As a fiercely independent artist, how do you navigate the evolving music scene, and what advice do you have for aspiring musicians looking to maintain authenticity in their craft?
I think one thing that I have learnt on my journey so far is to remain consistent & develop deeper into your sound. It’s all good and well trying out new things that you love but I would say to always stay focused on what works for you and not to jump on the latest sound or trend. I would look at staying true to yourself & staying independent as taking the stairs instead of the lift/elevator. It’s a longer way up but can pay off better for you in the long run. And finally, everyone’s journey is different so don’t compare yours to another’s.

With your fourth EP, 'Dear Jaz,' released in November 2022, can you shed light on the themes and inspirations behind the tracks? Is there a specific song that holds a special place for you, and what's the story behind it?
‌‘Dear Jaz’ was almost like a letter to myself. From the opening track to the end, I feel like I travel through a turbulent time of growth & not knowing what is to come but trusting myself that I’ve done the work to overcome the obstacles I’m faced with. I think ‘Home’ is a nice place to end for me as it re affirms the whole message behind the project which is to give yourself grace & always remember to create home within yourself instead of attaching it to someone else.