There comes a time in a nightmare when you force yourself to jolt back into reality, fearing the consequences of what lies beyond if you were to keep your eyes closed and enter the murky parts of your mind where only the most sinister things roam. JAZMIN BEAN represents that dark part of your psyche. If we have grown accustomed to care-free euphoria pop becoming commonplace in the charts, then prepare for everything to be shaken up. Jazmin is here, and they’re about to fuck with what everyone is familiar with.
They might boast one seriously assured fanbase (think over 440k Instagram followers, 460k+ Spotify monthly listeners, and a collective 40m+ YouTube views), but there’s a complexity to Jazmin Bean, as both a person and a performer, that the artist themself (Jazmin is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns) is still reckoning with. The musician and creative knows you might consider their appearance intense – think shocking horror make-up; bleached and pastel-dyed hair; outfits akin to comic book-asylum couture – but the line that divides their personality and their practise is, in fact, paper thin. “I don’t want people to think I’m putting on a costume,” they insist. What you see in front of you is what you’ll discover if you encounter them in real life too.
In their formative years, Jazmin would dive into worlds once alien to them in a rebellious attempt to abscond the musical life their family (who are predominantly singers or drummers) had set out for them. Instead, they would sneak into secret raves to perform elaborate, stomach-churning routines on stages; or experiment with make-up (they co-own a cosmetics brand, Cult Candy Cosmetics, with their mother). There was also the lure of film, which they toyed with in their own time and, for a short time, in education. But the boundaries of studying it pushed them further into winging it, and trusting their gut with their own creations: “I guess I wanted to stick out from that perception [from my family], but music clicked with me more and more,” they say. “Eventually, I learned that I could merge film and music. It was the most all-encompassing way of creating.”
When you’re the face of something, you have the rare opportunity to harbour “endless control” of what you create, Jazmin says. And while their work is often collaborative, the final, honed vision – the one that’s presented to you – is always going to be the art they are most proud of: Music and visuals that are by turns ambitious, beautiful and grotesque.
Their latest project, referred to by Jazmin as a “body of work”, is titled WORLDWIDE TORTURE, and is a continuation of their five-track independent debut; only refined and expanded upon. There are 11 tracks here, some their die-hard fans have heard before alongside new ones – but they all blend together to create a cohesive new introduction to an artist hellbent on producing a ricochet effect throughout culture, and stirring conversations around what constitutes ‘the other’ in modern art.
The marrying of two worlds, both aesthetic and sonic, is what’s most important to Jazmin, and so most of the tracks they write start off as visual narratives in their head. What does that mean for WORLDWIDE TORTURE? It’s a colourful and confrontational pop musical B-Movie of the highest order: coercively sweet, before it drives a metaphorical dagger into your side. Like a Tim Burton animation with an even murkier, more bloody streak.
The original visuals for the tracks on this EP were made on a shoestring budget but with vast imagination: creative videographer friends helped build Jazmin’s vision, and local parks and living rooms became sets. But there’s an undeniable elevation for the body of work’s second coming: short films shot in beautiful, Bel Air mansions in which Jazmin arrives in horse-drawn limousines and later writhes around in baths of blood brandishing weapons. The track that goes with that video, “PRINCESS CASTLE”, features Philadelphia multi-dimensional character Cottontail, and captures Jazmin’s spirit as a dominant force: “I’m a collectible, bitch, what the fuck made you think you could step in my toy shop?” they growl on its chorus.
There’s the erratic, crunching maximalism of “MONSTER TRUCK” too, a collaboration with Australian alt star ZHEANI that flits from candyfloss-cute vocals to screamo barely seconds apart. It’s a track about “not holding back or biting your tongue” Jazmin says. Everything is buried beneath violent synths, most of its lyrics borderline indiscernible. The idea is that you get transported with the sounds alone; picturing dystopia as you hear ZHEANI shriek: “They say that the world will get better, it won’t”.
All of the tracks evoke worlds from within their words, but quite what they mean? Jazmin asks you to decide for yourself. They have no desire to tell you how to feel about their music, only that you listen and take the time and space to interpret it in your own way. That only makes spending time within WORLDWIDE TORTURE all the more intriguing. Tracks like “War Zone Urchin” lift elements of heavy metal and electro-pop to create bodeful soundscapes in which even Jazmin’s lyrics allude to darkness. She makes threats between delicate, floral metaphors: “Get in the ring bitch, we’ll see who’s tough!”
There’s also a brilliantly barbaric take on Britney’s Spears’ “Slave 4 U”, familiar to the original but produced in a way that makes it feel like you’re being dragged through several thousand fly zappers; invigorating and dismal in equal measures. It was a heat of the moment decision for Jazmin, who has a list of songs they’re eager to cover but haven’t got round to yet. Originally, this Britney classic wasn’t on there: “I've no idea why I did that,” they say. “But I actually really love it.”
But for all of the body of work’s supercharged energy, there’s still space for apocalyptic balladry between it all. “B4 The Flight” is a cinematic heartbreak track backed by huge string sections that captures unambiguous sadness; Jazmin sings over themself like conflicting emotions running through their head, whispering gently, “This is not the same.”
The longer you spend trying to read into who Jazmin Bean is, the less likely you are to understand fully what they are about. The trick is to accept it, sign the dotted line and join in on the wild, mesmerising journey they will lead you on. What’s important is what’s in front of you now, and the art that stems from their fascinating, earth-shifting presence.