New Zealand hip hop artist JessB has made quite an impact in the months following the release of her debut EP, Bloom. Discovered by P-Money after he heard her on the music sharing platform Soundcloud, JessB is on a journey to discover and embrace her identity. We caught up with the artist ahead of her live performance the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards 2018.

TLFB: Congratulations on being nominated for two categories at this year’s Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, Best Hip Hop Artist and Breakthrough Artist of the Year. How did you react when you found out?

JessB: Thank you! I was quite surprised when I found out but I was also really humbled and honoured that people have connected with my music in some way!

What are you doing to prepare for the awards night?

I am currently preparing for the live performance I will be doing, also I have been trying to sort out what I am going to be wearing.

Who do you look at for style inspiration?

I look to my friends, I also follow lots of Instagram pages! I get inspiration from all sorts of places.

What does a day in the life of JessB look like?

Each day looks different for me, and that is something I really enjoy. In amongst the music related work, I try to keep a few things about my day the same to give it structure – so I usually go the gym in the morning to get up and going.

In your music videos (Set It Off, Take It Down) we are inspired by the diverse group of people featuring in the videos. What does equality mean to you as an artist?

Representation is something that is very important to me, and it has become something that I have wanted to focus on both in what I say in my music, but especially in how I choose to present visuals. Equality to me as an artist means that everyone’s stories can be heard, and there is widespread visibility for all in creative sectors.

Does being a female artist in the hip-hop genre present any challenges? How have you learned to deal with or overcome these?

I think that being a female in any genre of music/any type of creative realm/life, in general, provides challenges. I don’t think that this is unique to hip-hop. I like to be a part of mutual support systems with other women, who are walking similar paths to mine and I find that uplifting each other is the best way to make ground.

If you could perform for anyone, who would it be?

I would love to perform with Missy Elliot.

Do you have any advice for others who are wanting to follow their dreams but aren’t quite sure how?

In my opinion, I think that the most important part in perusing your dreams is to just be yourself! Allowing yourself to be authentically who you are, and standing strong in your truth(s). Following your dreams is always a risk and not an easy thing to do. But I found that once I started to allow all the parts of me to exist freely, I began to attract the right people around me, and found myself in the right places.

Because of this, regardless of where my life goes from here or what happens, I also feel that I can be proud in the path that I have taken myself down for the connections and growth that I have made.

The Vodafone Music Awards 2018 are on the evening of Thursday, 15 November 2018. Tickets to the awards night are available for purchase here.

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