Ones To Watch: Jasper Lotti
Jasper Lotti is a singer-songwriter and producer from upstate NY. From a young age, she began training in classical Indian music and gospel choir. Fusing together her skills and her personal vision for pop music, her latest EP XOSkeleton offers seven magnetic tracks with dark, cloudy undertones inspired by the political and individual “darkness” that is looming over society. Exploring these themes with elements of sarcasm and spirituality, she has built her own system to fight the odds life may throw her way.
Milk spoke to Lotti about her songwriting process, finding inspiration in a dystopian climate, and her upcoming single, “Sword” out February 14th.
How did you start making music, tell me about your background?
I grew up in White Plains, New York a little metro outside of Manhattan. I trained in classical Indian music and sang in the local gospel choir, so my childhood was a blur of my mom driving me to various practices and concerts for both across the tri-state area. I think maneuvering these two music worlds simultaneously wired my brain in a weird way.
My public school thankfully had an amazing music program, so I learned violin through that and taught myself guitar. I didn’t start making music until the past few years though, but everything was already in my brain, just dormant. I just ripped Ableton one day and watched some Youtube videos on the basics. The rest is history.
XOSkeleton has a very distinct sound throughout. You have described your sound as ‘dystopian pop’. Can you expand on that?
I’ve always made music that formed naturally, in the moment I don’t qualify or quantify the sound. But in retrospect, I started to analyze. I’m inspired by the absurd, dark energy permeating humanity right now — we live in a dystopian climate, on a political and individual level. Especially in this digital age, we dissociate from our tangible identities. We literally operate across dimensions. Like, where and who is the real me?
That being said, this kind of destruction has an intriguing appeal and beauty that I try to explore through my sound. I play with pop thematics because they reflect a sense of detached familiarity I feel with myself and others. I convene this with my sense of sarcasm and dark humor to find meaning. My music feels like taking poison in a spoonful of honey.
What is your songwriting process like? Do you have a routine you like to follow?
I don’t really have a routine, but I do have word vomit 24/7. Words just run up and down my body constantly and I’m always documenting them in journals, on my Notes app, on napkins, anything. I often go on long walks and phrases/melodies come to me. I sing them into my Voice Memos. Then when I sit to create songs, I go over everything and fit them together like puzzle pieces. It’s similar to producing the songs, I have hundreds of Ableton files that I piece together from.
Can you tell me more about your new single, ‘Sword’ and what it means to you?
I was thinking a lot about the primal qualities of romance, how we as a society engage less with that. All my friends geek over texts and images, not pheromones. We are animals that engage in courtship rituals, duets of performance and showmanship. Sword is a reminder that the biologically-wired game of romance is what makes us human.
What are some challenges you have faced making music, how did you overcome them?
As a female artist producing my music, many people have advised me to work with “real” producers. At first, I felt so insecure. Like do I need to be working with “real” aka male producers for my music to resonate? Once I saw people rocking with my sound, I was like hell no. And I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked who produces my music.
Even last week, I was in the studio with a bunch of rappers playing beats. Another male producer literally unplugged the aux in the middle of my beat and started playing his own beats. I felt shitty at the moment, but in reality, it had nothing to do with me, but with his insecurity. Not everyone is going to be open-minded. This is a journey.
What role does spirituality play in your creative process?
I think getting in touch with my spirituality guided me to the music I wanted to make. My process is channeling the spirit I feel bursting out. I kind of let it do its thing and completely surrender, which is kind of scary. Sometimes I’ll finish a song and listen to it the next morning like, how did that come out of me…it’s wild.
What are some things you like to do in your free time to decompress when you aren’t working on music?
Well, when I’m not working on music, I’m listening or dancing to music. But if I need a break from being sonically stimulated, I love going on walks/runs in nature. I also love anime and Star Trek. I watch at least an episode of Star Trek every day.
Who are some artists on your radar at the moment?
Dolly Parton, Alice Coltrane, and Jim Carrey.
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future and why?
I’m a massive fan of Hideo Kojima. I’m not a gamer, but I’m very much inspired by video game soundtracks, narratives, and visuals. I actually quite enjoy watching friends play. I first got into him through Metal Gear Solid, and recently Death Stranding really rocked my world. So I think either composing something or being involved in a game somehow would be mind-blowing.
What are your goals for 2020? Where would you like to see yourself towards the end of the year?
2020 is geared towards ascension and detaching from the illusions of the mind. Cutting out all the unnecessary to make way for the necessary. Towards the end, I have a vision of myself singing in a subterranean cave, hands up to the sky.
Stay tuned to Milk for more Ones to Watch.