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Kristin Alumni - Phoebe Jasper

Phoebe Jasper

Phoebe Jasper - Singer, Songwriter 

From recording in her parent’s basement to featuring on a billboard in New York’s Times Square and writing songs for Rita Ora, pop artist Phoebe Jasper, aka “NAVVY’, has come a long way since graduating from Kristin as Head Prefect in 2013. 

After Kristin, Phoebe completed a Bachelor of Music majoring in Pop Music at Auckland University and has gone on to cement her place in the highly-competitive global Pop Music scene. Under her pseudonym NAVVY, Phoebe has written with some of the world's leading pop writers and artists; has released several singles including Till You're Ready, Mad At You & Rock Bottom - all of which have collectively achieved millions of spotify hits; and is frequently heard on New Zealand radio stations. NAVVY's synth-pop music is sophisticated-yet-expressive, drawing on her raw emotions as an artist and a human.

We caught up with her recently to find out more about life as the artist known as NAVVY, and carving out an identity as Phoebe too! 

Tell us about what you’re currently doing? Where are you based? 

I currently live in London after moving here in 2020!  

Tell us a little about your pathway to becoming a music artist/popstar. When you left school, was this the path you expected to be on?

When I left Kristin, I went to the University of Auckland and got a Bachelor of Music majoring in Popular Music - it was the best thing I ever did. Growing up I didn't know anything about pop music, I was in Euphony in middle and senior school, and always did the musicals, but I wasn't really into pop music, so I had a lot to learn. After I graduated from UoA, I started putting out music that I was making under my parents house in our make-shift studio with my best friends, and then my manager found me. A wild way to enter the industry, but 4 years later I am still feeling incredibly lucky.

Is there such a thing as a typical workday for you? What does it look like? 

This is such a good question, and I wish I could say yes, but it depends on so many different things. I write for myself, but also for other artists, so that changes how things work all the time. Basically the only thing that remains steady is, musicians don't work before 12:00pm, so that is when a writing session will generally start, which works for me because I am definitely not a morning person! Usually we go in the room and someone has a concept lyrically, or a sound they are wanting to achieve, and we just sing ideas for 6 hours until we have a finished song!

What have been some of the highlights of your career to date, and some of the main challenges?

Well, I had two life goals that I thought were pipe dreams, or might take the majority of my life, and in 2023, both of them came true! I really wanted a song I'd written to be played on Jimmy Fallon, and I wrote a Rita Ora single that came out in January that she played on the show, which was incredibly exciting. The other dream was having a billboard in Times Square, which felt like a ridiculous thing to dream of, but that also happened in May, and it was a GIANT picture of me that Spotify put up there! The most wild experience. I also went on my first tour around NZ/Australia in February, opening for one of my favourite artists and best friends Maisie Peters, who was also opening for Ed Sheeran at the time, which was one of the coolest things ever. Basically 2023 has been really wonderful so far for me.

Tell us about your ‘Navvy’ persona, is it very different to ‘Phoebe’? 

To be honest, the more I do as Navvy, the more it is just completely me. When I first started the project, I was worried it might not do well, and I figured 'Phoebe Jasper' would be my name forever, so I didn't want to fail under that name. The pseudonym was really just something to hide behind, and I tried to make Navvy more of a put together version of me who brushes her hair and wears cool outfits, but that was unsustainable and I ended up going on tour and wearing t-shirts that say 'I'm A GLEEK', with no hairbrush in sight. It was a valiant effort, but it wasn't meant to last.

What are some of your creative influences? And how do you find inspiration and motivation for song writing, and performing?

My biggest creative influence is definitely just whoever I am lucky enough to be writing with that day, which is sometimes an international popstar like Zara Larsson, and is sometimes one of my friends who is a full time songwriter like me! But I am also super inspired by the music I listen to, like Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers, and also just by the people I hang out with. It's just as inspiring to hear a friend's experience with their boyfriend or girlfriend as it is to listen to a song I adore.

We hear that you’ve recently collaborated on writing a song for Rita Ora, how did that opportunity come about and what was that like?

Yes!! It has been truly so exciting for me. I went to Wales for some time away with three of my best friends from London - Corey Sanders, Elle Campbell, and Rory Adams. We went away for 3 days and wrote a bunch of songs, and one of them was a song called 'You Only Love Me'. I sang the original demo, and through the power of friends of friends, it got to Rita Ora and she really liked it! She recorded a version and added some stuff to the lyrics, and then we didn't hear anything for a year. But then over the summer, I was at home in New Zealand, and we found out it was going to be the lead single off of her third album. It was SO exciting I still can't believe it is real. Wild. 

What’s ahead for you in 2023 and beyond?

I have lots of fun things to do for the rest of 2023! I am going to Copenhagen for a writing camp, and will be going to Sweden too. It is SO fun to be flown to different cities to write music. I spent most of March in the USA writing songs in Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York, and I will probably be heading back there too! Other than that I'll be in London for most of the year, and I'm looking at doing a UK tour support slot which would be really fun. After this year I'm not entirely sure - but if I get to be writing songs with my favourite people, and coming back to New Zealand for a few months each year forever, I will be considering myself the luckiest girl in the world.

What do you look back on as the highlights of your time at Kristin?

I had a really fun time doing the musicals. I was never the lead, but I just loved creating something with a whole group of like-minded people who loved musical theatre. There’s so much to learn when you're in an ensemble, about working together and caring deeply about the end result that you'll all create together. I now go into studios with strangers most days of the week, and it's not too dissimilar, in that we have an end goal, and that's to create something we love and we're really proud of. Even when I'm writing with international popstars, somehow the stakes don't ever feel as high as they did in the shows back then, it truly was so important to us all. A very similar experience in Euphony, which in my later years was led by David Squire - an absolutely phenomenal human.

If you could give a message to students looking to pursue a similar path, what would it be?

I have two pieces of advice that I have found super helpful. The first is, make stuff that you are so proud of and so excited to show people. If you feel embarrassed or shy about the songs you're making, they probably are not really what you are going to get creative fulfilment out of. The next thing is, once you are happy with, and proud of, the things you are writing/making - PUT THEM OUT. Nothing will ever be perfect, but if you believe in it and you love it, other people will too, I promise. If I hadn't put my first few songs that I made with my best friend in the most makeshift studio setup you can imagine on the internet, I would absolutely not be doing what I am doing now, and that would be such a shame. 

Is there anything else you’d like to include, or messages you’d like to send to current students, staff, parents or the wider Kristin community?

I think it is always just cool to be reminded that art is important and necessary and cool and someone has to make it, so if you have a passion for something you absolutely should chase that thing and be the person that does. I am sure people thought doing a pop music degree was not going to lead anywhere, and I may have quietly been one of those people, but I am so glad we were all wrong. 

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