From the age of 15, Jazmin Bean has slowly crafted their own twisted reality. Now, hyperpop’s underground royalty is crawling out of the gutter and into the spotlight. Transforming trauma into triumph, Bean resides in a dark saccharine daydream of hyperpop and trap metal inflections. While the real world kept them silent, the artist has carved out a nightmarish kingdom of solace from treacle-thick aesthetics that unapologetically pull you in.
In the latest taste of their full-length debut, Bean’s sound is pink and predatory to the core — it’s the sound of survival, a sugary sweet, abrasive snarl of warning to keep your distance. Yet, sitting in front of us, there’s a woozy, syrupy haze that engulfs them entirely; a patchwork vision of fluffy pastels and hard work. No matter where our conversation steers, whether it’s stories of child abuse, addiction, or isolation, the artist sinks themselves into an atmosphere of calm. This image of composure, however, has been a determined journey: “Once you’ve really been put through the wringer, your stress levels change,” Bean reflects, calmly applying another layer of rose-tinted lipstick. “When you’ve experienced deathly stressful situations, you realise it could always be a lot worse.”
Through music, make-up and fashion, Bean has learned to combat and process the darker chapters of their life. Creating an unsettling veil of hyperpop fantasy, the artist’s full-throttle soundscape doubled up as a sonic safe space which allowed them to detach from their reality. Bean’s bruisingly sweet vomit-between-your-teeth persona became a vital outlet for a young rough-cut teenager. “Who I became on Worldwide Torture was kind of like a superhero,” Bean muses. “It was written from the perspective of what I wished that I could have done in all these abusive situations, situations that I wasn’t really safe to speak up about. It was a way of coping through it.”
Despite adolescent vulnerabilities, the gutsy, sharp sound of Worldwide Torture is anything but vulnerable. From start to finish, Worldwide Torture is positively carnivorous and unflinchingly bold. Serving up nail-bomb nursery rhymes and embittered electronic distortion, Bean would go on to pioneer an entirely fresh genre of bratty grunge pop. In fact, the musician proved how far alternative innovation could be stretched, inspiring a wave of grunge-tinged artists to arise in their wake.
Over the years, some have labelled Bean as an ‘industry plant’ due to their quick circulation as a next-wave artist. However the truth is anything but that — “I wrote Worldwide Torture during my GCSEs, and I raised like £500 for the title track’s video,” Bean tells GAY TIMES. The video’s frilly exploration of poisoned innocence exists solely due to a mass of promised “pay backs” which all came through in the end. Yet, despite circumstances, Bean was confident and assured in their vision. “I’m so proud that this little 16-year-old created a whole world.”
Four years on, Bean’s growth since Worldwide Torture has been immense. Sonically they have soared to new heights of acclaim, yet the personal development that Bean has undergone is equally as major. After a stint in rehab for ketamine addiction, Bean’s outlook on life and creativity entirely shifted. “I’d practically written what was going to be my debut album before rehab, but, when I got out, I scrapped the whole album,” Bean admits. “It was actually pretty good, but I was just on a lot of drugs. I wanted to rewrite tracks to avoid any sense of ‘woe is me.’”
Thematically, Bean’s debut is raw. Much like their EP, the album reflects on years of trauma, biting back and taking control. Yet, while themes may seem depressing, Bean insists the album is anything but; “I asked on Twitter the other day, ‘What do you consider a sad song?’ and people were saying that some of the most upbeat previews I’ve posted were sad,” Bean frowns. “In my mind, it’s not a sad album. Talking about something that was sad at the time doesn’t mean it’s a sad song!” The artist, instead, hopes people can understand the positivity of the album’s reclamation and re-framing of trauma; “It is very cathartic for me, the album is taking back a lot that I’d thought I’d lost.”
Turning 20 served as a reflective moment in Bean’s life for this very reason. “A lot of people’s childhoods get ripped away from them and they don’t even realise it til later on, and turning 20 really made me reflect on that,” Bean admits. Their recent Acoustic Church Session release featured a cover of Marina’s iconic Teen Idle, and it proved to be a fitting performance to wave out their teen years. “As someone who grew up very, very quickly, turning 20 has been very strange for me. It’s supposed to be this coming-of-age moment, but it kind of just made me feel washed up and trauma filled.”
Despite feeling like their teen years were stolen from them, Bean’s growth has allowed them to now embody the character that dominated Worldwide Torture. “I wanted to talk about my teenage experience and the things that I just wasn’t ready to talk about before,” Bean tells us. “I became the person that I was talking about. I did all the things I was daydreaming about, and ended the things that were hurting me.”
Shedding the weight of their difficult past, their debut is set to be an entirely new era in every way. The record is set to entirely shift the Jazmin Bean visual and sonic palette, swapping out the heavy involvement of electronics in favour of strings. Put simply, Bean is heading in a far more “timeless” direction this time round; “The whole album is very “musical” — the sound is inspired by theatre, the glamour of it all,” Bean explains. Think if Tim Burton was putting on a performance of Swan Lake, sprinkled with a little hint of Moulin Rouge. “There’s a lot of strings, a lot less electronics; I just wanted to make something that felt extremely powerful to listen to.”
Rehashing the same sounds or style forever horrifies Bean. “I want my audience to grow with me – I never want two albums to sound the same,” they assert. While many know Bean for their subversive, Yandere love songs (an obsessively infatuated, often bloodthirsty, Japanese anime trope) or their signature scratchy gremlin-pop tunes, Bean mourns the notion of being known as a one-dimensional artist. “I don’t want to be known for just Hello Kitty,” they state firmly. “This album doesn’t pander to any niche that’s happening right now.”
Metamorphosis is a key part of Bean’s DNA. From their school years, wearing wild prosthetics, colourful contact lenses and pushing the uniform restrictions to their limits, Bean has always been one to shift and change their style. “I’ve been wearing crazy makeup really since I was like 12. It’s just been a lot of trial and error,” Bean laughs. From blood-soaked maid dresses to grotesque animal snouts, Bean is constantly evolving. “I’ll probably change over and over again. I love being subject to change.”
“If you’re onstage and you look exactly like your fans, then you aren’t moving quick enough,” Bean insists. Their currently unnamed debut album sheds their gritty, monstrous flesh and instead luxuriates in rich, perverse decadence. “I’m all about the long dresses and glam right now,” they explain. “No one really wants to be glamorous anymore — it’s all about the, like, ‘cigarette butt on the tongue’ vibes — but I feel like glamour is everything, glamour is forever. All the most timeless icons were glamorous. Plus, I love a superstar moment.”
With a slot at this year’s Great Escape Festival, on GAY TIMES’ LGBQ+ stage, Bean will be bringing their emo-camp game alongside fellow breakout queer artists Jessica Winter, Grove, and Kai Bosch. With a hotshot headline slot ready at waiting at Club Revenge’s sticky-floored venue, Bean is quickly shifting from being the underground’s bitter-sweetheart to a formidable hyperpop force. The opportunity to perform as part of an exclusively curated LGBTQ+ lineup isn’t lost on the artist. And, for them, it’s allowed Bean to grow, and forge their own communities. “I didn’t have any friends like school – growing up in Special Education can really detach you from everyone,” Bean admits. “But nowadays it feels like I have a really good community. I’ve found that we’re all drawn to the bits of ourselves that we see in other people. I would say that all my friends and my fans all share little pieces within each other.”
As eager fans get ready to catch their GAY TIMES set, the arrival point at The Great Escape feels like the star-studded moment Bean has been longing for. “When you perform, I truly believe you need to bring the full fantasy,” they emphasise. “I love watching a show and it feels like they’re not a real person. I don’t like when people suck me back into reality. I’ll definitely bring something very timeless, very glamorous, for the crowd.”
As we draw to a close, Bean takes a moment to insist that they don’t want their experiences to feel like an ‘X Factor sob story’. “It’s a big theme, these days, for people to really dwell and say things are difficult but I’m hoping it doesn’t come across like that,” they explain. Beyond the fear of setbacks, Bean has a clear ambition to comfort others and remain undefined by their past trauma. “A lot of the experiences I went through felt very shameful, and I felt very like I couldn’t speak up about anything. I just hope speaking out lets people know they’re not alone in having those experiences.”