Singaporean singer-songwriter Jasmine Sokko wants you to judge her on her music, not what she looks like on Instagram

We called the Lion City native for a chat about creative careers, taking risks, and shooting the 'Hurt' music video

Chris Gillett |

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Sokko thinks the music should be the focus of her album, not her.

Singaporean songwriter Jasmine Sokko’s star is certainly on the rise: her latest release, Hurt, is her first on a major label, and is accumulating millions of streams. The electronic musician and producer is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden, finishing her studies, while simultaneously working on her songwriting. She spoke to Young Post over the phone about the differences between her two “home” countries, being judged on her appearance, and her new single.

“It’s really hard to find someone who does songwriting purely for a living,” said Sokko, referring to her native Singapore. “It’s a very pragmatic place to be, and parents expect you to be lawyer, banker or get a proper job, and I felt I never really fit into their whole definition of success.” She jokes about how she had to create an Excel spreadsheet to convince her parents that a career in music could be financially viable before moving continents.

“In Sweden, being a songwriter is considered a very normal thing, a normal job. And kids have done it from a young age, supported by the parents,” Sokko said. It was this open-minded culture that led the musician to move to the European country to follow her dreams.

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In her photos and music videos, the 22-year-old is often seen dressed in all-black, with her face covered by a mask, an artistic decision partially led by her self-confessed shyness – “I like being in the background” – and a need for a healthy private life. But the main reason for this look is keep the focus on her music.

“In this digital age, people can find out more about you than in the past, and I feel like in this industry, people often judge you on how you look, before listening to your music.” She admits to being frustrated by the expectation to live up to these standards, saying, “Why can’t I just be judged on the music I make, my art and the content I release?”

This sense of anger is palpable in Hurt, a song inspired by “how people you love can come across really hurtful when they try to be honest,” a topic to which Jasmine and many of her fans relate.

“You might not [interpret what people say] the way they intended it. Family and friends are sometimes straightforward or harsh, and I just want to hurt them back, knowing how I felt.” She expressed these feelings in the recording studio, channelling these pent-up emotions into the song that would later become Hurt, which many consider to be her most mature track so far. The positive response from her listeners have also encouraged her.

“These are the moments I really live for, the ability to be able to connect with people that I’ve never met before. That’s what gives my song writing more meaning.”

The music video, which was released last month, was a pivotal moment for Sokko, as it required her to push personal boundaries.

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“This video made me do lots of things I’ve never done before; doing my nails, [wearing] heels, dancing is all really new to me. It was uncomfortable,” she said. “It’s a constant challenge to get over my insecurities. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” she said, in another highly relatable admission.

Regardless of where Sokko ends up, we have no doubt she’ll keep breaking barriers, and continue to speak for her growing fan base.

Edited by Karly Cox