A multitalented musician, performer and songwriter who has been studying music since the third grade, Jass R. Couch, AKA Jass, is a widely respected solo artist at home in Kansas City and abroad. Her most recent album, 2020's At the Close of a Decade, helped land her music on the Peacock original series Bel-Air. Enjoy our interview with Jass about this experience, her creative practice and what fans can expect in the months to come.
You’re a songwriter, singer, instrumentalist and performer. Which of these started first for you?
I started playing instruments first. My uncle gifted me a keyboard when I was younger and I learned to play the flute in school at 3rd grade. I then picked up the viola and saxophone in high school. I was also in choir at a young age but I was not much of a soloist growing up.
Since the release of your 2020 album, At the Close of a Decade, you’ve released several singles and an EP. How would you say your music has grown since 2020?
I’ve embraced more freedom in creating since releasing my first project. Initially, I was making music from beats that were already made, but with my newest releases I’ve learned how to do my own production and incorporate the instruments I play in the music, too.
Describe your creative practice. How often are you writing songs? How do you capture your writing process as you go along?
I write and create just about every day. If I'm not writing a song, I’m making a beat or playing with a concept of melodies via instrument or making a voice memo with vocals. I use my note pad or I freestyle ideas generally. I write poetry as well, so sometimes they stay poems or they take on a melody.
You recently had your song “Grow” featured in the series Bel-Air. How did that come about? What was it like having your music featured on screen like this?
I wish I had some elaborate story, but the truth is I received an email requesting to use a number of my original songs and once I wrapped my head around it being real, I was very excited to see my songs come to life in the scenes. It felt amazing and I was so proud that what I created could be felt and heard all across the world in a way I hadn’t initially though possible.
What can fans expect for the rest of this year and into 2024?
Fans can expect brand new music, new accomplishments, and more collaborations. I’m experiencing my wildest dreams come true and anyone that supports me can expect to be along for the RIDE.
Jass's book recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
1. All About Love by Bell Hooks
2. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
3. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
5. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
6. Paper Towns by John Green
7. One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
All of these books have in some form shaped the way I view certain things. An American Marriage was such an emotionally engaging book that left me thinking about what I’d do in such a situation. The Hate U Give is very much a conversational read. It gives the perspective of a survivor trying to deal with loss, pressure, and living two lives in a way, amongst so many other things. Nineteen Minutes was a masterpiece aiming at one of the biggest recurring issues plaguing the school system, gun violence in schools. It did so in such an amazing way. I really feel like books allow authors to share a perspective without creating bias, just a lens for the reader to see the situation through.