Published on December 30th, 2014 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson


Janine and the Mixtape: “I Want This Forever!”

Tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Janine Foster? And, who exactly are the Mixtape?

It began as soon as I could make a noise. As a toddler, my Dad told me I had the voice of an angel, and at that point I decided I wanted to be a singer. When I was about 5 years old, I had a little microphone and double cassette player where I could record from one tape to the other — remember?! — so I would record myself singing over Mariah’s “Hero.” Not long after, I started writing songs. I was classically trained in singing as a child, too, but I disliked it because I wanted to sing R&B and Soul, so I rebelled against it. I started listening to Hip-Hop; like N.W.A. and Biggie when I was about 12, along with my R&B and pop favorites. When I was 13, I started playing guitar so I could fully perform my own songs. I started going to open mic nights at 14 years old and playing my original songs; I continued playing that through high school. I was also in a ska band at the time. After high school, I went to University and studied a Bachelor of Music. I started to become more experimental; playing with loop pedals and synthesizers and recording myself on the computer. While recording myself and instruments, I started adding beats. I didn’t know at that point that I was producing, but from there I was able to combine all my favorite genres and come up with the sound of Janine and the Mixtape. Janine and the Mixtape is me, my project and sound! It works when it’s just myself on stage with some beats and instruments, and also works when I have a band. The Mixtape stands for the tough, raw vibe of Hip-Hop mix-tapes, and the cute, thoughtful mix-tapes you make for someone you care for. That equals me! The raw, honest, tough, cheesy, thoughtful Mixtape.

Now you are a native of New Zealand, correct? So growing up there, who all did/do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?

I am a proud Kiwi girl! I listened to a lot of international and American music. My first influences were Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. Then, Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Usher, Biggie, Bon Iver, Sigur Rós, (plus) lots of R&B, Hip-Hop and indie music. Also punk and ska, not many people know that.

With that being said, how then would you classify the sound and/or style of the music that you create and perform?

I call my sound Indie R&B or Alternative R&B. It’s a combination of the styles I love the most; the dreamy, ethereal, indie layers…The soulful and smooth R&B vocal tone and melodies…And the badass beats of Hip-Hop.

Your recently released single selection is entitled “Hold Me,'” featuring Pusha T — Tell me about this particular composition? How did it actually come to fruition?

The funny / sweet thing about that is that when I wrote “Hold Me” a few years ago, I was working at a small t-shirt shop in Auckland, New Zealand, while finishing my degree. I would always crank Pusha T in the store. I released “Hold Me” independently just over a year ago, and then a year later it got a sync on Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and it spiked the charts at #2. I always wanted to have a great rapper on the track, so when I recently signed to Atlantic we discussed options and agreed that Pusha T would be amazing. We approached him and he said yes! Now I have an amazing re-release with one of the legends, Mr King Push, who absolutely killed his two verses.

“Hold Me” comes courtesy of your new EP, DARK MIND — Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?

Dark Mind EP is all based around one theme. The idea of going through some heavy things, as most humans have to, and finding the beauty in that pain. The EP developed from just talking about how things became dark in my mind, to actually being grateful because everything I have been through has made me stronger and hopefully it can inspire others to feel the same. “Hold Me” was the one track that I actually admitted to be vulnerable. When we feel our worst we don’t always want to talk, sometimes we just want someone to wrap us up in a blanket and hold us.

What particular string of events led to your initial linking up with Andy Murnane and eventual inking to Little Mixtape Records through Atlantic?

After releasing my original Dark Mind EP mid 2013 — before the pimped out version that (just) dropped — I had been managing myself and trying to find the right fit to move forward. My Visa in the U.S. ran out, and I had to head back to N.Z. at the end of that year. At that time, I had my first sync on Black Ink Crew. Andy (Murnane) was the first person to reach out and tell me I was charting in the U.S.. We’d known each other for a while — most people in N.Z. know each other, haha! — but I respected that he knew what was going on and looked out for me. At the beginning of this year, we decided to work together just in time for my next television sync on Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, which changed everything. It put me on 9 Billboard charts and #2 on the iTunes R&B album charts. The night that it aired, we had messages from most major and indie labels in the U.S., so Andy and I went back to N.Y.C. to meet everyone. We met everyone in a week or two; from lawyers to booking agents to labels to publishing. It was pretty awesome! It was a lot to take in in a short time, but it was fun. When I met Atlantic, it was pretty special. I love the other labels, but Atlantic felt like home. Everyone at the label is smiling and walking around doing things, working. There’s a massive art department. Craig Kallman was responsible for putting Aaliyah, Missy Elliott and Timbaland together, so hearing those stories definitely helped, too! They went hard to get me, but most of all they get the music and wanted to let me go forward with my label, Little Mixtape Records, too. It’s (a) great team.

Longevity, what do you attribute yours to? And, of course, what will continue to sustain you in music?

I believe that the truth is timeless. What’s real, lasts. My music is real; it comes from the heart. I sing, I write, I produce and I love every aspect of music. I have so far to develop, and I’m very excited to learn. I want this forever!

Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?

I aspire to be a good family woman and friend. I know that’s not always easy in this industry, but family is the most important thing. I’d like to build Little Mixtape Records and bring up other artists — I know that’s in music — but I’d like to develop into a strong businesswoman. I have a few charities that I would like to become more involved with. The goal is to do my best to contribute to leaving the world a better place than I entered it in.

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of music?

Sometimes I turn on the radio and feel sad at some of the lack of soul in music and the messages. But, then I think you (know) what, it takes a lot of hard work to write and perform a great pop song, and if it makes people happy who am I to judge? All we can control is ourselves. So with that in mind, I am happy with where my music is at, but aware of how much better I can become.

To date, what has been your biggest career moment, at least thus far anyway?

This year, as a whole, has been pretty massive. Signing my deal with Atlantic Records was pretty massive for me, and it made my family so proud. There was a few happy tears on that Little Mixtape X Atlantic contact.

What’s next for Janine and the Mixtape?

I have the music for the next EP / album, so I’m in the studio recording that now and getting ready for next year’s releases. I’m also working on some videos, touring, photos…Heaps!

Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?

I think you did a pretty awesome job, thank you!

Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?

I’d just like to mention how grateful I am to everyone for the support they have given me. I’m excited to be at the beginning of a long and wonderful journey. Thank you so much HYPE Magazine for letting me share my story and asking such thoughtful questions! xx

By: Todd Davis

About the Author

Publisher and CEO of The Hype Magazine. Follow me on Twitter @HypeJustJay

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