toys, news, collectibles and other strange “wtf” oddities, sometimes we just can’t help but cover something that is awesome despite being outside our normal scope (like we really have a scope?). In this instance, it is our interview with independent artist and collectibles junkie, J’Lostein, who was gracious and willing enough (no need for chloroform!) to spend some time letting us interview her.
As a writer, singer and composer for well over a decade, Jamie Yusof, otherwise known as J’Lostein, has a haunting and comforting quality to her voice. It’s tender and calm, with a quiet inner strength which is reflected through her lyrics about life, love, and tribulations.
Similar to Evanescence, Lamb or Tori Amos, some of her songs do have an emo brooding tendency, but don’t let her know that. Otherwise she’d probably kick you in the teeth… and then feel bad about it immediately and help you get reconstructive dentistry.
Ballads like “In My Own Mind,” “Waltz” and the commanding “Of Mine” are probably J’Lostein’s best. Her vocals are all clear and precise like surgical steel, and while she doesn’t have a lot of variety to her songs, they are all consistent, heartfelt and thoughtfully composed.
I know I’m going to be in a lot of trouble for asking you this, but how do you define yourself? Do you often find yourself being labeled or boxed into some sort of cliché?
I’d define myself simply as ME. I definitely don’t believe in labels or social groups, and here’s why: There is no room for individuality in labels. And what are we as humans? Individuals… Think about it! When you decide you want to be a certain ‘label’, you start following all these unspoken ‘rules’. For instance… a kid who suddenly decides he wants to be ’emo’ starts wanting to dye his hair black, wear the black t-shirts, eyeliner, etc. I don’t believe in that. I believe style is individual, free, and should be void of any rules. Wear what you like! Be yourself!
I have my own style, which is whatever the heck I want to wear. Be it platform boots or a duckling costume.
And yeah, I get a lot of people calling me mostly a Goth, or a J-Rocker. But I don’t let it bother me too much, I know who I am.
Aww, I’m terrible at favorites. I can honestly say I don’t really have any, but pertaining to the genre, I do enjoy horror movies a lot more, although I’m admittedly a huge scaredy-cat! It’s my over-active imagination, I freak myself out.
Which horror movie scared you the most?
I’d definitely say The Exorcist. It’s just… that FACE, you know? It creeps me out so bad and it still does to this day. Haha, I remember being pretty scared of ‘Thriller’ as a kid too. Ju-On (Original Japanese version of The Grudge) was brilliant when I first watched it, some scenes were pure genius. And of course, Rec (the original Spanish version of Quarantine). That was pure awesome.
Any thoughts on all these new horror movie remakes of Friday the 13th, Halloween, etc? If you’ve seen them, better or worse than the originals?
To put it simply… I think they’re trying too hard. There’s only so much of something we can take, even if it’s something good. It gets tiring after awhile, you know? The original creepiness that we loved just isn’t there anymore; it wears off after we’ve seen it too many times.
We read that you like Mezco’s Living Dead Dolls. Do you collect any? Which one is your favorite?
I love them! But I don’t collect them, I only have one; Sybil, the asylum patient from Series 4. She is my baby! I’ve had her for about 3 years now and she goes absolutely everywhere, and I mean, everywhere, with me. So yeah, if I started collecting, she might get jealous, haha.
Yeah, I also love collecting guitar picks! At the moment, I have nearly 80, but I plan on getting A LOT more than that. Other than that, I’m quite a fan of perfume and have a small collection. And I also like figurines, and other dolls like the Little Apple Dolls.
I also like anime figurines, like Enma Ai from Jigoku Shoujo, or L from Death Note. Nendoroids are awesome! I also happen to like McFarlane’s horror figurines, like the Twisted Fairy Tales, Clive Barker’s Infernal Parade, and Femme Fatales. Sanrio’s Kuromi is also a favorite of mine!
What are some of your hobbies outside of making music?
I’m a computer and gadget geek! I love spending time online, playing computer/video games, looking up new gadgets, working with codes, and the like. Besides that, I do like drawing and reading.
Not really drawing-drawing, but a lot of faces and doodles. Ever since I was a kid, my drawing has always been in the manga-ish style. Sometimes I draw or design clothes just for fun. As for books, can you say ‘horror’ again? Haha. Either that or I go back to my childhood and revisit all the fairy-tales I used to read. I also loved Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. And good fiction is always nice.
What are three things you know you can’t live without?
The Internet, my music, and my best friend, Sakimi. I’d like to add in Sybil, but you said three!
Who do you think will win in a baby eating contest, you or the former heavyweight boxing ‘champ’ and eat biter, Mike Tyson?
With my heart of mush, all the baby has to do is give me the big eyes and I’d melt. Mike Tyson for sure. Unless they were gummy babies…
Haha, why thank you. The most memorable was definitely one guy on Myspace who had a foot fetish and wanted me to be his ‘foot goddess’. He begged me to let him ‘do things’ to my feet and let him be my slave. Indeed.
What are some of the qualities that you admire the most in a significant other?
I believe trust is the foundation to any relationship/friendship, so complete honesty is right up there. I’d also like them to be open to anything, great to talk to, and basically have a good head on their shoulders.
What or who inspired you into becoming a musician?
I think the love for music has always been in me. Also, my family was rather musical. My dad played in a band when he was younger, and my mum had me and my sisters all take piano lessons from a very young age. I suppose I got more and more into music from there. It’s just a natural thing, I guess, I can’t see myself doing anything else. It was just in me all along.
We did some digging and it says that you write all your own songs. Where do you draw your inspiration for your lyrics from?
Good digging! Yeah, I do write all my own songs. A lot of the lyrics and what the songs are about come from things that are going on in my life, or how I feel about certain things. Everything is pure brutal honesty.
Do you play any instruments?
I do indeed.
What kind of instruments do you play and how long have you been playing it/them?
I mostly play the piano and the guitar. I started playing piano at the age of 4 or 5, and guitar when I was 13. I’ve also casually had my hand at the violin, some traditional Malay instruments, and some percussion instruments. I never learned to play them seriously though. And I’d really love to play the harp someday.
I never ‘practice’… I just play whenever I want to, which is pretty often! I don’t think too much about the technicalities and just get pleasure from the music.
Any advice for those looking to become a musician like you? How does one begin? Where do you begin? The music, the lyrics, coming up with a kick-ass name for yourself?
Do NOT do what I did before. I wanted to get into music at a much earlier age, but I was never very confident and held myself back, thus stopping great things from happening. Do not hold yourself back. If you have a dream, grab it, saddle up, and don’t let go. Unless it’s illegal.
As for how to begin, it all begins in you. Building up your self-confidence and self-belief, and not being afraid is the first step. Your music, your lyrics, and what you write should all come from the heart. Don’t stress on it too much, or it’ll turn into a chore and the pleasure isn’t there anymore. Just write what is you. As for the name, it’s not a big deal, really. Go with whatever you like and whatever you’re comfortable with.
I’m sure you must be aware of some famous musicians around your age or younger who have been making headlines, not for their music, but rather their wild and questionable off stage behaviors. Do you think musicians should be held accountable for their behavior especially since so many people look up to them or perceive them as an idol/role model?
Headlines for behavior? Doesn’t that sort of ruin the point of you being a musician? Not just musicians, I believe everyone is accountable for their own behavior. There is no excuse; you were given a brain to think with, so use it. Nobody is going to take the blame for your own choices. You can’t change what will happen, only how you handle it. And especially when so many people look up to you, you do have to be a bit more careful and realize there are so many easily influenced tender young minds idolizing you.
According to your website, you don’t drink, smoke, or do any drugs. Is that really true? So you’re saying that you’ve never gotten intimate with Jack Daniels, relaxed with Joe Camel or partied with Mary Jane?
Yeah, that’s true. I don’t lie, so whatever you read is for real. I stay clean because of my own choices. I don’t see any good that comes out of smoking, drinking, or doing drugs, so I stay away. It doesn’t matter if people think it’s ‘cool’ or not.
How important do you think it is for you personally to set positive examples?
I think it’s pretty important. Sure, people are stubborn and you can’t really change them, but you can do your bit, you know? What’s also important to me is to be able to see myself as a good person and be proud of who I am, so I think they go hand in hand.
What kind of advice would you give others?
Always, always be yourself. And remember that everything starts with you, in your mind. If you tell yourself you can do it, you sure as heck can.
Oh yeah! I think it’s a great thing, it gives more and more people the chance to get noticed, you know? I mean, just look at people like Colbie Caillat and Marie Digby. I don’t think they’d be where they are now without these sites.
How are you taking advantage of the Internet doing what you do as a musician and an artist?
Breaking lots of geographical boundaries, for one. It’s awesome that I’m all the way over in Malaysia but I’m able to work with people from all over the world without jumping on a plane. And of course, the Internet is my main stage for promotions and getting my music heard more, here and everywhere else. So many people from all around the world are helping me out in so many ways, it’s really awesome.
What projects do you have coming up and where can people go to see you online or live?
Project-wise, I do have a few collaborations I’m working on, with people from Germany and the USA, and more to come. I’m also working on recording a basic CD. I can be found on Myspace, and YouTube, on these links:
My YouTube page doesn’t have proper videos up yet, but that’s another project I’m working on, so very soon, there will be some rather snazzy videos up for you guys to check out! And I’m guilty of not having been to play live for some time, as I’ve been concentrating on my projects and things with my own music, but it’s definitely paying off!
And lastly, just because we have to ask — as a musician you go by J’Lostein. Assuming J stands for Jamie, what does ‘Lostein stand for or mean? We know you’ve been keeping it a secret, but how about giving us a Wookie exclusive?!
Haha, it’s really not just a stage name, I’ve had it for some time now, even before getting seriously into music. Sort of like a nickname, really. And sorry Wookie, you guys are awesome, but that secret stands for now! J Don’t hold it against me?
And because you mentioned it, inquiring minds want to know. What kind of rumors have you heard about yourself?
Haha, it’s actually rather weird. But the stuff I hear can get pretty ridiculous. Last I heard, I’ve apparently been in NYC for some time, recording with My Chemical Romance under Warner Bros Records… and that apparently, I am Bill Kaulitz’s (the singer from Tokio Hotel) girlfriend. Out of the blue, I tell you.
But probably the most completely ridiculous one was during my early semesters at my university. People actually seriously asked if it was true I had a pentacle and black candles on the floor in my room. Or that if it was true that I did rituals and had once actually FLOWN around in my room. Yes, they were dead serious. No one else does the whole dark clothes thing at my campus…
We see great things happening for J’, good luck and thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Wookie.