Up-and-coming R&B star Jovanie uses Instagram like teens do, which makes sense, since he’s only 15 years old. His feed is a highly curated place to show off upcoming music, like a new single with Lil Yachty, as well as the videos that put him on Atlantic Records’ radar, like one from when he was 13, where he belted out Usher’s “You Got It Bad.”
Fast Company sat down with Jovanie to talk about how he uses the musician-friendly platform, musical influences, and how his style has changed since he was a kid (well . . . relatively).
When did you know you wanted to start making music?
The first time I started singing, I was super nervous. I first sang to my father when I was 7, and he was playing Justin Bieber. And I started singing along and he asked, do you want to be singing? I said yes, of course. He said, I’ll make it happen. My whole family’s super supportive.
How do you use Instagram?
I started on Instagram just doing covers for people. I use social media to build my following, I love giving fans want they want to see. I want my fans to feel like they’re my friends. I love Instagram Stories, I call it InstaSnap. It’s really dope. Instagram is getting really interactive now with your fans, like with Live. You can literally sit there and read all the comments from your friends and fans. Most people on Instagram don’t have Snapchat. When I’m on Snapchat I’ll get a certain amount of views, but when I’m on Instagram I get way more views, only because now your fans from Instagram don’t have to go to a whole different app to see what’s happening.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a new solo project. My fans haven’t heard me for a year. The music is super different. Before I was making up tempo kid-like music. This time around it’s more me. I started writing more of my record, really part of these recent singles. I just dropped a single with Lil Yachty and we shot a music video. The first week we dropped it, it had about 150,000 listens in four or five days. He’s dope, really laid back. Good vibes.
Do you take more of an active role in songwriting than you did before?
Last year when we released “Whip,” I didn’t write anything. Well, I wrote a little bit, a couple verses. But that was pretty much it. This time around I’m always writing, always coming up with melodies. Before it wasn’t like if I had a choice or didn’t have a choice to write, I just didn’t know how to write. Now I’ve been with so many writers and producers that I just sync in everything I learn, and now I know how to make music for me and the music I like.
People compare you to Justin Bieber. Do you want to model your career off his?
I see myself as having my own lane. You have a little bit of who your inspirations are. What made me wanna dance was watching Michael Jackson, James Brown, Fred Astaire. New Edition taught me a lot about the music industry and performing. The people I watched growing up, I feel like I have a little part in me. That’s what makes me, me as an artist.
A few years ago, could you have seen that this is what your life was going to be like?
I didn’t really think about it like that. I started singing because I wanted to take care of my grandma, take care of my family. So we could experience a different life that we never had. I’m working because I love music and there’s many ways I can express myself. I can show the world that I’m just like you, I go through things just like you. Music is my getaway.