Who Is Jasmine Miller?

Jasmine Miller, a second-year Fashion Journalism student, a poet, artist, musician, is there anything this young 21-year-old woman can't do?

Being someone with a huge passion for music, this is embedded in who she is as a person, an avid reader and artist. Everything she does crosses over one way or another. Being one of the first contributors for Grafter magazine, let's get to know the artist, poet and writer within the pages of Grafter magazine Issue 1.

But before you do, click the below link to listen to Jasmine's current top 10 playlist whilst you read:

Hi! I’m Jasmine, a 21-year-old student and ‘jack-of-all-trades’ (but master of maybe one or two haha) from Cambridge.

1. What do you do?

I’m currently at the end of my Second Year, studying for a degree in Fashion Journalism at UCA.

2. Outside of writing what other passions do you have?

I’m extremely passionate about other creative endeavours, including music, photography and art !

3. What does the future have in plans for you?

Well, I’m no soothsayer but I hope to follow my passions and gut instincts. My gut has always been telling me to pursue music, but we’ll see about that.

I would like to go travelling in the future, once travel becomes more stable again; I would love to make a documentary-like photo book of some sort, with a collection of photographs taken around the world !

4. You are a big music lover, talk to me about those interests.

What would life be without music? I’ve grown up in a fairly musical household, with both my late grandad and aunt who were always singing. My aunt, who sadly died from Cancer in 2001 at 31 is a great inspiration to me, even though I never met her properly (we only have pictures of her playing with me as a baby/toddler). My mother is also a great singer, with a strong voice. Music has always been her passion and her music taste has rubbed off on me since a young age; so, I thank her for educating me in Rock n Roll and Prog Rock during my formative years.

I had piano, trumpet and singing lessons from age 8, but as I grew up I lost interest in the lessons and wanted to be in a post-punk band. I sold my trumpet at 15 years old, and spent the money on my first electric guitar. My first band was at 16 and it was an all-girl post-punk band called General Waste (yes, after the bin). We sounded like trash as the name suggests but we were nearly put onto an LA record label lol and older geezers loved our sound (weird, but we appreciated it at the time). It was a fun, crazy time !

5. What made you pursue photography?

It started out really innocently, really. I just started taking pictures all the time (even from around 7 years old) of my family, friends and anywhere I went. I’m one of those people who loves to capture a moment and immortalise it (what happened to live in the moment, eh), but when I bought my first point and shoot, I just would take photos of people at gigs. I would actually go to many gigs alone, to go see the band (of course) but also take pictures of the people who went, young and old. I would stop strangers and take their pic. And from that moment, it became kind of like a tic of mine. Whenever I went to a gig, party or day out in town, I had to stop people who I thought had a unique look and ask to take their picture.

Later on, I started educating myself on photographers, different cameras, different types of film etc. mostly thanks to my friend Dave, who is also a student at UCA and a fellow Cambridge geezer/all-round legend. His passion for photography, ability to compose a striking image and experimentation with various styles is very inspiring.

6. Due to lockdown, how have you adapted?

Photography wise, I had some shots left in my cameras so I took pictures of my family during the first week of lockdown !

Generally, I think I’ve adapted pretty well. Working/studying from home has been chill and allows me not to really think about superficial things, like what I’m going to wear or do with my make-up haha

7. How is lockdown changing the rest of your degree?

The only change is the digital aspect of it. Not interacting with my peers or tutors in the flesh, for obvious reasons.

My last few units weren’t hugely affected as much as the 3rd years’ (who I feel for greatly during this time). We had our presentations on Microsoft teams and everything went pretty well, except for a bit of lagging. Also, my internet has been abysmal during lockdown, which has been both a blessing and a curse. I wasn’t able to upload some pieces of work to turnitin, which stressed me out a little, but everything was fine in the end. Bad internet is just a first world problem !

8. You’re in a band, talk to me about it

Hell yeah ! I’m in a band called Ugly (epic name, right) and I play trumpet/occasionally provide backing vocals.

I’ve known like 98% of the band members for a few years, as we’re from good-old Cambridge.

I officially joined the band about a year ago, but I used to play substitute bass for them when their actual bassist, Harry, went on his gap year. From then, we all built a sense of trust and ‘bro-ness’ (brotherhood), that one day during a practice at the studio, Sam (frontman) asked if I knew anyone who played any brass or woodwind instruments. I semi-jokingly said that I used to play trumpet back in the day (which was no lie). A month later, I had a trumpet on my doorstep. Sam had followed up on my proposal and bought me a trumpet – mental !) And so, I became part of the band.

It’s been a test for me, as I’ve had to relearn the trumpet (which isn’t as easy as relearning how to ride a bike). I still don’t 100% know how to play the instrument. It takes a lot of practice and I’m a big procrastinator.

The bands talent and amazing ideas/passion make me want to just give myself a kick in the behind and practice my ass off, so that I can get back to my former trumpet glory !

Our music has been described as ‘doom-rock’ and I’m still not sure what that means, but we’ll take it.

9. Who are some writers you read?

Literature-wise, I’m really into anything Camus (The Outsider is one of my all-time favourites), Orwell, Kafka and Woolf.

I’m really into dystopian narratives/settings, as well as philosophical prose. Metaphors and allegories are also really important to me, so I gravitate to writers who use these.

Article-wise, I really like reading Tim Blanks’ articles, as he’s like a poet when he writes. The metaphors, detailed descriptions and overall personality he interweaves within his writing is really inspiring.

10. What made you pursue journalism?

Honestly, it was just my passion for writing. I also like to learn new things, so the research aspect of journalism appealed to me as well. Fashion Journalism, in particular, interested me because I was enamoured by both fashion and writing, so the two are, quite literally, a match made in heaven.

11. We are in a difficult period, is there a sense of uncertainty for young journalists such as yourself?

I feel like this period has somewhat given us a time to reflect on what’s actually going on, yet also reflect on what we want to do in this world. I feel like our generation will come out of this lockdown with more ideas and a renewed sense of self. So, I don’t think that there will be a sense of uncertainty for us, per se, but we will have to persevere more than ever. I also believe that the lockdown has enabled us to realise that we don’t have to produce content all the time, we can just reflect and write our feelings down without having the pressure to put it out into the world, if that makes sense.

If you’re truly passionate about something, it doesn’t matter whether there’s a pandemic or it’s the end of the world, because you will find a way to still do it by adapting. There will always be time to be creative !

12. What’s your plans?

My plans are to reflect, meditate and live in the moment. Living in the moment is something that I feel our generation, in particular, doesn’t do enough of. I’m so guilty of it and I want to learn to be present, because things can change at the flick of a switch, just as they currently have done.

13. What are some words of wisdom you live by?

It’s an Italian saying my grandad always used to say:

‘Impara l’arte e mettila da parte’

It roughly translates to:

Learn the craft and keep it by your side – basically meaning that you should go through your life learning new things/crafts, because one day they may come very handy, so keep them close by your side.

This is why I like to learn various things, to the best of my ability, so that one day if plan A doesn’t realise itself, I can fall onto plan B, plan C, plan D etc.

14. How have you noticed a change in attitude toward lockdown?

For sure ! I think people have become slightly more tolerant, although there’s still a long, long way to go.

I thought that this lockdown would make people be more respectful to one another, but sadly there are still people who feel the need to be greedy and make snark comments, whether that be at a supermarket or just in general. I guess some people never truly learn, even during a pandemic.

But personally, I have seen people be more reflective and grateful, especially of their loved ones. I feel much closer to my family, as I had to move back home pre-lockdown. Even though they drive me mad sometimes, it’s nice to be home with them, especially now as I understand many people aren’t as fortunate as me; many people have had their families split up or they have lost family members due to the virus and couldn’t be with them during their final hours. This is the saddest thing about it.

It’s definitely a big wake up call, but I just hope we really do open our eyes and wake up !

15. Who are some bands or artists you couldn’t live without?

Hmmm, is this a trick question?

There are far too many to choose from, but I’ll (try to) give you my top 10 (top 3 or 5 would be impossible):

1. Bowie (he’ll always be my numero uno)

2. The Beatles (basic, but true)

3. Nina Simone

4. Scott Walker

5. Kate Bush

6. Pink Floyd

7. The Kinks

8. Joni Mitchell

9. Mina

10. Lou Reed (+ The Velvet Underground, just let me cheat a lil bit with this one)

16. Talk to me about Cambridge, where did you gain inspiration from when growing up?

Some people may hear Cambridge and think about ‘the prestigious University town,’ but I just see Cambridge as home. Cambridge is my birthplace, my humble hometown.

I live in a South-Cambridge village called Fulbourn, which is about 20 minutes from the city centre. Growing up in Fulbourn, which is surrounded by lots of green spaces, I have always had a penchant for exploring the nearby nature reserves, Roman Roads (a beautiful open footpath which is surrounded by a wheat field) and the Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits (which is my favourite place in Cambridge, around 10 minutes away from my house). These places in Cambridge have been the most inspiring to me; I’ve based many a lyric or poem on these magical places. They are like pieces of heaven on Earth !

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