Most of the popstars who hit it big at a young age, tend to arrive with a squeaky-clean image and sing about candy and hanging with friends. And then there’s JoJo. At the age of 13, Joanna “JoJo” Levesque released her debut album and quickly became the youngest solo artist to have a number-one song in the U.S, thanks to the single “Leave,” in which the the pre-pubescent girl sings lyrics like, “You said that you would treat me right but you were just a waste of time.”
Nine years later, though we still know all the words to “Leave” and “Too Little Too Late,” we haven’t heard much about the Massachusetts-native for some time–until now. With the recent release of her new mixtape, Agape, the singer’s ready to step into the limelight again–only this time, as a mature 22-year-old. She stopped by the office to chat with us about her new dog, embarrassing 13-year-old moments, and her first kiss.
Your new mix tape “Agape” is named after your dog, right?
Yeah, it’s not necessarily dedicated to her, but she’s actually on the cover of it. I adopted this puppy from a shelter in downtown LA, and I named her Agape because I looked at her and I just fell completely in love. And this mixtape was really just a labor of love– just about experimenting and loving music.
You started almost 10 ten years ago. Does it feel like a decade has gone by?
I was 13 when I started and now I’m 22. I still have so much more to do and accomplish and all that, and I think I’m having more fun that ever.
Is it embarrassing to look back at yourself at 13?
Maybe when I’m a little older I’ll be able to laugh at it, but right now I cringe. I think that I came off as such a douchebag when I watch my old interviews, like, what a little shit!
I’m sure the whole thing was shocking at first–it took off fairly quickly for you, right?
Very quickly, it was a blur. But I guess it didn’t feel quick for me because I felt that I’ve already been doing this my whole life. I’ve been singing since I couldn’t sing. I always dreamed of it. It always felt very close to me. But it was definitely a blur. I wish that I had lived more in the moment, because to be so young and to travel the world is really special.
Did you feel ready for it?
I did. But in retrospect I don’t think anyone’s really ready for it. But did I feel ready? Yeah of course, I was 13–you think you know everything.
Do you feel like you had to grow up fast because of how young you were when you first became famous?
I think I was always precocious and mature. I was an only child and constantly around adults, and I think I just wanted to be grown. It’s weird though, I didn’t even have my first kiss till I was 15, and at 13 I was telling boys to ‘get out.’
It’s good to hear that you’re not jaded and over all of it.
Not at all! Wouldn’t that be whack? Why would I be sitting here? I’ll stop if I get to that point.
Do you get nervous when you’re writing about those subjects that you’re going to feel insecure?
I try not to worry about it, but I have plenty of hangups and insecurities. I used to worry more about being misunderstood, but now I just know that when you release content everyone’s gonna have their interpretation and that’s the incredible thing about music. People receive things in their own way because we have these shaded glasses that we see things with our own experiences. So I just write that, all I can do is tell my story, tell my truths.
What kind of things do you like to write songs about now?
Whatever I’m going through–life. I like to just express myself, whatever that is. If it doesn’t paint me in the most attractive light, I don’t really care–I just want to tell the truth. So if I’m drunk and sad, there’s a song about that. If I’m horny then I’ll write about that.
You’ve done some acting as well–are you still into that?
I am into that, I really enjoy it. I actually have a movie coming out that’s premiering at Tribeca, it’s called G.B.F- Gay Best Friend. Darren Stein directed it. It’s really cute and funny and I’m really excited for people to see it.
Do you have any dreams you haven’t accomplished already?
Oh, I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. I really don’t think about the past. I only think about the future. I want to have a number one album. I want to have another number one single. I want win a Grammy. I want to perform at the Grammys. I want to do a world tour. I want to sell out Madison Square Garden.
And I just want to travel the world, meet people, learn more. Oh, and by the time I die, I want to have a doctorate so you have to call me doctor Levesque. That’s very important to me.
Download her mixtape here for free!