Jasmine Cain: Her Rise To The Top In An Unconventional Way

By Andrew Catania
“When I met my first label, I was excited.  The guy told me they were going to pass.  I asked him why.  He said I’m just going to put it like this because we’re looking for hamburger we can shape and mold and into the next greatest trendy cuisine. Whether it be meatballs or burgers or whatever you’d like it to be.  We create this trend or this image that we shape this person into the hamburger into what we want it, and then we sell and then when people are tired of it it was we discard it, and we get something else. Another thing. he said you’re like a prime rib. Would you sell? Absolutely. Would people be happy and pleasantly surprised when they purchased who they taste for the first time? Oh, they’re going to love it. They’re going to fall in love with it. Would they spend the money to do it? Yeah but the problem is that the record label would have to pay so much money to buy this prime rib that it doesn’t make sense for them. To get behind it and push it like that when they can just buy a hamburger and make three to four times the profit. It doesn’t make sense. So that’s the best way he could describe it to me, and it made sense to me.”- Jasmine Cain 

Jasmine Cain isn’t your run of the mill person.  Raised on a cattle farm in Sturgis, South Dakota, she was brought up around the motorcycle culture.  From Yoodling on old men’s laps, being told no she can’t play that instrument, to being named Nashville Industry Live Performers of the Year.  She has merchandise sales that are good if not better than some signed acts. The million dollar question is, why hasn’t she been signed?  This prime rib would be an ideal addition to any label considering I scratch my head at what some of these labels are signing and promoting these days.  They won’t touch guitar instrumentals because they have no audience.  But, they’ll sign some act that’s only known in one European country after doing their “research.”  This was one of the most unconventional interviews I’ve done.  Jasmine is working on remodeling her house in Nashville, a dog sniffing her ass and she’s not afraid to drop the F-bomb.  I had fun speaking with Jasmine about her band and upcoming plans. 

When did you start playing bass and guitar?

JC: I started very early. My older brother is six years older than I am and when he got to high school, he was learning how to play guitar, from the old guy that lived nearby.  We lived on a cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t have any lessons available to us on YouTube at the time. None of that existed. So you’re going to learn how to play guitar. He pretty much learned by a chord chart. Talk to anybody who knows anything about it and then you sit down and practice and try to figure out how to play. We didn’t have any real trainers or teachers. We didn’t even have music programs in school. There was no one to teach us how to do stuff, so he started learning to play guitar. Of course, me being the little sister,  I’m like you must teach me how to play guitar.

I studied a lot, and I thought well, it’s like a target we’re going to play another instrument so I could join this band.  I was terrible at it, and I realized quickly that I played by ear because the lady tried to teach me how to play notes and I went home and came back, and I was playing notes that were on the next page.  I had turned the page, and she was like are you reading these notes or you just remembering them.  I’m like oh I was busted and was irritated with it always that same situation. And this is how podunk middle of nowhere I grew up. I’m sitting there the piano was on my ass about how I have not learned how to read the notes, and I feel something on my ankle, and I look down. It’s a fucking rattlesnake. I kicked it off my leg and took off running and never went back to be out of habit. So that was my sign from above that maybe I’m not a piano player, but I decided that I just wanted to learn on my own.

I realized I could play by ear so if I could play piano by ear I could play anything great. I played keyboards. As my brother got older, the other band members left, and I started playing guitar.  I wanted to play guitar because he was a guitar player. And I was never that good. But I felt more comfortable with the guitar, and he got married in our little country band that we had because we were a country music family band.  Our band pretty much came to a screeching halt when his wife said even though I met you playing in a band if you ever do this again I’m filing for divorce and I’m done with you.

And so he was like oh shit. So he’s like sorry guys I’m done. And so I had to learn how to play bass pretty much overnight, and the bass player became our lead guitarist. That was the first time I learned how to play bass, and I was scared to death because I was the singer. I was mainly a singer, and I played rhythm guitar, but now the bass and singing was a whole other monster. So it was something I had practiced I didn’t kind of come naturally. And then I left home, and I joined this music show.

So he couldn’t play anymore. So I ended up playing bass for the rest of the show that summer. I was like God isn’t it just keeps coming back to haunt me. And then later I joined another band, and I was playing guitar, and they lost their bass player, and they said you’d got ten days to learn 80 songs or you’re fired. And I’m like well shit. So I learned all their styles, and I played the show, and they fired me anyway. And then I was like you know that there’s something about this instrument it keeps getting shoved down my ass.  I guess I’m supposed to be there or better figure out how to do it right. So I practiced, and I learned, and I know now that what I do.

I wouldn’t call myself a great bass player, but the thing is that I’ve been able to sustain myself as a bass player for 20 years and I don’t think I could have done that if I wasn’t at least a decent bass player. I didn’t have teachers and trainers. So all self-taught but it’s been an exciting ride for sure.

When did you decide to go solo?

JC: The best thing you can do is not play in the town you live in. So I hit the motorcycle circuit. It what was most familiar to me I grew up in Sturgis. I was playing those gigs since the time I was a young girl, and those rallies happened all over the country.   I was like well I’m just going to jump on those people, and I’m going to see where it takes me and it took me to Daytona,  Myrtle Beach and  Easy Rider events ended up picking me up in 2006, I did the whole west coast for the first time and was incredibly well received, and it kills me that I haven’t been able to be back because I do have such a strong following there. The only time they see me. Sturgis is where we meet in the middle. They come halfway, and I come from here.

Do you book your gigs?

JC: Yeah, I’m making all of our bookings from the first day. I’ve always made our bookings. I did try to use agents before they were big fans of just putting us in places we didn’t fucking belong the scumbags.

You got a strong following as it is anyway. How would you attribute that? Do you think it’s your albums? Touring?

JC:  That’s really interesting question, and I don’t think anybody’s ever asked me that before, I’m not sure. I’m not sure what it is. I think a lot of it is that I’m just pretty wide open like I tell people all my life I’ve been pretty crazy because being a simple country girl from a cattle ranch and ending up like the queen of biker just doing metal shows and screaming my lungs out. It’s really weird situation, and I think people are really curious about that I think everybody wants to be a rock star

After all these years of traveling and the things I’ve seen or whatever it hasn’t changed the way that I am I think that what people connect with most is just being real and being honest about things and just having a sense of humor about it mainly because life is really hard for everyone and lot of people don’t manage that so well. I was one of those people I didn’t manage it well.  It checked out my anxiety would just kill me I’d end up with ulcers of heart stress condition from my heart.  I’d have a total panic attack and then I understood the power of a sense of humor later and just knowing that there was nothing you could do about it and just let it let it go

You’ve received many awards!

JC: Nashville Industry Music Awards best live performers this year. We were artists of the year last year and the only reason we don’t qualify for Artist of the Year this year is that we didn’t put an album out in the calendar year that they except the only thing we could be nominated for was live performances and we won. Not that this year is going to be a lot different because we’re putting out a new album. We just launched our live album December 1st. It just came out. 

So 2018 around the corner. What are your plans?

JC: Yeah, we’re working on our next album we’re writing right now. Michael Wagner is going to produce our next album which is incredible,  I’m fucking stoked not just because it’s Michael Wagner, but I’m fucking stoked because Michael Wagner’s fucking stoked and that’s why I mean all kinds of producers, and they’re like yeah I’ll take your money. It’s the same publicist thing. I’ll write it and put it down and throw some shit out there.  I’m pumped because he’s pumped and he isn’t a guy to just do something he isn’t excited about. 

Follow Jasmine at @ http://www.jasminecain.com/

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