Lianne Stokes
August 01, 2013 5:00 pm

I travelled to Austin, Texas a few times this year in search of new experiences, tantalizing Tex-Mex and extraordinary people. I talked to waitresses, PR executives, wardrobe stylists and the great people who made my tacos and all of them said, “Do you know Jazz Mills? You have to meet Jazz Mills!” I was like, “Okay, whatever.” Then my friend Lindsay Lipscomb of GypsySun, a production designer and wardrobe stylist who is responsible for making a lot of artists look like superstars, showed me this video of Jazz singing.  In the Austin social scene, Jazz is noted mainly for her performances in Cowboy and Indian and Leopold and His Fiction. But now everyone was buzzing about her upcoming solo album. I sat down to talk with Jazz, 26, about her debut album but learned something even more important. In our conversation, she taught me to be grateful. I figured out how to see the good in people and it was Jazz who showed me how. I think her perspective will do the same for you!

Jazz Mills: I’m overwhelmed on a daily basis by how romantic and lovely I think people are. I want people to be inspired by what they are specifically good at.

Lianne Stokes: Really, you find humanity lovely? 

Yes! I love music and I’m really passionate about it. I feel a certain responsibility to it. But I’m not pursuing music because I want people to hear me sing. I’m using it as a vessel and a platform to do all kinds of things to help people. I want to make people feel significant and loved and paid attention to.

How? 

I’m really in love with the fact that everyone is really different. I want people to believe in their own significance. I have met so many people who have saved my life, in either small ways like at the grocery store, or in big ways on tour. I don’t believe that I could ever achieve something on my own. It’s not possible.

You make a good point about the collective. Finding the missing part that you can’t deliver on is like magic. Someone comes in and takes what you’ve done well and adds that extra magic that they have, something you were missing. However, it takes a great deal of maturity and humility to admit you can’t do everything alone. How do you stay so positive? 

My obsession with being positive comes from a dream I had as a small child where there were two groups of people at war. There was no budging on either side. I remember asking my mom why. She told me it wasn’t not how it worked. As an adult I feel like it is. You resolve things through conversations that result in compromise. You put your ego aside or your pride aside and figure out a way to coexist with each other. We need to respect each other’s differences, not harm each other.

How can you create this utopia? 

It goes back to when I was a kid again. It was a really strange concept to me that I knew I would be hurt and would hurt other people and that that was a way of life. What blew my mind is that people would hurt each other intentionally. I wanted to facilitate the opposite of that the best I could.

I have bad days. I can be really sarcastic. I can be bitchy, short and snappy. One of the reasons I talk about positivity is that it holds me accountable. I can’t wake up one day and be this heinous bitch. People will say, “What are you talking about? You’ve been preaching positivity your whole life!”

In ways, you’re like a modern day Santa Claus. 

Hahaha!

Saint Nick got up one day and said, “I’m going to bring toys to all the good boys and girls.” That’s like you with the positive messaging. But you’re real. 

There are so many people who believe it’s more realistic to be negative all the time. Yes, there is terrible stuff happening but there is also beautiful stuff happening. I’m like a little spy and I’ve witnessed amazing acts of humanity everyday. I see people do the sweetest most romantic things for each other all the time, there’s just no one talking about it. It’s not breaking news. That’s why people are bitter and jaded and mislead.

How does your environment feed your outlook? 

I feel very loved here. Austin is a modern day commune. They’re totally aware of the collective. People survive off of trade here. People can move to Austin with no money in their pocket and survive here. If they’re really good at, let’s say, making dresses or making handbags, they can do that in exchange for fresh vegetables or for a ride. I see people all the time who are like, “This guy fixed my car because I cut his hair.” It’s a really fun environment because people really take care of each other here.

You thrive off collaboration, so why go solo? 

For me, the solo thing wasn’t something I wanted to do. It’s too intense. There was a producer in LA who presented me with the opportunity and I was pregnant with Ava. My manager said, “This producer is huge, he’s respectable and really well-known. This is something you should think about. You don’t want to have this baby and be a hustling mom.” I flew out to LA with my 6-week-old daughter and was exhausted. I didn’t have a lot of material and was nervous that these people in the big leagues would think I was an amateur. It ended up being an amazing experience. All these people that came in and played on my album had played with huge names before me, they totally could have come in and did their part and left, but they stayed with me all day every day and really got to know me. I’m really proud with what we came up with.

I released my single on Valentine’s Day and it did pretty well.

What do you hope this album gives you?

A successful career in music allows me to be able to have free time.  I have a friend going through a really hard time right now. I want to be able to be there, listening to her all day and cook her dinner.

We promise if you DOWNLOAD JAZZ’S SINGLE ten unicorns will be born and groomed to be your personal assistants. Watch the video to your newly downloaded single here! Wait. You watched before you bought it? We’re taking away one of your unicorns and replacing it with a toddler who has A.D.D.

Also, LIKE Jazz and FOLLOW Her for added smiles.

Featured image by Courtney Chavanell. Hair by Diamond Mueller; make up by Ashley Hancock

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