Highsnobiety

For the latest installment of Snob & Answer, we talked with artist, actor, and self-proclaimed architect of sound Jaden Smith about life, liberation, and his latest single “Roses.” 

Few have done more in their lifetime than Jaden Smith has done at just 25 years old. Beginning his career as a child thespian, eventually taking on titles ranging from activist to entrepreneur to creative director—seamlessly transitioning from one passion project to the next—the fledgling multi-hyphenate has grown up before the public eye. 

Alan Torres, Alan Torres

But despite the esteemed notoriety, earned accolades, and unremitting scrutiny of a life lived in the spotlight, what everyone thinks they know is only an imaginary portrayal of the young visionary. What actually exists—beyond the likes, cameras, and headlines—is a thoughtful and deeply intentional mind searching for truth—truth of purpose and more importantly, truth of self. 

Take our Zoom call, for example, where Jaden calls me from his “studio” located in the hills of Sunset City, California. No, like he actually constructed an entire recording setup on the side of a hill in the SoCal mountains. Made as an escape from what he felt to be the restraining confines of a traditional sound lab, Jaden’s musical oasis doubles as a therapeutic retreat for him and his close collaborators and friends. 

Looking out across a breathtakingly beautiful landscape, this is where I find the experimental artist on the other side of my computer screen—about seven hours separate us, and the sun is shining down on him as he firmly stands with guitar in hand on the dirt-covered clearing. And following an impromptu rendition of his 2019 song “Somebody Else” to open our call, Jaden and I engaged in an intimate conversation about his next musical epoch and some of the thoughts that are working to shape his reality these days. 

Below, read our conversation:

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Jaden, how are you, man?

I'm good, bro. We’re on a hill at the border of Sunset City right now.

Do you spend a lot of time there these days? Do you have a studio there?

Yeah, we record right here. This is the studio.

What motivated you to move outside and create this unconventional recording space?

I needed to feel the universe on me. I’ve been working out of here for maybe five years. I don't really like being inside. I feel much more connected outdoors. And so, right now I'm just tapping into that.

What was the moment that you realized that you needed to step away from the confines of the traditional studio space?

I was having an intense spiritual experience, studying the mystical states of consciousness within myself. I was inside, and I felt like I was having a panic attack. But once I went outside, everything was fine. So, since that moment, I have been like, "Man, all the times that I’ve felt stressed out at the studio, maybe the easy fix is to just step outside."

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Since you’ve been doing most of your work from here, let’s dive deeper into the music. Your last official release was about three years ago in 2021. What are some significant moments that happened between then and your new single, “Roses?”

I watched the sunset every day and those were all extremely significant to me.They reprogram my brain, make me think differently, and make me happy.

And what do you find in that, other than peace?

That's all I need. That's all I'm looking for. Inspiration, fun, the homies. Watch the freaking aurora borealis over Sunset City. Just chill stuff.

It seems that self-reflection is a big part of your process. What are some songs or projects of yours do you go back to most often?

There’s one song called "Somebody Else” that I go back to a lot. It’s on ERYS. I wrote it and it's just full of emotions, man. I'm not here to make songs about things that other people make songs about. Most rappers talk about the good sides of stuff happening or the positive sides, and I like to talk about the exact opposite side sometimes. Maybe you lose the girl. Maybe you're not taking somebody else's girl. Maybe you're the other guy. That's me.

You just referred to “other rappers” in a broad sense, but I’m curious: At this point in your journey, how would you label yourself musically?

I wouldn't say that I'm necessarily a rapper, but I do like to rap. I'm just an artist. That's what Cudi told me. I'm just an architect of sounds and sometimes clothes. I'm trying to build insane things. I'm trying to build communities, new types of off-grid homes, composting services, and regenerative agriculture. Oh, and a chain of vegan restaurants that are actually good. That's what it's all about.

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We need more vegan restaurants that are actually good. You’re doing the lord’s work. Other than Cudi, who are your other musical inspirations?

Honestly, Tyler, the Creator. That’s my dog right there. I'm just going to leave it at that.

It seems like you're very fluid and open to influence when recording, so how do you know when a song is finished?

You can't really tell. I think it's just a feeling, man. Because it's never really done. It's different for every person but for me, I try to go until it feels like I've done everything that I can do. Bringing in everyone I think fits and we’ve just pushed it as far as we can, that’s the point where I'm like, "All right, cool. It's done now.”

On that note of collaborators, is there anyone specific that you go to for an extra ear on tracks?

I have a whole team of people who have been doing this with me for a long time, with Omarr [Rambert] at the head of that team. It’s really like a family thing for me.

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Let’s talk more about your new single “Roses.” What was the inspiration for this track? There are a lot of emotions and feelings infused into it.

Nature, the changing of the seasons and the times—that was really the inspiration. I just feel like it kind of happened. I got in the studio with my homie Axel one day, and everything just came together. 

Is that how a lot of your music materializes?

I feel like I always have stuff on my mind, thinking about the past, present, and future. It's always within me. I'm always here in Sunset City. I grew up here. All my memories are here. It's all here.

That’s beautiful, man. Alright, let’s wrap up with some quick hitters. What are three words that best describe your style? 

Dusty, rusty, and sunburnt.

Who is your style icon?

Poseidon.

What’s one clothing item or accessory that you take everywhere with you?

My mushroom necklace. My brother gave it to me. 

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What's your favorite meme right now?

I don't go on the internet, man. I just be on this hill. And even when I do go on the internet, I’m still on this hill.

What's something new that you've recently become obsessed with?

Gaudi. He built this church which translates to “The Sacred Family.” It's in Barcelona. He built a bunch of other things, too. He's probably one of the most genius people to have ever walked on the earth.

What's the last piece of advice that you took to heart?

The idea that the practices you do every day are the most impactful thing in your life. It's not about the goal. It’s just about the systems you put into place, and that's it. I got that from James Clear, he wrote the book Atomic Habits. He’s also a genius. 

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What are you trying to communicate with this next musical era? 

I’m just trying to continue the story. That's really what it comes down to. This is a case study of the long-term effects of young love. And I've been doing my own self-reflecting on everything I've gone through in my life. And now, I'm ready to start revealing what I figured out.

Why is right now the time to do it?

Because right now is always the time.

Couldn't have said it better myself. One more question: What else can we expect from you this year? Is there an album coming soon?

What album?

Listen to Jaden’s new single, “Roses” here.

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