Photo credit goes to Jay Kantor.
Multi-talented Los Angeles based artist, Minni Jo, is always working and creating. From acting to dancing to singing, she absolutely does it all. Keep reading to learn more about the artists that have shaped Minni Jo into her own person, her current work, and so much more.
I read that you were actually raised in LA around the entertainment industry, and actually studied the arts for the majority of your life. Can you tell me about some of your experiences?
Too many to count! Haha. It’s been a trip growing up in this town. I’ve always been able to live an artistic life. To learn and be inspired constantly. I’m really grateful. I trained as a ballet and modern dancer from 2 years old until I was 20, and was able to take music lessons and acting lessons my whole life. I was super blessed to attend the LA County High School for the Arts, which connected me to so many other incredible artists from all over LA. We worked out butts off then, and still are. We’re all still so close and creating art, living this life and supporting each other. It’s amazing to see everyone come into their own as artists amongst all the people trying to make it in LA. Haha. We’re still here! And we know all the secret spots and dope views.
Beyond music, you are also an actress with quite a few credits under your belt. What are some things readers may have seen you on? Do you have a favorite role?
I think most people recognize me from my role on Parks and Recreation, which was so rad to be a part of. My favorite role I’ve lived was as Bobbi in The Homes, an indie musical web series directed by John Cabrera. It was honestly my favorite thing I’ve ever worked on. The cast started recording the songs for the series in the studio on the very first day we met, and we then went and shot the series on the road, a lot of it guerrilla style. It was so much fun jumping in like that and working so close together. Bobbi is such a badass, a fiery passionate bassist, raw and read AF, with a super big heart beneath her exterior, a ride or die. I really found myself in Bobbi and I was given the freedom by the director and cast to live truthfully, which is every actor’s dream. I’d reprise that role and work with all those amazing people again in a heartbeat.
Your single “Starlight Babe” is actually the first release from your upcoming series “Made My Bed,” which was all actually written and recorded right in your bedroom. Can you tell me more about this?
I’ve always written songs on my own as a kind of therapy. A spiritual release. I make music because I just have to for my well-being, and for me to understand and work through my own feelings. For years, I would write songs, and then they’d just kind of disappear into the ether because I never had any way of recording them. I guess I kinda finally just realized I didn’t need a producer, or a studio and all the fixings. I didn’t want these songs to just fade into the ether like so many had. I had this moment where I realized I could get a decent mic and record onto my computer. I recorded everything with Garageband! I decided it would be perfectly fine for these songs to be heard by people as they were written. Intimate, raw, imperfect…. Just truth in my expression.
The music video for “Starlight Babe” was also recently released. It features your own choreography, and you even edited it yourself! Do you prefer the DIY approach? How long did it take you to do all of this on your own?
I’m really enjoying the DIY process. I think artists tend to limit themselves because we are so critical of ourselves, and some of us struggle with self doubt. Believing in my own vision and pushing through the challenges has been so incredibly rewarding. I think this is an amazing time to be a female artist because we are collectively realizing our full scope. We are capable of doing so much more than we think. I’m learning a lot. The video was shot over a day with my dear friend Charlie Howard at Polaris Studios in Las Vegas. I was there on a trip with my mom and sister to support my niece’s soccer tournament. I hit him up asking if he wanted to collaborate with me, and he was down! We just vibed on it, he saw and felt my vision and did a great job with the lighting and camera work, so it was chill for me to direct it considering it was just me and him. I think it took me like 4 days to edit. It’s the first video I’ve edited. I was a little intimidated, but the editing process is actually really fun! Hard to say how long the whole process actually took. Ideas can sometimes float around abstractly in my mind for a long time before they eventually come to fruition. Haha
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? Which artists really shaped you into who you are today?
I’ve got an eclectic taste in music, and love everything from jazz to metal to new age, to classical. I grew up listening to a lot of jazz standards that my dad played on the piano and I would sing along. So those were some of the first songs I learned to sing. I’ve always loved bold and unique vocalists. Those unafraid to use their voice in unconventional ways, which was also a big thing with the alternative stuff of the 90’s. Ella Fitzgerald, Bjork, Alanis Morisette, Kate Bush… those are some of my big female vocalist influences. But honestly, nobody has influenced me more that David Bowie. I’m a huge Bowie fan, and I don’t think I would be the artist I am without his influence. I look up to him a lot. His voice is the ultimate, there’s no better voice in my opinion, so unique and able to express so fully. And he’s a musical genius. It blows my mind how well he was able to be so uniquely himself, and still be so palatable for the world to receive him decade after decade. That’s an insane talent. We are all benefiting from what he brought to this world, whether you realize it or not. Long live Bowie!
Do you have and tours or live shows coming up?
I’m playing a couple festivals coming up this Spring. Serenity Gathering in April and Lightning in a Bottle in May. Both really awesome festivals that I’m so stoked to be a part of. I’d love to jump on a tour at some point this year as an opening act for someone. I’ve done the West Coast festival thing, but I’ve never gone on a national tour proper, and I’m itching to have that experience. We’ll see what happens! I’ve also got a few collaborations with other artists brewing. I love to collaborate as a vocalist. If I’m not on tour in August/September, you can catch me doing my thing at Burning Man.
What are your goals as an artist, both in music and acting?
My goals as an artist are kinda abstract and esoteric. It’s hard to put into words, but I want to be truthful, I want to be spiritual, I want to be a channel. My ultimate goal as a human is to adopt children. I also want to be a philanthropist and advocate for bringing art and abundance to those who might not be born with that privilege. I think the whole reason we are here on this beautiful planet is to create, to play, to love and experience life in an artistic way. I want to get to a successful place as an artist where I can support those children and give them the most full life. I want to support my community, so I don’t care how long it takes. That’s the goal, and I’m never going to stop. I gotta be true to myself because that’s the world I want to live in. A world where we can be accepted and loved and flourishing because of who we are.