Interview: Jade Hassouné Talks ‘Shadowhunters’ Fandom And His Upcoming Debut EP

Shadowhunters star Jade Hassouné is primed to take the music industry by storm.

Under the name J4DE, the Lebanese-Canadian star is gearing up to launch his highly anticipated EP, Love Letter To A Fandom, later this year. With a range of musical styles on display, this debut EP will share the emotional ups-and-downs he has faced while on-tour meeting the Shadowhunters fandom and seeing the world.

Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge caught up with Jade to chat about the inspiration behind his music, wrestling with social media, creative freedom, and much more.

Q: I understand your new song, ‘Insta Story’, was inspired by a meet-and-greet tour you had almost a year ago. Can you expand on that and the emotions that went into this track?

A: Yes! The story is actually from a heartbreak that happened outside of the meet-and-greet days. It was on my travels right after the last meet-and-greet where I met another artist at a film festival. I became very attached to this person, and even though love was there, that person didn’t feel the same way in the end. We also live on different continents.

Seeing this person’s posts on social media and the Instagram stories where they clearly were okay without me hurt me a lot. I couldn’t stop watching them though. I took this feeling with me back home, and one summer night in August 2018 I realised that I had to set myself free, to take my power back, without hate, without resentment. I want to let people be who they are, and so I applied that to this person. And writing this song was a sort of call to self-empowerment.

I knew I had to stop looking at the Instagram posts so that I could feel better, I had to forget what we had, and let go of our memories, with love. And in order to feel better, I had to stop thinking about us, I had to focus my mind in a different way, and stop looking at what I don’t have. Even though I still clicked and watched the stories, ahaha!

Q: One of the lyrics reads: “I’m not gonna click on your icon to watch your story, cause I know it’s gonna hurt me”. I think almost everyone who uses Instagram will relate to that feeling. Has putting together this song made you reassess your relationship with social media?

A: Yes! I’m so glad to hear comments like this one! I was so happy to have been inspired to create something that we can all relate to.

And absolutely, I have always been conscious of the feeling of “missing out” or of comparing our lives with lives of others as we perceive them on social media. But sometimes it’s stronger than us and we want to be ‘in the know’ or connected to the people we know and we can’t help but compare ourselves or feel less cool than them, and when romantic feelings are involved it’s even worse! Especially when you want someone to feel for you or put you first but you see that they are just as good without you.

It made me realise that this is self-torture when we are not ‘aligned’ or okay with ourselves. So I discovered a new way to navigate social-media platforms, I usually focus myself in a good state of mind BEFORE I dip into Instagram. When I feel good in my own mind/heart, then watching other people have fun (with or without me) adds joy into my life, and when I feel ‘off’ , it just adds to my off-ness. This is a very valuable lesson that I take with me everywhere, as long as I am well and satisfied with myself and my life, I can navigate the world just fine, no matter what others are or are not doing.

Q: I cannot begin to imagine how much ‘Shadowhunters’ and the fandom have transformed your life, but I imagine your EP ‘Love Letter To A Fandom’ will give us tons of insight. How have you coped with this wild ride of playing Meliorn and now seeing the show live on through its fandom?

A: I have been lifted to a place that has always been a teenage dream of mine, but I never imagined the ocean of love that was going to come with this dream. It has been somewhat easy because I had the support of my cast mates where we have experienced this wild-ride together. The fandom is so loving and supportive that it made me feel supported and confident throughout the entire journey.

My EP will share some of those experiences.

Q: I recently asked Sydney Meyer what her lasting memory of filming ‘Shadowhunters’ would be. What will be yours?

A: Well, I am sitting in Brussels right now, the day before our first 2019 Shadowhunters Summer Convention. And so it’s still very real and very present. My last memory before today is watching the finale in LA with my cast mates and screaming and laughing at the fun show we created together!

Q: ‘Love Letter To A Fandom’ explores a plethora of styles, including dance, tropical pop, and trap. Can you talk about the experience of finding the sound for this EP and working with Montreal producer/long-time friend DLN?

A: Yes! We tried different styles that we liked in the moment of writing each song. There were a wide variety of inspirations that we were listening to during the creation of each track. The process was very intuitive and ‘in the moment’, it was more at the end that we realised how different each track was. We are excited to see which song does best and what styles the fans love more.

The sound came from how I heard each song in my head, and then exploring the different possibilities of bringing those “visions” to life. Some mistakes gave us new insights, some golden ideas came out of mistakes. It was very fluid and continues to be this way. I think we will be honing our sound the more we create songs and the more feedback we hear from the response will also make us find our sound and “product” so to speak. The different musical styles are all under the umbrella of “Pop” music, which really takes on many forms.

Q: I read that you grew up surrounded by musical influences, including your piano playing mother. What are some of your memories of being raised around music and falling in love with it?

A: Sitting next to my mother as she played piano and day-dreaming what my life could be. Getting teary-eyed and touched by the beauty of music or the talent that my mother exudes. I remember her playing us some of her favourite “Yanni” compositions and feeling all the emotions flow out of me. It made me feel happy and sad and hopeful all at once. It fed me with dreams and made me believe that I could also do the same one day.

Q: You take up the name J4DE for your music work. What is the difference between Jade and J4DE? Do you take on a different persona?

A: I love this question. Yes, absolutely. J4DE is his own being. I can look and sound whichever way I want to look or sound. It is a persona that allows me to explore different aspects of myself, ever-changing, ever-becoming. It is the artist spirit, the music and art being that expresses in infinite ways. It is the four elements blended with the 5th: the infinite creative spirit of art and the life-force of the universe, which is the core of who we all are.

It is a freedom from having to look a certain way, it is a rebellion from the norm. It’s a way for me to explore who I am without limitations. I have full creative control over this entity and my image doesn’t belong to anyone but me.

Q: The ‘Shadowhunters’ fandom have allowed you to travel all over the the world. Where would be your dream location/setting to perform your music in future?

A: I would love to perform near a beach, at an outdoor festival. I’d love to perform in all the countries I have been so far with the Shadowhunters convention. I want to continue the relationship I’ve built with the fandom and go even further.

Q: Is there anything else we should look out for in your debut EP ‘Love Letters to a Fandom’? What can we expect from J4DE in the coming months and years?

A: My next single will be released in July! I cannot wait, it’s my favourite song on the EP. It’s also the newest one I’ve written. It’s all about being yourself unapologetically and hearing criticism but not letting it take you down, it’s about moving forward with your art no matter what people say about you! It’s called To The Next!

I’m also about to launch my Patreon subscription platform where fans will be able to sign up to receive episodes of a series I created that shows my process and transformation from Jade to J4DE. They will have an inside look at my life and follow me on my journey as an on-going episodic series.

There will be online meet-and-greets that will eventually become in person meetings, events and concerts. They’ll get first access to merch, VIP tickets to events, hear new tracks, look into my note book, hear my voice demos of when I first wrote songs and much, much more! Stay tuned to my launch on my social media platforms.

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