What comes to mind when you think about Gen Z? TikTok is a good place to start. You know who else was raised by the internet? Nineteen-year-old singer, songwriter and actress Jannine Weigel. Her trajectory to fame is similar to that of a lot of young artists — by covering songs on YouTube, which eventually got her a recording contract to let her make her own music. Jannine has since then released multiple EPs both in English and Thai (she speaks a total of five languages!) and several singles including Words — a self-empowerment anthem she wrote when she was just 16. She is currently signed to Universal Music Singapore and has plans to release more music, including a collaboration with Filipino pop/R&B band BRWN. Jannine takes prides in writing her own songs, a passion she’s had since she was younger. Young STAR sat down with Jannine when she was in Manila to perform at the first Asian Nickelodeon Slimefest held last Sept. 28. We talked about her rise to fame, her influences and her creative process.
YOUNG STAR: Can you tell us how you started with music?
JANNINE WEIGEL: I grew up in Germany and I lived there for 10 years. My mom taught me music ever since I was little. I’ve always had the dream to become a singer, and I never really thought I’d get the opportunity to be one until I moved to Thailand when I was 10. I started as an actress. I would just kind of walk around behind the actors as an extra. (Laughs) I also went to a lot of beauty pageants. (When) I turned 12, I decided to join a singing competition and that sparked my interest to become a professional singer. After that, I got signed to a record label in Thailand and started my YouTube channel.
Who are your influences growing up?
When I was in Germany, I was heavily influenced by Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears because my mom was a fan. When I moved to Thailand, I started to really like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift, who is my number one influence right now because she inspires me to write my own music.
What was it like transitioning from covering songs to writing your own music?
I still do covers, but not as much as before. I’ve always wanted to do my own music, but I knew that if I started with that, no one would listen because no one knew who I was. I released my first Thai single when I was 15. I once released an EP in English but I didn’t get support to do English music until I met with Universal Music Singapore.
Your single, Words, has a powerful message. How did this song come about?
I wrote this song at a songwriting camp in Berlin two years ago. At the time I was facing a lot of backlash, mainly on Twitter. People talked about the way my voice sounded, (which is) something that I couldn’t change. People were bashing me and saying that I was overrated. Yeah, that really kind of hurt my feelings, to be honest, because I was just 16 years old at the time. But that’s also when I got the inspiration. I was with a lot of songwriters (at the camp) so I told them the story and we just began writing and (creating) melody. Before I released the song, I felt like there was something missing. I added the rap part later on but I wasn’t sure because I’ve never rapped before. I’ve never written my own rap and I didn’t have anyone to help me, but I kind of just went for it. Now we’re here.
Jannine Weigel performed in Manila for the first time during the first Asian Nickelodeon Slimefest last Sept. 28.
How do you come up with songs and video ideas?
I feel like (it’s inspired by) what I’m going through at the time. For the music videos, when I hear the song, I just start imagining how the video’s gonna be. I always go on Pinterest and try to find inspiration. I would create tons of boards and just pin it and see what fits. I base (the output) around those boards because I already have an idea, I just want to see it visually.
Do you have any advice to fellow young artists who want to write their own music?
I think they should just go for it because if you let your fear (get to you), you’ll never get to do it. Don’t think about it (so much). And don’t be afraid if it’s not so good in the beginning because songwriting takes a lot of practice. My first song wasn’t that good as well. (Laughs) I’ve written a lot of songs but I have only released like one or two that I’ve written by myself. You don’t need to pressure yourself to write a hit or something — just write. You just need to try.
Follow @jannineweigel on Instagram and stream Jannine’s music on youtube.com/user/JanninaW.