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Meet Jordi Polycarpe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jordi Polycarpe.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jordi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’m from a little town in Queens, NY called Rosedale, and I’ve lived there my entire life before I came to Miami for college in 2018. I’ve been writing music since I was eight years old. Most people think I’m exaggerating when I say that, or that I probably was just writing dumb little things, but picture me, a 3rd grader in Catholic school, writing songs that sounded like Paramore (and that’s O.G. red-haired Hayley Williams, not pink-hair-and-bangs Hayley for those who know), feeling a little disconnected. That’s what I consider my jumping-off point, but my mom swears I was humming the lullabies she used to sing to me back to her by the time I was a few months old.

Music, for me, was one of those things you have in your life that’s just screaming at you to pay attention to it, but it takes you forever to notice it. I was constantly writing, I had been taking piano lessons since I was three, picked up guitar at 14, producing on Garageband at 15, and singing the whole time, but I was operating under the assumption that I could never actually pursue it. It wasn’t until my high school music composition teacher pushed me to apply for a high school program at NYU that I even knew I could go to college for music. 1 EP and three singles later, here I am, at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, doing what I love with a passion and a fury to say the least.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I am the daughter of very strong-willed Haitian parents, which is definitely something I am infinitely grateful for, but as is the case with Caribbean diaspora kids, you’re expected to pick something with a set path: medicine, law, things like that. So I think that stopped me from being able to take myself seriously and really let myself develop as an artist earlier on.

I’ve always been a very sensitive person to put it kindly. Anxiety, depression, and body image issues definitely played a really big part in that as well for most of my childhood, and even still now. I had so much self-doubt, and I think that’s the number one killer of dreams. It’s hard when you don’t see a lot of people who look like you, making music like you, but it took me a long time to realize that being unique was an asset. I felt underdeveloped, untalented, and naive to even be trying to pursue this, but when it really comes down to it, I know in my heart that this is what I’m meant to do. It’s hard enough being a black, queer woman, that’s like a triple threat to mainstream America, but I also think we’re some of the most resilient people. My identities and my struggles along the way have made me stronger and definitely shaped who I am today, and what I write about.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I write alternative R&B/pop music. That’s what I’m calling it right now because I think I dabble across genres, but sometimes as a young black musician, that’s the easiest thing to say that’ll make you marketable. So, let’s go with that one. I am a songwriter, first and foremost, and a producer second. Singing just comes with the territory. I think that’s the main thing that sets me apart from my peers and from other serious musicians. Sometimes I come across producers who have no concept of song structure whatsoever, but they know how to create a soundscape. Some singers and rappers are so talented but they really have nothing to say, and you can tell. I’ve figured out how to bridge that gap from a very young age with authenticity. I’m self-sufficient, and stubborn, like the Taurus I am, but I also know how to put all of my talents together to make a cohesive product.

So the singer in me makes vocal stacks galore, every song has layers upon layers of background vocals and harmonies because I’m extra. I also have synesthesia, so when you pair that with music production, I’m just trying to make you see what I see; it’s like stepping into a room of my brain, full of lights and colors, sounds and sensations. That’s the goal for me. And the writer in me honestly just wants to be understood. I think I have a lot to say, and now that I’m 20, I’m definitely not scared to say it anymore.

I released an EP in 2018 called “Sharks & Minnows” that I made entirely using GarageBand on my iPhone and a pair of Apple earbuds, people are still surprised when I tell them that. I also released a single called “Bad Ways’ this past March 2020 that’s gonna be on my upcoming album which is still in the works, and I released a single with my good friends Jonny Rose and Andre Mez called “Nu Skin.” All of my older demos and covers are up on my Soundcloud, but there’s definitely more music coming very soon!

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I think one of the memories that sticks out to me is from when I was maybe 8 or 9. My best friend, who I’ve known since we were in kindergarten, used to ride on the same bus as me for a few years in elementary school. My older sister used to let me borrow her little dark purple iPod Nano sometimes because I liked listening to music on the bus, which is probably one of the main reasons my music today sounds how it does. So this girl and I used to share headphones and listen to my sister’s music, which was basically just a lot of Paramore and “Kiss Kiss” by Chris Brown on replay. Sometimes she and I would unbuckle our seatbelts when the bus driver wasn’t looking, turn around, so our feet were against the back of the seat, and hang off of it upside down (do not try this at home kids). We definitely got yelled at for it and stopped doing it, but she and I are still best friends 15 years later. She’s definitely one of the people in my life I feel the most myself around.

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Image Credit:
Jamaya Purdie, Ava Solomon, Alia Coy-Smith, Mercer Winer

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