Jas Fly has been a G in the digital world for years. Recently she’s stepped into the national spotlight and proven herself as a force to be reckoned with in the fields of journalism, online marketing and even reality TV (VH1’s “The Gossip Game”). From her inspiring and thought-provoking social media presence to her top secret work consulting some of the industry’s biggest players on how to get the online game right, she is the perfect example of what it means to be an OG in 2014. Young G’z, take notes!
words by @GeedorahKing
Mechanical Dummy: One reason we really wanted to talk to you is because you basically turned an internet persona into a career which is something a lot of young people right now are trying to figure out how to do, do you think that’s an accurate description of your career?
Jas Fly: I see why it looks that way, but that’s not the goal. I’m a writer, I’ve been a writer, I was up until 7:30 this morning writing. It’s what I do and who I am. We’re in a climate where in order to sell my writing I have to have equity in my name. So really, all that—the Internet persona, the television show—they’re just commercials to help sell what I do, and I write.
MD: Will you go through all the hustles that you have, that are allowing you to afford to focus on your passion?
J: Writing is viable in many different ways, that’s what’s so dope about it. Whether I interview someone—which I’m getting ready to do tomorrow, I’m writing blog posts, or writing a bio—writing is writing. It still is a skill. You can apply it in many different ways. Having worked with designers and worked with artists, I’m able to understand the digital climate better than the average person and that’s a marketing tool.
MD: You help artists with their web brands, what is the process of that? Do they come to you and you say, “do this” or is it collaboration?
J: Every artist is different and every campaign is different. 99.9% of the artists that come to me established or new, I say no because I never want to kill a dream. If I feel like its not going to happen or I feel like I’m not the person for it, I may tell them I can’t help them or I’ll refer them to someone else. Every artist is different and every situation is different. Usually it starts through the music. That’s going to tell you everything about the campaign. For an artist, what it comes down to is the music.
MD: A popular phrase is that “Twitter isn’t real life,” but I think you’re proof that you can use it to help in your real life, how do you feel about that, and Twitter as a tool?
J: I’m one of those people who never want to believe Twitter is real, and what I mean by that is anything that shows you a glimpse of someone’s life, just a glimpse, shouldn’t be considered real because it is showing things completely out of context. 90% of the tweets I put out there are completely without context. You have no idea what is happening at the time I’m tweeting it. It can be applied to 3 or 4 different things. If you believe that that’s real, if you buy into that, you’re going to make assumptions and judgments based off of something that you know nothing about and that’s dangerous. I never want to buy into that. Do I use it to my advantage? Absolutely, but the trick is understanding that even though Twitter is not real, the people behind Twitter are very much real. If I tweeted that I’m in an interview right now, they don’t know if I’m interviewing or being interviewed, where I am or who I’m with. See what I’m saying? So you can’t base anything off of that tweet. What I can base off of it is, “What else do I know about that person?” You can put together a snapshot of that person. When you deal with people, instead of circumstance, instead of brands. It’s hard because brands and circumstances change, but your relationship with people will endure. It will take you to some magical places.
MD: What do you like about Tumblr? Why is it something you’ve stuck with?
J: I had a (traditional) site from 2007-2011. I’m very proud of it. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just knew that I missed writing and wanted to be in that space. In the beginning it was really all for me and then, in a matter of three years, I built it to a steady stream of traffic and it was a revenue source. It became different. It became about what the readers wanted to read and not about what I actually wanted to say. In fact, towards the end, I wasn’t even writing at all. I had a writer. It was this thing that didn’t feel like me. It was really a lot of work. So when I was trying to figure out where I could speak freely, just to put my thoughts out there, I didn’t want another site. I have to consider the audience, I don’t have to change for the audience, but I do have to consider the audience. I didn’t want something that could be monetized. During the show everyone kept pressing me to do a site but I didn’t want that. Tumblr was always something that was there that was a tool. I would probably use it more if they had a better app, but for me Tumblr’s perfect. When I have something to say, I throw it up there. But one day I’ll probably do another site.
MD: What is your ultimate goal with writing, do you just want to speak on culture or something bigger?
J: I’m actually trying to do something bigger. I’m not very big on publicizing my goals, because it’s something for me. I feel like you have to keep some things private in order to keep them sacred. The moment you put them out there, you’re opening it up for someone else’s opinion and I don’t need that. The goal is definitely to take things much bigger. I’m working on several things right now that have just taken a life of their own. Also, I do have a book I’m supposed to be finishing that’s a collection of essays and open letters to myself at different points in my twenties, which is called “Dear Twenties”—Its kind of a how to survive guide.
MD: Congratulations. As an OG and someone who has already realized part of their dreams, what advice would you give to a Young Geniuz, or a young Jas Fly, about getting to where you’ve gotten and maintaining your sanity and your spirit?
J: You aren’t going to know who you are if you don’t lose yourself. I think where I’ve made the mistake being young in this business, I started at 19, and I always laugh when people think I started in the blogosphere because I actually started in film and TV. When I started my blog, I’d been in this business for 9 1/2 years. I think the thing to remember is that you have to make mistakes, you have to be the bad guy, you have to fuck up, you have to make poor decisions, you have to reap the consequences of those poor decisions, you have to be the devil before you can know and appreciate what it is to be the angel. All of those things helped me figure out who I was, and sometimes the best way to figure out who you are—is to figure out who you aren’t. I learned to maintain my sanity by going insane, by being risky, by taking chances. Test your own limits because that is the only way you are going to know who you are and what you are truly made of. If you pay attention to the real world, you will get all the answers that you need.
MD: That’s real.
J: Once you go crazy, that’s when the fun starts because you’re breaking down all of the walls that boxed you in. The walls are coming down. Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and everyone thinks Shiva is a bad god but when you think about it, destruction is the forested to revelation. You have to tear down what is old in order to make room for the new. So Shiva really is a great god. We all try to avoid destruction, when, in fact, sometimes we have to embrace it… If you have a vision and you have a plan and you’re consistent and persistent, you will get there. And you will get to place you never even considered.