When Jaz Elise walked through the lobby of The Jamaica Pegasus hotel for her One Bag Ah Tings interview, you could already get a good sense of her style. Sporting a gigantic Afro, a sleek, snakeskin bodycon dress and a pair of white sneakers, the young reggae singer wasn’t hard to miss. With her white knapsack slung across her shoulder, her whole aura screamed confidence and comfort. And why wouldn’t it? After all, she did sing Fresh and Clean. But as she got settled and began revealing her bag’s contents, one could see just how much her personality influenced her sense of style. If easy-going were a person, it would be Jaz Elise. She could write a book on how to take things as they come, and is the epitome of ‘calm, cool and collected’.
Speaking of books, those were the first items to come out of Jaz Elise’s knapsack. But they weren’t just any ordinary reading material. No. They were edifying self-help books from one of her favourite authors, Don Miguel Ruiz. According to Jaz Elise, she didn’t really love reading until she was old enough to decide what she was feeding her mind. “I don’t know everything, and reading is just my way of learning. I like to just walk with my books because I love reading. I didn’t like it so much because of school, because I wasn’t a curriculum reader. I loved reading materials weh me coulda choose and not what was on a booklist,” she said.
She said her love for reading came through the ability to make her own choices. “You have to determine for yourself what you want to feed your mind, and so when I could do that, I loved reading.” She continued, “These books I am reading now, The Mastery of Love and The Mastery of Self, are from the same author, who I have just been so impressed by. I am all about self-improvement, and this writer’s works help to facilitate that.”
For Jaz Elise, what she loves about The Mastery of Love is that it’s about all types of love. “Mastery of Love is not what it seems, because it’s not just about a man-and-woman love, it’s about how we perceive love and what it means to us and why we behave the way we do.” As an avid reader, Jaz Elise also ensures she has her ‘extra’ pair of eyes at all times. Taking her reading glasses out of her bag, the singer said she seldom goes anywhere without them. “I need those all the time! I have contacts that I wear, too, like for shows and stuff that requires you to move a lot. But when I don’t have those, I have my glasses. They are essentials.” Next up was her iPhone charger. Holding up the item, the entertainer said, “If yuh have an iPhone, you know how dis go. You can’t go anywhere without your charger.”
Stepping away from what is considered the usual necessities, Jaz Elise popped out a weird item from her bag. Unfolding a white plastic bag, she proceeded to whisper, “Don’t judge me” before revealing some gardening seeds. When quizzed why she had the scallion and lettuce seeds in her bag, the artiste said, “I don’t really know why but I just do. I wish I could say they haven’t been in my bag for the past few months, but they have,” she said, with a laugh. “I have a home garden. I love planting. Is one of those things that I said, when I started living on my own, I would do. I tried sweet pepper and lettuce, and it worked. Mi say, alrite mi have a likkle green thumb, and so I just continued.”
From seeds, Jaz Elise moved to ChapSticks and said those, too, were essentials for her because, of course, “nobody wants chappy lips”. There were a pair of headphones and some other female essentials, including a pack of Panadols for cramps, when that time of the month rolls around. But the item that brought the most bewilderment and, at the same time, unspeakable joy was a letter written by a younger Jaz Elise. It was a note written to her mother about stepping into maturity and all the responsibilities that came with it. Along with the note was a passport picture of an eight-year-old Jaz. Smiling, she said, ‘You know how long this has been in my bag? I forgot all about it. I went to visit my mother a while back, and she was giving me some stuff she found. She gave me this letter I wrote to her about becoming mature, and this passport picture. Wow, what a memory,” she said.
Other items that are high up on her list of daily must-haves are incense, and Palo Santo sticks. Pulling out a pack of lavender-scented incense and a very used Palo Santo stick, the singer revealed that she was very serious about clearing all negative energy within her path. “These are a part of my routine. I think I have a little mental health, peace and solitude thing to maintain about me. If I am going to do something – interviews, shows, studios — I would just kinda cleanse whatever has been on my mind and just get rid of any negative energy. To be honest, me about fi just buss and light one right now, just because,” she said, also taking out her lighter. This is a big part of why I am always so calm. It sets the mood, the pace and just the aura I want to be around. When you light it, it gives a very peaceful, calming aroma.”