"That the group didn’t necessarily reflect who we are as individuals," Jauregui says of launching her solo career after Fifth Harmony
Just call her “Miss Movin’ On.”
The track — a lovesick R&B slow-burner that showcases her stunning, smoky vocals over retro guitar licks — is the first Jauregui has released as a solo artist since Fifth Harmony disbanded in May, six years after the girl group formed on The X Factor.
PEOPLE caught up with the 22-year-old Miami native about going solo, her relationship with her bandmates today — and becoming puppy parents with boyfriend Ty Dolla $ign!
Congrats on “Expectations”! It’s very you.
It’s all me. I sound like me — you just finally get to hear me!
How did you go about finding your voice and your sound?
I did it really organically. I would just go into a studio with whatever producer it was I was working with that day and I have a lot of guitar influence, because I love guitar and vocals. And then we would start off with an acoustic or electric guitar going and then build on it to different places. I have a lot of hip-hop and alternative influences as well, so drums are really important, bass is really important. That’s usually is what inspires me to come up with lyrics; I kind of go based on what the music makes me feel, sonically, to figure out what I want my concept to be.
What vibe are you going for on your album?
Smoky quartz angel. I’ve literally put the vibe into a description! It’s very soulful-oriented. It’s got different elements of what inspired me growing up. I’m very inspired by ’90s R&B and pop divas, like Beyonce and Pink and Rihanna and Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Whitney, Etta James. Those women who really shaped this energy. There’s just been so many artists who have spoken their truth through their music and given their soul.
How is your songwriting process different now, as opposed to when you were in a group?
It’s completely different [laughs]. When you’re in a group, of course, it’s the group’s image and the group’s perspective on music, which isn’t necessarily individual. I can speak for all the girls, I feel like, when I say that — that the group didn’t necessarily reflect who we are as individuals. So this process has been incredibly different. First of all, I’m part of it, so that’s great [laughs] and I’m doing it. I’m just getting to explore that musicality inside of me and figuring out who it is that I really am. It’s been a healing process.
When did you start working on solo material? Had you started playing around with any lyrics or songs while you were still in Fifth Harmony?
When [Fifth Harmony] ended, I was like, “Wow, I’m free.” And that kind of set off this whole inspiration in me that hadn’t been there before to write. I wasn’t inspired. And I’m personally so connected to myself emotionally, if I feel blocked or stifled or I’m not being myself or I can’t be myself, then I can’t create. I actually thought that I couldn’t create anymore, which is the craziest part. That’s how off I was, you feel me?
I was in Thailand when we spoke on the phone and decided that we were moving forward individually, and we had a respectful conversation; it was really beautiful. We all just kind of understood. It was so amazing. That feeling of, it’s all good and we’re good — it opened my heart up to my creativity again. I just felt inspired by everything around me, and I was like, “I need to get in a studio. Why am I not writing?”
I’m sure you learned a lot being in the group though; it was like pop star bootcamp.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s like the college that I paid for in years, I paid for in time.
With all the success you had in Fifth Harmony, do you feel pressure now that you’re reintroducing yourself as a solo artist?
I did. At the beginning. I was in this place of just the trickling little thoughts of comparison because the internet is — they’re always going to try to paint this narrative of women vs. women. We all can expect it at this point. I did feel a little bit of pressure in the beginning. But what I’ve learned in the process of this writing is that everyone else’s voice needs to be silent in order for me to create. I can only genuinely when I’m coming from my voice and when I’m speaking from my soul. I just need people to feel the soul that I put into it and connect with it in whatever way they do. That’s what art used to mean. Before the whirlwind of fame.
You can lose yourself in it and forget why you got into it in the first place.
Yeah, you lose touch with the reason why you love music. Because everyone tells you what it’s supposed to mean to you. Especially being in a group: “This is what’s gonna sell you.” But, nah! I know me. I’m gonna sell me because I’m gonna be me. But I don’t even want to sell me! I just want people to receive me. That’s my goal, more than anything.
I’m sure, the longer you’re in a group, the less feasible it is as you grow up…
Exactly. And it’s just like, in terms of the organic-ness: Of course we all wanted to be individual because we all are our own artists, and we all have our own visions for our futures and for our art and what comes from our hearts. It’s inevitable that at some point, that’s gonna be important to fulfill.
Are you still in touch with any of the other girls?
I mean, roughly, yeah. We’re all kind of in our own space right now, which I totally respect. We were in each other’s faces for years.
You just got a French Bulldog puppy! Was that planned or an impulsive purchase?
Impulse, for sure!
Ty was kinda like, “I saw these puppies, and they’re adorable, and I want one. Do you want one?” And I was like, “I mean they’re super cute — but are you sure you want a puppy?” Then he sent me a picture of four of them and was like, “They’re gonna pull up to the studio!” We were at the studio, and this guy brought like four different puppies, and she was one of the four puppies. She just came over to me and looked at me and put her paw on my leg. I picked her up and put her in my lap, and she just slept in my lap the entire time we were there. I was like, “This bitch! This is my bitch!”
That’s a big step! You guys are parents together now.
We really are; we’re parents. He’s a great puppy father, and I am a great puppy mother.