by Ryan Meehan
For Jenna Scott, music started out as a deeply personal thing. After years of writing and studying, observing and documenting, you may say it was fate that took her passion for music to the next level when Jenna’s piano teacher stumbled upon a set of her unfinished lyrics. Enthusiastic about Jenna’s work, her teacher opened the door for Jenna to a world of musicians and producers who helped revolutionize the young quirky girl’s sound. Now as a twenty-something, Jenna has defined herself as an artist with true soul. Her sound has unfolded into a beautifully classy and a little bit sassy style inspired by the charming decadence of life and her own darling nature. Influenced by the greatness of Amy Winehouse, Elvis, Nancy Sinatra, and more contemporary artists like Tame Impala, Jenna creates uniquely soulful songs blended with a flare remnant of 60’s pop. Jenna’s messages come from her life experiences as well as her take on self-worth: there’s no one better to be than yourself. The colorful way Jenna experiences life is evident in her songwriting, youthful yet wise, playful yet powerful. I am delighted to have Jenna Scott as my guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What was the first live show that you witnessed that began your love affair with the performance arts? Looking back on it now, was there anything that you didn’t fully appreciate about that experience at the time but stuck in your subconscious mind as having a lasting effect on you as an artist?
JS: Probably my very first! It was a Norah Jones concert. I must’ve been in first or second grade, so let’s say circa 2003? I went with my two friends and one of their moms. I remember not having much of a clue as to who she was- but we nonetheless put plenty of thought into the matching cartoon tiger shirts we wore, featuring a most likely horribly embarrassing slogan. It was also the first time we saw people French kiss. We thought it looked unpleasant. While I by then had already associated a lot of happy feelings with sound, I think the purity and potency of experiencing music in person completely broadened the scope of understanding I had of what it was and could be. The energy, the connectivity to the moment, the joy that was collectively being felt was divinely otherworldly. I would like to think that something stuck from it, perhaps the notion that creation in any form should be sincere, and in some way singular to the creator.
RM: Do you feel an increased amount of pressure working in a place like Nashville as an artist who writes a lot of bluesy pop music, given that the city is well known for its country roots?
JS: I suppose somewhat. Though as a person I’m naturally quite eccentric and zany, so feeling foreign is not a foreign feeling for me (holy tongue twister). I think embracing and celebrating individuality has become a very powerful element of my life experience, so in that respect I am completely happy to be a bluesy branch stemming off from the country roots. Though I genuinely feel like Nashville is quite quickly diversifying both in the music and in the musicians that it houses, and that it will only continue to do so into the future. It’s really a matter of feeling confident in my space within it all.
RM: How did you originally come to work with Swift Technique, and is that a band that you are still currently collaborating with?
JS: Nothing is currently in the works- though they are an exceedingly talented group of gentlemen, it would be foolish of me to not remain open (and hopeful) to the idea of cooking something up with them in the future. I originally was connected to them through my dad, actually. He played saxophone around Philly in the 80s, and during that time befriended Jay (Davidson, keys player of Swift Technique). I can’t recall the exact exchange of communication, but the end result was an invitation to fly out and perform with them. It was more or less my first live show, so having the opportunity to have such a brilliant band behind me was an incredible privilege.
RM: How would you best describe your writing style when it comes to constructing songs from a single hook or lyric into whole verses or phrases that will eventually become a finished product?
JS: Usually a starting melody and line pops into my brain and I take it from there- the next step being discovering a theme and a naturalness in its evolvement. How this happens is dependent. Sometimes a song is nearly done in fifteen minutes, sometimes a verse sits for ages until the right thought attaches itself to it. Though I to a fault begin at the top and end at the bottom. I’m a serial editor, so it’s easier for me to know when to stop this way. It’s very important to me that my music is effective whether read or heard. There seems to be somewhat of a lack of lyrical prominence in modern pop music, so when I write continually ask myself what it is I have to say, and whether or not I’m fully saying it.
RM: In late February you did a show at a pizza parlor…How important is bringing live music to unconventional venues not normally associated with that medium going to be heading into the future? Do you feel that the access to free entertainment on sites like YouTube is doing any sort of harm to the industry of live music as a whole?
JS: Heading into future, I would hope quite important. Especially in a place like Nashville that’s so saturated in talent, having more and more platforms for people to share/develop/experiment with that talent on would only be of benefit in my opinion. That sentiment somewhat ties into the following question- I think above all it should be encouraged that music be both made widely available and appreciated as something of substance. There is absolutely no comparison between going to see a show and watching bits of it online the next day. Half of the magic of live music is the vivacity of the environment, the element of not being able to personalize or control the experience, but allowing it to be as it is, to be present, to surprise you. YouTube will never give you that. So I suppose I don’t see it as very threatening in that regard. If anything, in the pursuit of making music as accessible as it can be, YouTube creates the possibility for those unable to experience a concert in full effect (whether that be due to location, finances, etc.) to still have a taste of it. I think that’s better than nothing at all.
RM: Which song of yours are you most proud of and why? Is the pride associated with that track based on the subject matter of the lyrics, or the composition of the song itself?
JS: I’m terrible with favorites, and I’m similarly terrible with having copious amounts of musical satisfaction, but if I had to pick one off of the top of my head, maybe “Lately?” I wrote most of it on my iPhone notes in a hotel shower at four A.M. while dropping my brother off at college. It encapsulates a lot of feelings for me: of shifting realities, of paradoxically becoming myself yet still not completely knowing myself. I think most songs typically have to do with romantic relationships (or lack thereof), and I liked that this came out based more on the oddity of living, sort of spiritual liberation. It also contains some psychedelic elements that I hadn’t before experimented with within my own music. There’s something very attractive to me about newness and the awareness of adaption.
RM: For you, what’s the most rewarding part of being a musician? In other words, at the end of the day what is the one thing that makes all of the travelling and hard work so worthwhile?
JS: I think that when you have a sincere love for something, it’s hard to perceive it as exceedingly laborious. While there are moments the musical elements of my life render me a bit worn out or creatively drained, my emotional response to those moments is never to stray away from waking up and doing it again. I think whatever brings us satisfaction out of the plethora of things that could bring us satisfaction in our lives must be to some degree engrained into our being, part of our nature. I have heard it said before that you sort of have to be unaccepting or incapable of doing anything else to intentionally seek out being in the music industry (or just crazy). I would hope the former is true for me, but I suppose I can’t rule anything out. Also since I can be somewhat internal, and it’s all still quite new to me, it’s been really fascinating to see how people react to my song babies. It’s super thrilling as it sort of introduces a tangible, responsive component to what I do that’s incredibly galvanizing.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JS: One of the things that I love most about the music business is the spontaneity of it- I have a couple things up my sleeve that could be potentially quite exciting, but I will maintain a little mystery until some of those stones are set. I’m really looking forward to keeping the recording and performing rolling, inviting the universe to bring me joy in all the forms it sees fit. Part of me is toying with the idea of dropping off the grid for a month and studying yoga in Bali. I don’t know if I’ll actually do it. But I wouldn’t put it past me.
Official Website: http://www.jennascott.com/music/
Jenna on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/realjennascottmusic
Jenna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JennaScottMusic
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