Staying ahead of creativity -Jessica Jenks
Written by Art Fredette on August 15, 2019
JESSICA: Great question, I like to reminisce on the first two years of my schooling when I went to Christian school. My dad would pick me up in his truck and we would drive the country roads home and he would turn on all the cool classic rock tunes of his day. He rode a Harley Davidson and as a teenager was a drummer in a rock band called Manifest Destiny. I also got to ride on the back of that Harley which were some of my fondest memories with my dad. My mom and dad are still married, were high school sweethearts and my dads parents were also high school sweethearts. I think this made me the woman I am today. A bit of a biker rebel spirit but a big sap on the inside. My music is a lot of emotionally raw melody and rock and roll…well, at least in my mind 🙂 The piano is after all not just a string but a percussive instrument. It’s a whole rock band at your fingertips! My father was a drummer, my brother started drums later on in his life and I just started teaching myself drum kit about 8 years ago, which I absolutely LOVE!
RRX:Did you perform or record music as a child? If so explain ?
JESSICA: I was mostly self-taught at the keys and started lessons late as an 11 year old. I had three teachers from ages 11-17 then went to college and studied with Jonathan Newell. I was always in band (as a floutist) and in the choir (in the alto section which is how I learned how to harmonize and hold melodies while someone else sings something different), and throughout my childhood was always imitating and making sounds with my voice even trying to beatbox (Jess of all trades, master of none).When I was 13 I was in a garage band called Stoned Bus and was the lead singer. We covered a lot of Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, hair band stuff as well as the cranberries and embarrassingly four non-blondes. You know the song I speak of. (Gag)
JESSICA: Some of my biggest influences over the years (and there are way too many to list of course) which I will group into eras of my life: The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, CCR, Tom Petty, Neil Young, film soundtracks, Beethoven, and lots of contemporary (at the time) gospel music in church as a young girl. *Michael Jackson, Madonna, Tiffany, Amy Grant, Peter Cetera, C&C Music Factory, Vanilla Ice, Bryan Adams, Def Leopard, Metallica, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Meatloaf and a bunch of other cheesy pop stars that I have forgotten 🙂 *The Cranberries, Smashing Pumpkins,
Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, STP, L7, NIN, Blind Melon, Janis Joplin, Skinless, White Zombie, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, John Williams, Sarah Brightman, Andrea Boccelli, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Ben Folds Five, Ben Folds, Sebadoh, Carole King, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Foo Fighters, Filter, System Of A Down, Radiohead, Moby, Dirty Vegas, Regina Spektor, Coldplay, Skrillex, Marshmello, Aviccii, DJ Alesso, and I am missing so many greats from this list, but I think this was my favorite question from this interview…to stroll down my musical memory lane! I really love a lot of EDM and techno and then other days I just want to hear Chris Martin sing on my car stereo or my other favorite inspiration…silence. As far as the underlying inspiration for my musical process, these days it all revolves around the rhythm. The rhythm tracks/beats get laid down first. Then I start layering musical shapes and colors which are the various sounds I add just as if I were painting. I definitely associate music very much with geometry and art…colors…back in the day it used to be I would start at the piano primarily and then the vocal poetry/phrasing/melody would come after for the most part. I believe I have claimed about four different musical career paths over the course of my lifetime:
RRX:What Is most admirable about you,is the diversity of music you have written and performed over the past decade. Most musicians find a formula and stick to it, you seem to reinvent the formula with everything. Can you take us into the songwriting process?
JESSICA: I am very flattered, thank you Ralph. I have always been the type of person that learns the hard way unfortunately/fortunately, and I guess this has given me a very thorough understanding of whatever it is I am learning and music is a huge piece of the puzzle I will forever be striving to solve. I think I get bored with doing anything repetitively and enjoy reinventing the wheel and also learning new things continually….I like to study genealogy and have traced my families lineage back to a long line of inventors and innovators including one of the great suffragists of the women’s movement, Amelia Bloomer, who helped free women of the restrictive clothing they had to wear back in the 1800’s. She was originally Amelia Jenks and married a wealthy attorney with the last name Bloomer 🙂 Here she is: https://www.smithsonianmag.
RRX: Your band Owls in Orbit seemed to be gaining ground quickly . Then you switched gears? Why and will we see a return?
JESSICA: Owls in Orbit was a local overnight success which sounds braggie, but it was an awesome surprise because I was working my way back into the scene after a long period of time where I had been focusing on marriage and kids, and then divorce…After the divorce I pushed hard at local open mics and on social media and did some benefits which is how I met Marc, my OIO partner. The band was originally not a band, we were prepping for a musical theater production “Once” however the director was not able to get rights for us to perform so we said, “hey, let’s start a band!” Marc wanted to help me out and kind of re-launch my music career and I believe that is exactly what happened, as well as my consistent push of new material online. These days we are both very busy on our own musical endeavors. I’m not sure if OIO will have a reunion tour, one will have to keep their eyes and ears peeled and you might have another sighting. What I do know is that I am not off in the stratosphere, I am very engaged and highly focused these days on making my mark in this world with however many years I am blessed to have to enjoy life and create continually.
RRX: What is the current musical status of Jessica Jenks and fill us in on your current coffee house concept?
JESSICA: My musical status currently is that I went into a cocoon with a couple of iPads for a while and have broken out of that as a colorful butterfly and I hope that I am able to express that accurately and sincerely through my music and that through that expression people will relate and it will wake their “listening” ears which is different from one’s “hearing” ears. About 5 years ago I figured out that there was some really powerful tools right at my fingertips via my iPad and my iPhone believe it or not! I began exploring through what most would consider probably obsessive trial and error of how to use launchpad novation and apple’s garage band. I am forever grateful for the software that has helped open many doors for my musical career. As of now I am currently working remotely from NY with 2 large music libraries who are out of Los Angeles, CA with the goal of licensing my instrumental cues and songs in tv and film and eventually maybe make royalties and retire as a composer, while gaining a bunch of superfans who will look for me and listen to my art because that is what it is there for, really. I want to play a handful of events and showcases each year and pursue a virtual fan base which I have been working hard at via soundcloud, reverbnation, Instagram, Facebook and other social networks and, believe it or not, LinkedIn which was how the door opened for the 2nd licensing company I am working with!
As for the coffee house gig coming up on Monday August 19th, I am part of a collective at the Strand Theater that is working to revitalize Hudson Falls with accessible entertainment events where members of the community can attend and not break tson falls nyhe bank on admission, so to speak. The Strand and Boralex (a renewable energy company) have created the concept of “coffee shop music Monday’s” at the Strand Cafe and thanks to Boralex’s sponsorship it is free to the public to attend. Jessica can be reached by private message on her SoundCloud page, Instagram, Facebook messenger, or by sending an email to: [email protected]