Still waters runs deep. My recent chat with this sweet, softly-spoken, stout-hearted, strong-minded songstress, not only extremely enlightening, but a free lesson on business saviness, personal empowerment, and importance of community. Despite researching Jen's career, personal history, passions etc etc etc, her actual perspective on all of this remained an enigma to me. In retrospect, underestimating just how personal Jen's music is to her. For instance, upon querying how she possibly coordinates her lineup of band members, put to shame - "I've been playing with this band lineup for seven years, and made two records together now, and we've toured quite a lot over the years...I guess the thing with this band is, it's a rare thing, but I haven't had to say much, if anything. There's a real chemistry and understanding there. It's more like a family, or being in a family, than just a collection of musicians... They're people that I socialize with, spend time with".
Jen elaborated on her outlook regarding her musicianship, plus life in general. "I guess the reason I think community is really integral in an artist's career, is you need support, you know. It's not a world that's easy to inhabit alone. And music really will always be about making music with people, and performing it to people. So you really need people, you need other artists and people. Shoulders you can cry on when things are feeling a bit grim...And it's really helped me, you know, Milk Records, which is a label that Courtney (Barnett) and I started in 2012...has been a great way of translating that idea of community into a broader sense. And then out into the community beyond the artistic community, and into the world of music fans, music lovers. Seeing them respond to the music that we're releasing, and the events that we put on, and the tours; it's been a hugely enriching experience". Hence, one way of interpreting Jen's approach to her illustrious career, being one of mixing business with pleasure. But another, much closer to the mark, is marching to the beat of one's own drum. Plus when considered in conjunction with one of Jen's previous remarks, "To be an artist is an act of rebellion", quite evident Jen's music career isn't a job, but way of life.
Jen and I covered other various topics, such as equality within the industry. Jen commenting, "I believe the world is a better place when everyone is given equal opportunity and a voice. It would be lovely to see it not just being the work of women having to put in place social activism. And keep drawing people's attention back to the fact that women are still being paid less, and given less opportunity". Plus other topics, such as her (extremely well-received) recently released fourth album; once again, infused with Jen's trademark passion and spirit - "When you do write really personal songs about things that are happening in your life right then, obviously over time that will shift and change. But the great thing is, if you write from your own experience, even if you're looking back at something that you wrote ten years ago about a situation, it was the truth of that situation at that time, and I guess, in a way, that's what songs are...postcards or snapshots of a period in your life". Jen's awesome new album, which could perhaps be described as a compilation of life events and diary entries, is music you won't only appreciate, but can genuinely relate to. Jen will be touring across the country (tour dates also below).