Interview – Jenny O, Nice ‘N’ Sleazy, Glasgow, 02/08/12
Last Thursday evening I took a very familiar trip (one that my liver doesn’t thank me for) to Nice ‘N’ Sleazy’s in Glasgow to interview the wonderfully talented Los Angeles based singer/songwriter “Jenny O”. On being sent a text which read “We’re at the bar! Identify yourself.” by her tour manager Bryony, I duly complied. After our introductions, and finding out Jenny used to have a female cat called “Ross” (I wasn’t sure what to make of this) we had a chat about her new Jonathan Wilson produced album, Kickstarter, moving to LA and how she almost perished in a fire during a video shoot…………
You’ve been on tour in the UK for a couple of weeks now how has it been going?
Jenny O – It’s been going good yeah, it’s been sunny more than it’s been raining so it’s been good
That’s always a bonus for here certainly, is this the first time you’ve been to Scotland?
Jenny O – It is except for I played Wickerman festival two weekends ago
Did you get to see the burning of the Wickerman?
Jenny O – No I didn’t, I played what I think was the first day, it was a sweet festival, it’s like one big open circle, its kinda like some festivals are laid out in such a way that you’re just kinda wandering around and you don’t really know where you’re at, but this is like one big stage and a smaller festival
So your EP “Home” was finally given a UK physical release at the end of last month after how long has it been?
Jenny O – Yeah it’s been out for a year already in the states
Are you happy with how it’s been received over here?
Jenny O – Yeah I think so I think that people are liking it
It was originally funded in America through Kickstarter, how was that whole experience? Do you think it’s a worthwhile mechanism for bands to use?
Jenny O – Yeah it is um, its stressful as shit, I did it like right when Kickstarter started so it was I think a little bit more perhaps of a novelty at the time and so folks were very receptive to it and I think soon after the following year there was so much of a Kickstarter saturation, not so much a backlash but every week you have a friend whose like trying to do their thing, which it’s not that anyone is any less important, but
Yeah you can’t physically give to everyone….
Jenny O – Right you can’t , but my experience was really good very positive, most people were just hearing about it for the first time and thought it was a cool thing to get involved with
I saw down the side of your page you had all different pledges and what you would give them, did anyone give the $1000 dollars for the personalised song?
Jenny O – Yeah I had two different donors for that amount, but both of them declined to have the prize
Jenny O – I think that folks that are donating that amount of money aren’t in it for the prize or something
What were the other prizes you gave out?
Jenny O – I had some canvas bags that I painted, I did a bunch of 10 second songs like personalised jingles that was kind of fun and difficult but good, I actually wrote a bunch of songs that came out of those little bits, yeah I tried to turn it back into things that I wanted to do anyway (Laughs) it was good overall
Some people are making crazy amounts of money on it now…..
Jenny O- Yeah I cant believe I made it, I had to be pretty visual about having a presence on the internet every day, it was tough, I just wanted to hide when it was over and was like I’m not going on the internet for like a month (laughs)
I read that you’ve recorded a new album with Jonathan Wilson, what was it like recording with him? And how did the process differ from the recording of “Home”?
Jenny O – Well “Home” I recorded by myself in my upstairs bedroom, well it wasn’t my bedroom actually it was my living room. You know so that was just kind of like alright so here are five songs, five of the first songs I can put together right now because I was so just frustrated with waiting for my first record to come out that never came out. So I was like put out five songs and that’s what’s on the EP
And then I had saved up a bunch of songs to do the record with Jonathan and so that was a completely different experience because we were playing with a band , we were playing with a great rhythm section, we tracked a lot of it live and I trust him completely he’s fearless in the studio, he makes great choices. He’s just one of the coolest motherfuckers around
Do you have a title for the album as of yet?
Jenny O – Yeah it’s called Automechanic, one word, Automechanic
What about a release date?
Jenny O – February, uh I’m waiting on the email to get the number confirmed so I don’t want to say it buts it’s February
In the UK as well?
Jenny O – I hope so, I wish I knew but I don’t
So are we going to hear a lot of new songs tonight?
Jenny O – Yeah you’ll here most of, if not all of the stuff from the new record
Have you got a favourite that you like playing live just now more than others?
Jenny O – uhmmm (a slight pause) I love to play a song called “Learn My Lessons”
Because you have learned your lessons or?
Jenny O -No its just a fun song to play, you know after years and years of playing sad songs live it’s great, I decided to play some more uplifting kind of songs
You’ve worked with great artists such as Will Oldham and J. Tillman, how did those collaborations come about?
Jenny O – uhhmm a lot of them are just friends of mine
That’s a good place to be
Jenny O – yeah it is
You must get asked all the time but is there anyone you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Jenny O – uhhmm Jack White
It’s always a sound choice, apart from in my eyes he ruined Karen Elson’s album, I really don’t like the production on that, but maybe that’s just me
Jenny O – in what way?
I think he took the soul out of it, I heard some demos that were really raw and stripped back
Jenny O – That’s interesting, I don’t know her music to be honest
So you currently live in LA just now after moving from NY, is there a major difference in the music scene from NY to LA?
Jenny O – Yeah I found a community in Los Angeles and in NY I don’t see that there are any
Really is it much more everyone’s doing their own thing?
Jenny O – Yeah everyone is just suffering so hard that they can’t get together to enjoy each other, I don’t know I’m completely biased against NY city
How long did you live in NY for?
Jenny O – I only lived in Brooklyn for about four years but I grew up and went to school in the suburbs so it was always my city, uhhm yeah and then I went to LA and in my first week there I saw like everybody collaborating and the sunshine and jamming, playing Grateful Dead songs playing Beatles songs and celebrating music rather than suffering through music and that just made it so much better
So the scene in LA is much more collaborative?
Jenny O – For me yeah, that’s been my experience I’m sure there’s a whole scene of folks having a great time in New York but I never met them.
So being from LA now, are there any bands that you can recommend to us that we might not have heard?
Jenny O – Uhmmm, I’m gonna say “Father John Misty” (J. Tillman’s new band)
I’m looking forward to seeing them; they’re playing here later in the year
Jenny O – Oh yeah cool, their lead guitar player is my lead guitar player, except I’m not here with my band obviously.
Would you much rather be here with the band?
Jenny O – I would, absolutely, but unfortunately or whatever it doesn’t matter, its five times the cost to travel with five people and I am independent right now and I’ve only got this EP to sell so I’m not pushing it, when I come back with the full length I’ll tour with the band, other artists from LA this is an opportunity, Leslie Stevens who is a great songwriter and singer.
This being a Scottish based website, are there any Scottish bands you like yourself?
Jenny O – I don’t think I know any Scottish bands, also I don’t really know modern music, but I can’t think of any old Scottish bands that I know either, maybe there are ones that I just don’t know are from Scotland
Belle & Sebastian maybe?
Jenny O – Ok I know of them, I didn’t know they were from Scotland, I apologise but I’ve been listening to country music for the past few years
Who’s your favourite country artist?
Jenny O – Roger Miller, Willie Nelson
When’s he’s not getting busted for drugs that is
Jenny O – Yeah exactly, whatever I think he needs to get a free pass
Yeah Willie and Snoop Dogg should get a free pass, talking of Snoop did you see he’s changed his name?
Jenny O – he did?
Yeah it’s like Snoop Lion
Jenny O – No way is that recent? Unbelievable, Snoop Dogg is an idol of mine; I can’t believe it I’ll have to check that out
What do you like to do away from music to relax?
Jenny O – I like hiking and swimming and climbing trees, I love my friends, and I love the eating
Just a last question, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Jenny O – Uhmm well this records coming out in February so I’ve got to make a couple of music videos, do some more touring and then I want to spend some time in the woods with good people.
In your last video (Well Ok Honey) you were in the woods for a bit of it; do you like making music videos?
Jenny O – Uhmmm I made that one with my friends so it didn’t feel like I was really making a music video, I tried to make another one but we were filming for about twenty minutes and then there was a fire unrelated to the video and the whole place burnt
Did you manage to save the camera?
Jenny O – We lost the camera, I was just like fuck this, I was running for my life.
Thankfully she survived, and you can find out more information about jenny and the remaining dates of her UK tour here