WW: Hey Jenny, welcome to WildWritings.com. How are you?
JB: Thank you for having me! I'm very well, thanks. I've just started
the production of my debut album and will be going on tour to
promote it this autumn, so it's an exciting time right now :-)
WW: Tell us about your childhood. Did music always play an important
role in your life?
JB: My childhood was the best! I had a blast and feel very lucky
looking back on it all. Music has always been a major part of my life
and was back then as well. My parents have always been into music,
especially my Dad and it was him that "educated" me and got me
interested in the first place. He's always been into Sixties music
and so he used to play The Beatles and The Rolling Stones records
and I used to get to look through his LP collection, which is huge!
I was classically trained from an early age. You basically had to pick
an instrument at school and since everyone else picked piano and
guitar I picked the flute. I didn't like it at first and it was difficult, but once you get the hang of it it's beautiful. I grew tired of playing only Classical music though and after 7 years of playing I stopped taking lessons. When my little brother started school he too had to pick an instrument and he started taking guitar lessons, so I picked up the guitar at that point too and haven't looked back since. It was much more fun to be able to play along to your favourite songs and actually sing whilst playing. So, because of that I started writing my own songs. It's all down to my musical upbringing though...the fact that I'm doing this now. It's all thanks to my Dad and also very much because of my Nan, who is a very talented painter. When everyone else said "get your feet back on the ground", she was the one who always told me to follow my dreams and do whatever makes me happy.
WW: When did you know you wanted to become a singer?
JB: I have never really known I've wanted to become a singer as such...I wanted to play music and enjoyed playing, but never thought I could sing really. I was ever so shy and from my school age I wouldn't dream of singing in front of people. I would blush and hide away. When I was younger I used to always sing and make up songs...especially on the back of mum's bike when she took me to kindergarten. I always sung when there was a noise...like a washing machine or traffic...once the car would start I would start to sing...I guess I thought no one could hear me then and I drifted off into my own little world. It was only at the age of 15 that I started to sing "properly" as I picked up the guitar and I would push myself into performing in front of family and friends...all the while blushing and singing with a face red as a tomato. People said they liked my voice and after a few years of playing guitar and writing songs I recorded my first demo track. That was a boost and after that I would perform in front of my class or during school parties. It's only since I relocated to the UK and have been writing and recording full-time though that I've started to believe in myself and my voice more and have started taking a musical career seriously. I still struggle to sing in front of people though and often automatically start to sing when the washing machine comes on...lol. I didn't know I specifically wanted to become a singer, but I have always known I've wanted to do something creative and different and it was the guitar playing and initial songwriting that kind of "nudged" me into singing really.
WW: Who were your musical influences while growing up?
JB: My Dad introduced me to Sixties music and most of my most important influences are from that era. The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Rolling Stones, The Hollies, David Bowie. It was The Beatles music that made me get into music in the first place and inspired me to pick up the guitar. Growing up in the 80's I was never into the kind of music that my friends used to listen to...the music that was popular then, so I was always very "behind" when it came to music and used to listen to The Beatles when my friends would listen to whatever was played on the radio and was in the charts at the time. I didn't develop my own personal taste in music until I was about 13 and I started to discover other bands and artists. I used to like Simply Red as I admired the songwriting and vocals. Mostly though I would listen to Sixties music and discovered Joni Mitchell, The Corrs and Sheryl Crow later on. Suzanne Vega is also a very important influence. My music is a mix of all my influences really and varies in style because of it. It's Folk to Soul, Country to Blues...I like to experiment with all kinds of genres and what I write is often influenced by what kind of music I'm listening to at the time.
WW: When did you write your first song? What was it about?
JB: I was about 15 years old and my best friend, Camilla, whom I grew up with in Stockholm, was taken to hospital for emergency surgery. I missed her and it got me thinking of our friendship so I wrote a song called "No One Else", which was about how she was like a sister and how important her long friendship was to me. It was also the first song I ever recorded and I think I've even got that demo tape somewhere (shock horror!!!). A class mate even made a music video as his graduation project for that song and it was shown on a big screen in front of the entire school....I had to hide in the school yard when it was on...it was cringe worthy! I think I've even got the video tape somewhere...
WW: Where do you draw the inspiration from to create music?
JB: I get inspired by everyday life and most of my songs are based on my own experiences or are about people I've met or know. Meeting new people inspires me, as do other songwriters. Going to live gigs is a major inspiration and I often end up writing several songs after going to a concert. Finding new music often makes me want to write. New albums...poetry, quotes, lyrics, interviews and life stories. I'll often write about the situation I'm in at the moment and the state of mind I'm in sets the mood of the song. It's like keeping a diary and you can pretty much trace where I've been from listening to my past songs.
WW: You have released several independent albums. What album has been the most personal to you and why?
JB: I think they all have been so far. They all meant personal development and change. The first CD, Morning Rain, was a challenge as I was still so insecure singing in front of people and wasn't at all confident in my songs and ability to write. It also pushed boundaries in my personal relationship, which was pretty new at the time. The second CD, Acoustic/Live, was a CD I recorded on my own and it's been my most intimate and personal project so far. I literally put music to my diary and thoughts at the time and it's pretty much just me and my acoustic guitar throughout the CD. It was very much heart to mind, mind to paper and the songs were all recorded just minutes after I wrote them, so they're pretty "organic" and simple and I didn't think about arrangement or songs structure much...I just recorded what came out...nothing added, nothing taken away :-). The most recent CD, On The Outside, is special as it very much shows progress and development on both a personal and professional level. It's a pretty happy, feel-good CD and features a lot of different styles of music. It took almost two years to record, which is why the genres vary so much. I was listening to R&B, Blues, Jazz, Pop and Rock over the years I wrote the songs, so those are the genres featured on the CD. It's a much more confident CD and that has a lot to do with personal progress and belief in your work. All the CDs are very different from each other and they all tell a personal story, so it's impossible to pick just one CD as they have all been a very important part of the "journey" thus far.
WW: How did you feel when you were signed with NWR Records?
JB: I had been trying to get somewhere with my music for 4 years and had received a lot of good feedback, but was never offered a proper record deal. People would say they loved the stuff, but never put their money where their mouth was. When I first got in touch with NWR I had years of disappointment behind me and had learned from quite a few bad mistakes, so by then I had learned to not get excited before you see some results. Promises had been made in the past and it had always just fizzled out, so I, for once (otherwise always the one with my head in the clouds), kept my feet firmly on the ground. I still do actually as I've not seen any major results so far...although it is early days yet. Until I do I won't be jumping around the room. This time I'm trying to remain focused and just want to carry on working, recording the debut album, so that no matter what happens in the future I'm still going to be releasing it. I'm happy to have found a label that believes in my work and ability and who are willing to give me the time and freedom to develop, so I'm looking forward to working with them and seeing what will come out of it.
WW: Tell us about your newest album, "On The Outside."
JB: It's an important step forward when it comes to my songwriting and we have worked a lot more on arrangement, production and sound with this CD. My drummer and co-producer Mitch Deighton has worked more with me on this CD than the previous CDs and he's had more of an input when it comes to song structure and arrangement. It's a much more confident CD than the previous two CDs and the songs are all different styles. Someone said that ever since they bought the CD they haven't had to change CDs, but just kept it in the player as it features so many different styles of songs and has a song for every mood. That pretty much sums the CD up I think :-) It's the first CD I've spent a lot of time and money promoting as I feel it's my most accomplished work to date. It's distributed digitally through The Orchard and is available through iTunes, Napster, MSN Music and will shortly also be available from Amazon.com.
WW: What are your plans for the future; will you be touring?
JB: I'll be working on my debut album, which will be in the shops on release. I'll be touring from September onwards and the first gig is at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium during the Rainforest Central concert on the 23rd and 24th of September. After that a small European tour might be on the cards and I will be gigging frequently around the UK. Once the album is released I will be doing a lot of promotional gigs. I'm currently rehearsing with a backing band, so am really looking forward to going on the road. So far I've concentrated on writing and recording as much material as possible, so it's going to be good to go out playing the songs live and to get feedback from the audience.
WW: You've had great success overseas; any plans on coming to America?
JB: It's possible that we'll be performing at the SXSW festival in Texas next year and hopefully we'll get some more dates booked in the US from this autumn onwards. It's also possible that we'll be doing the Rainforest Central gigs in LA and New York, but that has yet to be confirmed. Any live dates will be added to the website at www.jennybeck.co.uk and at www.myspace.com/jennybeck as they are confirmed. Fingers crossed! :-)
WW: Thanks Jenny! Best of luck to you.much! It's been a pleasure.