INTERVIEW: Jenny Kern

Drawing you in with mournful guitar riffs and mellow, delicate vocals, Slow Burn is the debut single from indie singer-songwriter Jenny Kern.

A contemplative, thoughtful number, the song itself is a slow burn; an underlying pulse softly propels the increasingly intricate arrangement.

Slow Burn is the first track from Jenny’s upcoming EP (due for release on 5th April). I had a chat to her to find out more about the story behind it…

Hi Jenny! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m an indie singer-songwriter from Toronto now living in New York City.

You’ve just released your debut single Slow Burn – congrats! It sounds like a really intimate song. Can you tell me a bit about the story behind it?

Thank you very much! It’s exciting to see people listening to a track that you put your whole heart into. I’ve received some incredible messages from individuals about how this song has made them feel. While it’s important to see streaming numbers, it’s these messages that inspire me to continue writing songs like Slow Burn. Knowing I’ve impacted just one person – helping them realise they are not alone – is a special feeling.

It is a very intimate song, but it was also a song that opened my eyes to life in a way I hadn’t seen it before. Writing Slow Burn was almost cathartic; sharing the brokenness, the sadness. It was the first song I ever wrote about my vulnerability of confusion and self-doubt. I was feeling alone in my head and that was the most terrifying thing.

While it’s rooted in pain, it’s not supposed to be a sad song. It’s a realisation. While I was working long hours and using up all the energy I had, I realised it’s about a slow burn in life. There’s never a point where you’re going to feel as though you have everything together and life is perfect. It’s about the journey. Recognising those painful struggles and finding comfort in yourself while being open to the unexpected. It’s a slow burn in life.

How was it recorded / produced?

This single (and my full EP) was produced in the fall by Katie Buchanan, an incredibly talented Brooklyn-based producer.

When we first met, I was immediately drawn to her knowledge and attention to artistry. With her guidance, I was able to really step out of my comfort zone and be open to the process of being vulnerable while making music. I can’t imagine having worked with anyone else on this record.

We recorded the entire EP at her studio in Brooklyn and these songs evolved into something special; something I would never have predicted.

Katie is also an incredible singer-songwriter and guitarist so, while we had a lot of fun with developing the instrumentation and unique sounds, we also enjoyed playing around with solos and riffs. At one point she said, ‘should we take out the slide guitar?’… check out the track Old Friend to see what I mean.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

To be honest, this is one of the hardest questions. Music was a constant when I was growing up. Whether it was learning to play Carole King on the piano or listening to 80’s records, music was a huge part of my life.

I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac, a lot of Motown, John Mayer, Annie Lennox and 90’s female singer-songwriters, which is where I think I get my vocal style from.

There are a lot of artists that have made an impact on my musical experience and this record. Bon Iver, Novo Amor, Phoebe Bridgers, Harrison Storm and Jon Bryant are all artists that I’m very inspired by right now.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a musician?

I’ve received some great advice but there are a few things that stand out to me. As young women, we are conditioned to shy away from asking questions or asking for advice. The music industry is not where it needs to be when it comes to gender equality and, as someone who works in the entertainment space, it’s not new to me but it is new to me for music.

I was so lucky to have the opportunity to work with a woman who helped me explore my capabilities and understand myself in the process of making this record. Had I worked with a man I don’t think I would have grown the way I did and been as vulnerable as I was. It’s a learning experience and by letting yourself be open and confident in your individuality, the music starts to speak even louder.

While asking for help, taking chances and being vulnerable are all important things, I think the most essential piece of advice I’ve received is to make sure you take care of yourself above everything. That it’s ok to take a break. It’s easy to get lost in the music space, spend hours writing or practicing, and forget your core needs. Sleeping, eating, breathing. It all seems obvious but it’s so important. It’s what keeps you grounded and energetic to thrive.

Can we see you performing live any time soon?

Absolutely! I’m playing my EP release show at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 on Monday April 15th, 7pm.

Then I head out to Europe for my first shows overseas in both the UK and Portugal. I’ll be playing April 28th at The Spice is Life in London. Check out my website for dates and tickets.

What’s coming up next for you? I see there’s an EP on the way?

Yes there is! The EP is out Friday April 5th on all platforms. I’m so proud of this record and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

I just want to keep making music and have a platform to share it with the world. Any opportunity to play shows – whether it’s a small coffee shop in Manhattan or a bigger event overseas – is a chance to reach one new listener and positively impact that person’s life.

The process of creating this EP has opened my eyes to sharing my own experiences; understanding the world around me. I’ve been writing a bunch and working at the craft. Hopefully I’ll get back into the studio this year for album number two. Stay tuned!

www.jennykernmusic.com

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