NYC based Songwriter/musician Jennie Vee has already gained a strong internet following on both sides of the Atlantic with her releases Die Alone and Wicked and will shortly be supporting South Wales own Manic Street Preachers on their North American tour. Andy Howells recently caught up with Jennie.
Where are you from and how did you get into music?
I'm from a desolate mining town in Northern Ontario, and due to that isolation has been a running theme in my life and songwriting. I got into music at a very young age as a true escape from the mundane, grey landscape and confines of life in a small town. I was 4 years old and rollerskating around to E.L.O, The Police and The Clash. This led to the discovery of New Wave music- Echo and The Bunnymen, The Cure, The Smiths. I saw U2 live when I was just 11 years old and that's when it hit me - I wanted to be IN A BAND!
How would you describe your musical style?
I would describe it as Melancholic Pop or Deeply Empathic Fuzz Pop. Either will do.
There are lots of lush guitar sounds on your recordings do you enjoy been creative in the studio and developing new ideas?
I love writing and recording. As much as one could love recurring exorcisms. Extracting melodies and lyrics has always been a catharsis for me and the best material always comes from very low points in my life. Fortunately I LIVE in my studio so the means are always on hand to get an idea down in scratch form or I can go from a fleeting melody or line to a full blown song tracked and mixed in a matter of a day. This is truly a blessing because my thoughts tend to come and go and become quite scattered if I don't get ideas recorded right away. Most of these songs were tracked with my Telecaster and a chain of pedals and plugins that have given my recent body of work a seamless sonic quality.
Do you have any guitar heroes and what music do you enjoy listening too?
Yes! My guitar heroes are Will Sargent from Echo + The Bunnymen, James Dean Bradfield from the Manics and Robert Smith. Will obviously has a signature style and pedal work that has inspired generations of players- I pull from his layering of guitar parts a lot. Mr. Bradfield is so inspiring because he has totally given out and out rock n roll guitar a classiness and punch in the face that I have yet to see matched and Robert Smith is the master of simple, evocative melodies and solos that will always influence me.
Tell us about your latest release and what was the inpiration behind it?
Die Alone is my 5 song EP that I self released back in the fall. It came on the heels of a very dark, cold winter here in NYC. I had been through what could best be called a "drought" when it came to songwriting and I'm not certain it was to do with lack of passion, but that I was quite focused on other creative endeavors when I first moved to New York. I was immersed in the fashion world funnily enough doing some high profile commission work, but as with anything I do creatively I become single minded and obsessed with the task at hand. I love design work and I'm quite skilled and crafty with my hands, but music is my passion, heart and soul so I literally quit everything all at once to get back to it when I found myself crying over my sewing machine. I was also going through some very tough recurring patterns in my life to do with relationships on every level- friends, family, partnership... I reached a crux in time when I had nowhere else to turn but back to music and it was my saving grace. The isolation I felt as a young girl in Northern Ontario was matched as a woman surrounded by the boundless energy and opportunity that NYC had on offer and I really had to asses the concept of internal happiness vs. external sources of distraction or lack there of.
Whats been your best live experience?
Live shows are somewhat difficult for me. I'm not a "natural born performer", I was never in dance or theater classes or good at public speaking. Me on a stage with my bass or guitar and songs is always a vulnerable but simultaneously powerful place to be. I feel "armed" with songs, so there is a layer of protection there, however inbetween banter is rare, awkward and pained! I have been known to throw myself around the stage in my version of dance. A great live experience was when Knox from the Vibrators joined me and my old band on stage in London to perform "Baby, Baby" with us.
Where can we see and hear you online?
You can check out my EP at bandcamp: jennievee.bandcamp.com and watch my videos all shot by my creative partner Katrin Albert on my youtube channel at www.youtube.com/jennieveemusic
Will you be visiting the UK in the future?
YES! I will be coming back over to the UK in late spring. My record will be properly released on 25 Hour Convenience Store over there. It's Gary Powell from the Libertines' label and I'm so happy to be working with him, he's an old mate and wonderful person.
You visited Wales last year did you enjoy your visit?
Last time I was over I enjoyed a fantastic trip to Wales. I played in Talgarth at the Tabernacle which is Alan McGee from Creation Records beautiful and intimate venue. He invited me personally to come play his first acoustic music night and who could say no to Alan McGee and a chance to visit beautiful Wales? I stayed at a fantastic B&B just down the road from the Tabernacle and they did a great vegan breakfast for me! A nice traditional Welsh Vegan Breakfast! Haha! It was my 4th visit to Wales and I always love my time there. It may sound touristy- but I really want to see Port Meirion the next time I come over! I'm also a massive fan of the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and The Joy Formidable. If it's Welsh, odds are, I love it!
What was the last album you listened to?
The last album I listened to was The War on Drugs Lost in the Dream. I live in NYC but keep my car in Brooklyn and I took it out for a drive just to listen to this record behind the wheel!
Connect with Jennie Vee online:
- A short version of Andy Howells Q&A with Jennie Vee appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 24, 2015. Check out the e-edition.