Interview with Jennie Laws
Hello Jennie, Flashmag and its readership are thrilled to have you this month as the guest star of the Arts & entertainment page . The time of this interview our tribune is yours. So to start, can you introduce yourself to the readers? For those who don’t know you yet, who is Jennie Laws?
Jennie Laws: I‘m Jennie Laws, a recording artist and songwriter from Toronto, Canada and I’m happy as well to be your guest today.
Flashmag: They always say you don’t get in to the music, but the music gets into you. Why did you chose to be a musician? At what moment in your life you felt like this was the way?
Jennie Laws: for me that was really true - I didn’t choose it but it chose me. When I was younger my father took me on many meditation retreats where I was taught to clear away the layers of my mind by doing meditation exercises, like labeling my thoughts and senses until they are released and all I was left with is my subconscious. Somehow underneath all of that, but before my absolute core, were spontaneous compositions happening in my head. I had a revelation when I was 14 and at one of these retreats, that it was my purpose in life to spread universal love, which I felt was at the core of everything, using the music I create.
Flashmag: Growing up in Toronto who were your favorite artists? And if you have to name a few who inspired you in this life who would you name?
Jennie Laws: I grew up listening to several artists from all genres like, Michael Jackson, George Michael, The Police, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong and Bob Marley…these artists helped to shape the artist I am today. Later on when I did some more searching on my own, I got into Stevie Wonder, Lauren Hill, D’Angelo, The Beatles, Erykah Badu, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones and Duke Ellington, Joni Mitchell, James Brown and so many more.
Flashmag: Very early in your life you started to play instrument like Guitar and piano, very popular instrument, how this choice has influenced your style later?
Jennie Laws: Yes I’ve been playing instruments for as long as I can remember. Guitar has always felt really natural because it’s sort of shaped like a human with its head and neck and so on, so it molds into you easily because of its shape and the strings feel so real and organic…the piano is a really helpful tool as a writer/arranger because it’s all laid out for you before your eyes, literally in black and white.
Flashmag: You are very versatile musician blending several style from jazz rhythm and blue and hip hop and pop music, one will say you are still searching to find the perfect sound or it’s simply a way for you to touch several public at the same time. A way to bring people from diverse background to your music, or it’s simply the expression of who you are musically?
Jennie Laws: it’s true, I have so many influences that of course it can be heard in my music. But when blending all those genres I’m not thinking about pleasing audiences of different backgrounds, I‘m just really doing the type of music I feel, a music that represents closely who I am artistically.
Flashmag: You attended Berklee school of music one the most famed music academy in the world. Why did you go there? You felt like you had the need to learn more about the craft of music? What has changed to your way of doing music after attending Berklee?
Jennie Laws: I attended an a Capella school of music in Iowa, that was where I really found out that I had more abilities in music than just singing and playing instruments. From that school I was offered a full scholarship to Berklee, and it was a no brainer to accept. At Berklee they get really in depth about the craft of music - they taught me about composition and production using all the modern tools and software at the time. I had many chances to use their state of the art analog studios, and I took full advantage of this to sharpen my skills. Apparently at that time I was the most recorded student, I was in there so much… Berklee is also a great environment to network. I met amazing people with whom I’m still working today.
Flashmag: After Berklee one will think that you would had have a royal way to the industry of music, but apparently it was not the case. I quote you in one of your interview, where You stated that, you were very disappointed at what is the industry, because it was about everything else but not the music why? Can you explain yourself?
Jennie Laws: As an artist and musician, especially coming straight out of college, you aren’t taught really how the situation out there in the industry is. You may have the skills and knowledge, but there are things you can only learn from being out in the field, and this was not really what I was expecting. I was discovered by Jay Z and Mary J Blige’s lawyer, and brought to an A&R who had made Alanis hit album Jagged Little Pill a success by placing her with producer Glenn Ballard, so they wanted to fashion me after Alanis. I had and have only respect and admiration for all of these women, and so much gratitude for the show of faith, but this was simply not possible for me to be somebody else even if I look like Jewel and I’m Canadian, which was why they were thinking along these lines. I’m not those artists and I’m too real to pretend to be somebody else… a blessing and a curse I suppose because I realize now what a huge opportunity that was
Flashmag: Was it because of this negative experience that you decided to self-produce your music, releasing in 2008, you first opus introducing Jennies an EP of 7 tracks?
Jennie Laws: yes well I worked with engineers Stu young , Ari Raskin and Justin Koop, and my manager Jacqui Thompson at the time got involved by signing me up with a small label that could offer a decent promo campaign; Iris Distribution, through her company Cartouche Music. She also cut what was originally a 14-song album in half and made it an EP instead, with the digital version having 6 songs and the hard copy featuring a bonus track. But yes, I went this direction because I felt as if no producers I knew truly understood me as an artist. Since then I’ve found many people I can relate to and work with
Flashmag: how was your feeling at the time you had your first baby out?
Jennie Laws: oh yes I was thrilled that everything came together the way it
Flashmag: Years later do you think this album has reached the goals you had set?
Jennie Laws: Oh yes, the reception of the album was quite warm - we had a good run but at a certain point I was overwhelmed I didn’t have people to help me manage my fan base. I had thousands of emails pilling up and it was not easy to answer them all, so I do regret that, but overall we did well and we had some good shows and press, but we didn’t know how to keep the momentum going.
Flashmag: From 2008 to 2012 you didn’t put anything out why this long period of absence? what happened?
Jennie Laws: After the EP was released I went to Los Angeles to promote it & work on different projects, especially my full-length album. And of course it was not easy - it takes time to work on a project especially when you start from scratch without having a big contract that will cover your expenses, and then later on, I had to return to Canada to deal with some family issues. My father became very sick I had to help take care of him. Later when he passed away, I had to stay to sort out my affairs and be there for my family.
Flashmag: Do you think is better to stay an indie artist? some may say at a certain time you need a big machine of production in your back to blow out, but you seem to keep it tight why? are you scared to lose your freedom to create and make albums you love first?
Jennie Laws: Well, today things are not like before. To get noticed by a major, usually you need to have a product ready to go before getting a contract, and/or at least a huge following. How do you create a huge following without quality content? So the choice of being independent first is natural since you usually are left to record your music on your own first. In my case it’s not that I don’t want to work with a major company, it’s simply that I had to follow my heart first. I’m ready to give in a little bit and make some concessions to make it work, but at the same it doesn’t have to be a big company. I would like to find a label I can call home, small, medium or large, a company where I can mostly be myself but with extra support and guidance. It’s very expensive to make an album. I had to raise some funds using Indiegogo for this new album and apply for government grants … thanks for the support of good minds and hearts, we’re almost there!
Flashmag: You have worked with renowned artist like Dwele and opened concert for people like Bruno Mars or INXS if you have to choose the most exciting experience you lived in the world of music to date, which one will you pick?
Jennie Laws: Jennie Laws: You have just named them all! I was an amazing experience to work with Dwele, and to open for Bruno, or sing background vocals for Michael Buble and INXS. Since then I’ve been asked to write for some pretty incredible artists too, so I’d like to think that my most exciting experiences are yet to come!
Flashmag: You just released a single titled Sabotage with a song that goes more in the R&B and Hip hop since this single is in prelude to your upcoming album one can easily guest that it may well be a hip hop and RNB album isn’t it?
Jennie Laws: it’s true that Sabotage has a hip hop and R&B sound, it’s the song on the album that is the furthest on that side of the musical spectrum. The album to come, “Destiny” will be a Soul/Pop Album as a whole, a genre that broadly represents my musical influence.
Flashmag: How far are you in the preparation of this album do you have an idea of the release date?
Jennie Laws: 90 percent of the album is done, all I need to do now is to finalize the edits, add a few more vocals & live drums, and do some tweaking here and there. We expect to have it released by late Spring of this year.
Flashmag: By the time we are closing this talk do you have a special word towards the public any upcoming date to remember?
Jennie Laws: I’d like to tell everyone that my single Sabotage has been released today and it’s available on iTunes and all digital outlets now. If you want to know more about me you can follow me on any social media platform; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. plus I plan to start posting more video material on YouTube very soon. And you can always stay up to date with me by checking my website www.jennielaws.com.
Flashmag: Jennie Laws Flashmag and it readership thank you for this interview all the best for the rest.
Jennie Laws: thank you for having me today as your guest! I appreciate your support.
Interview by Hubert Marlin