Interview: Jenna Leigh-Raine
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today? I can always remember loving music but the thought of being a musician seemed natural to me from the age of 11. On a flight back from Rio (where I lived as a child) to the UK I was given free headphones which took me into a new radio world. A couple of songs stood out in my brain at the time and by age 12-13 I was humming melodies, and by 14 I started to write finished song lyrics.
I bumped into someone who also loved Gary Numan and he invited me to jam and write. We rehearsed for many, many months up to our first gig - a regional music talent and charity show. We were the only band using synths that blew most of the guitar bands off.
We were together for three years until I started commuting to Los Angeles for many years. I recorded solo albums and was self-taught engineering, allowing myself to eventually take over full production work many years later. If I wasn't doing music, I would have pursued a career in writing novels.
What do you like to do when you’re not playing music and how does that influence your creativity? I like some sports such as swimming and boxing, but Covid stopped both - though indoor exercise is the norm.
I spend all my time thinking about creative ideas, which influences my view of the world. Living in isolation helps. Sometimes a picture in a magazine, a TV show, or a film can ignite an idea and complete a finished lyric in ten minutes.
How long has your band been around? I've been recording as a solo artist for a very long time. I've sustained through and beyond a few music crazes. I don't write or record to a current trend; I write and record the music I do.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music? I'm based in London, not far from a few famous spots. I don't really write from or about the areas I might be in. When I was younger my music may have sounded such as if it had an LA sound, as I was living there for long periods. I still commute when possible to Los Angeles which I consider my second home. I am much a visual writer as well as listening to the melody and theme.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played. Gigging / touring is a real education of how that side of the industry works. You can promote your music as much as you need but performing to a crowd is key though sometimes can be nerve-racking. But you learn and you learn. I've had all kinds of mishaps on stage from guitars not connecting, to terrible feedback and radio mics going down. I recall one gig when anything that could go wrong did. But it was still brilliant, we dealt with it. The audience want things to work so they wait and you learn to remain calm and cool. At that gig, it was a mess - some songs sounded great, but then the mics were off, guitars had feedback and the DAT machine was playing up. Though, present at the back of the hall was Richard Norris (one half of the band The Grid) who had a small label. He asked me about a particular song we played. Weeks later he signed me to his label.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already? That's a tough one; some past gigs have their own charm. When the energy is good it just all comes together and you don't want it to end. I have a few good memories at the The Purple Turtle, one of Camden Rocks London's past hot spots. It was August, hot and a lovely. The band I recently worked with were supporting me called POK from Italy. It was a great night and I was showcasing a new album.
I've played at so many venues - the Garage London was good; I've played there many times. I even performed live on TV in Los Angeles at the Sony Lot.
In the future, I might be playing the Whiskey on Sunset Los Angeles where I've been asked to play a couple of times now.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
THAT Poppy (as she's known) LA
The Pretty Reckless. LA
Gary Numan. LA
Avril Lavigne. LA
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band? Write your own songs; the lyrics, music, everything. Believe in yourself. Learn about publishing. Create something new, don't copy. Be influenced of course but don't compete to sound the same as the next artist doing similar music. Love it. Pick up an instrument.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be? Don't be afraid, you're gonna be fine and help yourself before your help everyone else. Too many times I've done that and been left behind.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why? From my current album I'm proud of EDEN BLACK and KRAFT which is the title track. I'm also proud of my album NOMA which was released in 2018. I spent a solid year creating sound and making an electronic instrumental album that Rough Trade championed.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most? I have not gigged for a long while but I have been in my studio preparing something for when I can perform again. The sharp, short, punchy ones go down well like Glaze from 2010 and 'Importance Of Being Zero' (from AREA, my 2019 album).
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music? As I've made a lot of albums, I move on and away from some themes like love. I explore more about the future and how we will live tomorrow. The atmospheres and will relationships exist the same way. I think about entering a world into AI which is fascinating. Religion has always felt flimsy in the sense of waiting for that to solve nature and people. We are headed nearer into a different world.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music? Self-empowerment. Resolve. Light in dark. Dark in light. Warrior mentality. Sentiment.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them? Luckily being a solo artist who produces and engineers the music, I'm safe from that fire. I don't think I could let a producer in now as I know how to achieve what I'm aiming for. I love being in the studio and really push my production level and abilities.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up? Please check out my current album KRAFT which I'm proud of. I recorded it, as planned, within a year. I wrote it in London, France and Los Angeles, and mixed in London after my journeys abroad. Mastered by Martin Bowes from Attrition who mastered my last three albums.
I'm working right now on my next album which has a working title DEIMO. It's about finding peace and the awareness of a dark energy always fighting light. It's simply about imbalance. I have recorded about three tracks so far and the sound is huge and dark electronic sounds futuristic with modern moments of punk rock.
My music is available on various links: https://linktr.ee/Jennaleighraine