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Interview with Jenny Stenger
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I’ve probably been singing since I first learned to talk- I used to put on “concerts” in my living room for my parents for hours on end. I grew up doing musical theatre and have always loved storytelling and conveying emotions through music, but it wasn’t until I was about 18 that I realized I had my own stories to tell and my own way of putting emotions into words.
If I had not gotten into music, I would probably be doing some kind of film/TV acting. I have just always loved storytelling and conveying human emotion and I can’t see myself doing something outside of that.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I spend a lot of time talking with my friends- I’m a very chatty person and I love talking about everything under the sun. I love finding a shared experience and going home to write about something that I know other people will relate to. I’m also a big binge watcher- I rewatch the same few TV shows and movies over and over. I think some of the shows I watch go hand-in-hand with my music and storytelling style, like the simplicity and relatability of Gilmore Girls or Ladybird.
What is the story behind your new single “Rose Colored Lenses”?
I wrote “Rose Colored Lenses” about falling in love while being hyper-aware of everything that could go wrong. What I like about this song is that it shows that multiple things can be true at once. Falling in love was one of the best things I’ve experienced- it made me happy and giddy and excited, but it also sparked a lot of fears and unresolved issues I had within myself, and I’m glad I’m sharing the experience of starting a new relationship from the perspective of someone with a lot of anxiety and doubt.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I would love to play a show with Gracie Abrams and Maisie Peters. I think you can really hear their influence in my music and it would be the perfect sad girl pop lineup.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into a career in music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
My best advice is to be honest and vulnerable while writing a song instead of trying to write a good song. I wish I could tell my younger self to start writing earlier and not try so hard to be good. I was so scared that my songs would turn out bad that I just stopped writing and missed a bunch of years of songwriting. Once I realized that I could just sit down at the piano and tell the truth, I started gaining confidence and decided to put my songs out into the world.
Of your songs, which one means the most to you and why?
“Enough For You” is really close to my heart. I wrote it when I was really struggling with the same problems and fears as one of my best friends and releasing it and finding that other people related to it too was a really special experience. I think turning something painful into art that brings people together is my favorite part of being a musician.
Which songs are your favorite to play?
I think “Spill Your Guts” and “Stuck at 17” are my favorites to play live. I’ve been playing shows with the producer of those songs, Seth Wentland, and it’s so cool to go from writing alone at my piano, to creating the songs with him, to getting to play them live together. It makes me think about how sad I was while writing the songs, but now they’re out in the world and I can see them bringing joy to the people who listen to them and relate to them.
What’s one song you wish you wrote?
I wish I wrote “Funeral” by Phoebe Bridgers. I think that song is a perfect representation of depression- it feels like she pulled the lyrics out of my own brain, and I think I’ll always be jealous that I didn’t write it.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I’m most inspired to write when I have thoughts in my head that I can’t deal with any other way. I like to play around with different chord progressions on guitar or piano and start singing about the things I have a hard time talking about. Once I get a general idea of what I’m actually trying to say, I can figure out the best melodies and rhymes to get it across.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
My biggest goal is to help people feel understood and less alone in what they’re feeling. I think I write about a lot of universal human emotions, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy things to feel. Thinking you’re the only person who’s dealing with a certain situation or feeling a certain way can be really isolating, and I hope I’m spreading the message that it’s okay to feel and show emotions. Being anxious or jealous or heartbroken doesn’t make you weak, it’s human.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I’m planning a hometown show with Sideroom Ghost which I’m super excited about, and I’m working on a solo acoustic show for a chance to play some of my unreleased songs. I have a couple more singles lined up in the next few months and would love to play them live the way they were written. In the next year, I’m hoping to move to a bigger city with more music opportunities- I really want to start opening for other artists and find people in new places who relate to my music.