Sunday, November 15, 2009

Say It Out Loud! Speaking with Singer/Songwriter, (thee) Jennifer Groves of UWS, NYC!

Jennifer Groves has recently finished her solo CD with Moogy Klingman- former member/keyboardist of the band Utopia with the help of the infamous Jim Satten- an excellent guitar player, ex- band leader for Bo Diddley, and a great guy for lending his talents to this album. She says "It took a long time and it was quite a difficult process to get through, but the songs are still strong, and I still love them even after a few years have gone by..... You can listen for yourself I'm writing more songs- the most recent words fueled by a break up. But that's ok whatever works, as far as the material goes!!! " This writer/song writer divides her time between singing in two bands, managing Recoup, oh, and working a "job." She is an amazing singer who challenges herself at her gigs by always singing her own stuff and staying true to herself as an artist.
How long you been in the biz Jenny?

Ten years. Oh, I don’t wanna say my age! I hooked up with one of my customers from a bar I worked at and I started writing and playing my songs with him.

All your songs on your new album are original…were you the only writer?

Pretty much…well, ninety percent. Moogy was ten percent writer, and the musical arranger and the producer…

Musical arranger?

Producer. Just put ‘producer.’

What are your songs mostly about?

My life…my new album deals mostly with my parents death and it’s funny cuz they don’t really have anything to do with…not all of the songs are about my family but there is a direct relation….they both died within two weeks of each other…

I’m sorry about that. Tell me about a specific song where you pay homage to your parents?

Wow, um…”Strong Girl.” It was about me…ah, you know everyone called me a “strong person’ because of all the legal, financial, and emotional ramifications. It was like a ‘blanket statement.’ People didn’t know what to say to me so they just said, “You’re such a strong girl.”

Is singing and writing for you then usually an emotional release and form of a cathartic…or, I mean, therapy?

All of the above. I don’t know what I would do without….I don’t know how I would get through my life…I don’t know how people get things out if they can't express it in some way.

What would you suggest then to a non artist?

Anyway to get the feelings out…but I think it depends how conscious you wanna be. Some people drink, some people exercise, some spend tons of money,….but I think it’s important to look at it on paper. I would suggest they start a journal…

Who are some of your singer/song-writer influences? And/or have you ever been compared to another solo artist?
I think I’ve been compared to Janis Joplin. My influences…would be like…Aretha Franklin. Etta James. Patsy Cline. Sheryl Crow. And I like Pat Benatar and I’m not afraid to say it.

How many bands do you currently play with?

My own band, “J 4 Jennifer” and “Jenn and Dave.” Now I’m also booking acoustic bands…trying to incorporate all music genres so that my club doesn’t have only one type of music ie. Seattle coffee house acts…

You got a problem with Seattle?

Never been but the music makes me suicidal.

You’re driving to your favorite destination and you got control of the music…a mix…what are the five songs?

Oh my god…ah, Led Zeplin “Whole Lotta Love,” “Take it or Leave it” by Jennifer Groves (laughing) cuz I LOVE that song! Gaetano and his last name is spelled V-E-L-O-S-O.

Okay,,,who’s he? Never heard of him.

He’s a Brazilian…very famous Bossa Nova singer. He’s like a rock star in Brazil, he is a rock star.

Okay, who else?

(Pause). Black Sabbath “Heaven and Hell”

And last one?

Let’s see. Trying not to make this a big deal. Maybe…What’s her name? “Steppin Stone” by what’s her name? Duffy? I think the woman’s name is Duffy. I think it’s Duffy.

Tell me more about your booking gigs?

More about what? Oh, okay, so…I’m a hustler. I hustle people to play at my club. My club is Recoup Lounge on the Lower east side 210 Rivington Street at Pitt Street-by the F train feels like the end of the world over there...I book Friday nights :)

What are your favorite bands to book?

I like to book bands with brass instruments…meaning sax, trumpet. What am I saying? I don’t even know what I’m saying. I like R and B. I recently books Miles, you saw him! He was basically rapping a track. Andy, oh god, what’s his band’s name? Andy Miller and Box Car Abandon, that band had a guitarist, flutist, and a washboard player!

What rap artists do you listen to?

Mase…it’s actually MA$E (laughing), Big E Smalls, and Tribe Called Quest. Put, ‘all the classics…’

You are a go getter type of person…what are your literary books of success that may have led you to be such a person?

Oh boy. I’ve read almost every ‘Self-help book’ on the planet. But for right now I would say Eckerd Tolle, “A New Earth” and The Secret…who ever wrote THAT book.

Think it was Burns, I can’t remember her first name. Anyway some very cool things happened to me right after I read “The Secret.” Can you recall what happened to you?

No. (laughing). Absolutely….I don’t think ANYTHING happened to me, truthfully. I can’t think of anything specific, Phil, but I don’t know how to say it…what you project, WILL manifest itself in the physical world.

Oh, I absolutely agree with that girl. I mean if I’m in a bad mood, things are gonna fall apart. Crumble.

(Laughing) 'Wheels are gonna fall off,' that’s one of my favorite statements.

People say the ‘music world’ is a difficult place to be these days financially…do you think that’s a harsh statement?

No, I think that’s the truth. I don’t think you could do it for the money…I don’t do it for the money. If I make money…great, but if I don’t then that’s great too. So, I make money other ways.

Being in the music world on a constant basis, you are surrounded by New York’s best underground artists/ and musicians. What solo artist, band or group do you see ‘making it’?

Dave Wrendon, Bobby Fingeroth…I’d like to put a band down. Put ‘Daliblu’ for starters, yeah.

Tell me a story about one of your love songs?

Just write that I’m a better ‘Anti-love’ song writer. They make for better love songs….

So, you don’t have ‘happily-ever…’

Not yet. Don’t you think break up songs make much better material? I equate love songs for pop songs and I’m not a ‘pop artist.’ Well, there’s two songs. There one, “Double Dealing Man” from the “J 4 Jennifer” album…the story is that um….it was about a guy who I met on the subway and he moved in with me (laughing) for two months. He was from Israel. He stayed at a Youth Hostel just up the street from here. So, we met on the subway…he moved in with me. I thought he was gonna stay and he had no intention of staying and he left for Israel and we were gonna meet in Israel for the New Year. Oh, this is just way too long…when I called him, there was a girl in the background and he told me he couldn’t come to meet me.

Were you already there?

Where? In Portugal. No! (laughing)


I called him before and then I heard the girl….

I think every woman and man has been down ‘that road.’ You’re also an artist?

Yeah. Um. I’m a painter. And right now I do paper collages. Predominantly from scenes from the bible.

Why? Are you very religious?

No but I love religious iconography and medieval illuminated manuscripts.

That’s way over my head. Next question. Um, my brain is burning. I haven’t done this in a LONG time. Um…..well, what do you think I should ask next?

(Pause) You could ask me if I consider myself more of a musician or a visual artist.

Ok, let’s pretend…I just asked you that question.

I would have to say…NO! Ah, being an artist can encompass um…all kinds of things, visual, musical, dance, like you know…play. I think an artist can manifest. You know anyone who can manifest an idea and bring it to life! And I think most artists can create using more than one medium and I personally like to say that if I can’t write, if I have ‘writers’ block’ than I can just paint or if I can’t sing, I’ll write a song….

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