A member of the Def Jam Records family, Jenna has worked with hitmakers ranging from Babyface to Max Martin (Pink, Britney Spears, Celine Dion). Her music is eclectic—pop to jazz with funk and soul elements, and even some sultry beats. But more apt than any genre label is a feel. It’s real. “My album is heartfelt and honest. It came out very naturally,”
When looking at yourself as an artist what direction do you see yourself going?
Definitely dark! I would say dark and sensual. My whole EP is called Kiss & Run (on iTunes). There's a confidence in it that is very erotic. It's basically pulling back the curtain on the "girl world". It reveals why girls are the way we are.
Talk to us a bit about your teenage struggles and how you followed your passion
I was raised by two amazing parents that somehow find out about the stuff I'm doing and call me before I find out. *laughs* They were first reluctant on the whole vision I had because I moved out at the age of 18 years old. I had a car and I would sleep in it on my own will. You kind of have to put yourself through it so at the end of the day your not saying some bullsh*t in your music.
Nothing was ever handed to me in a silver platter. Parents obviously never want their child out in the world in that situation, but at the same time I needed to make my own decisions. I went from Vancouver, to Toronto, LA, to London. I lived everywhere! I left everything I had in Toronto, and brought everything I could in one suitcase to New York.
How has that experienced influenced you? What did you get out of that?
It's made me a deeper person and made me want to talk about the stuff that really matters in life. The world is different now! Comparing myself from when I first started to write song, I can safely say that I now have perspective. I've lived! This industry can get to be a lonely world. You dedicate all your time and effort into your music, and then you find yourself internally talking aloud "well you dont have that many friends..". It's interesting because it gives you so much to say. Your music is your outlet.
push yourself through..
Sometimes I can't write songs when I'm in a bad mood. I'm sometimes too emotional. I feel like I'm the Queen of emotions. I have every emotion, besides mad.
Talk to us about your newly released music video "Weapon"
We filmed the video around Grammy time in California directed by a friend of mine that I met in Toronto. One interesting thing about the video was the ending. It was the winter in LA, and I was only in a bra and jeans falling into water. So they told me "you only have one shot, lets make it happen". It was an emotional scene since "Weapons" was all about having 1% of your heart left. I'm giving you my heart and opening up my doors to you, but if you fuck it up -- I'm done! So both the scene and the meaning of the song really went well together. It gave me a weird rush.. you hit the freezing water in the middle of winter.
You've been on the Island Def Jam shelf for about four years now.
Yes, I was first signed by LA Reid and now with all the labels switching he moved over to Epic Records. So during that time period I made my song Kiss and Run. Since then I signed to Songs (a publishing company) that are amazing! They changed my musical life, and introduced me to slew of new people since they already have those established relationships and are very relevant. My manager, Chris Smith, and I both got together and put together a project that we really wanted to do along with the musical direction that I wanted. We presented it to Def Jam and they were down with it. It really didn't feel as though I was sighed until recently. Even though I've been signed, it was definitely like I was living like an indie artist.
Do you think the social acceptance of a "Lana Del Ray" type of song has helped you to be able to do what you are doing with your music?
I think there's a lot of other artists that have really set the precedent within the industry. I think the flood gates of music have opened up. You have Miguel, Amy Winehouse, and Frank Ocean..
If you could speak to the girl from your past, what would you say?
Being an artist is hard. You have to love it.. you have to be passionate about it. If I speaking to that girl in me I think I would say the same thing I lived by. "Go do it! Let me fail on your own terms. Let me do what I love and risk living off of one suitcase." You get to listen to your music you reminisce on when you went through that. It's a beautiful thing!