Watch List: Jenn Em Provides The Acoustic Key To Unlock The Emotion of 'Jailkeeper'
We were intrigued last year when we came across a smoldering, two part audio-visual narrative that channeled Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, imbued as it was with a sultry, seductive hue courtesy of its film noir lighting and the bluesy insouciance of Maryland native Jenn Em's smoky, grit-edged vocals, and with our interest thus piqued, we were curious to see what more was to come in the future from the singer/songwriter. Our curiosity was answered recently when Em (Jennifer Malsch) revealed what she had been working on in the time since, the brooding, soulful introspection of her debut single 'Jailkeeper', which saw Em recently named MySpace Artist Of The Day.
Stripping the song back to its emotional core, Em recently sat down at a piano set amongst a sea of candles to give us an exclusive acoustic version of the song, evoking a confessional mood with an intimate rendition that is poignantly weighed with a hauntingly introspective vulnerability, Em explaining that 'the intimacy of this particular performance was important because this is, in my opinion, is the most honest interpretation of the song. In many ways it is physically similar to the manner in which it was written, both in sound and ambiance, and I wanted to invite the listener into that experience'.
Saying that 'when you record a song, it can be very strategic. You get to sing the same part over and over until you get the exact desired intensity on each note. With a live performance, the intensity happens where it happens, so you can't hide anything. You don't always have that control. The record is full of theatrics, a cinematic approach to a memory. The live performance is just a conversation. My personal account', Em notes that with the inherently ephemeral nature of the live acoustic performance she wants to 'leave people with the reminder that there are a million ways to sing any one note, just like there are a million ways to paint the same flower or words to tell the same story. I hope that within one performance or the other, they can find something to relate to, and I encourage people to record and share versions of their own. That's the beauty of music'.
Instinctively creative, 22-year-old Em's artistic energies were channeled into piano and violin lessons at an early age, the fruits of which saw her perform at the Kennedy Center and the White House, and she began songwriting at age six. Branching out musically as she matured to write and sing hooks in hip hop and r'n'b circles, she came to notice on her local scene with a remix of Wale's (ft. Lil' Wayne) 'Nike Boots', with the attention it garnered motivating her to pick up and follow her musical dreams to Los Angeles. Focused on perfecting her craft on the West Coast music scene, she met JUB Records owner and executive Jubbie Chang, with whom she is working on her EP project.