24 Minutes with Jennifer Hershman
Jennifer Hershman (supplied photo)
From a dance hit on the Billboard charts to TV and movie soundtracks to appearing at New York’s legendary Bowery Ballroom, Jennifer Hershman has compiled a pretty impressive resume. Joe Leary spent 24 Minutes with the singer/songwriter.
How and when did music first enter your life? Was the family musical?
It entered my life in 1979, I remember it well! I received my first record player then as a gift. It was orange and among the first of many records that I enjoyed in the late 70's was Paul Simons' Slip Sliding Away on 45. I was in love with his voice; its smoothness and his catchy melodies.
My family listened to a lot of music during my childhood ranging from Lionel Richie and The Bee Gees to ZZ Top, Kate Bush, and Barbra Streisand. My dad enjoyed playing the guitar and alto sax and my mom was usually turning the tunes way up loud to sing and party to it or quite simply to just feel.
What was the first artist that really resonated with you and what connected?
Hmm. This is a tough question for me. I think I'm going to have to answer with Prince. His Purple Rain album really resonated with me in my youth. He is outstanding, obviously and I think it had something to do with the Purple Rain movie he made at that time as well that made it extra personal. His stories, his journey, how he was, like many artists, a tortured soul. I think what made him connect for me was his longing for love and his passion. In hindsight, growing up with my parents being separated I think I also fell victim to a sort of longing.
Your songs have previously been translated into other languages by international artists. How did that all come about?
I was working with a publisher at the time who connected my co-writer Davor Vulama and I with the record label and artists Girl Groups Abroad who chose to have our songs on their album. It's a fun feeling having your song "Kissy Kissy" recorded in Mandarin, indeed!
Tell me about 'Ebbs’. It sounds like you were very hands-on?
"Ebbs" was painful and beautiful for me to write. 'Ebbs' is my fourth solo studio album. The weight of the album stems from a lover. I always write songs from the heart which can be painful but hopefully brings with it growth. In the song 'Thoughts of You' I write about losing my grandma who I was very close with. When I sing, 'You're that breeze through the trees,' it’s about knowing that someone you have lost is still visiting. You can still feel their soul watching over you, they are still all around you. The song threads family love with romantic love which I had never before felt so present as I did when making this album.
This album was different for me in that I took full control as the producer. Outside of some awesome early direction from producer Howard Redekopp (Tegan & Sara, Mother Mother), I relished in the process of creating songs in my living room, bringing them to life with the help of stellar musicians ; Niko Friesen, Cory Curtis & Nashvilles' Shelly Riff, and then immersing myself in every nuance of the creative process as the producer. I would do the same in an acting role.
Time, time, time, and ears, ears, ears, are what is needed to create something special in my opinion. It is a satisfying feeling creating music from the ground up, and having every detail of every sound finessed to your liking.
You are pretty diverse musically especially having an earlier background in electronic music. Do you feel an artist should have a broader base?
I have always created from inspiration. I had some opportunities that I was excited about with major label projects/groups who happened to be in the electronic genre. Those came to me through friends and word of mouth or should I say, "word of Internet". These days if someone likes your voice, it’s pretty easy to track you down through your songs. If a great electronic track, dubstep or rock tune comes my way that inspires me to write with, I get excited about it. For me it is fundamental. I think it’s wise to stay open to different sounds, producers, and opportunities as an artist so you can continue to evolve and to be inspired.
(You can find a music video for "Love Authentication"/Jennifer Hershman on YouTube, or learn more at www.Jenniferhershman.com )