JENNA Nation has been busy with a new album entitled You Don’t Know as well as a brand-new music video for her single Forever. FYIG recently had the chance to chat with JENNA about that new album and how she got to where she is today. Read on to find out more about this talented singer!
Before we dive into the musical side of things, tell us a little bit about JENNA Nation as a person.
I am very energetic, bubbly and adventurous. I have an outgoing side but can also be quite introverted, especially when I want some downtime. I am not very good at sitting still… I love to dance and am always singing. I am also super passionate about fitness and love to travel.
I’ve read that you grew up in a musical family. How important was their influence in your growth as an artist?
Family had a huge influence on me as music has always been an important part of my life. As a child, my mom and I were always singing together and we often had music playing in the house or in the car. My father is a drummer who is super passionate about music and shares the same musical tastes as me. My grandmother is a classical pianist who taught me how to play the piano and used to play while I sang. My grandfather has been in the music industry for years and introduced me to many different genres and artists as well.
You won your first singing competition at just 8 years old. How did that affect your career moving forward?
I think that was my first taste of feeling successful in music as I was up against kids who were much older than me and I still won the competition. I spent months preparing, but I really enjoyed every second of it. It made me realize how much I love being an artist and that this is something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.
You had your first professional gig just a couple months later singing on Parliament Hill. What was that like and how did you handle the pressure?
I was never nervous or scared of a crowd. I lived for it, and still do! I love the energy and being able to share what I love and know best with others. I was so excited, and being up on that stage in front of 10,000 people gave me this amazing rush and again, reconfirmed how much this was what I was meant to do!
You wrote a couple jazz albums as a teenager but eventually settled on R&B as the best fit for you as you started to take writing more seriously. Talk to us a bit about your musical and writing style and how you made the decision to settle on R&B?
A lot of this came from listening to and being exposed to a great deal of R&B throughout my life. I’ve been influenced by some of the greats: Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Stevie Wonder (I hope to collaborate with Stevie Wonder one day).
When I started writing my own songs, R&B came to me naturally. I still love jazz, and many of my songs incorporate other styles, but my heart is definitely in R&B.
Talk about your time at Berklee College of Music and how that shaped your career?
Berklee College of Music was an amazing experience. I graduated with a degree in music and was really able to develop my craft further, as well as explore and experiment with different genres. I learned a lot about myself not only as an artist, but as an individual. I had the chance to collaborate with people of different musical backgrounds from all over the world. It was incredible to be surrounded by like-minded people who were extremely talented and passionate about music.
You’ve recently released a new album titled You Don’t Know. Tell us a little bit about this album.
It seems that a lot of people have certain expectations or preconceptions of me, which is why I named the album, You Don’t Know. Most people really don’t know much about me or who I am until they hear my voice and what I have to say. I put so much time into this project, bringing together influences of jazz, hip-hop and R&B (especially 90’s R&B).
You also just released a new video for your single, Forever. Talk to us a bit about the song and your experience filming the video.
I wrote the song in L.A. with Victoria Monet. Alex Niceforo and Travis Sayles produced it, with Gabe Gallucci and Trvth Music completing it in Toronto. I had been writing too many heartbreak songs, so I wanted something a little more upbeat and happy. That’s how Forever came to be. I thought it would be great to have a rap verse on it, so I included Fame Holiday on the song. We filmed the video in a Toronto loft, as well as a rooftop patio that overlooked the whole city.
Is there anyone that you’re really hoping to get to work with during your career?
I would really love to work with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, Erykah Badu, Chris Brown, Jilly Scott, and Brandy.
Do you have any advice for aspiring singers?
Speak your truth! People can tell when someone is honest and genuine, and when someone is playing a part. Be yourself and don’t rush trying to figure out who you are as an artist. Take time to develop your craft and figure out who you are and what you want to say. The best you can be is yourself.
When and where are your next shows where we can see you live?
Most of my upcoming shows are in Toronto. You can catch me on December 14th at Lee’s Palace with some other artists, including Fame Holiday. On December 15th, I’ll be performing with my live band at Poetry Jazz Café. All of my shows are posted on my website: www.JENNAnation.com.
What can audiences expect when they go to see JENNA Nation live?
I absolutely love to perform and the stage is my all-time happy place! I am completely in the moment and feed off of the energy from my audience. I often do a mix of my original songs, as well as soulful covers of some of my favourite songs. I play with super talented musicians and we put on an energetic, soulful and fun show!
What’s next for your career?
Next for me is continuing to promote my album, You Don’t Know, and get my music heard. I am always creating and will continue to release music. I plan on touring internationally very soon, so I am currently working towards that goal.
Tell the readers where they can find you online.
You can find me at www.JENNAnation.com and on all social media outlets under @jennagnation.