UK darling Jenn D first caught my eye (and ears) with her gutsy debut single “Lose It” back in November, a powerful punch of aggressive beats and taunting lyricism—and some hot Speak & Spell action to boot.
Then, earlier this year, the Liverpool-born songstress got our hearts racing again with the premiere of “You Keep Giving Me Love.” It’s pure Minogue mania–a full-on blast of euphoric synthesizers and flirty, swoon-filled coos–and a pretty major departure from her previous single. But between the two sounds, just who is the real Jenn D anyway?
Well, that’s what she’s still working on.
While Jenn ccontinues to work on carving out a cohesive tale for her upcoming solo debut LP (she formerly fronted the electro-pop troupe Soft Toy Emergency), I spoke with the up-and-coming pop princess for a bit about recording her new tunes, the process of creation (music, not babies), her musical muses (hint: The “D” in Jenn D could stand for “Dancing On My Own”) and the songs she’s digging right now.
How long have you been working on your debut album?
About a year and a half, but solidly for the past year. But in a way it’s kinda like I’ve been writing it my whole life up to now. You draw on so many of your own life experiences when writing an entire album. It’s a lot of hard work and you’ve got to have a lot of patience. You can’t expect to write something amazing every single day.
“You Keep Giving Me Love” is all shades of Kylie. Are you a Minogue fan?
Yeah of course! She’s had an incredible career in pop music and had so many hit records. I’m really excited to see what she does next as she’s just signed to Roc Nation. I think she’s been very good at making the right decisions for herself in terms of who she has on her team…much like Madonna, who is also an artist I admire a lot.
“Lose It,” on the other hand, is much cockier and in-your-face. Would you say that your album is varied musically?
Yeah, it’s shaping up to be extremely eclectic. My focus the next few months is getting all the tracks sounding consistent and I’m definitely going to spend some time working out where I wanna take the rest of the album musically. All the tracks have been written now though, so that’s a start! It’s like a big jigsaw at the moment. All the pieces are there, but I have to figure out how to piece it all together and create an album that I’m really proud of.
Who have you been working with on the new album?
I’ve been very fortunate to write with some amazing people and have made some great friends in the process. Really enjoyed working with Paul Harris and Carl Ryden. Paul has written for Kylie. He’s a really great DJ and also just the loveliest man. Carl has been out in LA working on the new Cher record and I don’t mean Cher Lloyd—I mean THE CHER!
What is it like working with the almighty pop troupe, Xenomania? Did you head to their cottage in the country?
I worked with Tim Deal from Xenomania who has been responsible for recent hits for The Saturdays and Girls Aloud. We actually worked at a studio owned by an artist called Julie Tzuke who had a lot of success in the late ’70’s. Her house is so magical and she is a very warm person. We would have cups of tea and sit in her kitchen talking about all sorts of music, etc. The house has so many animals—a lot of them rescue cats and dogs. Really inspiring place to be and create music in!
Do you have a favorite song from the album?
Yes I do. I can’t tell you the name of it just yet though! It’s very emotional and was therapeutic to write. I had a very tearful breakdown in the studio while recording it. I’ve never felt so connected to a song emotionally. Whilst I love writing and recording uplifting party tracks, I guess my heart really lies in the more emotional material on the album and the songs that are extremely personal to me that hopefully other people can relate to.
How did you end up signing with AATW Records?
They knew about me from an electro band I was in [Soft Toy Emergency] in Liverpool a few years ago. When that fell apart, one of the A&R guys there kinda threw me a lifeline and said I should come in and use the studio, write some demos and maybe work with some of the other artists on the label. So I did, and by that Christmas I’d put a few demos together. One of the directors there said he thought I’d be great doing a solo project—so I did! Few months later, I signed up for an album deal with them. I have a huge amount of respect for the people at my label. They’re very supportive.
What’s your mission as a pop star, if any?
To always be myself. This business can get kinda crazy sometimes, but I refuse to be something I’m not. I think the most successful artists are the ones who have a clear idea of who they are and stick to their guns on certain things.
Have you been performing live lately? How would you describe a Jenn D live show? (Or how do you envision it in the future?)
Yeah I’ve been doing a few solo shows just road testing the material, I suppose. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. I’ve also been doing vocals for a duo called Loadstar. They have their album coming out at the end of April and we did a track together on that. I’m really proud of it and I love performing with them. It’s just pure energy for a whole hour! I give it so much on stage. In Paris recently, I crowdsurfed all the way out to the middle of the crowd and then they brought me back to the stage. Probably the most fun I’ve ever had performing.
Who are your personal favorite fellow pop princesses?
ROBYN! She is so amazing. I adore her music so much and I have so much admiration for the fact she just does her own thing, started her own label etc. I think that’s allowed her a lot of freedom creatively.
What’s your favorite song of the moment? (Or a few!)
AlunaGeorge‘s “Analyser.” I really love their stuff at the mo. This song is so understated and cool. I really like that kinda garage style pitched up vocal. It gives it a real other worldly quality. And Lulu James‘ “Closer.” This girl’s voice is amazing. I heard Annie Mac spin this record and have been a bit obsessed with it ever since.
“You Keep Giving Me Love” will be released on April 7. (iTunes)