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Jennifer Ann

 

Hailing from a background in psychology and music therapy, Minnesota born and UK based singer-songwriter/producer Jennifer Ann cuts right to the heart of what makes us human in her lyrical work. Her music intertwines her classical training with contemporary pop, setting her haunting vocals amid a backdrop of lush, atmospheric, orchestral/piano soundscapes.  


In 2016, Jennifer's cover of ‘Mad World’ was used in a Lloyds Bank advertisement, pushing her overnight into the UK’s consciousness. ‘Mad World’ sold over 22,000 copies, was streamed over 1 million times and racked in 67,000 Shazams. ‘Mad World’ has since been placed in video game trailers, adverts, and TV shows in the UK, South Africa, and Italy. The success of ‘Mad World’ led Jennifer to contribute her skills to the next Lloyds Bank campaign, arranging and producing a cover of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’, with the vocal talents of singer-songwriter Hannah Grace and the London Contemporary Voices. She has also created music for several other campaigns, including advertisements for Boots, Pampers, and UNICEF.  


Jennifer is now set to release her first singer-songwriter EP, the lush and thought-provoking Take Me Home, which she says is ‘a brief snapshot of my life over the last few years. It’s about missing home, which I left to live in the UK, falling in love, feeling lost in life, wanting to hide from the realities of life, and the gradual realisation that we are all share similar experiences as human beings. We could just as easily be that “Girl on the Train” in my song, completely overwhelmed with life but putting on a brave face to hide it from the world’.  

 

 

 

Q: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?

 

A: Sometimes I do. It really depends on the song and the inspiration behind it. There are certain songs that I’ve written that at the time fulfilled a need for me to unload an emotion or something I’d been dealing with very quickly. In that sort of writing situation, I don’t normally sit and think about the words going into the song as much and it may be more straightforward and raw. Other times I’ll sit down and want to write something that is evocative and perhaps symbolic, in more of a poetic style. I normally spend much more time and brainpower on these types of lyrics and would sometimes consider them poetry, yes.

 

Q: Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?

 

I don’t believe that you always have to follow rules in music, but I find that I unconsciously do anyway. I normally always write songs that rhyme—not always perfect rhymes though, I definitely employ slant rhymes. There’s just something so pleasing and fulfilling to me when I find a perfect phrase that rhymes. It’s almost like playing a sort of mental strategy game when you’re trying to make lines and phrases fit together and rhyme. However, there are so many amazing songs out there that don’t rhyme. It’s just not always necessary. If you’re getting the point across in the best way possible, and using a different word to make it rhyme doesn’t achieve what you’re aiming for, then I don’t think you should diminish your expression by forcing it to rhyme, no.

 

Q: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as clear

rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can also be like free verse?

 

A: Songs can definitely be free verse and be effective. You’re still creating a form of expression, no matter what structure you use. However, if you are trying to market your music to a wide range of people and if you’re trying to be more commercial, you probably would be more likely to achieve success through using established structures in your writing. Established song structures have developed that way for a reason, they’re successful. Using things like hooks and choruses for example make your song more memorable and thus more likely to do well commercially. I personally would have a hard time writing music that is free verse. I find it’s too much freedom and if I can stick to a known song structure as a foundation, I feel I can be even more creative within that form.

 

Q: When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to the music you enjoyed?

 

A: Yeah definitely, I could see the connection to lot of folk artists whose work I admire. Artists like Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, Joan Baez. I would consider a lot of their lyrics to be very poetic.

 

Q: Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?

 

A: I started writing poetry before I started writing lyrics, back when I was around 14 years old. I suppose this was around the time that I was taking various literature/poetry classes at school. I was starting to understand how magical it is to use language to evoke the senses, which I still do a lot of. Poets like Robert Frost and John Keats spring to mind. I loved writing about the beauty of nature, which they did a lot of. In fact I remember the first time I felt inspired to write poetry was during a winter evening in Minnesota when it was snowing and the world looked like a winter wonderland. It felt magical and I was intensely inspired to express this beauty I was beholding. I didn’t continue to carry on writing non-musical poetry for very long because then I discovered the power of setting evocative words to music and melody. I haven’t written non-musical poetry since.

 

Q: Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?

 

A: Songs in general activate more of our sensory areas and are easier to remember. They get stuck in our head—earworms. That doesn’t really happen with poetry. In addition to this, songs and lyrics tend to be far more accessible and easy to understand than poetry, though not all the time of course. Poetry you usually have to take your time with—sometimes you have to use a lot of brainpower to decipher meaning within the poem. Songs are also used in a lot of different contexts unlike poetry. They become the soundtrack to our lives. Poetry can be incredibly powerful, but it takes more time and energy, which in our hectic lives and society, can be difficult to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 copyright © Jennifer Ann