Jennifer Juan is a poet, author, musician, artist and performer from the planet Earth. Her soul-search led to an evolution in her writings and songs. She is one of the few ones, who regularly create visual poetry for a more sensual experience. As her fresh EP, “Mad About The Girl” is released worldwide, we took the time to talk about art, self-growth and music.
It’s a good read, so, be brave to continue!
And also, watch the short movie “Mad About The Girl”, an addition to the same titled album, by Jennifer Juan:
Music Authentic: Welcome to Music Authentic! Let’s begin with our site-traditional question: How did you sleep last night?
Jennifer Juan: Not very well, but that’s pretty common for me. I’ve always had problems sleeping, but it’s not so bad, because it means I can work on things at night, when everything is quiet.
Music Authentic: What did you last cook?
Jennifer Juan: I made some pasta last night. Everyone I talk to thinks this is mad, but pasta, with green pesto, and little bits of potato waffles is one of the most satisfying meals I’ve had in my lifetime.
Music Authentic: How do you spend your everyday? Are you up with the first ray of light to get the inspirations and write?
Jennifer Juan: I try and wake up early, because I figure that if I’m awake for a lot of the day, I’ll actually be able to sleep. I try and write every day, so having the whole day to think and come up with ideas is helpful. I don’t have a specific time when I write, I just let it happen as it happens.
Music Authentic: There are people who write for the diary, others for the drawer, a few self-publish. You’ve chosen a different path. How did it come to you?
Jennifer Juan: I started a website with my best friend when we were in school, where we posted our writing and created different projects, and I really enjoyed being able to create whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I created my own website, and began posting my own stuff, again, so that I could have the creative freedom to bring whatever I felt like doing to the audience.
Music Authentic: Visual poetry. Your soul-reflections are giving more of a sensual experience. Can you tell what your artistic approach and process is?
Jennifer Juan: I like to write poetry that gives an insight into how I feel. I studied creative writing at university, and it really allowed me to discover and shape my voice as a writer, so I settled on confessional, slightly surreal poetry as my primary medium, and I decided I wanted to adapt some of my poems to another medium, to allow my audience to get a more 3D experience. Hearing the words and seeing the images that occurred in my mind as I wrote allows the reader to feel what it’s like to be inside the poem.
Music Authentic: So, let’s lead us into your songwriting process. Lyrics or music first? Or meeting with others and you create from practicing?
Jennifer Juan: I used to start with lyrics, when I was first writing songs, but as time went on, and I became more experienced with composing and putting a song together, I started doing it the other way round, and beginning with music. It was exciting because I could let the music guide me to what the song would be about, and it helped me to expand the themes I was covering.
Music Authentic: Your brand new EP, “Mad About The Girl”, has just come out with a new short movie. Can you unveil the story behind this?
Jennifer Juan: It began with a poem I wrote, called Mad About The Girl, which was about how a lot of the time, people struggle to love and care for themselves without validation from others. I wanted to ask myself why I felt that way, why I felt like I couldn’t look at myself with kindness and affection if someone else didn’t. Falling in love with yourself can be a real challenge, so I wanted to call myself out a little and say “Why are you making these mistakes over and over? Why won’t you put yourself first?”
Music Authentic: My initial favourites are “Pretend” and “Blue Eyed Girl”. Which song was the most challenging to write and shape?
Jennifer Juan: Blue Eyed Girl was really fun to create but it was a long process. I built the song around a drum beat and some vocal ad libs, and it took me a little while to figure out how the vocals would interact with the percussion to build the foundations for the song. It was a lot of trial and error, standing at the mic and just experimenting, which was really fun, but took a while. Lyrically, Return was the most challenging to write, because I wrote it in the middle of a break up, and I felt frustrated with myself that I wanted to save a relationship with somebody who treated me badly. I was heartbroken to be losing someone I loved, but also heartbroken that I couldn’t look past that love and acknowledge that I should love myself enough to want more.
Music Authentic: As an artist, how do you feel, can contemporary art reach across the wall of numbness and ignorance in this society falling apart around us?
Jennifer Juan: When I was a kid, books and music were my escape. I used to borrow records from my Grandad and just lay down on the floor with my eyes closed and listen to them, and it was like I was in another world. I think during the difficult year that a lot of us have had, being able to connect to entertainment has allowed people to have some relief to the constant bad news and the fear that we have all been feeling. I definitely feel that I wouldn’t have made it through if I couldn’t have been working on new projects throughout the pandemic. I think art definitely has the power to change society for the better, too. Throughout history, we have seen that songs, plays, movies and books have all been part of raising awareness to injustice and telling the stories of people who are often not given a voice in society.
Music Authentic: Creating art, music, getting them out to be heard and seen is tiresome. And many times we need to make ends meet in other ways, too. How do you tap into fresh energies?
Jennifer Juan: That is very true. I used to like going to open mic shows and just test out new work, and connect with other writers, so help revitalise myself, but with the pandemic, that has been a bit of a challenge. Lately, I’ve been spending lots of time in parks, because it was within the rules, and being around nature really helped with inspiration, and allowed me a quiet place to think, and to decompress from the day.
Music Authentic: In your book, “Deus Ex Machina”, you are in a search for yourself, in “Home Wrecker” you open up to your vulnerabilities, in “Ol’ Brown Eyes Is Back” you seem to be freer and more self-acceptant. Have you arrived, as Bob Dylan says “All I can do is be me, whoever that is”?
Jennifer Juan: Definitely. I think when I wrote Ol’ Brown Eyes Is Back, I was at a point where I had decided that who I was, was perfectly okay. I spent a lot of my childhood in a rural village in England, where there were only about ten people of colour, so I felt like I didn’t fit in, and as I grew up, that feeling stuck around. I’d look at magazines, and TV shows, and most of the girls didn’t look like me, so I began to question if the colour of my skin, my eyes, my fuller lips and nose meant that I was ugly, because I didn’t look like the people that were presented as beautiful. It was a long journey to realise that there is enough room for everyone to be beautiful, but I’m glad I made that trip.
Music Authentic: What is the stage you’d like to stand on the most?
Jennifer Juan: I daydream a lot about performing on Saturday Night Live. It’s one of my favourite shows, so to get to perform there would be amazing. I’d also get the opportunity to explore New York, which would be dreamy.
Music Authentic: It seems now some parts of humanity would move to another planet for better or worse. Would you be the first poet in the Mars colony?
Jennifer Juan: I would absolutely love that. I find space so fascinating, and it would be great to see what other worlds are like.
Music Authentic: Who are your reading and listening these days? Are there any new, fresh voices out here?
Jennifer Juan: I created a radio show, as part of Alphabet Radio, which was a pop up station on Soho Radio, and the show, Diverse Verse was about discovering and platforming underappreciated writers, so I got to spend a lot of time hearing writers that hadn’t really had a chance to shine, which is really fun. One of my favourites at the moment is a poet called Josi Phene, who I first met when I was performing in London, she calls herself the Polaroid Poet, because she never edits, and let’s her work stand on its own, as it was originally written, which is very cool. She’s incredibly talented and I was really pleased we could have her on the show. I really love Leika Molly too, she’s from the US, and has such a genuine, beautiful voice. I love October Falls as well, I’ve been following their work for a long time, and it was really exciting to have them on the show.
Music Authentic: With whom would you like to collaborate the most?
Jennifer Juan: Harry Styles, which is wild, because we make very different things, but we have the same birthday, and I just feel like two Aquarius kids working together would be really cool.
Music Authentic: Before we go today, what encouragement do you have your readers and followers?
Jennifer Juan: The world is such a difficult place to exist, and the human experience is not always a fun one, so just do your best, be kind, and remember that you deserve fair treatment.
Music Authentic: It was a good talk, hope to continue soon!
Say Hello and listen to Jennifer Juan on her:
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/gb/artist/jennifer-juan/1293313532
Website: https://jenniferjuan.com (you’ll find good books and poems here)