This month, brilliant indie vocalist, ukulele master and all-around musical badass Jen Miller – representing Columbus, Ohio – tolerates my line of questioning for the second time around.
She covers the recording process, Kickstarter, her favorite bands, The Red Wedding, her quirky but beloved fans, how she’s grown as an artist and more. Read on, dinosaurs…
It’s been two years since you released your first EP on iTunes, what do you think the major difference between your new album, Overgrown, and Forget the Dirty Hearts is?
I think the major difference between the EP and the album is that I really got my hands dirty here. For the first EP, it was my first time in the studio. We did it all in one weekend and the songs didn’t really have a chance to ripen in the studio…we just recorded them as quickly and as well as we could in one 48 hour weekend.
This time around, I worked with a producer, Derek Snowden, who really helped me push my sound. Some days I would come in the studio and be like “Derek, I wrote a song last night! Let’s see what we can make of it!”, and that’s what we would do for the night. It would come in as vocals and a ukulele and get transposed to electric and banjo by the end of the night. That’s just how it goes. So the sound is definitely more developed and the songwriting more solid.
Kickstarter and YouTube seem to have been your friends over the years… What projects have you backed on Kickstarter?
Kickstarter burnt an imaginary hole in my pocket for a second there. I actually found it thanks to Julia Nunes…I am a massive fan of hers and she and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole are the combined reason I started teaching myself uke. She crowdfunded her first 2 albums which I (of course) backed obsessively.
Who are you into of these days musically? Anyone you fangirl over who readers might not have heard of?
I AM FANGIRL CENTRAL. A little less crazy than the One Direction fans though. I riot less.
Huge fan of Ohio natives Twenty One Pilots…Allen Stone, Kate Nash (swoon), Ed Sheeran’s new album, Nina Nesbitt, Passenger and Stu Larsen.
Recently added on my iPhone include: alt-J, the entire Shins collection, Crystal fighters, Rogue Wave, G-Eazy. Can you tell I listen to a bit of everything? ;)
If you could perform onstage with any four artists, living or dead, who would you choose?
That’s easy. Tina Fey.
1) Tina Fey
2) Regina Spektor
3) Ed Sheeran
4) Sam Cooke
Did I mention Tina Fey?
Thoughts on Game of Thrones…
I am so glad you asked. SO…my crazy cousin who sometimes lives with my parents (don’t even worry about it)…has been obsessed with it WAY before the craze. When I got home for winter break this past winter, my parents were binge watching it like crazy…I’d walk into the kitchen and someone would be getting murdered. Caught the red wedding with them. Awesome-sauce. Anywho, I’m not much of a TV person but the familial anecdotes sure entertain me.
Haha, I am known for being a perpetually sentimental person. I wrote that song about the guy I spent all of my college years with. Went abroad and really learned a lot about myself and a lot about him in hindsight and it just didn’t fit any more… there’s something ironic about that song because it’s really about me breaking my own heart and not understanding it until sitting down at the piano. Sometimes writing is more of a stream of consciousness than we realize.
Have you ever thought about trying out for The Voice?
Once upon a time, I tried out for American Idol twice. I don’t think those shows are for me…I don’t take kindly to being told what to do or say, really, and I mostly write music for myself. I guess I’d probably audition if they came around. Why not, ya know?
What did your family first say when you headed from your native Ohio to Scotland and started touring more often and recording in the studio?
Aw, my family is the weirdest. Some of them think it’s “inspirational” while my mom definitely wants me to get a desk job, haha! All the criticism and support come from the same place though… full of love, but they also want me to not get hurt by the industry. It’s hard making your art your job. Nothing comes easily.
A few words to describe your fans, who you lovingly call “Dinosaurs…”
The most loyal, quirky and small-but-mighty group out there!! They’re like those little dinos from Jurassic Park that look really little and cute but might spit on you if provoked, haha! Honestly, they come from all over…I’ve been sending discs all over the United States and to countries I have never heard of before. Talk about loyalty. Really blessed to have these weirdos supporting me when I’m down, up, or turned around.