Jenny Gill on New Music, Songwriting and More — A CMM Exclusive Interview

Jenny Gill is releasing her EP “The House Sessions” tomorrow, September 8th. We were lucky enough to catch up with the singer/songwriter early last week and we chatted about everything from being moms, to songwriting, to releasing this exciting new project. From the moment Jenny said hello I could hear the excitement in her voice about this EP.

Being a new mom myself I couldn’t resist starting the conversation with a little chat about Jenny’s adorable two year old son Wyatt. She told me about his love of golf and hockey and how she is certain he is going to be an athlete. As a mostly stay at home mom Jenny admitted it is challenging at times, but SO beyond worthwhile and fun. I talked to her about balancing being a mom and getting this music out to the fans and she explained saying,“I had all this music recorded before Wyatt came. All that time in the studio I wasn’t a mom yet, so I had time to just focus on recording. Then once Wyatt came I decided to put everything else a side for a bit and just focus on him. Once he was approaching two and I got in my groove of being a mom, I started feeling ready to pick back up what I was doing before.” 

Jenny did just that and really decided she was ready to get this EP into the hands of the fans. She just had to figure out which direction to go and how she wanted to get there. I last spoke to Jenny is 2012 and she had said then her dad (Vince Gill) had given her the gift of recording time in the studio for Christmas. So this EP was certainly a long time coming. “I had to learn how to do it all. My example for the music business is my parents and they all have teams that do it all. So for me it was hard to really know what step one really was. We actually ended up recording it in two batches of tracking. We picked a collection of songs and recorded those. There were some of them that I loved and some that I didn’t, so I went back into my catalogue of songs and tried to find some more that I really felt were me. Then we went back in and did a second batch of recordings and then I decided which ones to keep for the EP.”

One of the songs that did make the cut is “Your Shadow.” The song is very personal and inspired by Jenny’s dad, Vince Gill. It is about trying to let a dream come to fruition when you feel you’re in the shadow of someone else. The song is certainly a standout on the EP and Jenny wasn’t always sure she was ready to put it out there. “That song is really old! It was a song I had written a long time ago and just tucked it away in my computer. I had no plans for it….it was so personal! I wasn’t ready to be that vulnerable. When we were looking for the second batch of recordings to track, I almost didn’t play it for dad. I was so terrified of what his reaction would be because it is directly inspired by him and I didn’t want to hurt him. When I finally decided to play it for him his response had nothing to do with our relationship and it had everything to do with the song. He was super proud of me as a songwriter. He was really impressed by the way it was pieced together and his reaction gave me more confidence as an artist!”

Once she had played it for Vince, Jenny took that newfound confidence in the song and started playing it live only to find that it really resonated with people.“The response to this song has been really huge and at times surprising. The song isn’t just about a kid who has a famous parent, anybody who lives under a shadow of anybody can relate to it. I never knew such a personal song could end up being so universal!”

While Jenny wrote or co-wrote five out of the six songs on the EP, she is on the newer side to songwriting. A lot of songwriters start out at a very early age, but that wasn’t the case for her she admits, “I didn’t’ start as a young teenager up in my room pouring my heart out on pages. I didn’t do that. I was too obessed with being popular so I was always out and about being social. So I have only been writing songs since my 20’s. I was inspired to start trying while I was working for a music publisher. I always knew I loved performing and I knew if I applied myself I might be able to do this. One of the very first people who invited me to co-write with them was a songwriter named Andi Zack. She co-wrote “Look Where Loving You Landed Me” and “Whiskey Words.”

The one song on the EP that Jenny didn’t write is her cover of “The Letter.” She gives it her own spin and it is a song she has always loved. “The song just had that feeling I felt like I was missing on the EP. No other song had that rockin’ feel. I have always loved performing it…I started singing it in my college band and when I was putting this project together I thought, ‘Why Not?’ If a song is that good it is okay if its not yours.”

As most people would probably agree the lines in music genres are quite blurred these days. Jenny definitely feels that is the case and so classifying what type of music she sings has been hard. After listening you will find there is a little something for everyone and she describes it by saying, “When you dig into this collection of songs some is pop, some is rock, some is country. It has a lot of influences and I think that is a good thing. My stuff doesn’t really fit on country radio, there are parts of country that I love….some older country for sure.” While she has many influences she credits one particular artist with teaching her how to sing. With Vince Gill and Janis Oliver (Sweethearts of the Rodeo) as your parents and Amy Grant as your step mom you might think they were the singing teachers, but that is not the case. “Bonnie Rait would be the one I would say really taught me how to sing. She taught me how to not be lazy with my voice and to take my time getting to a note. Hearing the way she slides into a note really changed the way I approached singing. She’s the one that really taught me how to be soulful. My dad is really great at that too, but he can really attack a note head on and that’s what I had always tried to do, but Bonnie taught me to try to take my time getting there.”

Jenny also credits Amy Grant with getting her singing chops to where they are today. She occasionally tours with Amy and her band as a background singer. “She hired me in 2010 and I toured with her a few years on the road and I improved so much having that opportunity. I give her a lot of credit for that. Her material was very different from anything I was listening to and so that opened up my world of singing as well. I have also sang backup for my dad and I feel like it is really important to be able to do a few different things with your voice. I want to be able to do a few things really great, not just one. I also just love collaboration….singing other people’s songs….just doing as much as I can vocally!”

Jenny took a minute to give her dad, who produced the EP, major props for the high quality of her new project saying, “I was so grateful for how hard he was willing to work on it. He really took the time that he takes with everything else he does in that studio. It is why the sound is so good. I am glad that we took our time with it. Had I just gone in with someone to make demos that rushed me through we wouldn’t have the same sound at all. Also, recording at Dad’s studio, because it is in their home, makes you feel so comfortable like you are just hanging out in someone’s living room. I never felt any pressure and all the players felt comfortable and I think that comfort really is reflected in the music.”

Now that the EP is being released and Jenny will have music out there she is starting to think about her next steps as an artist and where she would like to go from here. “My plan is to make writing a priority. I want to be prepared for the next recorded project if that opportunity comes. I also would love to get better on the guitar. One of my goals is to accompany myself on guitar at a writers round.”

“The House Sessions” is available tomorrow, September 8th, on ITunes! In addition Jenny is holding an EP release party/show in Nashville on the 8th at 3rd and Lindsley where she will be selling hard copies of her CD. In the future hard copies will be available on her website. From talking to Jenny the excitement and pride she has for this EP is beyond evident. She has worked hard on it and is so eager for everyone to hear it. We talked to her a little bit about what she wants the fans to know most and she said, “These songs come from a real place. They are melodies that I LOVE to sing and they are messages that I believe in. It really is a piece of me. For a long time I could never attach to what I was singing, but now I really can. It doesn’t matter to me if 200 people or 2 million people love these songs….I just want them to get to the people who might need them or want them. I am just so happy it will finally be available.”

We had such a great chat with Jenny and besides being a mega talented singer she is a down to earth person who was very gracious with her time. If you are looking for a new artist to fall in love with we urge you to check out Jenny Gill’s “The House Sessions.” You can find it on iTunes HERE

 

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