Jenny Owen Youngs
originally wrote "Pirates" on the ukulele, and we're not hating on the uke, but give this guitar-happy, percussion heavy version a spin and you'll appreciate the transformation. It's raw and brutally honest, but still possesses a sense of humor and a good-natured vibe. Really, it's just pure fun. Not surprising, coming from a girl whose initials spell out "JOY," and who would choose Jack White to help co-write her dream song. Here, we catch up with Youngs about her upcoming album, An Unwavering Band of Light
, her successfull Kickstarter
campaign to fund it, and where she gets all that inspiration. Give "Pirates" a spin, and grab An Unwavering Band of Light
when it drops on Feb.7.
PureVolume: Your last full-length album, Transmitter Failure, came out in May 2009. What have you been focusing on during the time between albums?
Jenny Owen Youngs: I've toured in the US, UK and mainland Europe in various formations (headlining; supporting artists such as Regina Spektor
and Motion City Soundtrack
; and as part of collaborative tours like Revival Tour and the Hotel Cafe Tour), recorded and released Last Person EP
(new arrangements of five songs from Transmitter Failure
), and done all the things I suppose musicians do. That is to say, I've been listening to records, writing songs and watching "Friday Night Lights." Of course, my main focus since about September 2010 has been the writing and recording of this album. It's been in the fryer a good long while.
PV: What spurred your decision to set up a Kickstarter
campaign to fund your new album?
JOY: I knew it was high time to start working on a new record, but I was uncertain as to how I should go about it. I had released a couple of records on an indie label, but felt pulled to find another path. Some friends of mine had run very successful Kickstarter campaigns, and I figured why not? I didn't know if I'd make my goal or if anyone would even care about whether I made another record or not.
PV: In one word, what did you then feel when you found out you'd raised $38K thanks to Kickstarter?
JOY: Either "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" or "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?!?!"
PV: Your songs seem equal parts reality and imagination. Is it important to you to keep a bit of that dreamy quality in your music, or is something that happens naturally
JOY: I think that my songs (and possibly all songs) are sort of multiple exposures -- and there's nothing dreamier than a multiple exposure! The listener experiences multiple layers simultaneously. The layers include, but are not limited to: my personal experiences and perceptions, my imagination, and the influence of the books, records, works of art, films, and news articles I absorb in everyday life. To me, this is not only natural, this is more or less imperative to the creation of songs.
PV: What's one fun fact you can share with us about "Pirates"?
JOY: I wrote it on the ukulele, in a different key that had me singing a good bit lower -- I was angling for a winking, Stephin Merritt [of The Magnetic Fields] kind of vibe. That all changed when we started arranging it for the album, but it was fun while it lasted.
PV: You've listed Johnny Cash, Kate Bush, Tom Waits, and Jack White [of The White Stripes
] as your spirit animals. If you could choose just one to co-write your dream song with, who would you choose and why?
JOY: I reckon Jack White would be my pick -- I think he might be the wildest card in the bunch. I think I'd be the most afraid of him, and I expect he'd be most likely to surprise me. I like surprises.
PV: Can you leave us with one last thought about your new album?
JOY: Just like the rest of us, all it wants is to be loved