Today I’d like to welcome multi-faceted musician, Jenna Meiring to Off the Page to talk about her band Jenna Sighed.
Jenna Meiring, creative mind behind Jenna Sighed, is a mostly self-taught musician who draws inspiration from many different sources be it black or death metal or classical or pop or rock: And this flair for music is nothing new to Jenna…
Jenna attended piano lessons from the tender age of seven, from 1995 until 1999 and this led her to her first love: guitar. When she picked up the guitar in 2000, at the age of twelve, and spent much of the following year learning to play the music of Metallica, Korn, and other such artists, one could say Jenna’s love for the instrument (and for metal) was firmly entrenched.
At the end of 2002, at the age of fourteen, Jenna, along with two of her other school friends, formed her first alternative band, Pensive. In early 2007, after completing her Matric and gathering some steam (a new instrument added to her repertoire); Jenna joined the band Through Knives. In April of 2008, they teamed up with two friends and formed Black Soul Cafe, a progressive metal band in which Jenna played lead guitar, violin and backup vocals Black Soul Café gigged in Pretoria and Johannesburg for most of 2009 before breaking up due to creative disagreements in the band.
Following the break-up of Black Soul Cafe, Jenna played with Necromantian from May 2009-June 2010. She participated on the ‘Gateway’ EP released by Salute Records in 2010.
Despite her involvement in bands, Jenna spent a lot of time working on music on her own. After starting formal training in violin and getting back in touch with music theory, Jenna’s song writing became more versatile and sophisticated, but it wasn’t until she started singing training that she truly felt ready to start promoting herself. This finally gave Jenna the confidence to pursue her own project, Jenna Sighed. By early February 2012 Jenna Sighed settled on the following line-up: Wesley van Eeden on bass, Storm Awesome on drums, Martin Dugdale on guitar and Jenna Meiring on lead guitar, violin and vocals. So, with Jenna Sighed being the main drive, there will be no holds barred over what she can achieve. So listen up, boundaries will be pushed, music will be made! (Abridged official bio from artist)
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where did you grow up, what sparked your interest in music?
I was born in Welkom in the Free State, but I grew up in Rustenburg, North West (lovingly nicknamed Rasputinburg by me, ha ha).
I always loved music. My mom’s parents both play a lot of instruments and my mom herself played piano, so I had music in my life from when I was very small. I can’t really say when it became so important to me, because I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing songs, bullying some poor friend to ‘start a band’ with me (if memory serves, the first of these was when I was about 8, with a tiny little Casio keyboard.). I just love music, and have always wanted to be a part of making it. If you hear a song that means a lot to you, you can close your eyes and be in another place, in another time, with someone else; it can make you happy, sad, excited, inspired. So few things in this world can do that to you, and I love the idea of being connected to something so powerful.
2. What instruments do you play and do you have a favourite?
I play piano, guitar, bass, violin, and a couple of others that I don’t play well enough to mention! I think the violin is probably my favourite, but I feel differently about my instruments depending on how I’m feeling and what I’m playing. Piano is great because it’s been in my life so long I can just sit down and play without thinking, which is very relaxing. Guitar is fun and you can express yourself bodily with less reserve (if that makes sense), and there is no better feeling than mastering a solo. With the bass there’s a sort of freedom that comes with playing, and it’s an instrument that often defines the undertones of the song; it’s amazing to be part of that. Violin… well, from the first day I picked it up, it felt right. It felt like I was meant to play it, and play it my own way. There’s no denying how incredible that feels!
3. You have an eclectic taste in music, who is your favourite artist? What are some of your favourite bands?
I would love to be able to pin down a favourite artist, but it changes so often that when people ask me that question, I tend to list whoever I’m listening to the most at the moment! So at the moment my favourite is a tie between Chthonic and Animals as Leaders. Others that are usually at the top are Trivium, Paramore, Emilie Autumn, Tool, Hans Zimmer, Strapping Young Lad, Cradle of Filth, Pantera. I also listen to an array of classical music, but if I add all of those composers and players to the list, it will never end.
4. If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
That’s a REALLY tough one, wow! Again, it would depend on WHEN you asked me, but today it would probably be Hans Zimmer’s Inception soundtrack, Animals as Leaders’ ‘Weightless’. Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is also one I can listen to over and over! The reason I would pick one of these is because they seem ageless, I never get tired of hearing them, and when you put the album on repeat it doesn’t feel like you’re hearing the same album repeating, because each experience of each song is different, every time you hear it.
5. If you could meet any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
So after some deliberation, because there are SO many, it’s Matt Heafy from Trivium. I was going through a very tough time in my life, and with a few different choices could have ended up leaving my musical life behind. At the time, I saw the Roadrunner United DVD, and saw what this 19 year old guy had accomplished, and it inspired me to change things and move in a completely different direction, so I guess I’d like to personally thank him for that.
6. Tell us about Jenna Sighed, its origins and aspirations?
I’ve played in a lot of bands, and worked with a lot of people creatively, but I always felt that I was at my best without the limitation of a specific genre (or in some cases, a band member limited to a genre), when I could draw from all my influences, sing without worrying about fitting it into someone else’s ego-space, etc. So I always had a solo thing running in the background. Until a couple of years ago it was my ‘side-project’, but after leaving a band in which I had been very caged by the genre I felt that it was time to do something that was completely mine.
I can only say that it has grown exponentially since its inception, around 2008 (which was when I finally settled on the name). I’ve been able to record with some amazing producers, I have an immensely talented and dedicated support band who have become brothers to me, I’ve had radio play in Mexico, opened for South African metal giants (and the first South African band to play at Wacken!!) Agro, and been featured in online magazines. It’s an incredible feeling to feel the rewards of years of work and determination. With the full band in place, it really does feel like we can raise the bar musically, as well as perform prolifically, and we are saving up to go into studio and record a full EP. My aspirations for the band are very high, but there’s just so much work to do!
7. Which is your favourite Jenna Sighed song and why?
It would probably be ‘Waiting for the Sunrise’ at this point. While all of the songs are fun to play live, this one gets an excellent reaction from the crowd, but the main reason why it’s my favourite is because of its origins. I started writing it on the heels of a very ugly depressive episode, and it was a difficult and painful effort getting it finished. Going into studio with it was an intense two-day grind, as I played all of the instruments myself – with the exception of the drums, which I programmed – but the truly awesome thing about this song is how it marks the point at which things really improved for Jenna Sighed – getting the full band together, getting on stage, getting more exposure.
8. When did you first perform on stage and did you enjoy it?
I always loved school performances and was usually pushing other kids out of the way in hopes of being all over the stage, but my first official ‘gig’ was when I was about fourteen, with a few friends on some portable stage that was set up at the local shopping mall. We spontaneously got together when we heard it was open mic, and practiced ‘Where is My Mind’ by the Pixies for a whole day, and then we went up and played it at 2am! It was fantastic!
9. What’s your best and worst thing about playing a gig?
The best thing about playing a gig is seeing people get into the music. To see someone close their eyes and clearly enjoy the music, YOUR music, is just rewarding and beautiful. Often those people will come up to me after a show and tell me they really enjoyed the music, and that means far more to me than a moshpit!
The worst thing is the driving and the carrying! I have a lot of equipment, and most of the venues are at least a 45 minute drive, so I spend a lot of time driving and carting amps around. More time than I actually spend on stage, ha ha!
10. If you were a scale, which one would you be and why?
I know it’s a simplistic kind of answer, but I’d be a melodic minor scale. Because that’s life – up and down, major and minor depending on which way you’re going. If I had to be more specific I’d say B flat melodic minor, because I find myself naturally composing in that key so often that I often transpose something that I’ve written just to avoid writing in the same key all the time.
Thank you Jenna! Check out Jenna Sighed at the various links below for some truly awesome music.
“Jenna Sighed brings a much needed breath of fresh air to the Underground South African Alternative Music Scene. A Master on violin and guitar coupled with a hauntingly beautiful voice, Jenna Meiring and her band, Jenna Sighed are set to take this industry by storm!” ~Sashquita Northey, Emalyth Promotions