Surviving a misdiagnosed illness which nearly killed her and more than a few of life's most difficult onslaughts, Jenn Vix puts full emphasis on creating from an intense need to survive. "I could not emotionally handle listening to music for about a year," she says. Then, like a reprieve in the eye of the storm, a fateful encounter with John Ashton (Psychedelic Furs) at a live radio gig rekindled Vix's creative muscles; a fire, surely, had been nearly burning all along. "I didn't think I had it in me." Jenn says. "I pushed myself to do it; I didn't/don't want to give up. The title track, "Unlocked," is about longing to be freed up from pain, fear, and loss, and oddly enough, I wrote it right before I got sick." Having come through the jagged edges of the impossible, Vix offers her take and advice on self care/boundaries, caution, keeping good friends/band-mates close, (never go into the trenches with someone you have to keep an eye on) and leaves us with one of life's most important reminders, no matter what path you're on; "Please do not listen to anyone who tells you to give up."
AHC: Tell us about Unlocked, what are some of the central themes at work for you on this latest E.P.? The album, from a listener's standpoint, feels very cathartic, a type of sonic bloodletting, did it feel that way for you as well, in the making?
JV: It was an emotional release, and it was mostly inspired by an intense need to survive, and also other emotional situations I was going through, before and during the time that I almost died of a misdiagnosed illness. I'm also a domestic violence and rape survivor, and though it's not easy to talk about these situations, I suspect that if I do, it might inspire someone else to talk about their problems.
AHC: You work with a great line up of musicians and collaborators, what was the overall recording process like, are there certain magical "aha" moments that stand out to you on the crafting and recording of this record?
JV: Thank you. It has been a pleasure to work with all of them, equally. They all bring different things to the table, and I appreciate it a lot.
Because of my previously mentioned illness, I could not emotionally handle listening to music for about a year, and then a while after that, I somehow managed to do a live radio gig, with John Ashton. When he showed interest, it helped to inspire me to go back to work. I got back into recording after the gig, and so my "aha" moment was just being able to get this done at all. I didn't think I had it in me. I pushed myself to do it; I didn't/don't want to give up. The title track, "Unlocked," is about longing to be freed up from pain, fear, and loss, and oddly enough, I wrote it right before I got sick.
AHC: Who have been some of the enduring, transformational influences for you throughout your life and what have you learned and adapted from each of them?
JV: My grandmother; who has intense mental strength. She taught me to never give up.
Robert Sharon, Ph.D in Music; he was there for me when things went badly at home, and he took time after the school day to talk with me, and to teach me proper singing technique. He was the best teacher I've ever had. I adore him.
Michael Feeney; who is now the guitarist in my band. He helped me to get through the near-death experience, and I'm beyond thankful that he's back in my life.
Marco Pirroni; I trust him; and it takes a lot for me to trust someone. He's a stellar human being, and a brilliant musician.
Steven Severin; without him, I likely would never have picked up a bass guitar.
Graham Lewis; his music and his personality are a gift to this world. The sound of his voice and his bass playing do strange and wonderful things to my brain.
Malka Spigal-Newman; The sound of her voice goes through me like a hot knife goes through butter. She's kind, beautiful, talented, and an inspiration to me.
There are also so many writers, scientists, artists, dancers, filmmakers, singers, actors, and visionaries who have inspired me, that it would take me hours to list them all.
I have an intense interest in science fiction. Peter Capaldi, as The Doctor; on Doctor Who, is brilliant! The regeneration Christmas Special won't be easy for me to watch, but I know I have to try to watch it. This might sound corny, but I'm probably going to cry my eyes out.
AHC: Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for musicians who are starting out, the pitfalls and ruts they should be mindful of?
JV: Please do not listen to anyone who tells you to give up. It's good to have a backup plan, but you can make time for music. If someone demands that you to stop playing music; because they are jealous, or selfish and controlling, they likely won't change, and it's a good idea to get away from them as soon as you can.
A good mastering engineer is extremely important. Mastering is the frosting on your music cake.
A good (international) publicist, with a strong client list, is absolutely worth your time and money; if and when you get past the local level.
If you're not feeling creative that day; or night, don't force it, and try not to worry about it. Just wait until you feel inspired.
You will be compared to other bands, and you may end up being boxed into one genre; even though you have more than that going on in your music. Just because someone thinks
you're a copy of someone else, doesn't mean that you are. Constructive criticism is vital, but it's a good idea to ignore the assholes who give backhanded compliments, and or who lash out at you.
At the end of the night, if you've played to a fairly good sized audience, and the promoter doesn't want to pay you, take them to small claims court, and or never work with them again.
Always pay your session musicians, fairly. They also have bills to pay. If you make money at a gig, the money should be divided up evenly between band members.
Even if you play for 5 people, and they stay in front of the stage for the whole show, that counts as a good gig.
Make sure to keep a close watch on your gear. I've had things stolen from me, and also from friends who are in bands. If you can't afford a trustworthy roadie, ask a good friend to watch the gear, and then buy them dinner, or do them a favor in return. When the gig is over, make sure you get your stuff out of the venue, and into a locked car, van, etc.. then go back in and have fun if you feel like hanging out.
Always list the musicians you've worked with on every recording. It's shitty not to credit them.
If someone in your band, or anyone else, is repeatedly baiting you into arguments, seriously think about getting them out of your life. They get off on your anger. It's an emotional feed for them.
If anyone hits you, or threatens to physically harm you, please get a restraining order as soon as humanly possible. I've worked with a couple of people who turned violent on me, and I went right to the police, and to the court system.
AHC: What's next, any new projects in the works, or ideas in embryo?
JV: I plan to shoot some more music videos, and to release more new music in early 2018.
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