A couple weeks ago we reported that we wanted to know who was driving Jenna Drey mad? The lyrics behind her new single “One step further” were so deep that it made us wonder if they were based on a true story. Well it it was! (in a way?). We finally got a chance to talk to Jenna and discuss her single and a lot more.
Jenna uses a very interesting technique of drawing inspiration for her lyrics. She was literally driving herself crazy trying to come up with the lyrics for One step further, so she decided to hop in her car and drive around town with the instrumental track in the CD player. She provides us with a perfectly rational and scientific explanation on how motion helps our brain tap into the sub-conscious to draw lyrics and overcome “writers-block”. (listen to the audio version for more details)
Here’s how the lyrics to One step further came about — “I pulled over at a parking garage at a shopping mall and it was at that moment that all the chorus came to me sitting in the parking garage before I got out of the car. You would probably think there’d be a more romantic story than that but that’s honestly how it happened and the chorus just came together with the words and the melody in an instant and I think I was getting a little crazy at the time. I was driving myself crazy!”
Nexus Radio: Today, I have a very special artist on the phone with me talking to us about all of the things that she’s accomplished in dance music. She is a Dance-Pop artist who’s classically trained, three-octave vocalist, daughter of a TV actress, and a singer-songwriter who has four Top 20 Billboard hits. Some of those are All Out of Love, By The Way, One Step Further, Summer Night in Seattle–Jenna Drey, how are you doing today?
Jenna: Hi, how are you?
Nexus Radio: I’m doing really well. How is Florida?
Jenna: Florida. Believe it or not, it’s pretty stormy here.
Nexus Radio: Oh, really?
Jenna: It’s a storm that it would be almost as if you were in the middle of a mild hurricane. But there’s no hurricane.
Nexus Radio: Jenna Drey, you’ve been holding out on us. We had no idea that you were a classically trained, three-octave vocalist.
Jenna: Well, that’s because I only do those exercises in the shower.
Nexus Radio: [laughs]
Jenna: When I was growing up, when I was a child by the time I was eight years old, I really wanted to sing and I wanted to be a songwriter. This started in me when I was really young. My mom, I’m glad, used to say, “Well, if you want to sing, then you better learn to write your own song.” At that time, I realized that if I wanted to sing, I needed something to sing. My dad was a musician as a hobby. Pianist and a composer. They started me on piano lessons. Classical piano. I played all the way through high school and I ended up continuing that in college. With music, I did get invited on music from New England conservatory which is all classical. It’s hardcore classical composition for orchestra and–I had to do years of training for opera lessons as well as piano lessons. I did the whole piano lesson all through school and high school and college. I knew I wanted to be Pop. I knew I did not want to be Beethoven on a stage waving a wand, conducting a violin symphony. Even though I actually had to write some of those.
Nexus Radio: Yeah. You know that we’ve always been a fan here. Just some more accomplishments, in case anybody doesn’t know. You’re twice on our Pride Float here in Chicago.
Jenna: I know. I was floating down that street.
Nexus Radio: Yeah. And the crowd liked you.
Jenna: In front of a couple hundred thousand fans, I remember. That was a lot of fun.
Nexus Radio: Yeah. It was hundreds of thousands.
Jenna: I think one of the times, we ended up in the rain. It was supposed to be sunny and here I am standing in the rain. Probably my mascara was all coming down my face. I probably had black eyes at that point.
Nexus Radio: Well–
Jenna: But you know as they say, the show must go on.
Nexus Radio: Absolutely. And I don’t remember any pictures of mascara coming down your face. So don’t worry about that.
Jenna: But it’s all part of the genre, right?
Nexus Radio: Exactly, exactly.
Jenna: It’s all part of the show.
Nexus Radio: Let’s talk about your new track, ‘One Step Further.’ How did this track come about?
Jenna: Well, I came up with a better chorus change that I thought were interesting. I have melodies for the chorus, I had no words at all.
Nexus Radio: Mm-hmm.
Jenna: And I was getting kind of frustrated. A lot of times, when I’m writing, I’ll burn a CD and I’ll go in the car and I’ll drive around and I’m just kind of zone out and trying to come up with ideas for lyrics and melodies. I was just driving around. It was like, a Saturday afternoon, I got really frustrated. I–this is the true story–I pulled over to a parking garage at a shopping mall and I thought, Well, maybe I’ll just cry into the parking garage and go for a walk and cry my head at the mall. It was at that moment that all of a sudden, all of the chorus came to me, sitting in the parking garage, before I got out of the car to go to the mall.
Nexus Radio: Oh, wow.
Jenna: You would probably think it would be a more romantic storyline than that. But that’s honestly how it happened. And the chorus just came together with the words and the melodies and all like, in an instant. I think I was feeling a little crazy at the time. It was driving myself crazy. So I think, subconsciously, is it was just coming together, and the lyric. And then you start imagining crazy situation and–I’m pretty much a hopeless romantic.
Nexus Radio: Yeah.
Jenna: You think about–I’m always like, a sucker for romance and television romances. I find that those are catharsis of inspiration. As well as my own personal life as well.
Nexus Radio: Yeah, definitely. I think–
Jenna: But the lyrics came together with a storyline of what I felt the song meant, to me, in my head.
Nexus Radio: Mm-hmm. Let’s talk about Summer Night in Seattle. Because that was the–
Jenna: Ok, that’s a beautiful song.
Nexus Radio: Yep. It was a fantastic song. I think we were playing that last year and–I mean, were you in Seattle or was there a story behind it?
Jenna: Well, yes. As a matter of fact, as you know, I perform many times in Seattle. The station there in Seattle has been a wonderful supporter of my music over the years. I kept going back there. A lot of times, they were affiliated with shows or radio appearances. I really fell in love with the city and I–the city has like some sort of mystical imagery over my head. It was just kind of an ongoing joke where a friend of mine at the station, who works as a DJ at the station said, “Oh, next time, why don’t you write a song about Seattle?” We were just joking around. Just playing around. And all of a sudden, I ended up in a writing session and I heard a track and the words just came out of me. The melody and the words just came out.
Nexus Radio: Oh, wow.
Jenna: And so even though I didn’t have all of the words, I didn’t have everything–but I knew the melody was [sings].
Nexus Radio: Uh-uh.
Jenna: I started hearing, it all comes together. You know, that I had a starting point to develop a song.
Nexus Radio: Yeah.
Jenna: So that’s the story. I mean, as I just said, my own personal experience with being in Seattle, and that’s what inspired me.
Nexus Radio: Tell me about this new–are you working on an album right now?
Jenna: I have enough content. I’m very close to having enough content for a new album. None of these material was released over the past couple of years I was going through a phase where I was more–trying to reevaluate my own direction. I think when you are on labels and many artists will say that that, “You’re always trying to figure out what they’re looking for. Because you’re always trying to figure out what’s going to make other people happy.” Or think that your song is going to be good enough or–that sometimes messes with your head. I spent a few years trying to figure out what everybody else wanted me to do or what they wanted and that was tough. I feel like mom was financially shut down for a little while because I thought is that I lost touch of who I was trying to be. I was trying to figure out what everybody else wanted. And that’s something I hear over and over from recording artists who go through ups and downs where they’re unlabeled and dropped in labels and on radio–yeah, the pressure’s on because everyone’s looking at you very well. What are you going to do next? So I just took a step back and have some time with myself to figure out what really inspired me in the first place. Which was trying to create music that I thought was meaningful. So what I’m working on now is songs that I feel they are strong melodically and lyrically that I feel as they are written to me and hopes that someone else will connect with that. Because I think if you’re not true to yourself, no one’s going to really believe you.
Nexus Radio: Yeah, yeah.
Jenna: Not everyone’s going to like you. For every one person who likes you, there’s probably 10 who don’t
Nexus Radio: Yeah.
Jenna: And you can’t just don’t be an artist with the hope that everybody’s going to like you because that’s just not reality.
Nexus Radio: Yeah, definitely.
Jenna: You just gotta be true to yourself.
Nexus Radio: Yeah, I mean–
Jenna: And that’s what’s I’m working towards.
Nexus Radio: Yeah. Well, I mean I think you’re doing a fantastic job. Between Summer Night in Seattle and your new hit–
Jenna: One Step Further.
Nexus Radio: One Step–
Jenna: One Step Further. Believe it or not, I’ve got some really amazing songs that I’ve checked on a shelf for a little while. From a timing standpoint. Music keeps changing. Style keeps changing. One year, this style, and then the next year, this style and then. So it’s like trying to write a song and then have the production be done in a way that the song is the heart of it but have the production at least sound contemporary to fit in with the current playlists.
Nexus Radio: Definitely.
Jenna: And because you can have a great song and you can redo that song and it could be different varieties–and you can make it sound old school or new style or contemporary but the song has to be there. The lyrics have to be there and the melodies have to be there. And then we have the music production be contemporary. Everyone’s going to say, “Well, this girl can sing.”
Nexus Radio: Definitely.
Jenna: So it’s helped. It’s a lot of work but with the passion–and I do it because I enjoy it and that’s what I want to keep doing. Keep expanding and creating and doing this as long as I can. As long as my life allows me to be an artist.
Nexus Radio: Yeah. Well, you’re doing a fantastic job at it. And I know when I had spoke to you earlier in the year when we had met up in Atlantic City, you had told me that you were thinking about possibly doing a disco sound. Now, is that something that you’re still looking at doing?
Jenna: Well, I have this disco song already written and it’s an amazing song. It’s fantastic. It’s one of my all-time favorites. I actually have a couple. The timing wasn’t right to release it when I wrote it. It was not a good time to release it. It’s a fabulous song. I actually co-wrote it with Maria Christensen who is a fabulous songwriter. She wrote some really big mega hits. I know she wrote on of J. Lo’s smash hits. The one of the earlier ones. You would know the name.
Nexus Radio: There’s a lot, so.
Jenna: But it’s a great song but just wasn’t the right time. It was a disco song when we have finished it.
Nexus Radio: Is there anybody that you would absolutely 100% like to work with? It could be anybody so just–anybody at all. Everything was on the table.
Jenna: Yes. Ryan Tedder.
Nexus Radio: Okay.
Jenna: He’s incredibly talented and amazing writer. I’m always in awe of his type of pop-sensibility. For me, he’s one of my favorites.
Nexus Radio: Yeah.
Jenna: But obviously, Max Martin and Benny Blanco. All of those songwriters that–Max Martin’s a legend as well. That would be pretty much it if I had won the lottery and can have my dream come true. I would choose the guys for sure.
Nexus Radio: All right. Well, maybe they’ll be listening and maybe they’ll say, “You know what? I’m going to go work with Jenna Drey. I love what she does.”
Jenna: You never know.
Nexus Radio: That’s a possibility.
Jenna: Anything could happen.
Nexus Radio: All right, Jenna. Well, it’s been great talking to you. If your fans want to get in touch with you, where can they find you at?
Jenna: Well obviously, my website which is jennadrey.com–that’s pretty easy. Do you remember? Jennadrey.com. I do have a personal Facebook, that is facebook.com/jennadrey. That’s pretty straightforward. And pretty much–I mean through there, I mean, people can contact me through my website. You have an e-mail submission form or through Facebook as well. I do read from fans who respond and people request autographs or pictures and things. I always try to do what I can to send people what they’re asking for because I do appreciate their support. I really do.
Nexus Radio: Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much.
Jenna: Well, thank you so much. And thank you for such a beautiful interview.
Nexus Radio: Oh, you’re welcome, Jenna. And we can’t wait to hear the next hit that you put out which I’m sure will be very soon.
Jenna: Thank you. And thank you so much for being such a huge support for me –really, you’ve supported on like every song I had over the past, like, seven years. I really appreciate all of your support. For everyone at your station and all of the guys that have been so wonderful to me. I look forward to seeing you in the next event.