Friday, August 2, 2013

Chicago singer Jennifer Hall continues to bring excitement to music scene


Jennifer Hall has proven time and time again that she undeniably has one of the most powerful voices on the Chicago music scene.

After demonstrating her vocal prowess on her 2011 album, "In This," she recently started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new EP. 

I had the chance to talk to Hall about the new EP and her other current activities.

Q - Congratulations on meeting your Kickstarter goal. You already have more than $7,000 in pledges, and the campaign doesn't end until Aug. 15. Was it surprising that so many people are willing to back you?

It was definitely a wonderful surprise to have made our goal fairly quickly. It was sort of reassuring that people are interested in the upcoming work! 
Q - What was your idea in creating your Kickstarter video? Was it hard to make? 

Actually, the idea was developed by our bass player, Alex Sheyn, who is also a talented graphic designer (and overall creative mega force) at a firm called Bright Bright Great in Chicago.  The band and I all agreed on wanting something simple where we showed what we wanted to do and did a new tune with a brief info, nothing fancy.  
We were hoping to just have the music do the talking! It did take a few train rides and some sweet talking of a CTA guard as he was not thrilled with us filming in the station but all and all it went pretty smoothly! 

We shot from 10 p.m. til 1 a.m..; six takes and lots of coffee later, we felt good about what we had.

Q - It seems like a lot of independent artists are turning to Kickstarter to fund their projects. Is that the way to go these days for independent artists? What are the challenges for independent artists?  
Kickstarter  has certainly treated us well; it is easy and straight forward and makes people getting involved in something they love a fun experience with the rewards and such. I think if you can take some tim to plan your video  and concept carefully and if you feel you have a strong reach and people that will back your project,  go for it! 
It isn't always that easy to fund projects independently so Kickstarter is a wonderful for any DIY creative. So far Kickstarter has really been a positive experience for us! 
Q - You released your first album, "In This," in 2011. Is this just the right time to get new music out there? Will the new EP build on what you did with your first album? 
Now does certainly feel like the right time to release new material. The new EP will be pretty different in style; we even wrote these songs and constructed them differently so many new directions to look forward to this time around! 

Q - You've released a few songs since releasing "In This," including a beautiful cover of Jeff Buckley's "I Want Someone Badly." Will that song make it on the new EP? What were your goals in covering the song? 

It would be great to record "I Want Someone Badly," although I don't think that will end up on this EP. Perhaps a bonus track is in order?
With that song, I  just wanted to do the pure passion justice; the straight forward want and need for love is what stands out when I listen to it; I was hoping to just capture the raw nature of those feelings when giving it a go. 

Q - "Beverly Road" and "When I Went Falling" are live acoustic songs. Doing a song acoustically really puts the spotlight on you. Do you prefer singing acoustically or with a full band? Or do you need both in your life?

I do perform acoustic gigs depending on the venue/setting. It's a great time to get a feel for how a song stands on it's own feet and to see what is left when it's stripped down and naked. 
Then we can see if it grips people still with just voice and guitar. That said though, a full band brings such life to our music; many of our songs are certainly realized more fully with a full band. 
There are definitely benefits from both setups! 

Q - You've performed with the likes of The Lumineers. What have experiences like that taught you as a musician? 
Performing with The Lumineers a few years ago was great; opening for them specifically, I learned that you should always play your best and with great passion and with love for what you are doing. 
When they played at Villains, you could feel their love for the music they were making and their desire to share it. They cared such a great deal and were just kind people to play alongside. 
To see people like that succeed is so inspiring. It makes me want to continue to work hard and to stay present and  passionate when making music.  

Q - You've been described as the love child of Neko Case and Norah Jones. Do you think that description is accurate? Who are your biggest musical influences?  
Well, I just love Neko Case and Norah Jones; their voices, their unique styles; It's a very kind comparison  I will try hard to do right by it!  
Ella Fitzgerald, Rufus Wainwright, Fiona Apple; more recently, St. Vincent, Frank Ocean, Kimbra, Wilco, Bon Iver .. These are bands/artists that really changed what I thought music was completely and what music was supposed to be like; all of those listed were greatly inspiring; they caused me to really write differently than before and to change and musically evolve in ways I didn't  know possible. 

Q - You've had the honor of singing the National Anthem at several Chicago Cubs games. What were you feeling the first time you stepped out onto the field? Was it a humbling experience? 
Oh, I was pretty nervous when I sang it the first time! It can be intimidating and scary for sure, having 35,000 people staring at you and listening to your every sound! 
All and all though, it's been a great time. I  love being a part of that tradition in honoring the U.S. before a game, singing a tune everyone knows and connects with;  I feel lucky to be a part of that!  
Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think you fit into it?
I think Chicago is  just so great; I really love this city. So much variety, so many wonderful songwriters making honest, telling, interesting music. 
I'm not sure how I fit in but I hope I'm doing right by it.