by DJ Matthew Griffin
If you want mood and
attitude, then you’re in the right vicinity. Just step a little closer.
Enter the web of Jenn Vix’s electronic rock and its dark and cinematic
undertones. Vix’s manifestations are full of atmosphere and musical
hooks. Tenebrous melodies arise from the shadows and the seduction and
destruction of the listener is complete with the entrance of Jenn’s
Dark textures cut like
a finely honed blade. Music bleeds and makes you bleed. Vix digs down
deep into her spirit of red-hot passion to find the fire for her cutting
edge music. “Music and memories go hand in hand,” she says. “That’s
my reality.” In other words, here is a person unafraid to explore
her own heart of darkness to summon personal pulse that fuels her songwriting.
To reach into one’s
self is the truest method of artistic expression. It’s the purest
source of creativity. And so Vix ventures without fear into the gloom
of life and wraps it in melody and groove. Vix has received critical
acclaim in Rolling Stone and one of her tracks nabbed a spot on the
CMJ New Music Monthly
Magazine CD. Once her upcoming
album, Electric Midnight, is completed, Vix plans to tour.
Noise: How long have you been recording as a solo
Vix: I officially released my debut album Jenn Vix
in 1995. I began recording it the prior year. I sent hundreds of them
in bubble wrap out with an issue of the CMJ magazine for radio stations.
The album got quite a bit of airplay all over the country, and I charted
in the top 10 on many college stations for a few weeks. I didn’t even
have a distributor for this album. I sold it out of a P.O. box, and
then later on Dutch East India decided to help me out by handling some
of the sales via mail order.
Noise: Do you have any stories about your recording
Vix: The first time I stepped into a recording
studio to do a full solo album, tape was required. I was in a 24-track
analog studio with digital assist in Massachusetts. The mixing desk
was a very large Soundcraft analog board. After one of my recording
sessions, at the end of the night, I walked out to my car and drove
home. My friend and guitarist at the time, Mike, was with me. I drove
him back to his place, and then went back to my apartment. When I got
out of the car and reached into the back seat, my tape reel box was
gone! I freaked out. I got back into my car, and drove back to the studio,
thinking that perhaps I left my tape there. Robert, my engineer, told
me that it wasn’t there and suggested that I check the road on the
way back home. I slowly drove the road I took home and when I got to
the highway entrance ramp I saw my tape box on the side of the road.
I’d completely forgotten that I left my reel on the roof of the car,
while loading in my bass, and other gear. It’s like when someone accidentally
leaves a cup of coffee on the roof of their vehicle. During my next
recording session, I explained how I found my tape on the side of the
road, half hanging out of its box, in the rain. We had to unwind the
reel with our hands, clean and dust metal shavings off of it from when
it hit the ground hard, and then slowly wind it back on to another clean
The last time I recorded
on to tape was in 1998, and every time I had a session I made sure that
my tape reel box was placed on the backseat of my car. I was very cautious
from that point on. [Laughs]
studio was very well put together, and he is an amazingly good engineer
and producer. He’s also one of the best drummers I’ve ever heard.
We still sometimes work together on things, like commercials and voiceovers,
even though I now own my own recording studio Villino Sound, in Newport,
Noise: What kind of struggles have you been through
to create this music? Has it been difficult?
Vix: I’ve recently joined forces again with
Ryan Tassone, who played on my last album, 3. Before him, I’ve hired people to do sessions,
or I’ve just played on things. I’m not much of a rhythm guitarist,
because I have small hands, and back then there were no Daisy Rock girl
guitars, so it wasn’t easy for me. My hands would cramp up. I can
play lead guitar a lot easier, and I tend to do that more often.
I have been searching
for years for people to play with. In 2003, my friend Paul came up here
to play bass with me, so I wouldn’t have to play an instrument on
stage. I can do it, but I prefer to just put my focus on singing. Paul
has been here since then, and I am in a relationship with him. He’s
played on a couple of songs on the new album, but I still play most
of the bass parts on the recordings. He prefers it this way, and I am
okay with that. He’s really more of a “live” guy.
I was on food stamps
for most of 2002 so that every last dollar I had could go to the recording
I barely made any money at my job. It was a very important thing for
me to do, and I’m not complaining about being on assistance, I just
want to state that I have gone without for the sake of my music, and
I would any day. I love being a musician. It is in my soul, and it is
my life. I am also an abuse survivor, and some songs on 3
are about that situation.
Noise: You’ve been through some pretty tough times
before you even stepped into a studio. Tell me about that.
Vix: When I was a teenager, I ended up homeless
on the streets of New York City. My family situation was a mess, and
I had to leave. I could not take listening to rages anymore. I’d been
through a very bad situation prior to that one, with my stepfather.
I endured several years of intense physical and mental abuse from him.
I actually did everything I could to stay in school at first. I stayed
with some friends downtown on the west side, and attended middle school
there for about three months. Then, I dropped out mid-year in the eighth
grade. I ended up sleeping in doorways, in friends’ closets; on the
floor, and under friends’ beds. I would hide from their parents. My
friends used to sneak me in after their parents went to sleep and during
the day I would be able to take a shower while the parents were at work.
I also sometimes slept in Penn Station. I wanted to stay in New York,
because I had a couple of good friends there, and I really liked being
able to go to the clubs at night. I met so many talented musicians in
those clubs. I got to see some great performances. Even though it was
difficult, and sometimes scary, when I look back on it, I’m thankful
I was exposed to all of that music culture, art, and fashion. I ended
up moving back home for a little while, off and on when I was 17. and
then returned to New York City to work part time for jazz drummer Art
Blakey, and his wife, Anne.
Noise: What instruments do you play?
Vix: I sing, and as before mentioned, I play bass,
and lead guitar. I also play keyboards and percussion. I don’t consider
myself a drummer, but I can get by on drums. During the recording of
my albums Hope Springs
Nocturnal and Jenn
Vix we experimented with different
things in the studio. Once, the engineer played drums on a tire rim
and I swung around a hollow plastic tube in the air, and we sampled
it. We also recorded samples of me moaning, and saying, “I love you,”
and then reversed the tape to play it backwards. When you do that, it
sounds like “we’re evil now.” It’s pretty cool.
When I drum, it’s
mostly on electronic pads or the keyboard. I’d like to get a set of
electronic drums soon. I also know my way around several drum machines
and I use them often. I really enjoy them.
Lately, I have not
only been playing music, but producing and remixing for other artists
in my own studio. I love doing this. I just finished working on a remix
for a Vienna, Austria band, Whispers in the Shadow. The song is
called “Killing Time” and I sang backup vocals on it.
Noise: How many releases do you have?
Vix: I have three releases out at retail, and
a new one coming out soon. My first album is Jenn
Vix, the second is Hope Springs Nocturnal, and the third is 3. My new album is titled Electric
Midnight. The first single
off of it is “Vampires.” It’s a bit of a dancy rock track. It’s
being played in clubs now internationally. I think this new album may
surprise some people, as it has a different vibe than the last one.
It’s a lot more rocking than 3 and has a lot more guitar on it. There are
some slower, moody tracks on it, as well.
Noise: Tell me about your press kit.
Vix: I have a great review from Rolling
Stone magazine in my press
kit. I got it shortly before the release of my debut album. I just decided
to send it in for the hell of it, and about a week later, I got a call
from editor/ writer Anthony DeCurtis telling me that it was going to
be reviewed. I was ecstatic, because I didn’t even have one review
from anywhere else, including my own local music paper. After I got
the Rolling Stone review, it was easier for me to get the album
reviewed in other publications. The staff at my hometown paper, the Providence Journal, was very good to me. They did a feature story
on how I got into Rolling
Stone. I’ve actually been
written up in that paper a couple of times. I’ve been in other magazines,
and in 2003 I got a five star review in Gothic
Beauty magazine, for my album 3.
I’ve also received a great review from UK music writer, Mick Mercer.
I appear in his new book, Music
To Die For, as well as his
previous book 21st Century
Noise: What other positive things have happened
to you over the years?
Vix: When I sent my debut release to the Late Show with David Letterman, they called me back to tell me they liked
my album. I was so flattered, even though I wasn’t at all ready for
a television appearance. I didn’t have enough fans at the time. I
was just starting out. I figured it was a good thing to do to send it
to them, because perhaps in the future they might remember me and consider
having me on the show. Hey, you never know.
One of the songs from
this release, “Devils Chasing Angels,” appeared on a CMJ New Music Monthly CD, along with Throwing Muses, the Stone Roses,
and others. I had a full-page ad in that issue, and they did a little
write up about my song being on the CD in the magazine that came with
it. I’ve also had a quarter page ad in Alternative
Press at the time.
Noise: What are your plans for the future?
Vix: I would like to be able to go out and support
this new release on the road. I would especially like to be able to
perform one of the new songs on television. I want to do another music
video as well. As it is, I have two music videos. Scott Bateman just
animated a music video for my new single, “Vampires.” I’m currently
working on getting that played on television, and it’s online right
now. I have another music video that I did in 1999, for my single, “Blind,”
which did well on RollingStone.com, as well as on local music programming
shows on cable access.
Noise: Tell me about your Internet presence, listening
places, and where your albums are sold.
Vix: My web site is online, but it’s currently
under construction. I have a MySpace page that has over three hundred
thousand hits on it. I am on RollingStone.com, as well as Facebook,
and Twitter. My albums are for sale at most online retailers, such as
Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes, in both CD form and digital downloads.
My 1995 debut release is available exclusively at CD Baby.