Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Jenny Banai, who discusses her origin in music, influences and new single.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Jenny Banai: I’d like to think, music was something I learned before I could walk. My mother encouraged my sister and I to sing together from a very young age. We were always singing. So I guess, in a way, I can’t remember NOT being involved in music. From there, I took every opportunity I could to sing, whether at school, in choir and musicals, singing on the band at church, and especially on my own, by myself, to myself. I also took violin lessons. I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed it so much. As a professional pursuit, music just seemed to be the thing that kept rising to the top of my heart, and a healthy dose of affirmation encouraged me to try.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Jenny Banai: The muse for me, comes from a deep place, it comes from the emotions I guess. But also, from the immaterial inner self where I feel connected to God. I sing what I hear inside, from a place of longing, whether I’m sorting through relationship drama, things I can’t figure out, or whether I’m just feeling in love with God and wanting all that God is, to transform me and our world.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Jenny Banai: Ha! What a question! I’m inspired by many things. I’m inspired by thoughtful and sophisticated songwriters, like Bedouine or Andy Shauf. I’m inspired by the moments in which I feel filled and connected, usually in nature or in a deep place of prayer. I’m inspired by dreams. I’m inspired by imagining what could be for our world; what healing could take place and the hope for wholeness.
Review Fix: What does music mean to you?
Jenny Banai: Music means a lot to me. haha. Although, I often live my days without it. Quiet also means a lot to me. Music is the inner self-expressing in a fuller way than mere words can, and touches the deeper places in each other, reminding us of who we are.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Jenny Banai: Someone asked me this just yesterday and this is what I said, ‘I am less indie-pop than I am singer-songwriter, but in a sort of jazzy alternative way.’
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Jenny Banai: Live shows always feel more tangible than the studio and playing music together without the pressure of the audience or studio, fires off even more cylinders. You can’t fabricate the connection and ‘high’ one feels when playing music together or with other people around, but you can definitely lean into the memory of it in the studio. I try to do this. In the studio, there’s obviously a lot more time to critique and sculpt. I feel that both atmospheres are valuable and perhaps pull on different parts of myself: my thoughtful self and my emotional self. Both are aloud and both are real.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the rest of 2020?
Jenny Banai: Goals are hard for me to articulate. The present moment feels much more relaxing and relatable. But, I am challenging myself to imagine and collaborate with artists of different mediums, such as dance/choreography, theatre, and film. My goals are a little more expolative than they are certain. But the path is unfolding as I keep walking. This time has given me freedom to slow down and take a quiet risk by creating things I find it hard to explain.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Jenny Banai: As a result, I am filming a cross-medium short that will include and showcase ‘Couchwalker’ and will release around the same time as the album. We are in pre-production right now and I’m happy to say I feel quite inspired and excited to explore my other artistic abilities, and to work with the people involved who are equally inspired and excited. Other than that, I’ll probably keep writing more music, keep thinking and studying theology and philosophy, and keep psychoanalyzing my dreams.