NoiseTrade One-on-One

NoiseTrade One-on-One: Interview with Jenny & Tyler

We’ve been longtime fans of indie-folk duo Jenny & Tyler and they’ve been NT community favorites on our platform for many years. Their most recent album is called There Will Be A Song and we jumped at the opportunity to talk to them both about their newest collection of songs, the various inspirations that fed into their songwriting, some behind the scenes insights on filming music videos, and much more!

NoiseTrade: It’s been a minute since the release of your last full-length album Of This I’m Sure and I know fans have been super excited about the news of your forthcoming album There Will Be A Song. What’s all transpired for you in that time and what sparked this new collection of songs?

Jenny: Man, so much has happened since we released Of This I’m Sure. The biggest thing is that we are now a family of five. We have 3 daughters, ages 5, 3, and 1. They’re awesome. We’ve had to adjust the way we make music and travel as a result. We’re not touring nearly as much. We don’t like to be away from our kids and we’ve discovered that touring with them is doable, but just not sustainable. So we’ve cut back a lot.

We started a Patreon campaign a few months before our third child was born. If you haven’t heard of Patreon, it’s basically a throwback to the patron model of old. We have about 500 patrons who support us; we give them exclusive demos every month in return. All of the songs except one on There Will Be A Song were originally released to our patrons as demos. Our patrons helped us choose the final track list for the record and they funded the project. It’s been incredible to have a community rally around us and really cheer us on.

Tyler: The majority of songs on There Will Be A Song have come out of the past year and a half. Jenny has had epilepsy much of her life and about a year ago, one of her worst nightmares came true: she had a seizure while holding one of our babies. That episode causes intense anxiety from which she is still recovering. Themes of peace and freedom run throughout the record because of that. Issues of justice have continued to speak to us. As a result, it feels right and good to speak about them in “O Freedom” and “Waters Roll.”

We also included a few songs written 3-6 years ago that we’d wanted to put on other albums but didn’t because of time or album theme or some other reason. These older ones are particularly vulnerable and it feels really good to get them out into the world. “I’m Sorry” is about fighting and needing to reconcile. “Wrote Us A Story” references one of our first real dates in the first verse and where we got married in the second verse. “Who I’m Not” is about struggling with identity.

NT: I’ve really been enjoying the first single “Who I’m Not” that you released a couple months back. What can you tell us about writing that song and filming the music video for it?

Jenny: I wrote “Who I’m Not” primarily on the road. When we released Of This I’m Sure, we bought an old quirky Sprinter van and took a full band out on the road. We had a two year old and four month old. It was the first time we toured with a full band, with more than one kid, and in the van. We had 10 people in the van. It was total chaos and I was extremely sleep deprived. I can remember looking around the van thinking, who am I? What am I doing here? Is this worth it?

We’d also just signed to a label and were feeling pressure from the industry and ourselves to look and act a certain way. I felt myself slipping away in all of it. Like I was losing myself. And I think that anyone can feel that way in any job. Who am I? What am I doing here? Is this worth it? Am I doing enough? Those questions were the real inspiration behind the song. I wrote the verses on that tour and Tyler helped me finish the song about two and a half years later.

Tyler: We were really excited to have the opportunity to work with Tate Kirgiss to make the video. He’s fun and super talented. Tate presented the idea of us printing out old photos and reminiscing. We loved it. The rest of the shoot was easy. We shot and hung out at some of our favorite spots in East Nashville.

NT: You also just released a music video for your new song “A Boy and A Girl (We’re Getting Older)” that feels very touching and personal. What’s the story behind that song and all of the couples and kids in the music video?

Jenny: I wrote “A Boy and A Girl” from the perspective of having grown old together and reflecting on life. We met when we were 18 and 19 and were married at 21 and 22. I was still in college for the first 6 months of our marriage. I skipped so much class that semester.

In a lot of ways it feels like we have truly grown up together. We learned to be independent, made a big move to Nashville, took a leap and pursued music full-time, and have now released a bunch of records, all the while growing our family. We’ve changed and grown up together in good ways.

For the video, we worked with Karl Sutton. Karl brought a concept to the table and we thought it would fit well. We decided to find couples of different generations who are obviously still in love and film them just talking and walking. We just like hanging out together. I think that’s true for couples that are best friends. The older couples in the video are my parents and our neighbors. The other two folks that are about our age are friends. All of the couples in the video have endured significant hardship together and have come out stronger on the other side. These couples inspire us. We actually still haven’t met the kids! They were Karl’s contribution and are so sweet in the video though!

NT: Are there any specific artists or albums (new or old) that inspired any of the songwriting or sonic elements throughout There Will Be A Song? Any non-musical factors play inspirational roles?

Tyler: Irish folk artist Glen Hansard has been our primary musical influence over the past few years. He brings an incredible balance of soft, delicate, intimate and loud, strong, and epic to his records. His records aren’t overproduced. We also draw influence from artists we’ve grown up with: for Jenny that’s Leigh Nash, The Cranberries, and bluegrass artists like Alison Krauss. For me, it’s Nirvana, Mumford and Sons, Coldplay, and Jack Johnson.

Sonically, we were trying to go back to our roots and produce a folk-rock album like Faint Not from 2010. We’d not self-produced a record since then. There Will Be A Song almost feels like a “Faint Not 2.0” which is fun.

NT: Finally, from the creative and business side of things, what are some of the bigger differences (good and bad) between your last album being released by a record label and this one being independently released?

Tyler: Creatively, it felt freeing to have less people involved, though the label was generally very hands off with regards to production. Unfortunately, this creative process also felt isolating. I’m looking forward to expanding out a bit for the next record. That is, including a few more people. Business-wise, releasing the album felt way more difficult, because the team at the label worked super hard on Of This I’m Sure. At the same time, it felt nice to have control of marketing and touring again. Lots of pluses and minuses.