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HomeMusicQ&A with the ethereal multi-modal creative, Jeannel - PLAYY.

Q&A with the ethereal multi-modal creative, Jeannel – PLAYY.


We sat down with avant-garde artist Jeannel (Jeanne Amiens), who unveiled a stirring new single, ‘BLUE’, and its equally moving video on 03 May 2024 via Unfelt Recordings. The video premiered on the notable tastemaker NOTION. The song was produced by Jeannel herself and oh.no.ty (Tory Lanez, Belly, Moses Yoofee Trio), mixed by oh.no.ty, and mastered by 4x Grammy-nominated engineer Zino Mikorey (Hans Zimmer, Thom Yorke, Metronomy, Parcels, The Kooks, Fred Again). The Berlin-based songwriter and producer has garnered 1.5 million streams across platforms, earning praises from likes of Resident Advisor, Vice Mag, CLASH Mag, Earmilk, The Line of Best Fit, Kaltblut Mag and more, as well as landing placements on various Spotify playlists and earning spins on radio stations such as NTS Radio. Jeannel has graced the stages of Red Bull Music Festival, Clouds Hill Festival and Reeperbahn Festival NYC Edition, in addition to performances at art galleries and museums, and artist residencies (such as one in Havana, Cuba) abroad to boot. These are but a few of the host of achievements under her belt, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Jeannel deftly dances between the borders of alt-R&B, avant-pop, trip-hop, neo-classical and beyond. Influenced by Sevdaliza and what she was exposed to in her upbringing, her music has been compared to feminine luminaries such as FKA Twigs, Solange, Lana del Rey, Sevdaliza and Charlotte Day Wilson.

 

Watch the breathtaking video for ‘BLUE‘ and read our interview with Jeannel below.

 

 


 

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

I asked myself this question often enough, but ultimately I would say it’s simply a necessity. I wondered in my life many times why I cannot just do a simple “job” that gives me safety and stability but at the end of the day I need creativity as an outlet. I would even go so far to say that it’s a survival tool sometimes. It’s therapy for me, the way I express myself through life, it’s as vital as breathing and sleeping. I think it has to do with the way one perceives and feels the world. We are all born creative, all children are “artists” (whatever that means). Then society inflicts all these restraints and rules on us, capitalism sucks us into the machinery of having to fuel it, and we become numb, deprived of our creativity. It’s difficult being an artist in this world, I won’t lie. But I would say, it is my soul’s urge to experience itself, to get to know itself. With each peace I make, I grow, I get to integrate a part of myself. I feel very connected to my subconscious, my dreams, the world outside the material one, and I feel through my art I get to express all that, that otherwise would be stuck in my mind. Besides that, I grew up with the arts. My dad is a classical singer and I come from a lineage of music affine women, both my grandmothers and my mother love to sing. My older sister became a singer too, so this definitely paved the way for me to walk that path.

 

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Definitely the sound. I am not Beethoven unfortunately, so I don’t have the skill of composing without hearing how it sounds (yet).

 

Does your material feature any collaborations? 

I am currently working on a collaboration with Âme, which is quite exciting. I’ve wanted to make club-friendly tracks again since a while ago and this might be one. The track will (most likely) be part of their upcoming album. But cannot reveal too much.

 

What’s on your current playlist?

Underwater Love, Smoke City, Welcome To My World, Curtis Harding, Sereia Sentimental, Sessa, Aura, Hatis Noid, Kana Maloundi and Ablaye Cissoko.

 

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

That is very difficult to answer. I guess (I hope), that by showing myself as honestly as I can, my audience gets to see something of themselves as well, that I mirror something of themselves back to them, and that is the chemistry that happens I guess. During the past shows I played, you could hear a pin drop, and I didn’t know if that was a good thing, but from what I heard it seemed like it was a good thing. But that is more a question to be answered by the audience, really.

 

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I don’t experiment so much these days. I feel like I did that more in the past. For BLUE’ and my upcoming debut album I came back to more “classical”, analogue instrumentation. To the simplicity and beauty of timeless sounds, which I find cello is, as well as voice, piano etc. But of course there are modern twists in the productions, I love to pitch my vocals, and am super obsessed with finding catchy sounds that I love creating with my long term co-producer oh.no.ty, who is a real gem in that. 

 

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I buy lots of snacks before because I need to eat something all the time when I work. If I record vocals, I bring some essential oils for the aroma diffuser, I wear the coziest clothes and probably bring some wool socks as I record without shoes. If I don’t record, these days I lie lazy on the couch next to Tytus and give him my feedback on what he’s brewing. Right now we’re finishing the album, so I did all the pre-production and songwriting  already throughout the past 2-3 years, and he’s doing the final production and recordings with me now, so I allow myself to be lazy. When I was writing my album, I had the privilege to do that partly in Zino Mikorey’s studio, who mastered BLUE’ and my last EP. There I would just sit down with dimmed lights, and let the ideas come. Sometimes it would be fragments of melodies, or I go through some plugins and wait until a sound comes up that inspires me. Or go through my 93980997 voice notes on the phone and see if there are snippets that I vibe with and I go from there. But in any case it’s becoming quiet, shutting off the noise outside and being with myself. Allowing whatever needs to come out, to come out, through words, melodies or sounds.

 

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Yes I think it was when I was around 18 years old. I had been working in collaborative, experimental and partly very stupid projects and realised, I want to make my own music. That’s when I first started making baby productions on my Windows Laptop, inspired by techno and 80’s synth pop.

 

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

My inner protector. Which is mostly a sort or prayer, but I keep the details to myself. And probably some incense to clean the space before playing.

 

Any emerging artists on your radar?

This might sound strange, but I barely listen to “modern” music.  I mostly listen to “world” music, lots of Brazilian music, even Persian music from the 70’s, and North African Music. 

But I discovered Hatis Noit and find her really amazing and inspiring. She is the first that comes to mind to name here.

 

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Love, life, break ups, pain, seeing other daring humans and artists living and expressing themselves fiercly, nature, poetry. Mostly my exuberant inner world.

 

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Logic Pro X, a rather random vocal mic, Rode K2, to do home studio demo recordings, my cello that I also record on that mic at home, Izotope Iris 2, Omnisphere, TC Helicon Voice Live Touch 2.

 

Any side projects you’re working on?

I am quite passionate about my voice activation workshops that I started two years ago.

During the pandemic I started giving 1:1 vocal classes again which I continue doing until today, and that gives me a lot. During the pandemic it kept me sane. I realised how much need there is to reconnect to [your] own voice. That the underlying drive to come to vocal classes barely is the aim to become the “perfect” singer, but to reconnect to parts of oneself that lie dormant, which brings me back to the initial question ” why the arts?”. Because it’s vital to be creative, it’s a basic human trait that needs to be lived. The voice is such a potent and powerful tool and channel we have. I believe that it is the direct channel of our own truth. Society doesn’t promote for us to be loud and authentically self-expressive, and even though in these past years there’s been a big shift (I think) in trauma-research and awareness, there is still such a long way to go to deconstruct the toxic patriarchal and capitalist structures that have been ruling humanity since forever. 

My own ongoing research due to my personal history is the deconstruction of emotional inhibitions that we all carry, which oftentimes keep us from living life authentically and embracing the rawness of the human experience. I don’t believe in the New Age movement of today, in many ways it bypasses our actual human condition, which is not all bright, love and light. We need to embrace everything that makes us human, only then can we live fully, with our darkness, our fears, our anger, our insecurities, our vulnerability. The workshops are a research space, a playground, and I try to my best ability to make it a safer(r) space for everyone to feel, share, experience and self-express in the most authentic and joyful way. This is what makes my heart jump, as I believe we need spaces for real connection and expression more than ever.

 

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Through lots of trial and error. Writing, composing, years and years. Mostly simply by doing it. Writing, composing, recording, through that I shaped and honed by craft. During the past years I also learned a lot from sitting next to Tytus, who contributed a big part of “my sound” today. Watching him putting order into my productions and adding his magic helped big time in becoming more grounded and certain in my compositions.

 

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

For now, the finishing of my album and the collaboration with Âme, then some other stuff that I am manifesting but keeping to myself for now.

 

Famous last words?

As cheesy as it sounds – dare to be vulnerable.

 

Follow Jeannel:

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