Jensen Reed Wants You to "Forget About the Cameras"
Fri, 01 Oct 2010 12:46:30
On his new album, Forget About the Cameras, Jensen Reed slides through hip hop with an unshakable rock 'n' roll swagger. Reed's airtight flow fans the flame at the heart of songs like "Believe" and "Sunset." Each track volleys between a myriad of genres with bounce and bravado. The North Carolina-born, Los Angeles-based artist is about to flip the script on the game forgetting about the glitz, glamour and the cameras and hitting the mic harder than anyone.
Jensen Reed sat down for an exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Forget About the Cameras, how to mix and match genres correctly and where sports and his tunes converge.
(See the picture of Jensen kicking it with Entourage and The Girlfriend Experience star Sasha Grey above)
Was your original intent to create a seamless blend of hip hop, pop and electronic on Forget About the Cameras?
That was the goal! I've always tried to mix various genres for a cohesive sound, so the listener isn't taken completely off-guard from one track to the next.
Did you view the album as one entire vision from the beginning or did it come together in the studio?
It was a little bit of both. I was originally going to put out a five- or six-song EP. I worked with Christian James Hand. He plays drums with me, but he's also a producer. I basically brought him some finished songs. He took a shot at mixing one track, and it turned out really great. We were going to do an EP, but it became a very collaborative process with a really comfortable working situation in the studio. He asked if I had more material. I kept bringing him music, and we decided that we might as well put out a full-length 12-track album. The title, Forget About the Cameras, is interesting. I was originally going to title it Find Your Way after the second track. However, "Forget about the cameras and ball" is a line on "Do Your Thing." I always thought it was a very cool line. I've played sports my whole life, and I feel like it applies to everything in life. You've got to just put the blinders on, pretend like there's nobody around and take care of business, whether you're in a game or on stage. It all came together after working with Christian and realizing it was going to be such a positive process.
What's the story behind "Sunset?"
That's actually an older track that I wrote a couple years ago. My friend Lauren Mayhew who's an actress and artist got on that. That song is an epic kind of rock 'n' roll song with the solos at the end by my buddy Ryan [Blakely Smith]. When I wrote that song, it was one of the first songs that gave me goose bumps.
It leads into "After the War" really well.
I still listen to full albums. As an artist, I know people take a lot of time as far as the transitions between songs and how everything flows. I'm pushing "After the War" as a single. It's a big song, and it really couldn't fit anywhere else but last on the record. I don't think it can be followed by anything.
For you, is storytelling an important aspect of songwriting?
There are a couple of themes throughout. The first is unequivocally staying true to my dream, fighting for it and continually pursuing it. That comes through believing in yourself, and that theme is constant. There are also a couple of songs that deal with relationships and lost love and trying to keep good things together. "After the War" deals with the fact that anyone can go through a war or a battle in their life, but eventually you come out of it better for it and it's triumphant.
How connected are sports and music for you?
I could hear "Believe" at the beginning of a sports show on ESPN. They're high-energy positive songs. That goes hand-in-hand with athletics. There's that similar mentality of sticking to your dream and, when the time comes, stepping up and doing that. You realize you've been able to put in all of the hours, and I'm getting pretty close to Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 [Laughs].
It's a bit like Rocky…
There you go [Laughs]. When you're trying to do something on your own, very rarely does it happen out of the blue with some long cool story behind it.
What records shaped you?
From the hip hop side of things, early on it was The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique and Check Your Head. Outkast is my favorite hip hop group ever. Aquemini is my favorite Outkast albums. At this point, I listen to almost nothing but rock 'n' roll. I was always a big Doors fan. I love the theater behind their shows. I've read a lot about Jim Morrison. Radiohead is another band that I come back to. It's pretty wide-ranging.
What's next for you?
Mark Pellington [The Mothman Prophecies, Arlington Road] is going to shoot a video for "After the War" in November. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He believes in the music. Video is key right now in this climate. People will more likely watch an interesting video than listen to a song.
Have you heard Jensen Reed?
Pick up Forget About the Cameras here , learn more about Jensen here and check him out on Bandcamp!