JEN

„Meine musikalische Nachbarschaft ist global und kennt keine Grenzen. Überall dort, wo Musiker sind, die die Kunst der Poesie zu schätzen wissen, fühle ich mich zuhause.“ Es dauerte nur einige Wochen und Mails, bis in Köln am Rhein für die aus Washington DC stammende Jennifer Schwed alias JEN ein geborgenes Kreativdomizil entstand.

Dort wartet der DJ und Produzent Georg Boskamp alias George Solar auf neue Gedichte der Webdesignerin und Poetin, um das passende musikalische Gegenstück für ihre Worte zu entwerfen. „Ich vertraue ihm diesbezüglich blind, weil er bislang jedes Mal den perfekten Musikpartner gefunden hat, die meine Gedichte zum Leben erweckten.“ Gelka, Kieser & Velten, Can7 oder eben Solar Moon formten die Symbiose „Poetry meets Electronica“, aus der innerhalb eines Jahres die transatlantischen „Mellow Dramas“ (Stereo Deluxe/edel) erwuchsen. Erstaunlich ist der Effekt, wenn in der zurückgelehnten Atmosphäre der Downbeat-Sounds mit Jazz-, Dub- und Electronica-Elementen die Worte Flügel zu bekommen scheinen.

Spoken Poetry wurde erstmals Ende der 90er durch Ursula Rucker populär, als Jazzanova, 4Hero oder The Roots in der Interaktion zwischen Ton und Text eine neue Entfaltungsmöglichkeit auslebten. JEN ist weniger politisch als Rucker, dafür umso emotionaler. Ihre Gedichte sind wie kleine Geschichten mit Persönlichkeit, die Spielraum zur Interpretation bieten. Inspiration sei – wie kann es anders sein – überwiegend Liebe: „Sich verlieben, für einen Moment oder die Ewigkeit, sich auseinander lieben und alle Zustände dazwischen. Meine Texte sind aus der weiblichen Perspektive verfasst, vor allem aber aus menschlicher Sicht. Kein Geschlecht kann den Schauplatz der Liebe für sich beanspruchen.“

So vermittelt Schwed in ihren gesprochenen Versen das Bild eines sensiblen Menschen zwischen Euphorie und alltäglichem Leid. Ein Mensch, der immer im Einsatz ist. „Ich hielt schon beim Autofahren an, um Notizen zu machen, schrieb während einer Theatervorstellung. Es ist selten, dass ich mich mit dem Ziel hinsetze, ein Gedicht zu schreiben. Meistens sind es Ideen, die ich sammle – wenn dann daraus was wird, umso besser!“

 

Interview-Auszug

You collaborated with numerous producers like Gelka, Solar Moon or Can7. How would you describe the procedure of songwriting? Did they have a different approach to the songs?

So far, the procedure has been worked this way: I write a poem, I give that poem to George and then George finds the right home for my words. I trust him implicitly with my poems and each and every time, he finds the perfect musician to bring my writing to life. My poems are more like stories, each with their own personality, and with all of the wonderful, talented musicians George knows, he’s able to figure out which musician will work well with which poem. Of course, there’s always room to interpret each poem and though it’s not what I’d call an oddity, it’s definitely exciting to hear the results of the collaboration. And yes, George is a very, very good guy!

What kind of musical projects did you have before JEN? Do you think “Poetry meets Electronica” is the best sound combination?

There were no musical projects before JEN; only writing—no music. I can’t imagine another combination for JEN outside of electronica, though I have to say that ‘electronica’ covers such a broad genre that it hardly narrows Mellow Dramas down to one sound. For me, at least, electronica can sound like classical or jazz or pop or ten other genres, but there’s always a twist—a new sound added to an old concept that reinvents the genre.

Your lyrics play a major role. Do you agree with the press info that says it’s a profoundly female view on things, especially love and emotions in general? What does your inspiration come from? Do you collect your ideas in a diary while sitting in the subway or a café?

I agree that the lyrics are certainly from a female perspective, but they are also profoundly human, I would hope. No gender has cornered the market on love. We all feel and experience the intensity of emotion, regardless of being male or female. My inspiration is most definitely love; falling in love, for a moment or an eternity...falling out of love...and everything in between. And it’s not always my exact experience I write about. It’s the human experience I witness between strangers or in a film or something I hear in a song. These poems are about my life as often as they are an interpretation of someone else’s life. As to where I write, it depends whether or not I have a pen near me. I’ve been driving and pulled over to scribble down notes. I’ve written ideas while sitting in a dark theatre. It’s rare that I actually sit down with the purpose of writing a poem. More often when I write, it’s just collecting thoughts, and if there’s a poem to be had, then that is all the better.

What about the music scene in Washington, DC? Are you in contact with other local musicians? Or do you think it’s superfluous in times of internet? Second home in Cologne?

I am in contact with local musicians, but in the digital age, chemistry has no boundaries. I’m not reliant on finding people to work with in the neighbourhood—my neighbourhood is global. Wherever there is good music, and musicians who appreciate the art of poetry, that’s what I refer to as home.

How do you perform live on stage: solo with pc & sampler or supported by “real” instruments? Any plans to go on tour in Europe in the near future?

The performances are a combination of samples and live playing. There are a few shows lined up in Europe, but I don’t know the details of a full tour just yet, though I would certainly love to do that.