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  • Songstuff Interview with Jennifer Doll

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    • Songstuff interview with New Jersey Songwriter and artist, Jennifer Doll, 22. Currently studying in Florida, Jennifer released her debut EP entitled, "The Crystal Hours" in November, 2017.  Since then, she has collaborated with film directors and fellow musicians, having maintained steady airtime on Internet radio shows.

      Web Site: https://jenniferdollmusic.wixsite.com/home

    Jennifer Doll




    Bio: Jennifer Doll, 22, is from New Milford, New Jersey, but currently studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. From picking up her first percussive shaker at age 6 to then learning several instruments thereafter, she has always indulged in the freedom that music allows. Such enthusiasm led to her debut EP entitled "The Crystal Hours", released November 1st, 2017, which was written and produced nearly entirely single-handedly. Since then, she has collaborated with film directors and fellow musicians, having maintained steady airtime on Internet radio shows. Her sound has been compared to the likes of Courtney Barnett, Björk, Sóley, and Charity Rose Thielen. A full-length album is expected later this year.




    Hey Jenn, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for SongStuff.  I've just got to say, there are two factors that I find especially intriguing about you besides your music that has got me rooting for your success.  One is that you are young (relatively compared to me) and have such potential ahead of you and the second is that you're female and breaking into the music industry in ways I've seen few females in my circles do.  Its exciting for me to hear about your journey, so I hope you don't find all my questions overwhelming.


    Thank you to SongStuff for having me.. and keeping me! The site has been incredibly encouraging and I really do owe everything that I have done to its members. Though, I don’t feel young! I have decided that I am at the ripe age of 78.. maybe a little pruned. And just as a precursor, being a woman has never deterred me. I really do forget that genders play a ridiculous role in any industry—I guess I just push it to the back of my mind.


    There are many incredible women out there.  Let me start by asking you, what was the earliest you knew you HAD to create music and what were your first experiences?


    This happened 3 years ago, ha! I don’t have a, “Oh, I’ve been a prodigy since I was in the womb listening to Mozart and Bach” story. No. I’ve always been uber into music but I was also really into science too, so I started college as a marine science major. I think I just finally gave in to that side that was always musical and really indulged in it. It was a lot of self discovery and heartache.. but I am so happy with where I am, now as a double major in marine science and music, but definitely pursuing music as a career.


    My first experiences were just fooling around with whatever instruments I could. I had a guitar and I had my voice. I didn’t know how to use either of them, but from those days comes Mr. Fox (which only took two years to complete!). I also listened to music basically every waking hour. I thought that the more I listened, the more I would learn. I think I still believe this today.


    My first experiences were just fooling around with whatever instruments I could. I had a guitar and I had my voice. I didn’t know how to use either of them


    What artists influence your music?


    I grew up with Fleetwood Mac, but also Britney Spears. I would dance around the house to “Tusk”.. which I am almost sure that influenced me to take up drums as my first instrument. Like I said, I wasn’t much into music until the last three years, so before then, I listened to anything. My first proper concert was The xx. I really loved the Juno soundtrack and I listened to some screamo, too.. can’t forget those middle school days. I went through a The Killers phase and some classic rock. Oh I really liked The Doors.


    But I really found inspiration in popular music today. I really love Lorde, Florence + the Machine, Adele, Sia, Kendrick Lamar, Wolf Alice, St. Vincent, The Bleachers, The Maccabees, Nick Cave.. it isn’t until I try to list these that I realize 1) how many female artists I listen to and 2) how much I suck at remembering what I listen to. I still love Fleetwood Mac, The Carpenters, ABBA… I could go on forever.


    One way or another, they’ve all found their way into my music.


    What is it about their work that makes them stand out to you?


    I really love big songs. A lot of people ask me to explain what I mean when I say that, but I can’t.  I really love drums--a must have, good rhythms, and just an ending that makes you feel like you could leave this earth... Yeah….

    I really love drums--a must have, good rhythms, and just an ending that makes you feel like you could leave this earth... Yeah….


    Do you seek to pull that influence into your music when you create or is it a subconscious thing?


    I actively steal a lot of my ideas for my music, more or less. I’ve figured that I’m most inspired when I’ve sort of stopped listening to music for a little bit, and allow all the melodies and sounds to mosh together in my head. And then I kind of just transform it into how it is, actually wrong in my mind. But with each song, I can definitely tell you “That came from this song”.


    I actively steal a lot of my ideas for my music, more or less.


    You've been to school to study music.  Tell us about that.


    I am so bad at theory. So bad. I don’t get it. I can read bass and treble clef, as I’ve played the trumpet for nearly a decade. But theory goes right over my head. I have never consciously applied it to any of my songs.


    My school is liberal arts, so it’s not designed for the application of music. We really just learn about the history of it and how it affects society, for lack of a better definition. Right now, we’re learning about 17th century operas.. I’m supposed to be writing a paper.


    You've got a really smooth style and distinct sound.  Tell us how that came about.


    I really have no idea what sound I have. Like I said, I take from everything I listen to, so it’s just a conglomeration of all of that. I’m really happy to have my own sound, but I just try to do the song justice while I’m working on it. I used to be concerned about a “sound”, and it seems that only when I stopped worrying about it, did it come to me.


    You are one of the not too many females I've encountered who has mixed your own material.  What resources helped you along with that?


    I really, really love the production aspect of music. I think it’s almost more fun than writing a song, honestly. Writing a song you have to beat it out of yourself and you’ve not satisfied until you’ve said it. But production.. it’s like putting it back into the world of conception and breathing life into it. It comes to a point where it’s just no longer yours, and at that point is when I usually release stuff.


    I really, really love the production aspect of music. I think it’s almost more fun than writing a song, honestly.



    I’ve mainly used GarageBand, but recently updated to Logic Pro X, and wow. Just wow. There’s so much, I’ve had to start resourcing back to YouTube for tutorials. But before then, I relied on trial and error and assistance from SongStuff. I had no idea what I was doing back then, and I still don’t really.


    Why do you suppose more men pursue mixing than women do?  Do you expect that to be changing in the near future? If you do, what factors do you think has contributed to these expected changes?


    I think a lot of women do mix; one of the girls I graduated high school with was going to go into sound engineering. I think it’s just that they don’t get the attention. I’m really not sure why the music industry is so male-dominated; I think it’s still the confines of our society. I’ve never given it much thought, but it’s encouraging to see festivals requiring more gender balance in their line-ups.


    I use Twitter for my news source, and women are finally gaining their voices again. It’s really inspiring, and I hope to be more conscious of it.


    What helpful advice would you have for other females considering the path of learning how to mix?


    Just do it. Don’t even think about your gender.


    What instruments do you play and how have you used them in your compositions?


    I started with the drums, but wanted something with melody so I switched to trumpet. I also took up the guitar seriously in the last year and play with an all-girls punk band. I wouldn’t call myself a guitar player—I just read tabs.


    I actually never mean to use brass in my songs; I don’t have the intention of recording myself playing. I really love the texture they give, though. My teacher was angry with Mr. Fox and said “This is good besides the cheesy trumpets”.. too bad I lost all the stems to those songs when my computer crashed.


    So to answer the question, I don’t use any instruments I play in my songs! I use a lot of keyboard as the base for my songs, which is funny, because it does not come naturally at all.


    What do you believe to be your greatest strengths in creating your music?


    Oh this is a hard one.. it’s so easy to look at what you’re not good isn’t it? I think just my pure utter devotion to making a song materialize and come alive. Since the beginning, my goal has always been to make someone feel like I feel like when I’m listening to one of my favorite songs.


    Many nights, I’ve unknowingly stayed up until sunrise working on a song. I just can’t step away from it until it’s done. That’s also how I know it’s worthwhile.


    Many nights, I’ve unknowingly stayed up until sunrise working on a song.


    What challenges in your life have you overcome to get to where you are now with your music? How did you overcome those challenges?


    All the self-doubt and inward hatred. It is hard. How do you make something you’re satisfied with when you’re comparing it with to songs that have quite literally changed your life? How to overcome this? I really have no idea. I think at the end of the day, the love for the creation of music naturally takes over.


    What advice to you have for those who encounter those same challenges?


    Allow yourself to feel everything.. and then write a song about it.


    I'm not sure I've known of any collaborative projects you've worked on.  Do you collaborate? If its a consideration, what strengths do you look for in a collaborator and why?


    I’m always down for collaborating with someone; they’ve just got to tolerate my stubbornness. In December, I actually film scored a short piece for my friend studying at NYU. She’s still working on the postproduction stuff, but she said it should be ready by the end of April.


    I’ve also collaborated with someone else, but I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say!


    Strengths—I guess I just look for someone who is really good at the element that the song needs. If that makes sense?


    What venues would you like to see your music in?  Do you have s specific target you're aiming for?


    My goal is to perform at an outdoor festival. I just think it would be amazing and I literally have dreams about it. And as a viewer, Glastonbury. It’s probably not as glorious as it looks, but..


    When you write, what comes first in your process and what are your steps from there?


    I was actually just thinking about this last night after reading a Twitter thread; I really have no idea. I think it all comes together all at once for me. And while I might not write often, when I do it comes in as a wildfire. I think the first step is just having this intrinsic inspiration and innocent excitement.. if I don’t have that guttural feeling, I won’t write a song.What is the shortest length of time you've had to invest in a song you've completed and published?


    Uhm.. all my songs take a pretty long time. I really need to set myself deadlines or else I’d still be working on my first song. I’ve just started the challenge for this year to write one song a month. So far all 2/2 songs have taken a little over a month to be satisfied with, but it’s going at a good rate! I’m also just very happy to be writing songs again; I had horrible writers block for about three months after my EP release.


    What is the longest length of time you've had to invest in a song you've completed and published?


    Well I wrote Mr. Fox nearly two years before I released The Crystal Hours. It started with a guitar loop and then I rewrote the whole thing in GarageBand a year later, and then again a couple of months before release. I was walking around the woods trying to come up with a chorus for the song forever.


    Is it the lyrics, vocals, music or mixing that takes the most effort and time for you?


    I would say the mix. There are just so many possibilities when it’s all in front of you: picking the best vocal take and the harmonies and the EQ’s to modify timbre, and do I really need that cymbal? It’s really hard because you need to step back a lot and it’s hard to do that when you’re so invested.


    I write lyrics on paper first, and then try to sing them. Then usually I’ll stumble across new words and then I’ll do a few more takes and I’ll get a melodic line. Melodies actually come very easy to me, I would say. Though I can’t really write them without already existing music.



    ~ Up until The Crystal Hours, Hidden Nightmares was my favorite.  ~Jenn Doll



    You've been a member of SongStuff since 2016.  How do you use SongStuff as a resource in your songwriting/composing?


    Well actually, I must credit HoboSage (David) for my Mr. Fox chorus. He’s the one who came up with it and I really loved it from the first time I heard it; he sings it better than I do! But SongStuff has been such an incredible source of inspiration, competition, camaraderie, and critique. I wouldn’t have made it this far without it.


    What do you like best about SongStuff?


    How freaking brilliant everyone is. These people know what they’re talking about. And sometimes a person will mention just one little thing to fix, and you do it, and it completely changes the song! It’s amazing.


    Do you have a favorite creation?  Tell us about that. What makes it your favorite? What other sources besides your recent album release can listeners go to if they'd like to purchase or sample your music?


    Up until The Crystal Hours, Hidden Nightmares was my favorite. It perfectly encapsulates this moment at 3 am where things got a little scary with sleep paralysis and a clock ticking in the closet and the toilet not flushing.. Yeah. But I just wrote a song last month that I’m super proud of and I had a friend mix/master it. It captures this scene in my head and it’s just great. Super happy with how it came out.


    You've put out an album and continue to work toward another.  Tell us about that.


    Yes! It was a seven track EP and I’m currently working on a full length album.. I think I’ll leave it at that!


    Where did you get the concept for your album?


    I probably should do this, but I didn’t conceptualize my EP. And I probably won’t conceptualize my album. It happens so that the songs just make sense all together at the end. Right now the two new songs I have don’t make any sense back-to-back, but I’m sure in a few months they will.


    Where can listeners find your album?


    Mainly SoundCloud or Bandcamp. I hope to release the new album on Spotify and iTunes.. I need a job first!


    Can we hear a sample to give us a taste of what's upcoming?


    Drums. Synths. Vocal harmonies. Drama.


    I'm sure members will  be watching to keep up with your latest moves and direction.  What social media can they link to in order to follow you?


    I really love Twitter. Find my drunk rambling there and please don’t be afraid to talk to me!

    Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/JenniferDollMusic/

    Twitter - https://twitter.com/JennDollMusic

    Website - https://jenniferdollmusic.wixsite.com/home

    Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/jenniferdollmusic/

    Bandcamp - https://jenniferdollmusic.bandcamp.com/releases

    SoundCloud - https://soundcloud.com/jenniferdoll



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