Jenny Teator discusses her music, Surrender, and her musical Angel
Born in North Dakota, a stone's throw from the Canadian border, you'd think the weather there would be pretty cold throughout the year. Eh? Well, not necessarily. During the Summer, the temperatures average around 80 degrees but in some eastern parts of North Dakota, the temperatures can sore to 121 degrees. That's hot!
When Jenny Teator was 8, her family relocated to St Louis, Missouri. But, with the weather being very unpredictable and the winter's very cold, Missouri has been nicknamed Misery. So, after college, without looking back, this girl packed her clothes into her car and moved to Nashville to pursue better weather and create her own musical climate.
TRR: Hi Jenny. What’s going on in Nashville today?
JT: Oh my gosh. I was told there’s going to be some tornados coming this way. I’m definitely not looking forward to it. But, besides the tornados, things are going well. I’ve got a friend in from Boston for the weekend, but we’ll make the best of it.
TRR: I used to live in Tennessee, in Chattanooga, back in the day. I used to head to Nashville whenever I had a chance. Great city.
TRR: You’re originally from Missouri.
JT: Uh, yes.
TRR: Hmm. That doesn’t sound like a very exciting “yes!” Why is that? Was Missouri miserable?
JT: (laughing) No. It wasn’t miserable. I think the weather there was the main reason for me wanting to move from there. There’s always been a running joke that the weather there is miserable, so people call Missouri, Misery. (laughing) But, I loved living in St Louis and it’s fun to go back. I really didn’t know the music scene when I was there because I really didn’t start to get into it until I started college in Columbia, Missouri. So, when I go back to visit now, it’s a lot of fun to go experience the scene.
TRR: Do you go to venues and sing there?
JT: Yeah, sometimes. I have some friends there who are in bands and it’s fun to sometimes go there and share the stage.
TRR: Tell me about your childhood.
JT: I was actually born in North Dakota. But, we moved to St Louis when I was about 8 years old, so I really consider myself to be from St Louis. I lived there until I left for college in Columbia, Missouri, where I was for 6 years. After college I moved to Nashville.
TRR: Here’s an obvious question but is it the music that brought you to Nashville?
JT: Yep, definitely the music.
TRR: How are you liking Nashville so far? Personally, I love Nashville.
JT: I love it! It’s continuously growing, and I have barely seen everything. There’s so much to do and so much to see. I’m so close to the Smoky Mountains, which are beautiful. The music scene is incredible. I think a lot of people are intimidated by it because it’s so saturated by songwriters and musicians but, it’s actually a pretty small scene. Everyone knows everyone. Going out to the jams, you see a lot of the same people and get to know each other. So, it’s actually a very small scene but it’s a great one. Everyone is really supportive of each other. I didn’t get that vibe elsewhere and everyone’s here to do the same thing.
TRR: Yeah, that’s one of the cool things about Nashville. A lot of musicians really go out of their way to support each other. There’s not that feeling of competition like there is in other places, like here in South Florida.
JT: Yeah, that’s one of the things that I love about Nashville, how all the bands, musicians, songwriters all support each other in their music.
TRR: As a kid, were you always singing?
JT: Um, I did. I was singing from the time I was 5. Not at shows but I was singing all the time. I remember standing on top of this big speaker in our basement. There’s a picture of it. My mom loved Martina McBride. So, I would climb on top of that and sing and jump off and have a great time. It’s a great memory and I love looking at those pictures.
TRR: That sounds like you and your mom had a great time.
JT: We did. And, we both have that love for music. My dad worked at the University of North Dakota so he would take us to see the University band. In 6th grade, I joined the choir and that’s when I really started to enjoy performing.
TRR: When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music as a career? Did you study that in college?
JT: Well, honestly after college is when I made the decision and moved to Nashville with the purpose of pursuing music. When I went to college, I studied health science and applied behavioral analysis, which is a type of therapy for autism.
TRR: That’s great! A far cry from music but great.
JT: Yeah, it was at the time, I thought. So, when I was in college, I joined a 90’s covers band which was my first real experience performing with a band, singing. Afterward, I wanted to start my own band which was Jenny Teator and the Fevers. That was my original first band and we were together for 5 years. That’s when it became my passion. I decided that is what I wanted to do for my career and life. I didn’t enjoy the health care any longer and couldn’t give 100% so I walked away from that. I felt bad but I had to follow my passion and that’s music.
TRR: You made the right decision if you couldn’t give 100% to your patients.
JT: I agree. It was a hard decision, but it was the right decision for me.
TRR: Congratulations on your new video for Surrender. I’m glad we were able to feature it for you last month.
JT: Thank you for doing that. I really appreciate that.
TRR: Did you write the song?
JT: I did.
TRR: The music too?
JT: Yeah. I wrote the song with Meg Williams. I started it and got stuck and she helped finish it. So, we co-wrote it. Then, I brought it to Red 13 studios, and they brought it to life.
TRR: The song, it’s not really country. It’s like a Southern Blues Rock.
JT: Yeah, that’s a cool description.
TRR: It’s very Allman Brothers-ish and I can definitely hear some Tedeschi influences. How would you classify it?
JT: A lot of people ask me that all the time, what genre is it? And I love that. That’s my goal, to bring a new sound to the scene. I love the sound of it. I wanted it to sound modern but add some horns and claps. I have a lot of other songs, one that’s a Bluey Gospel, one that’s Soul. So, I tell people it’s like a Blues/Pop/Rock. I like that it’s hard to pinpoint.
TRR: Run with it. Create your own genre!
JT: Yes! That’s what I’m doing.
TRR: Cool. You do that. So, this was recorded at Red13 Studios in Massachusetts?
JT: Red 13 is very cool, an independent label at this point. They’re really a one stop shop for videography, recording, production. It’s really a cool place and I love working with them.
TRR: How did the recording process go? Who produced the single?
JT: Mark Roberge and Shaun Lichtenstein. They call themselves Oh No Octopus. They produced the song and Jim Foster was the Director of the video with Red 13.
TRR: Oh No Octopus? I won’t even ask.
JT: (laughing) I think it’s even spelled differently than it sounds.
TRR: When is the full record coming out?
JT: Oh God. (laughing) If I only knew I’d tell you. There’s a lot of moving parts in the works right now. We’re in this waiting period of things to happen so I don’t have a date right now but there will be more music released throughout the year.
TRR: Well you’ll have to keep us informed when the next single and video is released.
JT: For sure.
TRR: Let’s take a step back for a minute. When you were with the Fevers, tell me a bit about that?
JT: We were a 6-piece band. That’s when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to sing. It was a bit of rock/funk/fusion. We released an album. It was a lot of fun and we all became best friends. There was no drama at all. We didn’t do it for the money. We put money into a band fund to pay for the album but we all split the cost. It’s a lot different now because I’m now responsible for paying my band members and booking shows. It’s a lot of work but when there’s a will there’s a way. I have a day job right now to help pay the bills but it’s all worth it.
TRR: Are you still in touch with those guys?
JT: Yeah, I am. We don’t talk every day, but we talk quite a bit. They’re still great friends of mine. We’re actually supposed to do a reunion show at a friend’s wedding. So, that should be fun.
TRR: Doing my homework, I learned you’re a huge Susan Tedeschi fan. Tell me about that.
JT: Oh my God. I’ve been a huge fan of hers since around 2012, from back in college. I got to meet Susan several years ago at a show and it was the thrill of my lifetime. I asked her a few questions and she was so nice. Derek [Trucks], her husband, signed my ticket which I still have. It was the highlight of my life and I want to meet her again and hopefully share the stage with her.
TRR: Well, you should get in contact with her and do a little collab.
JT: I’ve been trying! Every day! They have such a niche following and no one really covers their songs. That would be my dream to do that with her one day. Meg Williams, another singer in town, is also a huge fan of theirs. We met because everyone said we both loved TTB (Tedeschi Trucks Band) and we should get together. The first day we met we wrote a song and we were best friends from there. We decided to cover another TTB song every Thursday and post to YouTube. No one else was doing that so we did. Maybe we’ll get their attention.
TRR: Keep doing it. You will.
JT: I hope so. We’ll see.
TRR: I’ve got an idea. Here’s what you do. You schedule a gig in Jacksonville and make sure Susan knows you’ll be there and send her an invite to join you for a couple songs.
JT: Yes! That sounds like a great idea! Oh my God. That would be a dream come true. I’d just die.
TRR: Do you think you’d go all fan-girl on her?
JT: (laughing) No! I’d be like, “Susan, come here!” Maybe inside I’d be all fan-girl. (laughing) I think we’d get along so well.
TRR: At your shows, do you do any TTB songs?
JT: I always try to do Angel From Montgomery, my favorite, or Hurts So Bad. If I’m performing with Meg, we always do some of their songs.
TRR: You’re doing several shows through May. Are these smaller, more intimate venues?
JT: So, one of them is but most of them are big. On May 2nd I’ll be doing Whisky Jam, which is very big here in Nashville. Exit In is another big venue here in Nashville that I was chosen to perform. I’m excited. There are a few House concerts. We’ll be in Texas too.
TRR: What’s on Jenny’s schedule for the rest of 2019?
JT: Currently we’re booking more House Concerts. We have one in Asheville, NC in May so we’ll be there. We have a few in Ohio in June. We’re in the planning for a New York and Boston run. We’re planning to go to some new places. I’ve never been to Asheville so that should be cool. We’re trying to get some licensing deals and just record more. I’d like to put out an acoustic EP too for the House concerts. People are consistently asking for some specific songs, so I just need to get them recorded.
TRR: Sounds like you have a good plan for the year. Keep plugging away at it. Is there anyone you want to give a shout out to besides Susan and Derek?
JT: Oh my gosh! Susan and Derek, of course. Red 13, everyone who’s helped me so far, you guys for interviewing me, which is so awesome, anyone who’s listened or shared my music. I’m so grateful for everyone who’s listened.
TRR: Jenny, I appreciate you taking the time to interview with me today. This has been a lot of fun. We’ll see if we can get a copy of it out to Susan too! We’ll at least get a copy to her publicist.
JT: That would be awesome! Thank you so much. This has been fun. Thank you Craig.
TRR: Hey, stay away from the windows and I hope you get some better weather soon and keep us in the loop with the new songs.
JT: I definitely will. Thank you Craig.
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