Friday, July 22, 2011

Interview: Jen "Dirty Jenny" Leigh

Long-time readers of this blog may remember me getting all excited about a musician I found on MySpace (remember MySpace?) named Jen Leigh. Well, I've kept in touch with Jen since then and I'm very pleased to announce that she's ready to release her first album (actually an EP). "Dirty Jenny" has worked with what's best described as an eclectic mix of national acts, including legendary funk icon George Clinton and P-Funk, the Grammy award winning Sweet Honey In The Rock, R n B diva Kelis, with whom she performed on Saturday Night Live, and many more. She was in a band, Big Sister, that released an album entitled ‘So Hi How Are You’ which received a 3 ½ star review from Rolling Stone magazine. But 'American Bulldog', due out some time in August, is her first solo release. What better way to celebrate this achievement than submitting to an interview with me on this blog? Let the questioning commence!


Your first album! How long have you been working to make this moment happen?
Well, it's actually a six-song EP. Ha ha! But I still refer to it as my album/record. I've always been more of a "band" person and player, having been in BIG SISTER, plus all my previous bands in Connecticut. But releasing music that is all me, solo, if you will, has been my goal since I moved to L.A. in 2004.


I've been watching your status updates (on Facebook) and I'm expecting you to rock but are we going to get some funk in there too?
Yes! Absolutely! The songs are really a mixture of rock, funk, blues and a little pop.


Who's playing with you on the album?
My buddy Shawn Davis played bass on most of the record. I played additional bass on a few tracks. He currently tours with Nikka Costa, which pretty much lets you know how uber bad-ass and funk-tastic he is. Ha ha! Sheryl Crow's current drummer, Victor Indrizzo played drums and percussion. He has recorded and toured with everybody from Alanis (Morisette) to Macy Gray, Beck and more. And some chick named Dirty Jenny sang and played lots of guitars and keyboards. Oh, and I have to thank my friends who were nice enough to come sing and clap on a "gang/party" vocal bit at the end of  "Never Left Home"-SAP (Scott Allen Perry), Tracy Nicole Chapman and Cole Ynda. They rock.


Speaking of SAP, are there going to be videos and if so, can we expect any Perry Brothers zaniness?
That is the plan. SAP and I have talked about making videos forever. Right now, it is a logistical thing as he no longer lives in LaLa Land. But he is the ONLY person to make my video(s) for these songs. So, yes, Perry Brothers zaniness will be a-plenty when the time comes. By the way, I should also mention that SAP co-wrote two of the songs on my EP; "Flang Flang" and "Stress Bitch". We are like two peas in a pod creatively.
Oh yeah. These guys.
When did you start playing the guitar?
I started playing when I was 13. I was seriously obsessed with the guitar and music from day one. ;-)


Has being a female and left-handed presented challenges?
Yes and yes. I'm actually right-handed, but I play guitar lefty-strung either way. It was always more comfortable for me playing that way and I didn't know any better so I just went for it, not realizing then how much more difficult it would be down the road finding great, quality instruments. That is the worst part of it honestly. Most companies make crap guitars lefty, if they offer any at all. At this point, other than Japanese-made Fender Mustangs, I build my own, or have luthier friends custom build axes I design. It's a drag, but you get used to it.
On the female tip...well, you know the obvious response there. A lot of folks STILL find it hard to believe that a woman can actually play the instrument AND solo as good as, or better than, a man! It's our society and all the lovely double standards and stereotypes that exist in it. It's all ridiculous. At the end of the day, just be yourself and let your talent shine. Cream always rises to the top; it doesn't matter what's between your legs!


Who were some of your influences growing up?
My main influences growing up were Jimi Hendrix, P-Funk, The Meters, Led Zep, Sly (Stone), AC/DC, The Runaways, Wendy and Lisa. I am partial to '60s and '70s music still; classic rock, old soul and funk. That's what I love most. I also grew up with a lot of hard rock, so guitar was everywhere, unlike today where big nasty guitars seem to be a lost art. Such a shame.


How is Spiral doing?
She is doing wonderful, thanks. She'll be 14 months old in a few days, so she's still a baby by all accounts. In the bully world that equals STILL STUBBORN!! Ha ha! I waited over three years for her since my last AB passed. All I talked about was wanting a new bully. I think I drove most of my family and friends nuts there! In the end, it was all worth the wait. I am beyond blessed with her. I got EVERYTHING I dreamed of in an American Bulldog. She is the bomb and quite a character.
Guess who the album is named after?
Anything else you want to add?
I'm just excited for people to hear these songs and rock out to 'em. They're all very personal to me.


Oh, and a final bonus question: Since I've been following your career so long (going back to MySpace days), when I come to one of your shows, exactly how much of a big-timer will I be allowed to act like with my backstage pass?
You can act like a total diva, Clark! VIP!! Ha ha ha!


Dirty Jenny's AMERICAN BULLDOG will be released some time in August (final preparations are taking place now) and will be available on Jen's web site, http://www.jenleigh.com/ and also on her page at bandcamp.com, plus iTunes, Amazon, etc. An update with links and stuff will be posted here on the blog when that's all ironed out.

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