Genna & Jesse / Blog

Accidental Curator (by Genna)

The "Tumbleweed" project, as I have come to think of it, evolved in a rush of creative energy that hasn't waned since Jesse and I recorded the song in May. The seed of the idea was to defy a stingy, unsavory mainstream music paradigm by including as many other artists as we could in the celebration of this event, effectively sharing the stage with them. Subsequent ideas came about quickly and effortlessly and before we knew it, we were in the role of Event Planners, creatively structuring an art show, live musical performance, video premiere, website launch and worldwide single release all at the same time!

As far as large events are concerned, Jesse really has one up on me because he has been producing events for the last 15 years, knows what to expect, and is well-equipped to handle the stress and intensity of such an endeavor (and our event is a tiny one compared to the stadium-sized shows Jesse has worked on). I, on the other hand, have no such real experience (at least not on this scale) and in spite of this, and because of my enthusiasm for and commitment to this show, have found myself a sort of "accidental curator" -- NOT something I ever expected to be doing!

As to this role and all of the work involved, let me say that I now have an advanced appreciation for and a connection with, folks "behind the scenes" in the visual arts community. I had NO IDEA. None whatsoever. I have never curated an art show or put on a significantly large event in my life and had never dreamed that I would. And don't get me wrong. I love it.

But at less than two weeks before the event, with mostly only vague promises for submissions and not a SINGLE piece of visual art in hand yet, I am nervous for sure. Yet everything has unfolded so beautifully so far that I have faith that this is going to be an astounding introduction to the "Genna & Jesse Presents" event series.

Thank you to everyone who is helping us and sharing the time and energy to connect with us creatively! We couldn't do it without you, and we wouldn't want to!

Love, Genna G.

Less Than Two Weeks Out - Part Two

I am surely one of those dorks who reads EVERY bit of print on the album. That’s how I learned about producers and engineers and all that jazz. These days, it's beginning to seem to me that it's easier to look that stuff up on the web than it is to find my glasses or squint through a tiny font.

All this to say that this morning as I was at work on the technical details of our upcoming Tumbleweed and Tonic event, reviewing with Genna the short set of music we plan to play for our guests, and beginning to make notes on each of the songs, it again occurred to me how important the order of the songs is in the overall picture. The set, as with all of our performances, takes into account the transition between the songs and not just the songs themselves.

How many times have you been to see a band or have listened to a band's recordings and all of the songs start to sound the same? Now it could very well be that this band DOES in fact have songs that are basically the same. But more times than not, what you are actually experiencing with such a band is ear fatigue. The have stacked all of their songs in the key of E one after the other, and so they are starting to sound the same. Or else they have put 4 songs in a row on their CD that are at the same BPM (beats per minute) as each other. Or worse yet, they’ve managed to do both.

So in making up our performance set for the event, we have been joyously careful.

In the larger sense, in the Genna & Jesse as a duo sense, the new ways will hopefully complement the old ways - give them wings, or at least legs to stand upon. We are not worried about the CD and the CD release party. That may come if the universe requests it.

For now we are treating each of these songs as if it were one of our children. We are celebrating each one individually, so that each receives the love and attention that it needs. In time they might grow to be different sizes and shapes. Who knows?

Looking to the near future toward the FOLLOW-UP song to Tumbleweed, I begin to harken back to a sliver of the old ways. My hands are covered in chalk from writing on our "working walls," and as I stare at the list of Genna & Jesse songs before me, I can't help wondering which one will come next, and which one after that, and if they DID end up on an album what the order might be, and...

All bets are off regarding exactly what we do next. We've got shows, videos, a website, and lots more in the stovepipe. We've got a pretty good idea of what we will be doing for our second release, mind you, but we've got our lips sealed on that one for now.

Thanks and remember to trust your ears the way you trust your eyes.

Less Than Two Weeks Out - Part One

It’s funny how old ways return even in the face of new ones. Our local organic fruit takes on the defective Verizon smartphone return packing slips - an epic battle.

Not as much of a battle is the Genna & Jesse approach to releasing music. The music industry can do as it pleases, and artists can continue to release compact discs. When my friends do this I try to support them, whether they are on a major label or on their home printer and laptop CD drive. My issue is with what happens to the "product" after that. That is why we are concentrating on one song at a time. We ARE songwriters, after all, even if we are recording makers as well.

When we used to buy records, as in LPs, hearing the music was only part of the reward. The artwork, the liner notes, the smell of the dust jacket...and the substance and tactile sensation of the vinyl and its grooves were all treasures in their own right. All of this before the record received its first spin. I remember that excitement, coming home with ACDC''s Highway To Hell, and getting distracted by the cover photo for about twenty minutes before I realized that I was singing the title track in my head and through my lips, but I hadn't yet switched the record player on. And I’m not even going to get into the Yes albums.

So am I here to tell you that records are cool, and that CDs are shite? As if you don't already know this or else have formed your own opinions? Not my song to sing, I reply.

I'm more on the subject of sequencing, actually. Doesn't sound all that sexy, does it? Sounds kinda boring, in fact. The numbering and ordering of tracks is something that gets taken for granted a lot these days, in my opinion, both in the sequencing of tracks on albums (album being defined as a collection, which could be a photo album as well as a record album, or really any collection such as a file folder) and also in the flow of songs in a live performance situation.

Sequencing is often the LAST thing that happens, which is why it tends to get lumped into the mastering process without much thought. Artists on a budget are often recording their songs one by one, and might even be having them mastered individually along the way. Since these painstakingly recorded and meticulously designed (and long awaited) discs and packages often get jammed directly into mp3 rippers, or else get used for promotional purposes where the "HIT SONG" had better be Track 1 or you might never get it heard, the rest of the sequencing is forced to fall in behind the single.

Thus another nail gets driven into the coffin of the concept album, perhaps. Or could this instead be an opportunity? I do miss a lot of things in the analog world that are disappearing. Turn on your old school TV to get an idea of what I mean. But as we blaze into the future of digitalia, we can do so with our musical and cultural knowledge intact. We can have a sip of those old flavors now and then, while at the same time gobble up the zeros and ones en masse.

Forever etched into my mind is the transition between "Highway To Hell" and the second track, "Girl's Got Rhythm," as if my brain had digested Side A in its entirety as one complete song. The effortless flow of XTC’s Skylarking is utterly dismembered when you listen on iTunes, EVEN IF you hear the songs in the proper sequence, since your mp3 player DOESN’T UNDERSTAND and will put a tiny bit of silence between these once mellifluously flowing tracks. This is the price we pay for the millennium in which we live.

And CDs end up in landfills what percentage of the time? And what percentage of your CDs, be honest, have you played once (and ripped to mp3) and never touched again (except when moving from one box to another)? Even you folks who tell me, and I do agree, that the artwork on the compact disc is still a viable visual format, how many times do you go back and look at the cover art again?