'The Trials and Tribulations of a Redhead!'
Originally from Long Island, Jennifer Marks gave up her addiction to big hair and moved to New York City. Jennifer made her first CD Pizza in 1998 and successfully launched her career on the New York music front. Quickly becoming known for her smart on-stage humor, sexy lyrics and clever tunes, 'Time Out New York' once remarked: "Not only does Marks have great songs but she knows just how to throw 'em at you". Pizza brought Jennifer critical acclaim, and gave her the opportunity to create Red Kurl Records, which released her next album My Name's Not Red, in 2000.
My Name's Not Red showcased Jennifer's ability to be both strong and vulnerable and helped to catapult her to a wider audience. In its first week out My Name's Not Red was the second most added record on CMJ's AAA New Music Review Chart. In August 2002 Marks released her highly anticipated follow-up CD It Turned Me On. With a remarkably honest take on life, love, and lust, It Turned Me On demonstrated Marks' highly developed wit and originality.
Marks is the recipient of a number of distinguished songwriting awards, including the First Prize Winner and Second Overall Grand Prize Winner of the 'USA Songwriting Contest', The Overall Grand Prize Winner of the 'Great American Song Contest' and a semi-finalist in the '2000 Independent Music Awards'. Recently, Marks was honored as a Top 5 Finalist in the Coca Cola New Music Awards sponsored by The American Music Awards, Coca Cola, CMJ and Dick Clark Communications. Jennifer competed against 1000 other bands as the only act performing solo.
With a new album due in early 2004, I recently took some time out with Jennifer and talked all things music - from The Beatles to Fleetwood Mac and Howard Jones to Nile Rodgers.
Back at the age of 17 and 18 when you were flying around the world in elite choruses, thinking that you couldn't make a living from it, just what did you imagine your future occupation to be? "The only other thing I have ever thought of doing is working with animals. I love them and thought about being a Vet for quite a while."
It seems that whilst you were listening to Howard Jones' 'Dream Into Action' that you got immensely inspired ... please explain this more "I was at one of his concerts and he told a story about working in a factory and how everyone told him music would never get him anywhere (which is the impression I was under). He said if he listened to people he wouldn’t be standing on the stage at Madison Square Garden. He said whatever your dream is put it into action. In that moment I felt like there was no one else in the arena except for me and him and it was very inspiring."
Also, please explain your feelings around the time of the seminar where you heard Nile Rodgers speak "My mom took me into the city to see him speak. I think she wanted to make me aware of how difficult this business could be and also be supportive by getting me information. Nile spoke about how important it was for an artist to write his or her own songs. I went home and tried to write a song. Somehow it was natural for me and luckily I found other people to work with who really helped me hone my craft. I was also fortunate to work with Nile a few years later, which was very cool."
What makes you stand out from all the other female singers that are sailing the same unknown, and sometimes treacherously-heartbreaking seas? "There are so many talented people out there. It is hard to say what makes me stand out. I could say it is the songs; my voice or the fact that I work my butt off but I really think it is my hair. As a kid having red hair got me teased. If something bad was happening in class I was the one that got pointed out as the troublemaker only because I was the most visible. I guess now I get to use it for my benefit."
You say that as a child, your favorite records were Sgt. Pepper (The Beatles) and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, which were both recorded by drug-using bands ... should I be reading anything into this?! "No, but that would have been an interesting way to go as a seven year old!"
Tell me more about some of these songs from this latest EP and your thoughts and such behind them "I was just having a really bad day and was in the middle of getting ready to cry and decided to laugh instead. I am a cynic so it surprised me and I decided to write a song about looking at the bright side of things. I just let go and the chorus to 'Live' just came out. 'Window', well I lived in an apartment with a really big Window. I got the idea from that!"
Releasing such CDs as My Name's Not Red on your own was a huge step, but what if you had failed? Was it costly and where would you be now? "I am a huge believer in if you try you can never fail. I was very fortunate to not lose money but really opening a label, producing CDs, finding distribution, getting publicity and booking shows is a hard so even if I lost money I would have felt successful. And If it all didn’t/doesn’t work out??? I just can’t imagine that."
Do you have any external monetary income (ie: job) aside from being a musician that aids you in paying the bills? "No. I have made my money making music."
If I managed to come across a mint edition of your Pizza CD in its Pizza case, would I be one very rich man?! "I hope so. There were only 1000 of those made. I personally only have 2 copies and 1 is opened. It would make me incredibly psyched to have that be worth something one of these days."
Finally, if you were locked into a studio and asked to make a song with four other musicians (none related to the work you have done or currently are doing), who would they be and what would the name of the song be?! "Some of the people I would choose are no longer alive but here are some that are. Elvis Costello, Prince, Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell. The title would be 'Speechless' because I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed that I wouldn’t be able to talk!"
Interviewed By Russell A. Trunk
Check out this Jennifer Marks E-Card:
Jennifer Marks E-Card
To win your very own AUTOGRAPHED Jennifer Marks poster and a Jennifer Marks CD Sampler, just answer me this easy question: Jennifer's songs can be heard on the soundtracks of independent films such 'Let it Snow' (starring Bernadette Peters) and a film that was the 1999 Winner of the New York Film and Video Festival starring Calista Flockhart ..... what was the name of that film? Just send an e:mail to me with the subject title 'JENNIFER' and the answer in the text to:
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