Jeen has written with many recording artists such as Great Big Sea, Serena Ryder, Res, Hawksley Workman, Brendan Canning and Martin “Doc” McKinney to name a few. She has worked with such companies as Pirate Radio and Television, RMW Music, TA2, Grayson Matthews and Nelvana (Corus Entertainment) writing, singing and producing a number of her songs for licence and use in commercials (Panasonic, Shaw, CIBC, Kraft, BlackBerry, KIA, Rogers, MasterCard, Molson, etc.) as well as various television programs (Republic of Doyle, Instant Star, Ruby Gloom, Degrassi).
We caught up with Jeen at 'Alley Catz' (a Famous jazz venue on Yonge Street) to have a cocktail and chat about Woodstock, dancing around to ABBA records and enjoying Pink Floyd gig's 'in utero', here's how we got on....
Please introduce yourself and your music in one sentence....
I’ve been in music forever, never had a ‘real job’ but you’ve probably never heard of me :-)
Apparently you’re a member of Cookie Duster, can you explain what that is?
Brendan Canning from Broken Social Scene’s side project. I was asked to join for the last release ‘when flying was easy’
How and when did you decide that you wanted to be in a band/performer?
I watched the Woodstock ’69 documentary when I was 13 and have been chasing that ever since.
What music is making you get up and dance right now?
Music makes me think too much these days so I’ve been avoiding it lately…like even in the grocery store.
What is the best advice you ever received and who was it from?
As I was firing a shitty ex manager he said to me 'the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know' and the real advice I took from that was to stay away from them altogether.
You have written for many artists, what do you prefer writing or performing?
Apples to oranges on that one. I guess I’d say writing, less nerves to settle, less bags to pack.
Which act or band made you want to get become a musician?
hard to say cause I knew I was going to be in music from a really young age...like dancing around to ABBA records in my parents basement kind of young…(my answer is not ABBA)
What are your Saturday Night and Sunday morning records?
See question ‘what makes me dance’
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released and why?
Well, I haven’t heard ALL the records EVER released but…maybe the White album? Its just wicked… My Bloody Valentine ‘Loveless’? also wicked… and Nevermind by Nirvana meant everything to me when it came out so that's got to count for something…this question is too hard.
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘super group’, who would be in it? (only living members please)
Perry Farrell (jane’s addiction) and Chris Robinson (black crowes) would make for a pretty awesome (or at least interesting) duet album.
‘Tourist’ is your debut album, how did this finally come to light?
Well it’s technically my 3rd…the other 2 are in boxes in my basement. But I figured now or never with ‘Tourist’… I felt I had a batch of songs that were finally worth the effort I guess. I want to put out more records with less time in between now and I felt this album was a good introduction of where I’m at and where I’m going.
‘Backyard’ is a beautiful track from Tourist, sort of a cross between the simplicity of early White Stripes and the fragility/tenderness of Cat Power, what was the influence behind the track?
I originally wrote backyard when an ad agency approached me to write something for them that sounded like “a real song” (this happens a lot)… but luckily they didn’t end up using it. The influence came from the idea of being happy where you are instead of looking over the fence all the time…not letting the things you don’t have ruin what you do have you know?...something I can be pretty crappy at actually.
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
‘Wish You Were Here’ by pink floyd would have been nice. It’s just a perfect slow burn.
First gig you ever went to?
Attended: Pink Floyd when I was in utero
played myself? Some hall show in Oshawa Ontario probably.
You recorded your songs in your attic, how did you manage this? and what did the neighbours say?
Haha…it’s a lo-fi set up in a big huge room…house was built in 1904 or something so it’s a big space up here …I have like no gear though just Cubase and an imagination (and a good mixing guy)…neighbours were cool…to my face anyway ;-)
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as dinner party guests?
Walter White, Adam Yauch (MCA), maybe Julien Assange?
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
I’m pretty antisocial.
Who would you like to know has your music on their iPod, MP3 or cassette walkman?
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Finn from Adventure Time
You have worked with people such as Hawksley Workman, how did this come about and what was the experience like?
Hawksley produced my second record ‘sixties’ (the one in my basement) so that’s how we met. Not long after he asked me to join him in Newfoundland to help him co- write with Great Big Sea cause they were starting a record from scratch that again he was producing. I love Hawksley and when I work with him I always take his lead. He’s uncut.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2014
Hopefully to get some good shows and good licenses and start on the next record. And not get too jaded or caught up on myself in the process…that would be helpful.
Jeen had drained her 3rd Cosmopolitan and my wallet wasn't looking too healthy, the bartender said that I could settle the bill by card, I duly ordered a bowl of pitted olives and another round of drinks and asked Jeen some quickfire questions....
Coffee or Tea? tea
Coke or Pepsi? coke
Drum machine or the real deal? (hesitation) Real deal
Mac or PC? PC cos a Mac is too rich for my blood
Taco or Burger? taco
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)? Lemmy
CD or Vinyl? Is this a trick question? vinyl
Car or Motorbike? car
Acoustic or electric? electric
Canada or America? Canada
Shower or Bath? bath
Tattoos or Piercings? tattoos
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino? Al Pacino
God or Google? Is there a difference?
We'd like to thank Jeen for taking her time to answer our questions, as I said at the start of the feature, her new album Tourist is available right now, head over to iTunes where you can lay your hands on it for just $9.99 (that's less than $1 a track folks...)
Interview by Mark Wincott