Featured Photo Credit: Louis Browne
Singer/songwriter Jennifer Denali took a multi-year liberating journey that yielded healing, self-discovery, love and new music. Her newest track “Sweet Sounds” weaves poetic lyrics and a pulsing dance beat to highlight Denali’s newly discovered self and uncovered freedom.
Jennifer Denali chatted with ECHO about writing “Sweet Sounds,” how she is staying inspired during quarantine, and what fans can expect from her upcoming EP.
What inspired you to write, “Sweet Sounds”?
“Sweet Sounds” was actually started a couple of years ago on a swing set in LA. I was there for a writing project and I just remember taking a walk to the park and getting on the swing and feeling free. I was so moved by that feeling of being a kid again and having that feeling of freedom. I just felt inspired to write the song, but I didn’t have any intention in mind. It wasn’t like a plan. It came out of nowhere and was completely organic. That’s what I enjoy the most about “Sweet Sounds.” Instead of it being sort of an autobiographical account of the things that I’ve learned or my growth process, it’s just a poetic song about innocence and a celebration of longing and pain. It really applies to any story.
What did the writing process look like for “Sweet Sounds”?
Typically, I use my voice memos. I was with my producer Anthony Jolie and we were writing the song with guitar and vocals. That’s how all my songs start with just guitar and vocal – very organic. Then we cut the demo at the studio and kind of just put it away. We were thinking this is a really good song. We like the feel. We like the vibe. We like where it’s going. Let’s just keep it in the bank. Then a couple of years later, here we are releasing it. It was kind of crazy to think that. I feel like I had to earn this record. I had to build up to it in my whole story. In the essence of how I’m releasing my singles, it is all storytelling. It’s all about my healing and growth process. Now I just kind of stepped out to just celebrate it. To be like, you know what, It’s okay. We can just dance about it.
How have you grown as an artist since you last released music?
I feel like I’ve grown in a lot of ways and in a lot of ways there is still room to grow. I think I’ve definitely become more confident in my own voice. And I don’t mean like singing wise, but just finding my own message and my own voice and being okay with what comes out. We can be our worst critics sometimes. Just being okay with it. Being satisfied with where I am now and what I have. These are the tools I have. This is what I have to work with. This is my message, this is my voice and I’m okay with that. I don’t expect anything else from it.
What was it like working with ClickNPress?
I’m super excited about this record. We teamed up with ClickNPress. They co-produced the record. They killed it. When we went into the studio in January, I gave them the song and maybe a half hour later we had the sound. They were so amazing to work with. They knew exactly how to execute it. It just came together. It was like they pulled it out of my brain.
Where did the concept for the visualizer come from?
My whole team saw it and were like ‘oh, God this is amazing.’ I just get captured into these worlds. I was staring at it for like 10 minutes. I really want to be on that rock. That’s me. The visualizer goes from sunset to evening. I don’t want to give away any surprises.
What is the meaning behind including Mermaids in your visuals for “Sweet Sounds”?
I think I was able to put it together after I decided to do the mermaid. It was just an instinct. First of all, I came across O̸z̸an’s [Ozcelik] Instagram and I was like I have to work with this artist. He’s an amazing graphic artist. The visualizer is like it’s own world. I think afterwards I was able to put meaning to it. Mermaids, as we know, represent innocence and seduction and I think I was trying to capture how innocence can get super deep over time and then we forget how to tap into that again.
If you could set fans up in the perfect environment to listen to “Sweet Sounds,” what do you imagine it looking like?
I can see my fans just driving with the windows down and blasting it. I don’t know. That is probably the perfect environment for me. Definitely with headphones and anywhere where you can soak it in and just listen to the words and feel the essence of the record together because there’s definitely an essence there and there’s definitely it’s own vibe- it’s own energy. It’s worth being paid attention to. It can be enjoyed in a dance atmosphere, but also connecting to it deeply in a park or on the beach or in the car.
What have you been doing to stay inspired during quarantine?
I totally reinvented my lifestyle completely like many of us have. To stay inspired, I listen to other artists and I write a lot. I journal a lot. I also love TV shows. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m super inspired by Westword. I love that show. I try to just focus on the things that make me feel good and happy. When I’m in a space of love and contemplation, I feel that’s when I’m most inspired. I just try to get to the paper as fast as I can. It’s been okay. I’ve been feeling inspired. This release has been taking up a lot of my time, thankfully. We need stuff to look forward to.
What can fans look forward to next?
During the last month or so, I have been curating a space with my team to make a special music studio lounge area to do my live stream shows. I’m going to be doing some live stream partnerships and shows of my current music and some covers. Then I am going to be releasing an EP at the end of the summer.
What will the EP sound like?
It will be a mixture of different things. It will be a mixture of “Sweet Sounds” and blended pop/R&B/organic singles that I’ve put out before just molded into one EP. I’m super excited about it. I can’t wait for my fans and community to hear it and to kind of just join the journey. When we get invested in something that we love or a person, we take their journey with them. My fans have been doing that with me this whole time.
What is one quote that you have heard or that you go by that you want to ECHO out to the world?
The latest quote that I heard that was so true is by Gloria Steinem. I just tweeted it. I realized that I do live this way already. The quote is, “dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” It applies during this time especially because we’re all looking inward and we kind of have to use our imagination and stimulate ourselves. I’m always dreaming.
Stream “Sweet Sounds” here.