“Jennifer Knapp, Up Close and Personal”
If you read my previous post: “Jennifer Knapp and Margaret Becker” review of their Christmas tour performance at “The Rumba Café`” ** at http://columbuswired.net/jennifer-knapp-margaret-becker/, this is the follow~up to that article. Jennifer was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some quick interview questions. Jennifer is a fascinating young lady that is very talented! Here is the interview:
1) Growing up, who was your largest musical influence?
I’ve always gravitated to singer/songwriters in the end. Anywhere from Johnny Cash, Robert Smith of The Cure, Indigo Girls, Jonathan Brooke to Eminem. Of course, I’ve always loved it most when acoustic guitar is in the music, but it’s when writer’s get me to feel life more deeply, that’s when it really grabs me and inspires me to play along.
2) What made you decide to jump into the entertainment industry and how did your family feel about that?
I had never really aspired to get into the entertainment industry. My early musical aspirations were tied to classical music. It wasn’t until I started playing guitar in college that the music and the lyrics started to join up. My friends kept asking me to play my songs, that turned into concerts, and later a recording contract. Kind of crazy really. If you’d have told me this would have been my life twenty years ago I probably would have laughed. But it’s great to have tripped into it. I can’t imagine life being any different, and I love it.
3) On your website, you talk candidly about never turning your back on the Christian music that you had begun with but “…she (you) didn’t want to exclude anyone else, either.” Is this part of the reason that you took your seven~year sabbatical from music? To come to terms with your conviction to branch out into other genre` of music?
It’s funny that my seven year break is now called a “sabbatical” or “hiatus”, when in actuality I had purposed to completely divorce myself from public life and music. I meant to quit it all, plain and simple. It was a huge blow to feel like I had to loose so much at the time in the hopes of finding myself again. At any rate, any reasoning I speak of now is purely retrospective. It’s true, I’d lost my patience and ambition to be so public about my faith in terms of the Christian music industry, but at the time, I didn’t know which way was up. Professionally speaking, I was exhausted and I’d lost all joy that I’d ever had in performing and writing music. Somewhere, through the chaos, is simply just a normal human being trying to find their way in the world. Today, my music is what it is, people will respond to it or they won’t. I think all any artist can do is choose to honest about their experience and be mindful of just how much of their own life they are willing to share through their craft. All I can say is that I’m at peace with the person that I am today and that I comfortable in the artistry I feel compelled to continue to follow. What’s behind me is the road that led me to this place. I’m glad for it, because without it, I might not be the person I am today.
How have your fans received your adaptation of the inclusion of other music styles?
Admittedly, I’ve lost a great deal of “fans” who are disappointed that I’m no longer writing music specifically about Christianity. At the same time, those that have continued to travel with me are those who really do understand what it’s like to live through something like what I’ve experienced. Identifying the spirituality that keeps us going in life isn’t just about dressing ourselves up to be loved, it’s finding that true love is underneath the layers. It’s at the naked marrow, vulnerable and honest. It’s like coming full circle in a way and that, THAT is what continues to inspire me to keep writing. Finding that kind of community has been priceless.
4) You seem to value your fans to the point that your passion of music might become…well…all-consuming. That is an amazing feat, but has your work controlled your personal life as well?
I’m trying my best, in career 2.0, to not have work “control” my life. There is a difference somewhere in all this between being highly motivated by the passions that lead us and that of being ruled by the tyranny of popularity. The truth is, what I do now, everyday…it is my life’s work and I can’t imagine doing anything different. But at the same time, I’m always reaching for balance. If I lose sight of being a well-balanced human being, nurturing my private relationships, building family, keeping my heart and mind in good health…I’m of no use with the gifts that I have to share publicly. I think that’s the true test of life, figuring out how to balance the task of nurturing ourselves and reaching out to share our gifts with others. Music and public life happen to be the makings of my unique journey, so balancing that is my goal.
5) Your album “Letting Go’ seems to have been almost a re~birth for you, how do you see that album?
Maybe “Letting Go” was a rebirth of sorts, at the very least a point of rejuvenation for sure. At the time, I hadn’t been in the studio for nearly ten years, nor had I been on the stage. I went into it with no idea of who would be interested or moved by listening to it. In a lot of ways, I was like a completely new and unknown artist. I just had to take it one day at a time, not knowing then, if music was still going to be an option for me. Stepping back up to the mic then taught me a lot. Sometimes, you just gotta do what comes next and what is natural to your story and let the chips fall where they may. I’m just glad that it’s turned out that I get to keep doing what I love.
6) What does Jennifer Knapp see in her future? Do you feel yourself continuing with touring and creating or do you see yourself being more settled in one place?
At this point in my life, I’d say I need a good balance of both. I’m ultimately a very private, solitary person. I need time to go home, nest and refuel. But there comes a point where I’m full up and I need to go out and spend that energy. I still find that I am highly motivated to go out and connect with others. Music has a way like that. I go home and write, really get lost in my own world, but it continues to draw me out into public spaces. We need to connect, to share and by doing so we grow. I meet others “out there” and it gives me a lot of input, things to think about, to feel and carry with me back to the places of solitude, but then, again, it seems I’m made to get back out there and share. That seems to be the story of my life.
7) How do you relax? I know most of my friends, as well as myself, find those rare times, wearing sweats and t-shirts while curling up with a good book, or crocheting/crafting. Where/how do you relax?
I’ve got different modes–from intellectual stimulation like digging into some of my favorite books to just turning off my brain and playing video games. Each has their place, but mostly, it stems around getting time to rest and take care of my own thoughts. Finding other ways to create, apart from music is always good as well, be it knitting, journaling or sketching stuff. A few fingers of a fine Scotch, a little time alone to rest up…all good stuff.
8) Who would you love to perform with if the opportunity arose?
Most of my musical imaginations are backing singer/songwriter’s with the music that I’ve loved over the years. I love singing the background vocals to the likes of Patty Griffin, Indigo Girls, or Tracy Chapman. In the end, what I dream of, oddly isn’t something I want to be in the limelight for. The idea of getting to do music, relax in the background and add to it without all the responsibility of being the front man is a really appealing idea.
9) Where is your absolute favorite place to perform, if you can pick just one.
I can’t really pick a venue, except to say, that I adore the times when I get a small, intimate room. Where all the fans join in and sing along, where we talk throughout the night. It’s great when those gigs really turn out to be conversations as opposed to exhibitions.
Other than that, I’ve really grown to love getting in the studio and onto the mic. It’s a time where I don’t have to worry about anything else other than falling into the music. I love turning off the lights, putting on my headphones and closing my eyes and seeing just how far into the dark I can reach to find something truly special.
10) Your lyrics really touch people’s lives and ignites either memories or perhaps ignite a fire of change for them. How rewarding it much be to realize that you have such a gift that you opening, willingly and lovingly share with the world!
Personally, I’ve found it really hard to comprehend and at times, pretty close to terrifying to think that I have anything meaningful to offer others with a song. If it weren’t for music, I don’t think I would have realized just how universal a desire it is for each of us to find a sense of belonging in the world. It wasn’t until I really opened myself up to listening to how others have described their own journeys with my music that I realized just how much of my intimate self I put into it. But more importantly, it’s been a journey of discovery, that we all have own unique gifts that were meant to be shared. Maybe you’re a musician, maybe a carpenter or a news anchor…we each have an opportunity to share our passions through our gifts. In doing so, I think the world is a much more beautiful place. Every time I get a glimpse of how I get to play along, I’m truly overwhelmed.