This week's Fresh Music Friday is motivating because it reminded me of the power of networking. For my 9-5, I work for a beauty company, and with a beauty company comes beauty products and with beauty products comes video shoots/photoshoots, and with video shoots/photoshoots comes models - and Jennifer Edison was one of them. With a warm smile, soft, wavy curls, and radiant skin, she modeled with grace and exuded a quiet strength.
During our lunch break, I discovered that she is a singer/songwriter who wrote for Bad Boy Records a few years ago. We chatted a bit about the music industry and her place in it, and I realized she would be perfect for our Friday feature (duh!)! We exchanged information and thus this week's Fresh Music Friday was born. Her track "Where's My Baby?" is a smooth, snappy R&B track that caught our attention.
In this Q&A, Jennifer talked about her track, discussed songwriting, and shared a tip on how to get a song featured in commercials or film.
Musik ID TV: We're so happy to feature "Where's My Baby?" this week; undoubtedly an ode to new, exciting love. Share your process of creating the track from concept to completed single.
Jennifer Edison: Thank you for having me I appreciate it. So, my brother did the track and when I heard it I said, "I have to write to this." It just had that feel that makes you want to groove. My brother and I work together on a lot of music and we’ve been doing it since we were kids. This was just another banger that I had to have. So I sat down with the track and just let the vibe lead me to where I wanted to go with it lyrically.
I usually sit down with a voice recorder to catch melody ideas that come to mind until the song is finished. I wrote this one pretty quickly. Then off to the studio to record it. For me the creative process does not end once the song is written and recorded. The mix of the song is also very important and it contains creative elements that were in my head when when I wrote it. Things like an echo on a certain part, that takes place during the mixing of the vocals, so it’s important for me to be part of that process. Being the chronic DIY-er than I am, I mix all the songs myself.
MIDTV: Songwriters typically reference to personal experiences. Have you had any moments where you found yourself holding back or oversharing? What's the fine line as a writer?
JE: I don’t think you can overshare. I think that the more vulnerable it is for you the more people are going to be able to relate to it because we all go through the same things. The beauty of any art form is the expression of raw truth so not holding back is important and also challenging. I do find myself holding back sometimes because it’s easy to let the perceived judgments of what others think or might think get into your head, but you have to shake that and just do you. You will be judged either way, no matter what you do, so you might as well do what you want.
MIDTV: Share some advice for new writers - how do you know when your song is done - when to put down the pen and be content with your work?
JE: The song is done when you are excited about it. You love the hook, the verses, the bridge and the adlib. You have to be satisfied with it and feel like everything is working well together. Then after that don’t overthink it. Follow how you feel about it and not what you think it should be. When it’s not right, or you are not quite happy with it and that means it’s not done. It’s OK to walk away from a song and just clear your mind of it for a while so that when you come back to it you can bring a new perspective that you were missing before. Always remember that all forms of art are subjective to a certain degree, so make sure that you like it above all other things and find your contentment there.
MIDTV: How did you get started in the music industry?
JE: I started off singing in the church when I was like 9 or 10. My sister and I would sing duets and my dad would play the keyboard for us. We would put on a little show a few times a year for the church and then of course I was also in the choir. I started writing songs with my brother when I was 12 or 13 and then went on to write for a gospel group I was in.
Once I graduated college I branched off into R&B to do my own thing. I released 2 independent albums and it was a lot of work. I was basically a one man band trying to do it all myself and even though I made strides, got radio spins, DJ spins, etc., I learned that you can’t do it all yourself. Having a team is something I didn’t have and that is a crucial element. So I then went on to concentrate on songwriting. I started working with a major publisher [Bad Boy] and wrote a lot of songs to lots of different producers’ tracks and for other artists, which was different for me since I was almost exclusively working with my brother. I’m grateful for that experience because it gave me a broader perspective on songwriting.
MIDTV: How was it writing for Bad Boy Records?
JE: The best thing about writing with Bad Boy was getting to work with so many different producers and I got to write songs with other artists in mind and that was really cool. I was able to really expand my range as a songwriter and build a nice catalog of songs.
MIDTV: You were born and raised in Michigan, lived in New York, now you live in Los Angeles, how has that influenced your music?
JE: I also lived in DC for a spell. I think living in different places has had a tremendous impact on my music. Experiencing new things, new cultures and new people gives you a new perspective and I think it broadens the spectrum. I think more than anything it helped me to grow as a person and discover who I am and to be unapologetic about it. Seeing so many different ways of life makes you realize that any brand of uniqueness can flourish and you don’t have to conform to what society says you should do or be.
MIDTV: Your song "No Matter What" was featured in a solo act on Dance Moms. How did that come about and do you have advice for musicians who'd like their work featured on a show?
JE: I submitted some of my songs to a music library that supplies a big catalogue of music to music supervisors for Film/TV and they ended up getting it placed on the show. I’m really still learning the world of TV, Film and Commercial placements but I would say finding music libraries or music licensing companies is a good place to start. Submit your music and see what happens. You don’t have to have Top 40 type hits, a lot of times your quirky songs that don’t fit radio will fit film.
MIDTV: During our conversation a couple of weeks ago, you mentioned that it used to be taboo for musicians to have their work featured on a show, now it's praised. Why do you think there has been a change of heart?
JE: I think it’s similar to the film industry where top actor’s are now flocking to TV when in the past it was considered a step down. It’s the evolution of the music industry in a similar way. People are finding more ways to showcase and monetize their talents and more opportunities to do that are coming up while at the same time the old ways of “making it” are disappearing. When one channel becomes too narrow, others start to open up to fill the void and can even become more popular. Plus we’ve seen songs like The Weekend’s “Earned it” literally debuted and took off from being featured in the film Fifty Shades of Grey. People take notice of things like that and new trends form.
MIDTV: What was your biggest misconception about the music industry?
JE: When I first started I think my biggest misconception was that your success would be based on your talent. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many talented people that we’ve never heard of and never will. So if you are talented that is just a starting point and it puts you in the race with millions of others. It’s not as hard or as easy as you think. It takes a certain balance of determination, action, and letting go to see real results.
MIDTV: After living in New York, you decided to take a break from music. Why?
JE: I took a break because the music industry can be very frustrating in many ways and being as young as I was I wasn’t able to handle the dark and shady side as well as I can now. I think it was a matter of maturity and experience.
MIDTV: Will you ever release another full-length album? Do you have the desire to?
JE: Yes I do want to release another full length album. It has been so long and it’s long overdue for me. My perspective is so different now so it will be interesting to see what a next album looks like. This time I’m trying to let go more and see what comes. I plan to start working on songs this year. The desire is definitely and I feel like it’s time.
MIDTV: Along with acting, singing, and songwriting, you also hand model, how long have you modeled and what inspired you to go that route?
JE: I’m new to modeling it’s only been a few months actually. I was out one day with a good friend of mine and I had rings on my hands. She looked at my hand and said “you could sell some jewelry, you should be a hand model you have great hands” and she told me about an agency she sent another friend to who ended up being successful with hand modeling. So I submitted my pics and got invited to an open call and ended up signing with that agency.
MIDTV: Any current/upcoming projects you'd like to share and where can we find your work?
JE: Outside of entertainment, I’m also an inventor. Can you tell I love all things creative? I’ve brought products to market in the past but my newest product is a new design on the hair tie that’s made for big, curly, coily, kinky hair. I’m hoping to partner with a big brand to bring it to market so we’ll see how it goes. On the music end, I recently signed 8 songs to a music licensing/publisher called Music Of The Sea, and they license songs to TV/Film/Commercials which is exciting. I’ve written tons of songs over the years so I have a nice catalog but I have a small sample of about 5 or 6 newer songs on my Soundcloud. And my old albums are on all of the digital stores like iTunes, Spotify, etc. My song “No Matter What” is actually from my old album called “A Thousand Wings” released back in 2005.