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Musikmesse presents: Jen Majura (Evanescence)

Vorig jaar speelde Jen Majura op de Frankfurt Musikmesse de Sweat, Blood & Tears Box volledig plat. Haar aanstekelijke enthousiasme, gecombineerd met haar onvervalste liefde voor haar gitaar, plus haar vermogen om andere muzikanten aan zich te binden, maakte het voor de organisatie een no-brainer om haar dit jaar wederom uit te nodigen. De knop “rustig aan doen” is al jaren kapot bij haar en naast een intensieve tour over heel de wereld als gitarist in Evanescence, bracht ze en passant ook nog even een solo album uit, met gastoptredens van bijzonder interessante muzikanten, waarvan een aantal ook weer op Musikmesse te zien zullen zijn. Dat solo album, ‘InZENinty’, laat een meer veelzijdige kant van haar zien dan we tot op heden gewend zijn en dat zal dan zonder meer ook onderdeel uit gaan maken van haar set de Messe. Jen Majura vertelt hieronder alles over beide zaken.

Door: Ramon | Archiveer onder hardrock / aor

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Welcome back to Lords of Metal Jen. You will be playing Messe again, after the success of your contribution there last year. How do you still find the time, after having released a solo album and all the work you do?
The first time I performed at Frankfurt Musikmesse, I was in my young teenage years and since then I can think of only one or two years where I had to skip showing up at this event due to other obligations. Especially with the concept of the guitar camp last year, it turned out to be a more enjoyable fun time, instead of it just being a performance job. I’m looking forward to meet a lot of friends and colleagues again. Those who know me are aware of the fact that I am a workaholic, I love to stay busy and do a lot of things among touring, recording and teaching. So what happens is, that we’ll play our last show of the European Synthesis run in London on April 9th (which will be the 4th leg of our world tour after we accomplished two US tours and one Australian tour) and the next day I’ll fly out to Frankfurt and directly go to soundcheck for four days of performing. Also Will Hunt, our Evanescence drummer, will be there with me and we’re again planning to rock some songs together like we did last year.

That sounds beyond awesome. We can all look forward to that. I may congratulate you, you broke a crowdfunding record on Indiegogo with 185% of the goal pledged in 24 hours. How do you stay humble after that?
Looking back at the crowdfunding experience I still can’t believe this all happened the way it did. I am so unbelievable grateful for the amount of love and support I received from all over the world. When we decided to do the campaign I expected not even half of the money we received in the end, to be honest not even 1/3… haha. I didn’t do the Indiegogo campaign to collect money in the first line, but I saw a great opportunity for me to create something with fans and friends together - I wanted to give them something special and make them all be a part of the actual creation of my album 'InZENity'. That’s probably why you were able to find rather unusual perks like „hand knitted socks“ or „stage shoes from my very first Evanescence show back in November 2015 in Nashville“. Not to be losing your head when your career is going better than you ever imagined in your wildest dreams is easy when you always remember where you came from. I’ve done all that Rock’n’Roll touring, carrying your heavy gear through muddy fields, dirty backstages, tiny dark venues, overnight stay with the band in a 20 bedroom at a shitty hostel… After being aware of all that, I am really enjoying what I am allowed to experience now. And I am grateful for that.

Are you happy with the feedback you got from ‘InZENity’, which is a brilliant and very original title, by the way.
Thank you. To be honest I expected the world to be a bit more shocked - haha. But 99% of the reactions had been just so positive and overwhelmingly nice: *blush*. I am more than happy with the reactions. The title 'InZENity' reflects the whole concept of the album: It’s about finding your inner zen as soon as you acknowledge all the opposites inside of yourself such as high and low, fast and slow, happy and mellow, bright and dark. The album is completely designed in black and white and you also can feel this philosophy in the actual song writing.

You can, actually, yes. Does the album really reflect who you are as a musician, since you cover a lot of aspects, or is it just the tip of the iceberg and could you go from Schlager to death metal, with everything in between?
Well the big difference from 'InZENity' to my first solo album is mainly that I decided to not make any compromises this time. On my first solo album I tried to find a compromise of how I do wanna sound and of how I am expected to sound for the music industry. That of course went totally wrong and for 'InZENity' I didn’t let anyone tell me what I can or cannot do, how I do have to write songs etcetera. I listen to a lot of diverse music, so why should I limit myself with staying in a genre box?!

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Pic by Tom Row Frontrow Images

I can’t think of any reasons, other than, like you said, expectations. And it takes some bravery to put that aside. Would you agree that the emphasis is on traditional hard rock, with any relevant influences you can squeeze in, with some crazy twists, but always with the intention of writing a solid song?
To name a genre for 'InZENity' if tough, as it goes from pop to hard rock to metal with death growls, it also contains background vocal work in the style of Extreme, Queen or Kings X. But the intention for me as a musician is always to write a solid song and if the song doesn’t request a guitar solo, then there won’t be one. Many people expect a whole lot of shredding guitars when they listen to a guitarist’s solo album. My goal for 'InZENity' was to put out an album that is just entertaining honest music instead of showing off on my instrument.

Coming a long way as an artist, would you say that you have surpassed everything you have ever dreamed of, or is there room left for new dreams?
Oh wow, good question. I believe we always need to improve ourselves in all different kind of ways and maybe the future will bring new ideas and things that we so far haven’t thought of? I am really thankful for what I am able to do right now with Evanescence, as it really opened up a new world to me, since Amy (Lee, the singer and leading lady of Evanescence) decided to have me in the band in 2015. Having dreams is important to keep yourself motivated and busy and I always wanna keep pushing harder to reach out to the next level, especially as a human being as well and become a better person.

And since we are talking about your personal life, with your agenda, is it even possible to maintain a personal life?
We live in a world of social media overflow information where everybody feels the need to post and tweet about everything. My life is very much out there too, and I really enjoy the opportunity to interact with fans on this very personal, but also interactive way. I wish I had opportunities like we do now when I was a kid and when I was a huge fan of Richie Sambora back in the days. Nowadays people can just get in touch with their idols on social media. To find the right compensation between a public and a private life is the art of being a successful healthy human being in the music industry I believe.

Wow, that’s one to put on a bathroom tile! One of the reasons I ask this, ‘InZENity’ covers with some relation issues. Some funny, some angry. But, it almost seems as if either you have a way of picking the wrong guys, or you have unreasonable expectations. The last one meaning, it is unfair to look for the Chuck Norris in any man. On a more serious note, the struggles do deliver great fuel for songs. Still, from what I can tell, a relationship does not come across like an obsession to you and you are quite happy as life is now, right?
I am always a happy person ;) life is too short to be angry and desperate. And if I feel that way about whoever, a song is a great trigger to get rid of negativity in a constructive and in the end very creative and positive way.

You always are open and accessible to your fans, like you said, what is the greatest thing a fan has ever done for you?
We receive a lot of little gifts and presents when we’re out touring and it’s touching how much thought and love some fans put in to it. The most touching gift I was ever given is probably a little fluffy toy that a girl, who is one of the hardcore world travelling Ev-fans, gave me during our latest US tour: She created a little toy that looked exactly like my little pet rat Sookie, who sadly died a couple of weeks ago. Being out on tour so much, we all really miss our families as well as our pets of course - and to receive that little fluffy Sookie toy was just so touching and sweet.

How sweet. And what was the most silly, romantic thing?
Uhm… I would say that was during our European tour last year when we played a show in Lithuania. A fan brought two ridiculously enormously huge bouquets of roses for Amy and me. Amy’s roses were red, mine were red/white and each bouquet weighed like 5 kg. It was heavy to carry them around, haha

Have you ever dated someone who turned out to be in it as a fan, more than anything? Maybe even to boast the fact he dated Jen Majura?

Good! Last year you said you want to be judged as a solid musician, not as a good looking girl who accidentally memorized some licks and patterns. What part of the recognition you get as a musician you think is thanks to the way you look? I mean, your looks are a first entry.
I always keep on saying that I can’t take credit for how I look. I’m just born with a lucky DNA thanks to my mom and dad. The way the world is functioning these days, sad but true, a lot starts with the superficial look, but I can’t really answer this question and to be honest I don’t even care, as long as people still find joy when they listen to my music or watch my „Jen Majura plays…“- videos.

Do you already have an idea what you will be doing at this year’s edition of Messe? Perhaps with Will Hunt, again, or together with Jeff Waters or Mattias IA Eklundh, who both contributed to your album, or is that too much wishful thinking from my side?
Haha. Will and I are definitely going to perform together again at Musik Messe. I’m kind of in charge for Jeff, Mattias and also Nick to be there, but I’m mostly looking forward to hang out with them as they are friends in the first place. So there are no further interactions planned yet.

You were at the first edition of the Sweat, Blood & Tears Box. How do you like that concept, compared to regular booth clinics?
The concept is great and highly entertaining. I love it. It improves a boring sterile clinic situation in to a rad live experience and the people are just having a great time with us artists. It’s more about „having fun and enjoying a big party“ instead of „playing scales up and down while showing off on my instrument“ and I really like that.

You are aware that it was virtually impossible to attend your performance of 2017, due to the popular demand, right?
Well the first days they closed the Sweat, Blood & Tears box, but by Saturday they decided to just leave the doors open because there were too many people attending haha. And you asking this question, I assume you’ve been outside the box??? LOL

I am always outside the box. Which for once wasn’t a good thing. For those who have never been, why should people come to Musikmesse 2018?
To give me a hug.

Good luck with rewarding all those who request that, hahaha. Thanks for your time. I will give you the honor of the last words!
Carry sunshine in your heart, wherever you go to spread positive vibes! And now I gotta get ready, because we’re playing our last show of the Australian tour today at the Rod Laver Arena here in Melbourne!

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