Jenny Owen Youngs is an American singer-songwriter. She is from Montclair, New Jersey.
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HEY Y'ALL THAT WAS SO FUN. Thanks so much for hanging out and asking me stuff! I had a blast. Let's do it again real soon!!
Jenny Owen Youngs here, answering your questions. I'm a Brooklyn-based singer, songwriter, and natural history enthusiast who grew up in the forests of northern New Jersey. My songs have been featured in the television show Weeds and, against all odds, a Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial (I don't even eat dairy!). I've toured around the world with bands like Against Me!, Motion City Soundtrack, Regina Spektor, and Amanda Palmer. I also contribute regularly to Noisey.com with my advice column ANY QUESTIONS?. I am working on an ongoing, museum-based series of original songs called EXHIBIT. And my new EP Slack Tide was released online TODAY!
Slack Tide on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/slack-tide-ep/id957037310?uo=4
I’ll be here answering questions beginning at 3pm ET!
Hi this is your wife! Will you make dinner tonight? Thanks.
WOW Kristin. WOW.
...Yes. Yes I will.
FANTASTIC. I LIKE THIS AMA THING. I WOULD LOVE ROASTED PORTOBELLOS. kissy emoji dancing lady emoji
Love the song "Voice on Tape", among others...
What's the thing Regina can't believe you did?
Heh heh heh you zany kids and your questions...
Is this overwhelming? There are like 9,000 questions and I'm afraid.
Don't be afraid Dannielle. Deep breaths. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.
Have you ever played Dungeons & Dragons, or any other tabletop role-playing game? If you were to play the Buffy RPG, which character (and in which season) would you want to play, or would you rather create your own? Maybe an alternate version of yourself -- Jenny the Vampire Slayer?
I tried D&D as a kid, but never had a whole group of people to play with, so it never successfully snared me. HOWEVER I did read a bunch of Forgotten Realms books & similar... the loner's version of playing D&D! In a Buffy RPG situation I'd be torn... I want to be a badass (Spike!!!) but I also just love Anya SO MUCH that I would probably want to play as her... but then my only power would be being HILARIOUS. Which is fun but not helpful with the staying alive thing.
Hey JOY! Congrats on Slack Tide!
I have a few random questions for you, but hopefully you can provide as much or as little insight as possible:
1 - You perform a lot of covers (on YouTube) at least - what's your favorite song to cover? Likewise, what's your favorite cover song that someone else has adapted (from you or any other artist)?
2 - Is there another instrument you'd like to learn to play?
3 - Outside of music, what occupies your time?
4 - If you could open for anyone, who would it be?
5 - If you could have anyone open for YOU, who would it be?
EDIT - 6 - Can you please explain BUFFY to me? I've tried plowing through the show, and I just can't get into it, yet my compatriot /u/noiseslikewhales along with every other Joss fankid says "OMG THIS SHOW IS AMAAAAZING". I feel like the kid left out of an inside joke here.
PS - Please come to Philly.
1 - I reeeeeeeally love playing "Ring of Fire" and "King of Carrot Flowers."
2 - I wish I could get into some serious drumming!
3 - READING. And sometimes arts/crafts. I really like making things. OH AND COOKING. Well. Cooking pancakes.
4 - Hmmmmmmmm tricky tricky tricky question... Sufjan Stevens? Paramore? Miranda Lambert?
5 - HA this is... too complicated.
6 - Well hey, NOTHING is for everybody. But I'd say two things: It's important to watch from the beginning, and it's also important to let Season One wash over you without judging it too hard. The show is still finding its way through the first season, I think. But if you've made it to Season 2 or 3 and you're still feeling like "Why do people like this," then it probably just isn't for you - and that's okay.
1 - I think the Johnny Cash / June Carter cover of The Lovin' Spoonful song "Darlin Companion" is ACES
Just wanted to say you rule/spiders suck.
My question: If money/rights weren't an issue, what would be your dream album/songs to cover?
Oh ya Jenny > Bess
Spiders are THE WORST!
I would like to cover Tom Waits's Swordfishtrombones in its entirety! And also Nirvana's Nevermind in its entirety. THAT WOULD BE IDEAL!
Hi Jenny! Who is your favorite Golden Girl and why?
I always loved Dorothy. She's so DRY. Bea Arthur was unstoppable!
Hey Jenny! Just wanted to say I enjoyed the new album! Also I became a fan after seeing you on tour with Against Me! in Indiana so if you could do some more touring in the midwest it would be pretty awesome to say the least!
Question: Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck?
Hey there! Thank you so much! That Bloomington show RULED, thanks for being there. I hope to be back to the midwest early & often. I think I'd opt for 100 duck-sized horses. Birds are terrifying. Those beady eyes, those scaly feet, - the horror! Who knows where their allegiances might lie? Therefore: I'd rather chance it with 100 tiny horses. If they killed me, at least I'd go out seeing mini horses instead of a huge scary duck.
What inspired you to cover Nelly?
I was neck-deep in a "covering pop songs with an acoustic guitar is hilarious!!!" phase. And that song is pretty undeniable (in my opinion). Plus remember the slo-mo shots in the Nelly video? Dang.
You seem to collaborate and tour with a lot of gruff-voiced dudes; I first was introduced to your music via the Revival Tour.
How did you fall into that trouble-making crowd, and is it hard to harmonize with people who sound (respectfully) like roaring bears?
Bless sweet Chuck Ragan! He invited me on an 8 day run of the Revival Tour in 2009, and that's when my life started to have a whole lot more flannel in it! On that first tour I met Chuck, Tim Barry, Dave Hause, Jim Ward... and those relationships led to meeting & touring with other folks like Frank Turner and Against Me! and Rocky Votolato and Alkaline Trio. I'm so thankful to Chuck for giving me a shot; I couldn't have fallen in with a sweeter crowd! Trust me, those bears roar in tune!
Also a huge fan, etc. I saw you play Lee's Palace two years ago, and even though I was hung over the whole next day it was a great time.
Turkey, iceberg lettuce, tomato, pepperoni, spicy mustard, and sprouts or avocado on rye bread!
They all have their individual allures - I say it's your torso, your choice! Follow your heart.
Soon I hope! I loved that Lee's Palace show (and that whole Revival Tour run) - I love Toronto! Sweet people. When I was in junior high/high school I had a penpal friend from Toronto (who I met in an alternative music chatroom) who hipped me to a ton of rad music - the crown jewel of this selection was Sloan.
Hey Jenny! I'm really excited to see you doing an ama. I've got a couple of questions.
What is your spirit animal and why?
I saw you on your AUBOL tour in KC and on the Frank Turner tour in Lawrence, ks. You played an acoustic set on the Frank Turner tour, but were playing with a full band on the AUBOL tour. Do you prefer playing with a band or solo acoustic? Either way you're amazing.
Oh gosh hi & thanks! 1. Once I went to karate camp (it's FINE!) and we engaged in a guided meditation to find our totem animal... at that time, it was a dolphin - so I'm gonna stick with those little flippered friends! 2) I love playing solo acoustic, I love playing with a full band, and I love finding ways to mix it up all over the spectrum. When you're playing a song many nights in a row, it can be fun to change things up with the arrangement, and touring in different setups lends itself exactly to that process. I love finding new ways to do things, and sometimes an arrangement change-up can let a whole new aspect or meaning of a song shine through!
What was "WTF was I thinking" about? Easily my top ten favorite songs. Also really enjoyed meeting you in Austin! Sorry again about keeping you from your cake if you remember.
HA the ship cake! Getting to that ship cake was like running a boot camp obstacle course... but I loved every minute of it, and it made actually getting the cake more rewarding! "Fuck Was I" is about some bad decision-making I once engaged in... sometimes you gotta break your own heart, you know? Thanks for listening! <3
What is your favorite venue to perform live?
I've played in a whole lot of wonderful rooms over the course of my touring life... My favorite place in the world to play is Bowery Ballroom in my city (NY). I also have a lot of special memories from Schubas in Chicago, where I've played many times. A few years ago I was out alone on a short tour, and visited Fearless Radio in Chicago prior to my Schubas show... somehow I lost my car keys in the radio station, and it was 5pm on a Sunday... tough time to find a locksmith! I finally got someone to come down and help me out but the keys were super expensive to duplicate... I told the audience about it later that night at Schubas and in the middle of the show someone grabbed a pitcher from the bar and started up a "Jenny's Car Keys Fund" collection, which was delivered to me at the end of the show, breaking my heart clean in two. God bless those sweet folks in Chicago!
Where about did you grow up in NJ? I'm in Sussex County
Well well well I grew up in Sussex County! How about that. Whole lotta black bears in my childhood memory bank.
If you could live in any fictional universe, which one would you choose? (I'd choose Sunnydale). Of any song ever written, what song would be a good theme song for your life right now?
I would like to live on board Serenity, Firefly-class. Because space rules and Captain Tightpants is the dreamiest! A good theme song for my life right now would be LUCK BE A LADY TONIIIIIGHT
Top 10 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
Hush, The Body, Once More With Feeling, The Zeppo, Selfless is great because we get Anya backstory, Becoming parts 1 & 2 are great, Intervention is GREAT because Spiiiiiike haaaas feeeeeeeeelings, ugh THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT EPISODES why am I listing them all when I could instead just start a Buffy podcast?
Hey Jenny, firstly, I absolutely love the new EP, thankyou!
I asked you a couple years back if there was a UK tour on the horizon, you responded saying you'd love to come back soon. 2 years later, still no tour. :( I've seen your good friend Allison Weiss twice in 2 years, any chance you could hop on her next UK tour? Spring Break Tour UK maybe? Or even your pal Frank Turner, he tours here quite a lot...
Sorry, I know I'm the guy that's saying "please play my town" but I have been listening to your music for so long now and still haven't experienced it live, I would love to see you soon! :)
Well hi! So I totally get where you're coming from, of course! I love touring in the UK, and when I first started putting out records, it was very accessible for me to do so - I had a great European booking agent and a label that released my albums abroad. Unfortunately neither of those things is true at the moment, but of course those are two things I'm certainly working to rectify. There are oodles of moving parts (large and small) to any tour, but especially when you're traveling outside of your home country. There are flights, pricey work permits, importing your own records if you're not working with a label, not to mention of course the actual booking of shows, which is generally best left to an agent who knows what they're doing. All this to say - I am not avoiding you! I am just working to move ever forward, and ever closer to the goal of being able to tour where I want and when I want. Yknow?
Can you tell us about your favorite Tim Barry moment? also what do I have to do to get you to play 'Voice on Tape' at the upcoming LA show?
EVERY TIM BARRY MOMENT IS MY FAVORITE TIM BARRY MOMENT. He's the gosh darn best.
And hit me on twitter, remind me the day of the show, I'll do my best to hit 'Voice on Tape' for ya!
Hi, Jenny! I've got a few. Who would you most like to collaborate with? Who are your current favorite artists putting out new music? Did you have to deal with more Forrest Gump or 867-5309 references throughout your life?
Oh hey! Collabo pipe dream list: Taylor Swift, Tom Waits, Hayley Williams, Jason Isbell. My favorite records from recent memory are St. Vincent's self-titled and Jason Isbell's Southeastern... and digging into the new Sleater-Kinney of course! I have been called "Jennaaay" more times than I care to remember. It will NEVER STOP.
is this THE Jenny??
Weeeeeell I don't know about ALL THAT.
So you are one of my favorite performers. I've seen you play live twice in Chapel Hill, NC. Any chance we might be able to get you down to the Durham/Chapel Hill area again some day? Related question, what is your favorite drink and your favorite type of cupcake?
Thanks, Jenny. Going to purchase a copy of Slack Tide now! Here's a virtual high five!
You're a peach! I love playing in Chapel Hill & Carrboro - I've never gotten to play in Durham, but it's right around the corner, yes? I love the bookstore with the cats in CH!! I'll certainly be back again!
I looooove chocolate stouts / cream stouts / that kind of vibe... and I love the chocolate cupcake/vanilla frosting combo. I guess I like chocolate hmmm?
How is Amanda when she's not "on stage"? I find her pretty fascinating as a performer.
She is a wonderful, brilliant, delightful gem. Totally love her. Read her book if you haven't! It's so beautifully written, and hella inspirational to boot.
Hi Jenny! UK here. I've enjoyed your music immensely! I can't decide which question to ask, so I'll be rude and ask two
So, what are your favorite books?
And, as a guy struggling to accept himself, what advice would you give to someone whose down on their luck?
Some books I love:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves by Karen Russell.
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.
Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor.
What is the What by Dave Eggers.
...and it's hard to go wrong with these classics:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.
As for your second question: Hey there friend. The nature of life, so far as I've been able to tell, is that it's all over the dang place. Today I am so full of excitement - about releasing a new EP, about hopping on Reddit and chatting with folks about this and that, about going to see Neil Gaiman speak later tonight (woo!). But for the last three days I felt panicked and kept getting choked up, having no idea why.
Sometimes it just feels dark, even when everything around you is okay. We are all made of strange stuff. Know that you are stronger than you can imagine. Surround yourself with the best people you can find, and lean on them. Later, they'll be leaning on you. Look for the light and don't ever give up! Also: high five, high five, high five.
Jenny, I have some Orphan Black stuff to send you but I am lame, still it's on the way. That said - are intimate "house shows' weird for you? You're doing a lot of shows at your own house, are you protective of your personal space? Do you feel like you need to be?
Also, which house concert series serves the best lasagna in your opinion? Note: There is only 1 right answer.
HA hi hi hi Doug! I love playing house shows, and actually they've been on my mind lately. Some of my friends do whole house concert tours, and I'd love to book one of those down the line! I like the idea that individual house concert series have their own communities, so you end up playing for/interacting with folks I might not otherwise get to engage with. Plus I love the lasagna aspect of things! Heh.
Just wondering, have you based any of your songwriting on any books? Or really, just wondering if there is a good book out there for inspiration purposes.
Hey there! Sometimes I get inspired by books - "Sleep Machine" is a song I wrote loosely based on a section of The Bell Jar, and "Two By Two" is based on the Greek myth of Orpheus & Eurydice, for example. I'd say it really depends on what gets your person fire stoked up! If you're into magical realism or sci-fi, I'd say Ray Bradbury and Karen Russell are SUPER inspirational writers to check out!
Hey Jenny, loving the new ep! When are you coming to the UK? Also, if you could steal any exhibit from a museum which would you choose, why and where would you put it?
Thanks so much! I want you to know that at least once a week I wonder to the universe "When will I get to go back to the UK dang it?" - I don't have an answer yet (it's complicated!) buy my personal answer is "As soon as possible!"
If I could have any museum piece in my home, it would have to be the blue whale from the Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History. (check it: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/biodiversity-and-environmental-halls/milstein-hall-of-ocean-life/the-blue-whale)
Of course this would require a MUCH bigger apartment... or maybe I could hollow out the whale and live INSIDE of it?
Hi Jenny! I've been a fan of yours for quite a few years now and I have to ask the age-old question: when will you be coming back to Europe? I would love to see you live (real-life live, not online live) someday, but haven't gotten the chance yet!
Also, now that you've been making music for a while, do you have any regrets about some of your earlier work? Are there songs you no longer like or have gotten bored of?
Well hey there! I really hope to get back to Europe in the near-ish future... I love traipsing all over your wonderful continent and will most certainly return as soon as it's possible! I apologize, I know it's been a mighty long time!!!
Ah yes, there's always something to regret... there are some songs I don't feel compelled to revisit often (or at all). But I know some of those songs mean something to other folks, and deep down they still mean something to me. So what can I say? I'm not the same person I was 8 years ago, certainly. I've figured out some things about singing and playing and writing that I didn't know then. But I'm trying to release the need to harshly judge every choice I've ever made (musical or otherwise). None of us is ever done growing, right?
Have you ever played at New Jersey's Stone Pony and if you have what do you think of the place?
I am 99% sure I did play there... I think it was part of a daytime festival? There seems to be a partial blank in my brain about this though! But of course, it's an institution! As a Jersey girl I pledge allegiance to the Pony.
What do you think Jenny Owens Young is doing with her life?
Hey Jenny, I saw you play with Against Me! out in Amityville I became a fan after seeing you play.
1. What was it like on tour with them? Any memorable shenanigans?
2. Is there any song you want to cover that you haven't yet?
3. What got you into playing music and how much production do you do on your albums.
4. My friend works at the natural history museum in NY would you want to go and get a mini private tour sometime?
Heck yes! 1. Touring with Against Me! was THE BEST. They rule so freaking hard, best band, sweetest folks. My favorite parts of that tour were the (loving!) harassment I received - for instance, Atom "doing the lights" for my set on the final night (which consisted of a lot of blackouts and occasionally he heckled me over the PA mid-song)... and halfway through my part of the tour, Brad the guitar tech started giving me dares right before I went onstage, like "do a high kick during your set" or "don't forget to rap tonight!" ... I had an EXCELLENT time. 2. There are (coincidentally) some AM! songs I would loooooove to cover. 3. I guess I got into playing music because I looooved listening to music so much. Production stuff varies from record to record, over the years it got more and more involved and now I'm interested in stripping it back a bit. 4. AH! YES! AH!
Hey JOY! I have been a fan of your music ever since the first time you were on Revival tour. I found you through the booklet Chuck Ragan personally handed out back when he first started the tour. You weren't there for the Dallas show but I sought you out anyways and I am glad I did.
So my questions:
1. How was your experience with the Revival Tour?
2. Have you ever considered collaborating with Chuck Ragan or Tim Barry?
3. Would you please release digital versions for your bandcamp page of all your youtube covers you did for fans? They are absolutely amazing I would like to listen to them outside of my PC.
Hello! Thanks for looking me up, and man oh man I'm so thankful I have that Chuck Ragan in my life!
Every experience I've had on the Revival Tour has been magical. Chuck is so gifted, and really has quite a knack for bringing together kind, talented folks. EVery tour is different, heck every SHOW is different even when it's the same artists a bunch of nights in a row. There's no tour like Revival Tour.
ABSOLUTELY. I'd collaborate with either in half a heart-beat. I'm sure something will come together down the line!
OH HEY that is an idea all right! I'm gonna take it under advisement... I'd also like to make a proper covers record one of these days!
hey jenny, do you ever get recognized in public? Any weird interactions?
Once in a great while! My favorite that I can remember happened at a restaurant in Brooklyn - the chef saw me through the service window and I ended up signing her chef jacket! I felt VERY fancy.
Hi Jenny! I actually found you after years of following your wife's "Everyone is gay" project and am thrilled to see that her success with that has taken her on a rockstar-esque tour around the country the way you might. My question: when you both have some downtime, what are your favorite non-work-related things to do together?
She's pretty rad, and she's now VERY good at going on tour. When we're not running all over the country, we like playing rummy 500, doing some yoga, seeing shows, getting outside (weather permitting), and drinking delicious drinks in moderation.
And now I need to make that sandwich.
This isn't really a follow-up question, but I ordered Transmitter Failure from your store when I was in college and it came with gummies and some kind of plastic confetti of sharks and things. It was pretty awesome.
HA! Yes, that was when my mom was still handling my store fulfillment. Including candy and confetti was her FAVORITE.
where's tabula rasa!!
AH TABULA RASA IS SO GOOD