Jena Rose has been a driven and passionate musician for her whole life. Ever since she started writing music when she was 9, she always wanted to be a voice for people to look up to and to give back to the listeners around her. With her newest single, "Manners," Jena shares a unique perspective and encourages her listeners, especially young women, to stand up for themselves when someone is mistreating them or someone else.
Watch the video for "Manners" here.
Odyssey: How would you say "Manners" is conceptually different from your other songs, such as "Reasons" or "Paper Walls?"
Jena Rose: So actually, "Reasons," I wrote solely by myself, but "Manners" I co-wrote. It was fun and very collaborative – the song is more of a sing-along, and has a choir vibe to it, which makes it different – but it still fits in the realm of what I do for sure.
O: Oh yeah, for sure. Also, lyrically, what do you want your listeners to take away from "Manners?" What lessons do you want them to learn?
JR: Well, the song is about when someone is only kind to you and a jerk to everyone else around them. I want people to take away that that's not okay. And if someone doesn't show you who they are or if they're a good person or not, then they're not the right person for you.
O: For sure. I really like that you're addressing this because that's a topic that I haven't ever heard in music until this song. It's definitely something that a lot of people experience, but people are afraid to address it if someone's nice to only them.
JR: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I've definitely had that happen to me so many times. If someone is truly a nice person, they have to be kind to everyone. This song tells [listeners], especially young women, that they deserve to be treated right and have someone who is an overall kind person.
O: I really value the messages that you're sending to listeners, knowing that your audience is a lot of young women who want people to look up to. You're definitely a great role model for people to have in their lives for positive energy and encouraging people to stand up for themselves and stay strong throughout whatever life throws at them.
JR: Thank you. I appreciate that. I try my best.
O: When you first started in the industry, did you always know that you wanted to be that voice for other young women to look up to?
JR: Initially when I started doing music, I wanted to go to Berklee College of Music and then start my own music school where underprivileged kids can come and take lessons. [I realized] I love performing and I wanted to explore that before I did this other plan that I had in my head. I still would love to do that. But, I feel like what I'm doing now is a great way to inspire women as well.
O: Oh, for sure. And like, I feel like more and more every day, you're opening more women's eyes. You're being able to connect with them. So then by the time you do eventually build that music school, you'll have a ton of connections to people who want to support you.
JR: Exactly. For sure. That's what I want to do.
O: I know you've worked with the Model UN with your music. How did you form that connection?
JR: Oh yes. So that's something that I actually did when I was about 14 or 15. My old manager in New York knew them and they asked me to write a song for a women's program that they started. And then, I got to go perform it for all these women. It was a great experience.
O: How else are you hoping that your music is going to reach out to the voices who need to hear it the most?
JR: I feel like as I get to where I want to be in life, it will naturally get to those people who need to hear it. Like when I was growing up, I had so many artists that I looked up to when I was going through hard times. I listened to music and it helped me so much. I want to be that person for people.
O: Oh, that's so awesome. Who were some of the artists that you looked up to?
JR: Sara Bareilles is a big one. Regina Spektor and Marina and the Diamonds for sure.
O: Absolutely. I love that you mentioned Regina Spektor because so many of her songs have some sort of underlying positive thing. I'm not surprised that you look up to her.
JR: Oh yeah. Especially because I play piano and write.
O: You mentioned that your first EP you wrote completely by yourself and then with "Manners" you collaborated with another songwriter. Do you like co-writing more than writing by yourself? What types of things in your music make the process different?
JR: I love both equally, honestly. I started out writing when I was 9. I would write every song in my bedroom on my piano. And then, I was introduced to writing with producers and co-writers and that's a little different – wherein the studio they make the tracks and I write [lyrics] over them. So, I'm not writing the chords or anything, but I am working with the producers as well and both are super fun ways for me to write. I love both of them.
O: Do you play any other instruments?
JR: I tried guitar when I was like 12 but I think by like my hands were a bit too small.
O: Same! Well, actually I did it for like four months in the eighth grade.
JR: Yeah. It was just a little too hard for me at the time that I'd love to try it again. Now that my hands are full size. Like when we're going into meetings, I have to bring in my piano sometimes and my mom and I laugh, because if I played guitar because it would be so much easier to just bring in your guitar somewhere rather than walking with a giant piano keyboard.
O: Are you and your mom close?
JR: Yes, we are.
O: Has having a really strong female role model in your life, like your mom, influenced your music, specifically "Manners?"
JR: Oh, so much. Having someone who supports me is [special.] I mean, so many people don't have that, so I'm very lucky to have that. And, of course, having an influential woman in my life is amazing. I write songs with so much passion, and she shows me to do what I love and do it the best I can. That's really inspired me.
O: I know your listeners are growing every day. How would you see your fan base as being a support system for you?
JR: Every message I get on social media means so much to me. Every comment, everything. It shows me that I'm doing what I love and it's paying off little by little. When I go on tour and I meet these fans and get to see their faces, it's so special and it means so much.
O: I can imagine like how special that must feel.
JR: It's really cool. Yeah, it's great. Oh my God, when people sing my lyrics live. That's the best.
O: So you're touring with Aly & AJ for a little bit and you've previously toured with Echosmith, right?
O: What more are you hoping to bring to this round of touring?
JR: With each show I do, I get to be a better performer every time. I'm just excited to go on that stage and just go all out cause that's really fun for me. And also new music – I'm going to be performing songs that aren't out yet. It's going to be fun. And just meeting new people and the same people who have come to other shows.
O: What is there that like we haven't covered that you definitely want your listeners to know about "Manners?"
JR: I hope they get the message and connect to it because that's really important to me. When I write songs, my main goal is for people to connect it to their lives, even if it's not the exact explanation I talked about. You never know how someone is going to take a song and relate it to themselves.
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