Meet Jenni (Yenni)! She’s the incredible bass player behind Christina Perri and Kylie Minogue. I got the chance to chat with her about everything from favorite venues to her favorite music right now. Check out our conversation below!
B: What did you go to school for? What did you study?
J: I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, and I studied electric bass performance.
B: How did you get the gig with Christina?
J: Actually, I had worked for another client of her manager. And I was touring with Kylie Minogue for a couple of years before I started working with Christina, and Christina’s manager at the time was also the booking agent for Kylie in the U.S. So I met Bill and a lot of the people that worked at the management company then. So when I finished up that tour and started putting up the feelers for something to do next, it kind of happened really organically and within the organization.
B: What is the best part about being on tour?
J: Well, the shows inherently kind of end up being the highlight of your day just because everything is building up to those moments. So at least in terms of scheduling and your adrenaline, the show is definitely the highlight of the day. But as far as touring in general, I think just traveling around with people who are like-minded, and getting to see tons of new places is really cool.
B: What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you on tour?
J: I would say probably one of the craziest things that we did on tour was a show we played at a mountain resort in Switzerland on Kylie Minogue’s tour. It was the opening of their resort season or something, and the show was on top of a mountain. We were completely in the clouds, and it was snowing. And they obviously had their completely normal stage attire, which is extremely skimpy. So they were basically having to wear that while it was snowing on them, and that was pretty, pretty memorable.
B: I feel like that would be pretty memorable, like, by anyone’s standards. That’s pretty cool.
J: Yeah, it was pretty weird. Another one was when we played in Bogotá, Colombia. It’s one of the highest capital cities in the world. So, the show itself was incredibly taxing just because the air is so thin that we really weren’t getting very much oxygen. I remember the dancers had to be given oxygen straight from the tank in between doing different numbers.
B: So since you went to school for it, I take it you’ve always wanted to be a bass player? What was your sort of journey to becoming a bass player?
J: I dabbled in piano and stuff like that when I was younger, but I would say that I pretty much decided that I wanted to be a musician when I discovered music very typically as a teenager. One of the schools that I went to was extremely academically oriented and at the same time had a really excellent music and arts programs. Those were two things that I found myself extremely drawn to in a way that was completely different from anything else I had done before. So when I found out about the existence of a place like Berkeley, which is completely specialized to a really crazy extent, I could tell that that was exactly what I wanted to be, and where I wanted to be at.
B: That’s really cool that you knew exactly what you wanted to do so young.
J: When you tell them you want to be a musician, no parent is thrilled that that is their child’s chosen career path because there isn’t much stability and the success rate is pretty low. That’s why I decided to be a session musician rather than just try to become a pop star or whatever. I’ve been working steadily for ten years and I get all the perks of the job but I don’t have to deal with the pressure that some artists have to deal with.
B: What’s your favorite venue to play at?
J: I’ve played at Hyde Park in London a few times, and that’s incredible. The audience sizes there are anywhere from 80,000 people upward. So that’s a pretty cool experience. The Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is in a natural amphitheater rock formation, is really, really spectacular. Those places have really good atmospheres, and you can tell that they’re really imbued with a sense of history.
B: So at this moment in time, what is your favorite song?
J: That’s a really difficult question. I really like that song Elephant by Tame Impala. It kind of changes daily, but um… I’ve been listening to a lot of MoTown recently – The Four Tops and such.
B: That’s like my go-to cleaning music. I turn on, like, the ‘60s Spotify station.
J: That’s exactly what I was just doing! I was cleaning and listening to MoTown. Oh, one song that I really love right now is called House of Balloons by The Weekend, who’s a hip-hop artist from Toronto. I’m actually not very hip-hop oriented in general, but there’s this artist named Robert Raimon Roy, and I went to see him play a couple of nights ago, and he has a bunch of really good songs. His album is called Le Tigre Blanc.
B: What advice would you give to a young woman who really wants to tackle the music industry?
J: I think it’s good to go to school and all that, but I would say that this is the one industry where having a diploma or a degree is not really specifically required. People are far more likely to hire you based on your attitude and previous experience – even if it’s limited. They want people who are resourceful, creative, and can think outside the box, especially with the way the industry is moving right now; the old ways of doing things really just don’t apply.
The best thing to do is get out there and talk to as many as people as possible. It can be really scary, but you just need to put yourself in situations where you’re going to be challenged and learn new things. So just having a really gung-ho attitude will really, really help. The same goes if you’re trying to be a musician in a band. It’s just about getting yourself out there and not being afraid of learning new things or being in challenging situations ‘cause all of that will ultimately make you better at what you’re doing.
B: Who is someone you look up to in your industry? Your role model.
J: Somebody that has personally helped me a lot is another bass player. His name is Justin Meldal-Johnsen. He’s a really well known bass player who’s worked with a lot of cool different artists, but he made his name doing session work. He’s now very successfully transitioned into production and songwriting work as well. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to him, and he’s definitely given me lots of really, really valuable advice. He’s just a determined, hard working guy doing what he loves to do, and his energy is really contagious. He’s someone that I really look up to.