“22, Not In Love”: Jennifer Rae’s Search For Self-Reflection and Identity
With songs that have been celebrated as “poetry in motion” (Amelia Vandergast, A&R Factory), New Jersey native Jennifer Rae artfully composes heartfelt and honest songs that are accentuated by her velvety-smooth voice and rich piano accompaniments. She transitions between her vocal registers effortlessly, and creates lush textures and harmonies combining jazz and pop into captivating and emotional compositions. Heavily inspired by songwriter masters like Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, she is currently enamored with artists like SZA, St. Vincent and Half Waif. As a recent transplant to Nashville, TN, Rae started out playing numerous shows in the NYC-area, such as the NY Historical Society, Arlene’s Grocery, The West End Lounge, Smash Studios, and Bushwick Public House. Jennifer has worked extensively with multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, Cole Lumpkin of 300 Entertainment. She is also a founding member of Cleveland’s Sofar Sounds. She recently completed a degree in Music from Oberlin College and Conservatory with a concentration in Songwriting.
What is your music background?
I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5 years old. And my parents always joke that I came into the world singing. My dad called me his little bird because of the cries I made when I was born. And it’s true I’ve always sung. I wrote my first song when I was 15 on a whim. But it felt right. It started to be the only thing I wanted to do. I’d go to my classical piano lessons and all I wanted to do was play my teacher the songs I was working on. Instead of Beethoven, Bach or Chopin. Then when I went to college, I went to a music conservatory called Oberlin. I studied music history and theory and learned to hone my craft — playing piano, singing and writing songs. I graduated this spring and decided to come to Nashville so that I could continue to be a part of a music community.
How do you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
Pop, indie, soul, piano and vocal based music. You can probably hear that I grew up on musical theater too.
What was the song that influenced you to start a career in music?
Sara Bareilles in general was a huge influence. Her song ‘Gravity’ is really something. A cover of that song was the first video I posted to my YouTube channel. When I was 15 I went to a music camp and got hooked on being part of a music community. I felt I had found my people. That feeling was further solidified when some friends and I performed ‘Winter Song’ by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson for the camp.
Where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?
I write what I know and what has happened to me. I love that sometimes I’ll write something in a song that I didn’t know I felt until it’s on the paper. That’s always fun. My subconscious comes out to play when I write songs, and they always teach me about myself. I love using songs to figure things out in my life, to get a better perspective. Or stand on a higher ground.
Which artists have inspired you?
Sara Bareilles, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Aretha Franklin, SZA, Maggie Rogers, Half Waif, Samia, Becca Stevens, Paul Simon
Your new single, “22, Not In Love,” is about growth and identity — how did the process of writing and recording it encourage the same for you?
I learned about myself and grew from writing this song. This summer I was SO unsure of what the future held for me. I thought I needed to have more figured out since I had graduated college. So many people I knew were going off, starting lives, sure of what they wanted. But I didn’t and still don’t fully know who I am. This song taught me that everything is going to be ok. I don’t know who I am, but I’m figuring it out, just like everybody else.
Listen to 22, Not In Love
Heard your team is all female — who all is part of the production team for the new song?
I wrote, performed and recorded the song. My friend and fellow singer-songwriter, Alex Noelle sang a few background vocals. Mackenzie Spear mixed the track and Kate Haldrup mastered it.
If you could record with any music star, who would it be?
Sara B or Dolly Parton
Where is your dream venue or festival to perform in?
I think that I’d feel I made it if I played Governor’s Ball. When I was in high school it was my dream just to attend. So, I’d be honored to play too!!
Where do you see yourself in 2–5 Years?
Recording, playing, writing!!
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
I think Dolly Parton said it best: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
If you were driving cross-country and could only bring one CD, what would it be?
I drove across this country this summer! And we listened to Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer” album A LOT.
What five artists/songs would I see on your recently played lists?
Kacey Musgraves, Kanye West, YEBBA, Lake Street Dive, Emily King
What are your favorite songs to belt out at the bar/in the car/for karaoke?
My go to karaoke track is “Oh, Darling!” by the Beatles. I sing the crap out of that song.
If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?
How can fans follow you on social media?
I’m okay for a bit
Til the clouds roll in
Then I take my meds
Right before bed
But my head’s still a mess
Don’t know who I am
But I know one thing:
I’m not in love.
I kill my plants
Though I don’t mean it
I’m hard to predict
Just like the seasons
I forget to breathe
And it’s contagious
Just the same old me
While everything changes.
And I’m not in love.
And if everything’s coming up roses
Then I’m just a girl in bloom
I’m dying to know if there’s any room to grow
’Cause I’m twenty-two and not in love.