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The Jenny Thing Makes You Feel Liberated With "American Canyon"

If you’re looking for cinematic, melodic indie rock from Berkeley, California, The Jenny Thing has you covered with their sonically omnivorous, and lyrically passionate music.

Evoking the music of the future and the past, The Jenny Thing’s compositions are heady, and their arrangements are intricate: expect interlocking, richly textured guitar parts, layers of synthesizer and electronics, and haunting support vocals. Although no matter how artfully their songs are decorated, they never fail to rock.

Carrying out a psychedelic fusion with ethereal tenors, the rock anthem that is “American Canyon,” propels through your speakers and nearest screens with a hand in hand sonic and visual offering. Known for the cinematic twist that they tend to sprinkle into their music videos, The Jenny Thing has us traveling to the heart of the desert where they can be seen showcasing a performance in the spacious landscape, as the intensity of the cinematic component bubbles.

Kicking off the amplified integrity of “American Canyon,” with a woman riding freely and wildly on a horse, the fast-paced motions lead us to believe that she is headed to or running from something of great significance. Through the direct, smoldering vocal performance that cascades over a rhythmic groove, driven by the ambient tempos in place, the musicality of “American Canyon,” overflows with relatability to the movielike approach present before our eyes.

Determination is a running theme throughout “American Canyon,” and you can expect the intensified storyline to elaborate through setting flames to what no longer serves the music video’s protagonist, and the anticipation bolstered into the foundation of this record from the game of cat and mouse harnessed within the liberating essence of breaking free. Do yourselves a favor and take in all that is The Jenny Thing’s, “American Canyon.”

Welcome to BuzzMusic, The Jenny Thing, and congratulations on the release of “American Canyon.” With such a powerful message laced into the music video, did you always know that this would be the plan for the scenes your listeners can view?

Thanks very much. Yeah, we definitely met our creative match in director Ramesh Nicolas Iyer. He’s as obsessive about filmmaking and images as we are about songwriting and sound. One of the initial video concepts for “American Canyon” was a desert journey through canyons and caves. And then that morphed into a treatment for a night setting: a journey by car and then a story moving through hotel rooms in vignettes. Somewhere along the way, Ramesh keyed into horses galloping being central to the concept, and that was a big breakthrough. It obviously took us back outdoors, but in that single element, he not only locked into the loping, driving feel of “American Canyon” but he also found a way to succinctly express heroism, pursuit and escape, striving, open space, and a bit of antiquity. The horses (two played the part of one in the video) were a very powerful active ingredient in the sense of story and place. And then once Ramesh arrived at the clean, spacious blueprint you see now, the song’s lyrical elements of winning, losing, and underlying violence started resonating more freely with the visuals. With that, I began to see the actors, Brooke and Brendan, as playing more than just individuals. They are like two psychological states. And they are like dancers on the landscape of “American Canyon,” like a giant stage.

There’s such a laid-back feel to “American Canyon,” although the rush we get from it is as equally intensified as it is relaxing. What inspired the structure and creation of this song?

We wrote “American Canyon” very quickly. Shyam and I were in my music room and we happened upon something with lots of vibes but less harmonic movement than usual for us. We followed our noses into what I think of as "Led Zeppelin covered by Tears for Fears" territory, and he conjured up that signature bass tone. I think we ended up with a hybrid of something that could have been written in the early 70s and recorded in the late 80s. But strangely it doesn’t feel particularly retro. The track has both a lot of space and a lot of weight. Pretty distinctively, even though it's a bona fide rock n’ roll song, it has no guitar on it at all. And I think this allowed us to use more subtle layers in the mix and to get a more dynamic range. Lyrically, “American Canyon” is about the defeat of a lifetime, one that's so bad that it somehow cleanses you. All your anger, even your hope, ends up being burnt off of you. I used two primary sets of imagery in the text—architecture, and war—and by entwining the two, tried to create the impression of structures being destroyed, and then people rising from the rubble, defying destruction. It’s about somehow finding a surreal moral victory amid abject defeat.

With each musician varying, how important is it for you to tie in vulnerable subject matter when it comes down to your creations?

What’s critical to me is that the feelings—the emotional pivot points—are vulnerable and real in both the writing and performance. But that doesn’t mean the song topics or contexts need to be true to life. I think about a song like “Waiting for the Knife,” the last song on the album. The story of it is pure fantasy, and I’m essentially in character when I sing it. But when it’s time to interpret that writing into a performance or recording, the emotions are very, very real. The details (perhaps fiction) are being used to reanimate the emotions (non-fiction.) So, it’s like I’m always trying for bright, high-fidelity, relatable emotions… which often occur within veiled or grainy, or synthetic settings.

Since making a comeback from your hiatus in 2016, what have you loved the most about being back to making music?

As basic as it might sound, the best thing about making music is “maker life” itself. In our case, that's song making and story making and sound making. Rallying around the songs and recordings themselves with other people and marveling at them as they come alive, and even being surprised by them as they emerge and are reworked, is a big joy. And then, of course, this time out getting to do all of that in even more dimensions with the “American Canyon” video by handing the reins to an amazing filmmaker, cast, and crew, to all of whom I’m so grateful. That experience will certainly be among the highlights of my whole creative career.

What's your favorite release of this year, from an independent band or artist that you admire?

Oh, gosh. Don’t hate me, but I’m very likely to get weird and just listen to Fugees’ The Score or Book of Love’s first album every day for several months at a time. Like I'll seriously listen to only one album for an extended period. Especially this past year.

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