Name: Jenny Penkin
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, producer
Nationality: Israeli
Recommendations: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a wonderful book by Mark Haddon.
And an album I love: Ha Jardin by Gabriel Garzon-Montano

If you enjoyed this interview with Jenny Penkin and would like to find out more about her work, visit her on Instagram, and Facebook. Or head over to the bandcamp account of her band Masok.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?  

I think I always loved music. I used to make up songs when I was four, they were about literally everything lol.

My biggest influence was Michael Jackson. I was in love with him when I was 7. It inspired me. That and disney songs.

I was later composing stuff (and pretending to be singing in English while it was gibberish) and recording them on a tape cassette. It was all inspired by soul music for sure.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

When I listen to music I like, or when a cool melody comes up to my head, I feel like an outside energy is in the room with me. Like I’m not alone and I can see my life from the side. Feels like im a person in a movie and this is the soundtrack. It’s like I can see / feel myself outside of my body.

It's a huge satisfaction. Like when you eat something really really really tasty. But even better. Sometimes it gives me goosebumps. :)

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

So I’ve been releasing music since 2016 and boy I’ve changed a lot since then.

My taste changes a lot, although it always stays around the area of soul music. But the production style changed and my melodies changed and even the way I present the melodies in a song - it all changed. Maybe it’s because I grew up or something.

Also, writing in Hebrew changed me, and definitely opened many doors for me.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

I’m an open / honest person, mostly too honest and too open. So it also comes out in my music, through my lyrics. I’m a very very sensitive person as well, so I think music saves me in a sense. Both ways - when I write it and when I listen to it.

And I have OCD, I've been suffering from it since I’m a kid … and it’s ok, but I have my own organized way of writing songs. Like a game with rules that I make up. lol

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

My key ideas are - freedom, playfulness, therapy, aesthetic. :)

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I believe it’s a mix of both things.

I hate it when people copy paste stuff.  You can be inspired by an artist but you should have your own voice and style. That will last forever. Even after we’re gone. The “pop” thing changes all of the time and it’s just fashion.

Again, I’m not against it, you can learn from anything. But I think you should bring something of your own in order to make a change.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

Ok, music wise - learning how to produce is very very helpful for a songwriter. And also knowing harmony and what you want to hear. I don’t think there is a strategy for that - just learn how to. Start with Garage Band or something similar.

Personality wise - being funny is good. That’s an instrument. :) I used to feel stupid but now I’m using my silliness to make people feel a little more alive and less on auto pilot when they come to my shows or read my posts on social media.

Also as I said before, originality! I do believe people appreciate it. Even if it takes time for the crowd to get you and your shit.

Anyway - just be you

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

Hmm. I usually sleep a lotttt. I go to bed very late and need my 8-9 hour sleep! haha. (I’m teaching people how to sing and I perform and walk from one writing session to another. So energy is needed.)

So I wake up and then I must have coffee! Then I teach, then I have a session probably.

In the evenings, if I don’t have a show or a DJ set, ill get a drink with a friend or watch something at home with my boyfriend.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

A few albums changed my life, kind of.

One is Black Radio by Robert Glasper (he has two albums by that name actually and I love them both), Choose Your Weapon by Hiatus Kaiyote and Little Dragon’s Machine Dreams.

Listening to those albums opened something in me, the melodies, the rhythms, the art. The whole product! So I used all of those to make a mix of my own, with my band Masok and later on my Hebrew album.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

Oh! My preference goes one way - togetherness! Doing stuff together is generally more fun, I’m an extrovert for sure. But when it comes to music - collabs are my favourite thing in the world. I think it only has a good influence on music.

Two minds are better than one. So many ideas!

When you work with someone you have a mirror in front of you and so much learning comes out of it. Musically and socially. Also the inertia of two or more people is much stronger than one!

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

It’s therapy man.

I want people to feel less worried, less confused, less alone and more connected to themselves and one another. I know many don’t like to show their feelings and weaknesses and that's okay but we all have a lot on our plate and maybe thanks to art we can somehow look at our problems and solve them.

There’s no other way … feelings are important!

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?  

Music is frequency, frequency is energy, energy is matter, science is based on matter. :)

No but really, I think music and art in general are kind of different in a way but also surely connected to each other. I mean, yeah, science is built on logic and music is built on emotions but they both have a certain structure and they both can be “solved” in many ways. There is always more than one way

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

Writing and composing a song isn’t that different from making a good meal or a cup of coffee, the way I see it. I’m not saying it’s equally hard, it depends on what you love doing and what you’re good at. It’s hard for me to work with numbers and calculating stuff but I’m sure for some people it’s easy and fun.

But both things are based on a certain aesthetic. For me - writing a song is easier than cooking. I can’t cook lol. I express myself through words and melodies.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

What we’re hearing is affecting on us physically (our body is full of frequencies) and when you add a certain word (every person comes with his own burden when he or she hear a certain word, right?), it becomes mental as well.

It’s like talking but on a much much much higher level. It brings out all of our emotional experience out and makes us think.