Described as having a “similar vocal chemistry to Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová but also a real knack for the dynamic bombast of Coldplay” by Popmatters, Jenny & Tyler are not the acoustic duo that their name would suggest. Their new album Of This I’m Sure, as produced by Gabe Scott – who’s played with The Civil Wars, Mat Kearney and Ingrid Michaelson – is a layered full-band effort with hooks, layers and dynamics beyond the expected fingerpicking and harmonies. And in support of that Residence Music-released full-length, Jenny & Tyler are bound for a show at Rockwood Music Hall on November 3rd — as part of the Communion Residency — with backing musicians in tow.
Although they are based in Nashville, Jenny & Tyler met as students at the University Of Delaware. I had the opportunity to conduct Q&A with both of them, managing in to fit a few Delaware-related questions in there. Fortunately, this interviewing experience was an example of “what you see is what you get,” as their answers show the two to be the wonderful, sincere and passionate people that their music paints them to be. For more info on Jenny & Tyler, click over to www.jennyandtyler.com.
How would you describe a Jenny & Tyler live show to someone who hasn’t seen you in concert before?
Tyler Somers: Our shows this fall are a bit different from what we’ve done in the past. We’re traveling with a full band for the first time! It’s very exciting and we’re loving the full sound. We try to approach each show as a new conversation with a new audience. We take requests. We ask folks to sing along from time to time. For us, music is about relationships and we hope our shows reflect that.
How much of your upcoming show at Rockwood Music Hall will be material from Of This I’m Sure, your new album?
Jenny Somers: We will play primarily from Of This I’m Sure, and probably throw in one or two songs from our previous projects.
Coming from Newark, Delaware, where were your earliest gigs? Did you have a touring circuit beyond shows in Newark?
J: We started playing together while we attended the University Of Delaware. We played at bars, coffee shops, houses, anywhere really. We played a bit regionally in Maryland and Pennsylvania, but we really didn’t play proper tours.
In coming from a college town, I’m assuming that most of your early audiences were college students. How does playing for college students compare to a gig of everyday adults in Nashville?
T: Somehow, even as we get older, our primary audience is still college students. There are definitely folks who have grown up with us and are starting families and generally in the same life stage as us, but the college student component of our fans has remained pretty constant. We love playing for college students. They are so excited and still love to discover new music. College is such a formative time in life. If you discover music as a college student you’re likely to remain connected to it into adulthood because it has so much meaning for you.
There are a lot of prominent couples recording in the indie world these days, like Pomplamoose, Johnnyswim and Mates Of State. Do you have a favorite “couple band?”
J: We’ve really enjoyed Elenowen’s newest project, For The Taking. They are great writers and their voices blend together perfectly.
What’s the biggest challenge of working so closely with your partner?
J: The biggest challenge is probably remembering that in addition to having a personal relationship, you have a professional relationship as well. It’s easy to take criticism when it comes to songwriting personally. On the flip side, writing with your partner often produces really powerful songs because you know that you’re writing in a safe space. There isn’t a fear of sharing too much, being too honest, or vulnerable. And honest, unafraid songwriting often results in the best songs.
In having two kids together, what is the likelihood of trying to work one or both of your children into your musical career?
T: Our girls are really young, two and six months. Our two-year old Jane really loves music. She loves to sing and dance and rushes the stage while we’re soundchecking and says, “I have to sing!” If either of our girls decide that they want to sing or play with us as they get older, that’s great, but we’re not going to push it.
Do you have any goals for Of This I’m Sure? Anything that must happen in order for you to consider the album as a successful piece of work?
T: We would love for Of This I’m Sure to reach as many people as possible and really flourish. However, even if just the fans we already have enjoy it and connect with the songs in some way, we’ll view it as a successful piece of work. We put years into making this record so just releasing feels like a success to us.
When you’re not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
J: Our girls travel with us, but when we’re home, we like to try to spend time together as a family doing special things. We go to the park, to ice cream, on little dates. We just like to be together outside of a musical context.
Do you have a favorite album of 2015?
J: Our favorite album of this year is Medicine by Drew Holcomb. If you haven’t heard it, you need to.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
T: A few weeks ago a lady in a grocery store said to me, “Be yourself.” It’s cliche, but I think it’s some of the best advice you can give anyone. Life is a lot fuller when you live boldly and genuinely.
-by Darren Paltrowitz