An Interview with Jennifer Knapp: Part 1
Beliefnet sits down with Jennifer Knapp to discuss music, creativity, and Twitter in an in-depth interview.
So who do you listen to?
That’s a good question. I’m actually not a big music listener, which is weird, apparently; or so I’m told. I really do tend to enjoy just about any artist who writes themselves; writes and performs their own music. And that’s anywhere from Eminem to Indigo Girls, Tracy Chapman. But I listen to all kinds of stuff. Lately, I’ve been listening to the Sugarcubes and from the early nineties and -- I don't know. I was listening to a rock record the other day. I can't even remember what it was. That’s how bad of a condition I am in.
I totally understand.
It’s the way that I listen to music, I think, that varies from so many other people. Most of my friends have music on all the time. And I just don't listen that way. When I sit down and I listen to music, it’s an intense experience for me. So it’s not something that I take -- I can't have it as white noise. I get very -- I want to intensely pay attention to what’s going on. It’s a very personal experience for me. So if I don't have the time to sit down with a pair of headsets on, and just close my eyes and just get myself lost in it, I don’t -- that’s what I call listening to music. I don't get the time to do that very much.
How involved are you in the production of your records?
For me, I’m usually there every single minute of everyday. This last record, I wasn't at all interested in actually producing a record. Paul Moak, the producer of this record, he’s an extraordinarily creative guy; there’s so much energy and -- this guy in his studio it’s -- I don't even know how to describe it. It’s like watching a professional athlete just rule the field. He’s such a presence in his studio, yet so inclusive. He’s a really beautiful person to work with and very inspiring, creatively, and I think, for me, that was a great experience in the regard because I could then sit back and be just the caretaker of the music. I’m not overwhelmingly worried about the overall orchestration because Paul has that under control. So that gives me a lot of freedom underneath to go. I know that we said we want to have keys on this, but I’d like to see a organ in on this, or instead of going on the Johnny Cash style, let’s move more towards a Willie Nelson.
Photo courtesy of Fairlight Hubbard and Amy M Phillips of EYE
I’m just throwing things out, but I’ve never been in a position where my input hasn’t been absolutely respected; because I am the caretaker of the music. If I can’t go in and preserve the integrity of the music, then I’m not in the right place. I am the defender of it, in some kind of weird way. But, at the same time, one of the things I love most on the planet when I’m playing live music or I’m in the studio is that, one of the most amazing parts of the process of music is we're allowing people and their abilities to make up that band or that cohesive whole picture; the drummer, the bass player, the violinist, the cello player, the keyboardist. I always want each one of those individuals to just leave everything out there. And you have to give them the freedom to be able to do that. And I think, as an artist in that particular place, I’ve tend to want my producer who I feel safe in letting them do that.
I guess the short answer is I always feel like I produce my records. I don't always get the credit for it, and I’m not interested in the credit. I’m not interested in being the quarterback all the time. There are days that I need to just come in and -- I’ve already done the hard work. So we need to do the finishing touches and record the thing. But, yes. I can’t imagine not being there. I did the Way I Am record, when we did that, it was my third record on Go Deep, and I was so on the road. Maybe I did more than this, but I really don’t remember much about doing that record other than showing up and being the vocal tracks. And that was just -- I’d never want to have an experience like that again. Because, to me, it’s just so much of the thought that when those individual songs -- it’s the journey, growing up and becoming an adult song; that when you’re recording it, it’s a really intimate experience. And I love being involved in that process to know and I just can’t take just throw it in -- “I’ve written a song. Tell me when it’s my turn to sing, and I’ll go sing.” I’m just so not into that. Even when I do it everyday, even when I’m doing solo gigs and it’s just me and my case study, every time I sit down and play one of those songs, it’s a new time to play that song. And I want it to be special. I don't want it to just be some haphazard thing.