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Introducing: JGrrey

Tuesday 24 April 2018
Words Lucy Shanker

JGrrey may have found her moniker by accident after looking for an Instagram handle, but her success is no mistake. She’s got a knack for creating songs with simplistic but relatable themes, yet she takes them exponentially deeper with her emotionally-charged lyrics. Then when she actually begins to sing these powerful words, it’s game over. We caught up with JGrrey the day of the release of her latest single, “Growing.”

What is your real name, and how did you come up with the name JGrrey?

My real name is Jennifer, and I came up with the name literally by accident. My favourite colour is grey, and I just wanted that in the name that in the name for Instagram. It wasn’t necessarily for music. The two R’s happened because there were no Instagram handles available with only one, and then it kind of just stuck.

Can you tell me a bit about how you got into music?

I was in state school when I was really young, but I never realised I enjoyed it until I was in college. Then I only started recording music when I was hanging out with my friends at a studio, and they were like, “You’re a good singer; you should try it”.  I just found it really easy, and I liked it. So I bought enough stuff to make a studio at my house and a Macbook, and my friend helped me set it up. Then I started recording music, and I just realised I loved it.

And you’re from South London, right? How has that affected your music?

I grew up in South London, but I really was all over the place as well. My parents moved me around, so I moved around schools a lot. I think [moving] has given me a lot more to write about. I found that due to the amount I’ve moved around, I can adapt to a lot of situations better;  I’m a chameleon I can blend in with whoever it is because I’m so used to having to fit in. So I’ve got so many songs about moving around and adjusting.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Everyone. If you make music you’ve probably influenced me. It varies from someone like Band of Horses to cliches like Erykah Badu. I listen to a lot of rap and a lot of rock, too. But really everyone. If you’re being creative and writing songs, what isn’t there to be influenced by?

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What does your songwriting process look like?

I don’t know, to be honest. I’m still figuring it out. If I’m writing at home like I did with “Ready to Die,” it kind of just freestyles. I trial and error and then squeeze work into it. That’s my most organic and comfortable style. But now I’m in sessions with a lot of songwriters and producers, and I’ve kind of found out that I enjoy letting other people figure out the melodies that I write to.  Then I can adapt to the melodies. I like working with people who don’t know they can song write, like I worked with Kadiata, and he’s super humble, which helped me.

Your COLORS session kind of blew up — did you have any idea that would happen?

No. I mean, it’s funny. So I released a mini EP a couple of years back that you won’t be able to find, but on that one, I wrote everything at home. I mixed it myself, just nothing serious. And then after I released that, COLORS got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to do one. I said yeah because I didn’t take myself seriously; I was just messing around in my bedroom. When I came to do it, I felt like my transition form my EP to COLORS was just… a really weird time for me. Because I had never really performed that much, and I was like, “Wait, I guess I do music now.” But I definitely didn’t think it would get the reaction it did. 

How is the new single “Growing” different from your last EP?

So, “Don’t Fade” and “Ready to Die” I wrote by myself in my bedroom. It was really simple, and there was nothing more to it. There was no studio sessions with a writer, no mixing or mastering. For “Growing,” I got in the studio with a guy called Ed Thomas, and I wrote it with him. I’m realising now that it’s a very JGrrey song. It’s very me. But it’s also a lot more of a structured song; it’s got more elements, like a chorus and a pre-chorus. It’s just more of a song. It’s also a collaboration of two minds. “Growing” was actually the first time me and Ed met, and it was the first session we ever had. Even though it was a collaboration, it was very organic because we did it all in one session.

You said that you wanted the video to convey everyone’s “inner child.” What was the motivation behind that?  

I wanted the video to do what the song says on the pin, but I mean, yeah. The song is about growing and struggles and uncomfortable moments, which I had a ton of growing up. It’s what growing was to everyone. I feel like the song was really nostalgic, too. I got influenced by “Millionaire” by Kelis and André 3000, and I just wanted it to feel really nostalgic. I worked with a director called Anna Redchenko, and she totally got it straight away. I think it’s really good, and I’m really proud of it.

What is your biggest goal for the rest of this year?

To carry on making music that I can surprise myself with and be proud of. As I said earlier, it’s only kind of really sinking in now that I’m a singer/songwriter. So with anything I just want to keep being surprised by my stuff, like “Yeah this is the thing you do; just keep on doing it”.

Check out ‘Growing’ now!