Jennifer Davies is an artist who is pushing the boundaries of how music and visuals come together. With the release of her ‘Lapse of Time’ EP, Davies has created a video accompaniment for each track, all directed by Peter Wormleighton. All the music was produced with close friend Tord Knudsen of The Wombats, and the collision of dance beats and thunder-strike vocals bring to mind the punk-pop of Blondie and Gwen Stefani.
How did your debut ‘Lapse of Time’ come into being?
My background was always in bands, and when that came to an end I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was signed as a solo artist but it just wasn’t sitting right with me, so I took the decision 18 months ago to be honest with the label about how I felt. I knew full-well that they could just let me go but my friend Tord Knudsen (who is in The Wombats) had worked with me on a few songs and I felt really good about them. I asked the label for the opportunity to see where I could take them, and decided that if the label didn’t get it we could go our separate ways. Thankfully they did!
Your creative process seems to be really innovative, and constantly evolving. How did it grow from those initial demos?
Having taken control of the music side of things, I started to wonder what would happen if I worked with other young creatives that I knew. A lot of major labels just go to the same people they’ve worked with for years and often it’s not that exciting. I wanted to prove that you can’t buy creativity, and it felt like a good time to collaborate with other people on the cusp of a creative breakthrough. Each video has been directed by my friend Peter Wormleighton, and styled by my friend Nabil El-Nayal, who was shortlisted for the LVMH Fashion Prize.
Who have been the biggest influence on your sound?
A lot of pop artists! I feel like ‘pop’ is often seen as bit of a dirty word, but pop culture can be so exciting. I’m drawn to all sorts of things; Garbage and Shirley Manson, Gwen Stefani, Blondie. I really like pop music with personality- and I approach it with a punk aesthetic. I don’t care if people get it or not; if the passion is there, people can see it and they will connect with it.
The visuals of your music are obviously very important to you. How do you approach them?
There are a lot of different ways I go about it. For ‘Lapse of Time’, I was really influenced by Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’. The piano element that repeats throughout the song reminded me of people rushing around the city. I loved that idea of the contrast between the city in Liverpool, and then the vast landscapes of the North West (where I’m from.) We paired up with this young photographer named Paul Richardson and he came up with this idea of me actually being in the time-lapse. I didn’t realise when I agreed to it that it would mean standing in the same place for hours and hours outside in the cold (laughs) but I love the effect! I think everyone on my team just loves the idea of these epic visuals and it’s great to all be moving in the same creative direction.
With the release of the album, you’ll obviously be starting to do a lot more live performance. Is that notion of ‘epic visuals’ something you hope to take forward to the stage?
Yes definitely! To begin with, I guess it will be quite hard because it will mostly be support slots and small festivals but I’d love to just take it all the way. I saw FKA Twigs performing on Jimmy Kimmel with just a fan and this giant piece of fabric and it was amazing. I think all you need is a simple idea, and if you execute it really well, you can make a performance so memorable.
Have you always wanted to be a musician and performer?
For me it actually started with movement – I always loved to dance. Eventually I started playing piano, and I would take the songs I liked and strip them down, and then start writing my own from there. My Dad ended up getting me this broken-down, second-hand piano and I never looked back! (laughs)
So what’s next?
Well at the moment we’re actually working on an interactive video. We basically picked five different amazing locations and have done a single take in each, deciding that the camera would roll and I would carry on no matter what. I nearly got run over by an ambulance but it’s looking good! (laughs) I’m then supporting The Wombats on a few of their dates, and then playing a few festivals, and looking forward to finally finishing the album!
What is your FAULT?
I over-think things way too much. I know I’m guilty of it and I try to stop it but I just can’t. It’s another FAULT that’s not going anywhere!
The Lapse of Time EP is available on iTunes and as a free download: here
Photography: Miles Holder
Fashion Editor: Kristine Kilty @ Lovely Management
Hair & Makeup: Amy Brandon @ Lovely Management
Fashion Assistant: Shannon McGrath
Words: Will Ballantyne-Reid