The Block

Art & Culture — 1 year ago

JGrrey Likes To Be Heard

On the tail of the release of her single “Boys”, JGrrey discusses her upbringing, creative ownership and music as therapy. 


London-based JGrrey, or Jennifer Clarke as she’s otherwise known, first emerged in 2017, when her performance of “Don’t Fade”, went viral on the Colors platform. Almost an instant hit, for tracks including “For Keeps” and “Growing”, she toured with Billie Eilish, and put out a 2019 EP, Grreydaze. 


Now, with a new string of songs – “Boys” and “Theirs13” among them – JGrrey has more than proved she has staying power. The singer draws closely on her own experiences, mining heartbreak, anger and everything in between to produce songs that feel true, and always authentically her: “When I release my debut album I want to shed light on my experiences and my expectations of life,” she says. “If you listen to it you’d say ‘Yeah, that’s Jen.’” 


Shop JGrrey’s T-shirt here.

Everpress Team
Courtesy of JGrrey

Did you have a creative childhood?

I’d say so. I remember when I was a child that I would attempt to be creative in as many elements in my life as I could, and in hindsight that comes across as being a cheeky kid. Even eating dinner, it wasn’t just eating dinner, it was eating dinner and also throwing broccoli on top of the cupboard while Mum and Dad were out of the room. Me and my brother would turn it into a game: who could throw all of our vegetables on to the top of the cabinet without being caught by our parents. Maybe I was too creative in my childhood and was perceived as cocky and cheeky. 

Did you grow up wanting to be a musician?

No I didn’t, but I did grow up knowing I liked being heard. Due to my circumstance, when I was younger I often felt that I wasn’t really considered to have an opinion, and maybe the things I wanted or felt I needed weren’t available to me. This might have played into wantig to be heard, listened to or acknowledged, and maybe as I got older that turned into narcissism or attention seeking. Here I am today, desperately trying to make beautiful music but also say something and get my point across, or try to make someone reconsider their ideas on something.   

Photography by Riya Hollings

How do you know when a song that you’re working on is finished?

You feel it. That’s something I’m struggling with at the moment. When a song feels finished to me, it definitely doesn’t always feel finished for other members of the wider team. So with my songs like “Ready 2 Die” or “Theirs13”, there is no structure at all, but to me it felt right and I knew when things should start and things should finish. I guess it is always more of a gut feeling you know, I can’t really explain it beyond that. 

Are you protective of your ideas as an artist?

Massively. I think this also ties into cases when I’ve had an idea organically because of my lived experience, and it’s something I’ve worked really hard on and curated. I feel really protective about it in a kind of “you don’t know me” way. When you’re a musician or artist in any capacity, everything is personal. 

You can’t really make music without an aesthetic

Courtesy of JGrrey

How important do you think aesthetic is for musicians?

In this day and age, it’s key. You can’t really make music without an aesthetic. The fans need to see what they’re buying into and whether it all adds up; what it sounds like, what it looks like, what it feels like. Music is more than just sonic, I think again even though I’m a music artist, I am an artist. I’ve worked as a stylist before, and I worked as a photographer’s assistant back when I was in college. For me, style, aesthetics, texture, fashion, design, it’s all art at the end of the day, so yes I think it’s important. 

Do you feel you’ve arrived as an artist?

No, I don’t think I’ve arrived as an artist. God I couldn’t say that fast enough! I don’t yet, and I think you’ll know when I have. 

On “Boys?”, you sing “Don’t text me back, Stay out with you’re friends, I double Fuxking dare you to get back in my bed.” Is heartbreak productive for songwriting?

Yes, heartbreak is, but I should say “Boys?” isn’t about heartbreak. “Ready 2 Die” is more of a heartbreak song, as was “Dreaming Fool” or “Don’t Fade”, which is a massive heartbreak song. “Boys?” is angry to me: if I don’t need you, then how can I be heartbroken? 

I take a lot of inspiration from adverts

Photography by Riya Hollings

Does music have a therapeutic function for you? 

Yes, I think so. Frequencies are a beautiful thing, and music in its essence is just sound. Most of us, right from early childhood, will have found rest and relief when things sound right and when things sound calm, think of the concept of white noise. Sound and sonic art, which yes, is music, can definitely provide a therapeutic function for me. 

What is the most unexpected thing you take inspiration from?

Adverts. I take a lot of inspiration from adverts. How long is an advert these days? Eight, nine, 12 seconds? Depends on how much money you’re willing to spend. Brands and companies essentially have to sell you something in such a short time, like a TikTok window. I think it all comes down to creativity. Adverts and the marketing industry really are some of the most ridiculous and innovative industries to be in.

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