It might be because of her years of classical piano solitude.
It might be because she is a voracious autodidact.
Or it might be because she likes to do things the hard way.
Whatever the reason, jenn mierau chose to embark on the long and winding road of self-producing and recording for her recent EP, Hush. She played most instruments on the release, as well as experimented with found-sound samples and vocal layering. The result is an icy, versatile, electronic influenced pop that highlights her sweetly sexy voice.
Jenn also brings this one-woman-band approach to her live shows where she layers live looping, beatboxing and beats created on her vintage MPC2000 sampler, while playing Wurlitzer and singing. It’s a compelling approach to live electronic music, with no laptop in sight. While doing numerous shows in Montreal, including POP Montreal, she’s also brought her music to Toronto, including NXNE and Indie Music Week, as well as to Winnipeg and Southern Ontario.
Staunchly DIY, jenn counteracts her hours in the digital world by making her artwork the analog way: knitting, string art, etc. But for this album, she took the approach one step further by rug-hooking a 14,400 stitch self-portrait, while recording a time-lapse video of the process. The digital version of the artwork is remarkable, but the physical CD – which replicates the entire rug, front to back and side to side – is a mini marvel!
(Timelapse video: http://youtu.be/LkbEriRFXo8)
Crafting aside, jenn’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. In 2010, her song, Hum was the AmazonMP3.com Free Song of the Day, and the Hollis P Monroe remix of the song was featured on URB.com and later released on the UK label, Defected Records. Her latest, Hush, has felt the love of the blogosphere and print press alike. It’s also received airplay on CBC Radio 2’s The Signal, as well as on campus stations across the country, where it broke into the top 20 on several occasions.
In the last years, jenn has also been stacking up collaborations with various labels, including Brooklyn/Montreal’s Galactique Recordings, Montreal’s The Villa, and San Francisco’s De’fchild Recordings.
“It looks like the world has proved its need for another singer-songwriter once again, and may many ears appreciate this truly vital record.”
(Sebastian Gahan, Verbicide Magazine)
“Hush is altogether dark yet light, eerie yet intimate, quiet yet very danceable.”
(Lateef Martin, Montreal Mirror)
“Along with the instrumental arrangements and recording done solo, Mierau’s powerful vocals make her an undeniable force.”
(Erik Burg, One Thirty BPM)
“Jenn Mierau is a fearless experimentalist. A lush tapestry woven from beats, loops, samples, a vintage Wurlitzer and Mierau’s indelible voice, Hush stays true to its creators roots.”
(Jen Zoratti, Winnipeg’s Uptown Magazine)
“Mierau is stunningly creative and not just musically…”
(Elena Gritzan, Toronto’s Grayowl Point)
jenn mierau - Vocals, wurlitzer, Loop Station, MPC 2000 sampler
Etienne Archambault - Live Visuals
hush: sept. 2011 (self-produced, self-released) (streaming and college radio play for the songs, hush, a little blue, told you and lovesong - breaking into top 20 on several occasions, as well as radio play on CBC Radio2)
In a Little While: august 2011 (co-write with Chris R.T. for The Villa)
A Little Haiku: may 2011 (co-write with Ruoho Ruotsi for de'fchild productions)
hush - remixed: released apr. 2011 (first single off of upcoming album, for galactique recordings)
Someone to Make You Crazy: apr. 2011 (co-write with Ryan Hemsworth for The Villa)
Denmark (jenn mierau version): feb. 2011 (on the taperecorder EP, "Evergreen [Full On]" for galactique recordings)
hum (Hollis P Monroe remix): re-released oct. 2010 on Defected Records)
hum - single and remixes: jan. 2010 (radio play and online radio play. Hollis P Monroe remix featured on URB.com)
coventry carol: 2009 (online radio play)
merry merry: 2008 (limited release)
deare (single): 2006 (used in TV movie, online radio play)
jenn mierau (ep): 2003 (radio play)
Keep pushing forward: Two Winnipeg artists — one current, one former — are doing exciting things with electronic music
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Fellow electronic pop artist and Winnipeg expat Jenn Mierau is also a fearless experimentalist. The ...Fellow electronic pop artist and Winnipeg expat Jenn Mierau is also a fearless experimentalist. The current Montreal resident composed and recorded her latest album, Hush, completely on her own. A lush tapestry woven from beats, loops, samples, a vintage Wurlitzer organ and Mierau’s indelible voice, Hush stays true to its creator’s roots.
"It’s all over the place," she says with a warm laugh, which comes easy and often. "It’s a bit of a testament to my background and my interests in music. I love piano (she’s a trained classical pianist), I love hip hop beats — and I love a good pop song, too. I wanted to produce something myself for the first time. I’d learned bits and pieces from people, but I didn’t know what I was doing. There wasn’t a specific aesthetic vision; I just wanted to produce something myself, and I wanted to produce something that I’d want to listen to. "
Recreating Hush for a solo live show also required experimenting. "It took a while to figure out a live show that wasn’t me using a laptop and pressing play," she says. "I realized that there are lots of ways I can reproduce the album live with samplers, and it kind of breathed new life into the songs."
The album’s artwork is just as ambitious and textured as its contents; for the cover, Mierau rug-hooked a 14,400-stitch self-portrait.
"I like the idea of making analogue, physical artwork for covers," she explains. "The idea came to me as an epiphany. At the studio I was working at, there was an amazing rug hooking of a country scene in the bathroom. I was like, "That’s it! That’s what I want to do!" It took me a while to figure out how to do it. It’s not an incredibly popular thing in Canada. And I made the process longer by doing the video." (Yes, she also made a stop-motion video documenting the process.)
The added multi-media projects aren’t off brand for an artist who likes to play with layers and techniques; in fact, rug-hooking an album cover directly reflects her musical process. "You know, I’ve never thought of it before, but you’re totally right," she says. There’s that laugh again.
... at the Drake Hotel
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Montreal’s Jenn Mierau began the second set of the night with a haunting song using just keyboard an...Montreal’s Jenn Mierau began the second set of the night with a haunting song using just keyboard and voice. Vocally, she sounds rich and emotive, but the first song was actually not a good indication of what you are in for later: she brings in Wurlitzer, a sampler and loop pedals to make percussive beats and swirls of sound to accent her piano-based singer-songwriter melodies. Her most recent album’s title track, “Hush”, began with layers of vocal noises to create the percussion – the total effect sounds something like beat boxing, but she builds it layer by layer right in front of your eyes.
She moved on to covers for the middle of her set, giving renditions of The Cure’s “Lovesong” and Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel” (the latter, of course, to celebrate the namesake of the Elvis Mondays showcase). Her covers sound strikingly different from the originals due to her inventive instrumentation and arrangements. Mierau is stunningly creative and not just musically either: her set is accompanied by live visuals and the album art is a recreation of a giant rug-hooked self-portrait.
‘A moment of sheer and utter insanity’ : Singer-songwriter Jenn Mierau talks about the DIY process behind her album, Hush
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by Aaron Epp (Managing Editor) Raised in Winnipeg, singer-songwriter Jenn Mierau has called Montr...by Aaron Epp (Managing Editor)
Raised in Winnipeg, singer-songwriter Jenn Mierau has called Montreal home for the past seven years.
Talk about doing it yourself. For her latest album, Hush, Winnipeg expat and current Montreal resident Jenn Mierau not only wrote and recorded all the music herself, she also created the album artwork by rug-hooking a 14,400-stitch self-portrait.
“That was a moment of sheer and utter insanity, of course!” Mierau says with a laugh, recalling the moment she decided to create the self-portrait. “It literally took me three months of doing it almost every day, almost like a full-time job. By the end, I’m sitting on my couch and I’ve got braces on both my wrists and I can’t tell you how many times I was thinking, ‘I make really horrible life choices. This is ridiculous.’”
The musician laughs about it now, especially since the hard work paid off. It’s a great looking cover and you can witness its creation on YouTube via a stop-motion video Mierau made during the rug-hooking process.
But beyond the homemade cover art, Hush contains some great, dark pop songs with Mierau’s alluring voice singing over programmed beats and the warmth of a vintage Wurlitzer electronic organ.
She recorded the album herself in her home studio, drawing from a collection of songs she wrote roughly two-and-a-half years ago.
“I feel like very often my songs come from a bit of a melancholic place,” Mierau says. “I sort of have to sometimes push myself to write happy things, or do a cover song to add happy things into the mix.”
Since she released the album last fall, Mierau has been working on perfecting her live show.
“I’m constantly tweaking the live show because, for the most part, I’m always playing by myself,” she says. “I’m doing the live looping, I’m making live beats on my MPC2000 sampler, and then playing the keyboard and singing. It’s such a coordination between all limbs that after each show I go, ‘OK, now that I feel more comfortable doing this, let’s add (more) to it.’”
JENN MIERAU - HUSH
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Someone — perhaps not a fan of the genre — once said that the world doesn’t need another singer-song...Someone — perhaps not a fan of the genre — once said that the world doesn’t need another singer-songwriter. Yet the absurdity of such a statement is constantly challenged with excellent music from all corners of the globe in this vein. In this case, Jenn Mierau is the artist unleashing her sweetly seductive work onto the listening world.
The cover of Hush is a replica of a piece of work by Mierau herself, a rug of 14,400 stitches that makes a self-portrait, enveloping the contents. And what contents they are, with the DIY aesthetic of her artistry producing an album as personal as it is intimate. Producing the work herself and taking influence from electronica, acoustic, and found-sound recordings, she weaves a web of delicate imagery and musings on life. The work is cushioned in programmed beats, pensive piano tones, and choruses that suggest the long gestation of the work was all perfectly timed to produce a record worthy of many more ears than it will likely reach.
Opening with the creep-up-behind-you loveliness of “Lovesong” (one of two equally excellent versions on the record), the chorus of the song and atmospheric programming plant in your mind with ease. In fact, I had a sense of déjà vu upon hearing the song that made me appreciate it all the more. This is a feeling that occurs all throughout the record, and even the alternate versions of the aforementioned “Lovesong” and title track are excellent — and different enough — to be more than filler material.
It’s worth noting that its brevity is one of the key aspects responsible for the ice-cool vibe that flows throughout Hush. Specifically, “Told You” and the vaguely sinister piece “Hush” give you goose bumps on the first listen, and even the more traditionally-composed pieces such as “A Little Blue” or “Shine” are diamonds in an already bejewelled set. It looks like the world has proved its need for another singer-songwriter once again, and may many ears appreciate this truly vital record.
MP3: Jenn Mierau - "Hush"
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You have to hand it to any artist who can piece together an entire album on their own, and Jenn Mier...You have to hand it to any artist who can piece together an entire album on their own, and Jenn Mierau does just that and more on her forthcoming album, Hush. Along with the instrumental arrangements and recording done solo, Mierau’s powerful vocals make her an undeniable force. The album’s title track is the perfect example, blending her shadowy vocals amongst the various drum loops and bass lines. Part frantic electro backing, part powerful vocal exposition, “Hush” is worth checking out if you’re new to Mierau’s work. Look for Hush September 13th.
On the downlow: Jenn Mierau stitches the sound and portraiture on her eerie, intimate EP, Hush
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Making music can be a disarming, deeply personal experience: opening yourself up, laying it all out ...Making music can be a disarming, deeply personal experience: opening yourself up, laying it all out in a studio, letting it go and getting it out to strangers who may well tear your heartfelt work to shreds. This process is all the more personal when you do just about all the work yourself, from beatmaking, playing bass, guitar, keys and singing, and bringing it all together harmoniously as a producer. This is what Montreal artist Jenn Mierau has done. But Mierau takes the DIY ethic to greater proportions, or rather to about two feet by two feet. “This was a brilliant idea,” Mierau recalls thinking as she worked away. “I feel I’m a little crazy!” She refers to her 14,400-stitch rug-hooked self-portrait she made for the cover of her EP. She confesses it took her longer than it should have, because she took pictures of it at every significant stage to make a time-lapse video.
Hush is altogether dark yet light, eerie yet intimate, quiet yet very danceable. Mierau’s mix of trip hop and electro pop, layered vocals and techno touches combines with a soft backdrop of head-bobbing beats. Adding to Mierau’s sound is her take on the Cure’s “Lovesong,” from their album Disintegration. “It was the first cover I ever did, and I pushed myself not to make it at all like the original.”
This Edmonton native cut her teeth in Toronto, but built up her production skills and solo work in Montreal. Shepherding Mierau through the grassy fields of production were producers such as Matt DeMatteo, Gavin Brown, Hollis P. Monro and Ryan Hemsworth, who is part of a Montreal label called the Villa. She also collaborated with some Villa artists, an experience that helped her to craft her EP. “I learned so much from those people and I couldn’t have produced this album without the things I learned from them, as well as their encouragement.
jenn mierau's "hush"
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Dark and extremely sensual, jenn mierau’s hush (yup, all lower case) is an album that pulses with de...Dark and extremely sensual, jenn mierau’s hush (yup, all lower case) is an album that pulses with deep synths and trip hop beats. What is striking about hush is that it manages to deliver several catchy tunes composed of strange chord progressions and borderline atonal loops. Even more striking is that mierau self-produced the entire album. And by the end, you feel that unity, that togetherness that can only suggest one person had a say in its creation.
The whole thing kicks off with “lovesong.” That mierau chose to open her record with a cover (The Cure) is simultaneously gutsy and alluring. It is a completely reworked song with a slow groove and a peculiar piano loop. It’s enough of a departure from the original to make the song seem fresh and bold. Following it is “hush,” a song that swirls in the burgundy wash of electric piano and creeping bass. The song is lush with a richness like wine and is already receiving some buzz around the Internet. It encapsulates mierau’s murky style perfectly and is a cornerstone of the album.
“hushabye” takes the ideas set forth in “hush” and magnifies them immensely, re-imagining the piece as a lullabye. Mierau sings directly in your ear while strings bend and detune underneath. With each whisper of “hush,” the word begins to morph and sound strange. In my mind, it conjures several forms: hush, thrush, blush, lush, crush. The song is an exercise in the bizarre nature of words as well as the percussive quality of the human breath. “Hush” is just a noise we utter to communicate meaning and feeling, and mierau takes this idea to the extreme. The song is relaxing, sensual, and uneasy all at the same time.
Mierau furthers these organic qualities on her record with “shine,” a gorgeous piece rife with thick Wurlitzer and gothic strings. It is a nice complement to the electro touches in the previous tracks and showcases mierau’s vocals stripped free of any sort of mainstream pop ham. It also highlights her ability as a songwriter and serves as a defining moment on the album. “a little blue” is without a doubt the low point of the album. Mierau delves into that pop ham I mentioned before. It’s the antithesis of “hush” in that it is poppy enough to be radio friendly but without the dark richness that permeates the rest of the album. Regardless, mierau’s other tracks are stellar enough to make up for it.
Closing the album are the “other version” songs. “lovesong (the other version)” sounds too much like the opening track to be given its own spot on the album, but “hush (the other version)” is a magnificent rewriting of the original with a static sounding avant-garde loop that would make Bjork proud. The vocals take a back seat for most of the song while distant, distorted drums pound thunderously and noise fills the ears. At the end, the sound dies away and we are left with the instrument that is the most alluring on all of hush: mierau’s voice. Smoky as always, it ends a tasteful and experimental pop album that ranks comfortably among the likes of Robyn and Lykke Li. As an artist, jenn mierau could usher in a new era of well-produced, well-written gothic synth pop, something that could take the sting out of formulaic glam pop. Mierau is skillfully able to pair her sensual vocals with dissonant piano chords and create a sound all her own. Congratulations, jenn.
-written by Grafton Tanner
Jenn Mierau Drops a Rich, Chill "Lovesong" Cover
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It’s hard to predict what tracks are going to become cover classics, but once one establishes itself...It’s hard to predict what tracks are going to become cover classics, but once one establishes itself, it rarely fades away. What’s more, once a song becomes as oft-covered as The Cure’s “Lovesong,” each new cover must reach an ever-higher bar. It might be another Adele, it might be another 311, or it might be something else entirely.
Luckily, Jenn Mierau’s latest cover is neither derivative of the original, nor a ripoff of the other established covers. The multi-talented Montreal native kicks the track off with a heavy electronic beat and some spooky piano before her mellow, sultry voice whispers into the mix. The cover would be nice enough if Mierau was simply a singer tackling an arrangement someone laid out for her. The fact that she wears the producer hat with as much talent as the vocalist/pianist hat takes it to an entirely new level. This is one for the headphones, because you do not want to miss a thing on this track. Enjoy.
-written by Brent Rydin
Carefully crafted songs....
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Carefully crafted songs that are equally balanced with the styling of guitar-based pop and electroni...Carefully crafted songs that are equally balanced with the styling of guitar-based pop and electronica, Jenn Mierau stands out on her own amongst the stereotypical notion of female singer/songwriters. Without an acoustic guitar and a notebook full of poetry, this Toronto native combines some of the best aspects of PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, U2 and the Cardigans -- minus the disco flavor beats -- while coming up with a sound all of her own.
~ Mike DaRonco, All Music Guide
North by Northeast: Some Other Memorable Moments
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Jenn Mierau: A good thing in a small package On the Thursday, a few musical friends and i were t...Jenn Mierau: A good thing in a small package
On the Thursday, a few musical friends and i were taking a break for a late-afternoon patio drink, on one of the first really hot, sunny days this year. I was introduced to a fresh face amongst the crew, a singer-songwriter by the name of Jenn Mierau. I meet a lot of musicians, but she was politely proffering a CD that was so striking, it made me want to check out the music.
The three-song mini-disc came in a plastic slipcover for protection,under which it was wrapped by one single-folded piece of paper. The front cover was an attention-getting, technically excellent and, I thought, flattering photograph of Ms. Mierau. (One of our crew suggested that she had a Molly ringwald thing going on in the picture, and it's true.) On the back side, the paper listed her NxNE showcase performance details and her accompanying musicians for the gig. The inside of the folded paper offered recording details and contact information. A little larger than three inches square, it slipped easily into the pocket and conveyed all of the required information. Now that is an example of a simple, elegant package.
I've listened to the CD a bit, and the music lives up to that elegant simplicity. It's not my usual cup of tea, but I quite like it - more and more with each listen. I like that Mierau never overstates the groove, but it's always there. I like that the instrumentation is spare enough to give the beat room to breathe. I like the way her singing lays against the rhythm. If I were forced to make a comparison at gunpoint, I'd say it reminds me of the best work of Massive Attack, or early Portishead. Now I want to hear the full album, when that eventually arrives.
- Howard Druckman for Umbrella Music
set can run from 30-60 minutes
eg. of a set list:
a little blue
i wear my sunglasses at night (cover)
PDF Riderrequirements for jenn mierau
There are no upcoming dates at this time.