Jenny Biddle
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Jenny Biddle

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | SELF

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | SELF
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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"The FULL LOTL Interview"

You have unique guitar skills (maybe a south-American style). Can you tell us about this?

Interesting concept. I’ve been surrounded by so much music, it’s hard to pinpoint a particular style, but I suppose the sweeping strum I throw in at times adds a li’l flamenco flavour.
I started on the ukulele as a wee tucker, and at age 9 had my first guitar. I’ve been playing the guitar for about 15 years now. I’m mostly self-taught: I had a few lessons with different people over the years, but never stuck to them. I found reading music a chore, and it spoiled the idea of freedom of expression and exploring the instrument. I never really got into big guns like Hendrix or Clapton, but was brought up on Chisel and took a real liking to the Aussie artists. I have a great respect for guitarists like Ian Moss, and Josh Cunningham from the Waifs.
But I suppose a lot of my guitar playing has stemmed from years of being a solo artist. When you play the same songs 200 times a year, you’re constantly looking for ways to keep it new and challenging for yourself. I didn’t have a band to fill out the sound and add texture, so I was constantly trying to find ways to keep the music intriguing, to fill in the gaps, to improvise, with the odd percussive element here and there. It’s kind of like learning “on the job”. I dig mucking around with alternate tunings too.
Someone once told me my performances demonstrate a marriage between body and instrument. I dig that. The instrument is very much a tool for expression, as much as the voice and lyrics can be. It’s just an extension of my soul.


You also play piano, which adds more dimension to your sound. Can you add to this?

I love being able to jump from guitar to piano. It’s another way to keep the music interesting, for both the audience and myself. I find the piano can hit a spot the guitar can’t. Some songs just call for the piano. Can’t say I ever enjoyed learning the piano. I started lessons at age 6, through till the end of high school. It wasn’t till I stopped formal lessons that I really started composing on the piano, and using it as another extension of my soul. But I owe much of my musical knowledge to those piano lessons indeed.


You won the 2009 Just Guitars Best Artist Award at the Port Fairy Folk Festival. How has this affected you?

That was a delightful surprise. I never intended to go in any competition, but a mate suggested it. Jokingly, I selected a mandolin (cos I’m racking up a rather large, uncontainable collection of guitars) from the list of prizes, not expecting to win. I got up there on the competitors stage, did my thing, and two days later got a call saying I’d won the comp. So now I own a mandolin. I was right at the end of recording my album at that stage, and the sweet li’l mando got to appear in tasty pockets the opening track (“Freezing Time”).
After winning the award, I was privileged enough to perform on the main stage, that’s provided great opportunities for exposure and networking, and I looked forward to getting heavily into the festival scene from here on.


You have just released your first studio album, ‘Chest of Drawers’. Can you tell our readers what to expect from that?

Wow, I can’t tell you how stoked I am to share this album with you! Without a doubt, it’s my proudest craftwork to date. One of the things I love is its diversity. I wanted to create an album that would convey some of the rollercoaster ride of life, that could reach out to the listener at different times or states of mind.
We started off recording “Village by the Sea” that turned into this gorgeous orchestral arrangement; it still pulls my heart strings when I hear it. Then there’s your easy listening songs like the swingin’ jazz tune “Come & Go”, which require some seriously cheesy sing-a-longs. I remember the blackout that happened while recording the double bass for that track; the computers and lights went out, we all froze, it was pitch black, and out of the darkness comes the sound of a double bass, playing the theme from Jaws. There are great walking bass lines on the album. You’ve got your upbeat-rockin’ tracks too, like “Not Into You” and “Frequently”, and if I had to find a sexy groove on the album, it would definitely be track 3, “Obsolete”. For “Freezing Time” the producer and I went NUTS adding as many instruments as we could, there are even tubular bells (if you listen extra carefully), and it turned into this epic opening track. But you’ll also find the darker, sadder flavours on the album like “Perfect”, and “Buzz”. Finally there are the guitar rippers, like the final track (an instrumental) and (my favourite of the favourites) “Chest of Drawers”, which became the title track for the album. I’m really hoping the listeners will be able to connect with the variety of moods, and find streaks of their journey through the album.
It has certainly been an incredibly journey creating the album, and a huge team effort. I recorded - LOTL (Oct 2009 Edition) - Interview by Donna Perry


"The FULL LOTL Interview"

You have unique guitar skills (maybe a south-American style). Can you tell us about this?

Interesting concept. I’ve been surrounded by so much music, it’s hard to pinpoint a particular style, but I suppose the sweeping strum I throw in at times adds a li’l flamenco flavour.
I started on the ukulele as a wee tucker, and at age 9 had my first guitar. I’ve been playing the guitar for about 15 years now. I’m mostly self-taught: I had a few lessons with different people over the years, but never stuck to them. I found reading music a chore, and it spoiled the idea of freedom of expression and exploring the instrument. I never really got into big guns like Hendrix or Clapton, but was brought up on Chisel and took a real liking to the Aussie artists. I have a great respect for guitarists like Ian Moss, and Josh Cunningham from the Waifs.
But I suppose a lot of my guitar playing has stemmed from years of being a solo artist. When you play the same songs 200 times a year, you’re constantly looking for ways to keep it new and challenging for yourself. I didn’t have a band to fill out the sound and add texture, so I was constantly trying to find ways to keep the music intriguing, to fill in the gaps, to improvise, with the odd percussive element here and there. It’s kind of like learning “on the job”. I dig mucking around with alternate tunings too.
Someone once told me my performances demonstrate a marriage between body and instrument. I dig that. The instrument is very much a tool for expression, as much as the voice and lyrics can be. It’s just an extension of my soul.


You also play piano, which adds more dimension to your sound. Can you add to this?

I love being able to jump from guitar to piano. It’s another way to keep the music interesting, for both the audience and myself. I find the piano can hit a spot the guitar can’t. Some songs just call for the piano. Can’t say I ever enjoyed learning the piano. I started lessons at age 6, through till the end of high school. It wasn’t till I stopped formal lessons that I really started composing on the piano, and using it as another extension of my soul. But I owe much of my musical knowledge to those piano lessons indeed.


You won the 2009 Just Guitars Best Artist Award at the Port Fairy Folk Festival. How has this affected you?

That was a delightful surprise. I never intended to go in any competition, but a mate suggested it. Jokingly, I selected a mandolin (cos I’m racking up a rather large, uncontainable collection of guitars) from the list of prizes, not expecting to win. I got up there on the competitors stage, did my thing, and two days later got a call saying I’d won the comp. So now I own a mandolin. I was right at the end of recording my album at that stage, and the sweet li’l mando got to appear in tasty pockets the opening track (“Freezing Time”).
After winning the award, I was privileged enough to perform on the main stage, that’s provided great opportunities for exposure and networking, and I looked forward to getting heavily into the festival scene from here on.


You have just released your first studio album, ‘Chest of Drawers’. Can you tell our readers what to expect from that?

Wow, I can’t tell you how stoked I am to share this album with you! Without a doubt, it’s my proudest craftwork to date. One of the things I love is its diversity. I wanted to create an album that would convey some of the rollercoaster ride of life, that could reach out to the listener at different times or states of mind.
We started off recording “Village by the Sea” that turned into this gorgeous orchestral arrangement; it still pulls my heart strings when I hear it. Then there’s your easy listening songs like the swingin’ jazz tune “Come & Go”, which require some seriously cheesy sing-a-longs. I remember the blackout that happened while recording the double bass for that track; the computers and lights went out, we all froze, it was pitch black, and out of the darkness comes the sound of a double bass, playing the theme from Jaws. There are great walking bass lines on the album. You’ve got your upbeat-rockin’ tracks too, like “Not Into You” and “Frequently”, and if I had to find a sexy groove on the album, it would definitely be track 3, “Obsolete”. For “Freezing Time” the producer and I went NUTS adding as many instruments as we could, there are even tubular bells (if you listen extra carefully), and it turned into this epic opening track. But you’ll also find the darker, sadder flavours on the album like “Perfect”, and “Buzz”. Finally there are the guitar rippers, like the final track (an instrumental) and (my favourite of the favourites) “Chest of Drawers”, which became the title track for the album. I’m really hoping the listeners will be able to connect with the variety of moods, and find streaks of their journey through the album.
It has certainly been an incredibly journey creating the album, and a huge team effort. I recorded - LOTL (Oct 2009 Edition) - Interview by Donna Perry


Discography

"Hero in Me" Full Band Album,
"Little Treasures" Live-In-The-Studio Acoustic Album 2012
"One Lonely Tree" Acoustic EP 2012
"Chest of Drawers" Full Band Album 2009
"Almost Live at the Basement" Live Album 2008

Available from www.jennybiddle.com, iTunes, CD Baby, and Bandcamp

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Bio

She wraps herself around a self-made acoustic guitar*, like a marriage between body and instrument, her most honest core is released as she commands the guitar to sing with such rare musical intuition. Her audience is compelled to join her on a previously unexplored voyage of passion and song.

With a commanding three-piece band, Jenny bewitches you with brilliant original folk/blues tunes that rely on her powerfully emotive voice, an instinctual mastery of the piano and her jaw dropping skills on the guitar. Removed from the confines of structure, a solo performance is something more altogether; as she finds the freedom to truly express herself, her songs are given the space to travel in previously unexplored directions.

Whether listening to her albums or witnessing this diminutive songstress live on stage, you are humbled by a raw honesty. The intense and somewhat complex style of Jenny's music touches upon many issues that affect us all… love, loss, fears, hopes - all the challenges life throws at us. And she’s willing to share and let us in. In fact, she’s so damn honest she even talks about her lies! She describes herself as “Missy Higgins meets The Waifs, with some mesmerising guitar voyages and facial expressions thrown in.” In truth, her songs are just so deeply personal, inspiring an incredibly moving listening experience.

Live on stage, Jenny has the ability to resonate with her audience, enticing interaction, moving them to laughter and tears. A Jenny Biddle performance is full of energy and humour. Her guitar intertwines bass notes, percussion and melody so seamlessly that it seems there has to be more than one person on stage, despite conflicting evidence to the contrary. It’s an engaging experience and one that draws in fans who bear witness to Jenny’s musical dexterity, soaking up a musician who is at one moment humble in her abilities, before suddenly letting rip with a blistering guitar attack that’s akin to the power of Ian Moss in full flight.

Quite simply, Jenny Biddle bewitches, as you watch an artist who’s developed the confidence and ability to deliver a show full of musical passion and subtle flair. She’s played over 200 gigs every year since 2006 and has supported music legends like Jeff Lang, Jen Cloher, and the sadly missed Daryl Cotton and his esteemed colleagues, Keays and Morris.

Destined to walk a musical path from a young age, a brief encounter with the ukulele at just 4 years old lit the fire for Jenny’s obsession. Moving on quickly to a lifelong love of the piano at age 5, followed by a passionate and ongoing affair with the guitar from the age of 9, original compositions soon followed… accompanied by a steady stream of awards.

Most recently Jenny won the prestigious title of Melbourne’s Best Busker 2012, a title which she’s held since 2010, along with the People’s Choice Award at the Tamworth Country Music Festival Busking Championship 2012. In 2011, Jen won both the Judges’ Vote and the People’s Choice Awards at the Ballina Country Music Festival. This acknowledgement added to her earlier win of the Just Guitars ‘Best Artist’ award at the 2009 Port Fairy Folk Festival. Suffice to say, recognition of Jenny’s talents by both public and industry alike is quickly growing.

Her first two albums - ‘Chest of Drawers’ and ‘Little Treasures’ – have been met with universal high praise. Reviews described them as “… quite simply remarkable” (Trad & Now magazine) and “Beautiful, no-nonsense folk music, with one of those great emotive voices that echoes just a touch of world-worn huskiness.” (Dom Alessio - Triple J).

Her brand new album ‘Hero in Me’, funded by excited fans, was produced by Thirsty Merc’s former guitarist, and legendary producer, Sean Carey. “From the growls of her more ‘country’ tracks to the way she lulls you in to her ballads….. It has sunshine, clouds and places in the sky to get to” (Mariella Mejia – Gaydar Girls), this album is her most vibrant work to date . Jenny’s first video clip for the title track, Hero in Me, is on the way. Written and directed by Rebecca Greensill with crew support from Home & Away, you’re soon to witness more of Jenny’s animated personality for her most popular iTunes single.

Like her songs and performances, Jenny Biddle is a striking, charming, refreshing, intense yet sweet person. She’s a master of her craft - one whose talents and tenacity will surely elevate her to the next level in a hurry. Catch her now… before another moment passes by.

*Jenny’s self-made guitar was part of a first-ever Australian Tone Woods
Hand-made Guitar Exhibition called ‘Beyond the Trees’, held at
Monstalvat with the support of Thomas Lloyd Guitars.