Jen Smith, who goes by Jenavive, a vibrant, redheaded pop singer, launched her first album on Nov. 18 at the Auburn Saloon in Calgary. She is a woman who won’t divulge her age, saying she has never cared about how old someone is because “it shouldn’t matter, (it’s) kind of an irrelevant thing how old someone is.”
She has been singing for three years and has been playing the classical piano for as long as she can remember.
“I have been doing music in different ways for so long, it’s a way to express myself and to share with people. I love it; there is something about that magic of performing and connecting with someone and for others to listen to. “
But what sparked this Calgary woman to launch a music career, let alone release an album?
It was a life lesson that everyone experiences once, if not a few times in his or her life.
She followed her boyfriend to Vancouver. He was a drummer in a band and they were in love. Or so she thought.
One day, she says something in the relationship broke, and something broke inside her.
“I don’t know where to start. I met a drummer, and he moved out to Vancouver to play with a band, and I went with him,” Jenavive said. “He encouraged a lot of my material, a lot of the songs on the album are about him.”
Photo Courtesy of Missa Mae
After her relationship fell apart, Jenavive was hanging out with a friend and his guitar and she began to sing along and has been singing ever since.
“My friends are all musical, they have all been doing it for so long, so I was like, ‘Hey, I can do this too.’”
That’s how her indie-pop album, “Under the Sheets” began.
“I think the lesson for me was about how I identified myself. While in Vancouver I was always the girlfriend and played a supportive role,” she says. ” I lost myself there and forgot to follow my own path. After we broke up, I was completely lost and I felt like I couldn’t stand on my own.”
“I’ve always been really creative and musical — I have taught piano since I was 16 but I could never sing. I hid that part of me.
“The breakup was the push to finding myself and building an identity. I had to find out if I could actually do it.”
Jenavive, who was bullied growing up, says she blames certain things for not beginning her singing career earlier.
“I was bullied in school, we all have our demons (and) instead of following my passion, I pushed things back I was scared of it.”
But three years ago, she rented out the Safari Lodge at the Calgary Zoo and invited 250 of her closest friends to a formal black tie affair.
It was her first ever concert as a performing artist.
“When it comes down to it, you do it all the way or just don’t do it.”
Jenavive writes and performs all her own songs with a band of four members and says they are the best group she has ever worked with.
The album is her first, and as Jenavive describes it, is kind of dramatic piano-pop, with a rock edge.
“It’s the heavy side of indie-pop, like good bass lines, emotional music — I really like dramatic music and it reflects who you are. I’m dramatic so my music tends to follow.”
Her favourite song on the album is “Change Yur Wayz,” which is described as more of a rock song.
Another favourite is “Heartbeat,” which Jenavive describes as “really catchy.”
“I’m still breathing, barely seeing, I’m still breathing, I feel the beat of a heart … this illusion of happiness is more than I can spare, more than I dare to believe in me.”
Photo Courtesy of Missa Mae
Her advice for the heartbroken
Currently, Jenavive is writing her next album and hoping to record in early 2012.
“It is important that whatever drives you, you have to do it — don’t wait, get out there and live it and don’t let it get you down because there is more.”
Looking forward to expanding, Jenavive wants to use her music as an avenue for other things.
“Now that I have a platform I can share that with people and use it for good.”
As for the boy who broke her heart, Jenavive says they maintain a decent relationship.
“I still talk to him he’s still a good friend, we had reasons for breaking up. The last six months we were together were dramatic and catastrophic. We never cheated on each other or betrayed in any way, just burned too bright,” she explained.
“He has been a huge part of my life for a long time and we remain important to each other knowing we can never date again,” she laughs.
But does he know that he is the muse to her music?
“He was a huge influence. Hopefully he takes it well, the album wouldn’t have happened without him,” she says.
“For both of us, it was a way to process everything and now we can move on and be civil towards one another and be friends.”