Jenna Andrews is exactly who young women should look up to. She always had a passion for music and started writing songs at the age of 14. She dropped out of college and moved to Vancouver to pursue the dream, but it wasn’t fate that made her career; it was her unstoppable work ethic. She was discovered by Chris Smith, who landed her a deal at Island Def Jam.
Jenna loved making her own music, but she couldn’t help being drawn to the business side of things. She understands the method to the madness. Currently, she is a vocal producer, producer, and works in A&R. Jenna has worked with everyone: Lennon Stella, Dua Lipa, and Drake. She knows what it takes.
While I was talking to Jenna, I couldn’t help but admire her work. She is a hustler through-and-through and is beaming with pride whenever she talks about an artist she’s working with.
She explains, “I love to work on a full record or body of work with an artist and sometimes without having the control of being able to make the decisions with the artist on which songs come out or what features they do. Basically, I like helping to steer the vision/and keep the direction focused, just as a songwriter.”
Understand all of the aspects of the music industry helps, she doesn’t always have her hand in each part of the process but having that knowledge helps her understand what needs to happen.
A lot of people don’t understand how the songwriting process works, but it’s rare that one artist writes just for themselves, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t coming from their perspective. When Jenna approaches songwriting, she knows it’s about who the artist is and where they’re at in their lives.
She says, “I love to get to know the person first and foremost. To me songwriting is like therapy, you really have to dig in deep and understand someone to be able to write something meaningful and that represents them. Fans want to know about the artist and feel like they know them... and their songs tell the story.”
One particular case is Lennon Stella. Stella has grown immensely, and her career is skyrocketing right now. Jenna feels especially proud of her since she’s seen her career from the beginning.
“I’ve been writing with Lennon Stella since she was 14 and we started working/developing her solo project three years ago, which is when I started doing A&R for her as well, and I couldn’t feel happier about how people are responding to her music. I’m truly elated and grateful for the process, makes it all worth it.”
Sometimes doing what’s best for her artists means writing songs with someone else, and Jenna doesn’t have a problem with that. She can put her ego aside for the greater good.
She says, “When you help to find a sound and a vision, it’s really exciting to see your artist work with other people to continue that vision forward...it’s actually really cool to be honest.”
The hardest part of Jenna’s career is doing ALL OF IT. She truly does, I don’t even know how she juggles all of her jobs.
“I find that people love to put people in boxes, allowing you to only be known for one thing, which is silly. I think especially now in 2019 there are no rules, and on top of that, they all really compliment each other. To be honest, Quincy Jones wore all those hats and he’s QUINCY JONES. I feel like as a musician, you have an advantage with artists in A&R in that you can speak their language.”
Hell yes, Quincy Jones! I think the behind-the-scenes women in music are truly pushing things forward. Jenna is seeking out young femme artists and helping them get to the top, and she’s doing it by trusting her gut. She emphasizes that to me a lot in our conversation, she always goes with her gut and it never fails her. Sometimes it isn’t about the logical choice but what you feel is right and finding that balance is the key. I think that’s what makes Jenna so good at what she does; she has the emotional intelligence to be a good songwriter and the business sense to make it all happen.
When it comes to her best piece of advice, it’s simple. She says, “Be YOURSELF, always. Having an identity is everything in this business, and there will always only be one you, so how could you not be special. I won’t lie, it is a harder path to navigate being a woman in this business, but it’s also really rewarding to break down barriers when you have the ability to be unique in yourself, people can’t help but respect that.”