Jenny Woo Interview (24.05.2012)

Interview diesmal leider auf englisch hochgeladen werden. Jenny ist eine überaus nette Persönlichkeit und wer jetzt neugierig geworden ist sollte sich definitiv eines der beiden Konzerte bei uns in der Ecke anschauen!

Hey Jenny! Please tell the readers a little bit of you. In which canadian town do you live? Could you tell us about when your project started and what is your motivation to make music?

Hello! Greetings from the frozen streets of Canada! My name is Jenny Woo, and I currently live in a city called Ottawa. Ottawa is actually the capital city of Canada, and it is currently -32 degrees outside. Now that is what I call a Canadian winter, haha!
I started my acoustic oi! solo project in 2008. At the time, I really wanted to play in an oi! band but I was experiencing a lot of difficulties in starting one up, so I decided to go solo. I wrote my songs on an acoustic guitar because it was a lot more practical for me to play solo shows with an acoustic, and it was also a bit easier for me to manage the noise complaints in my apartment building when playing on just an acoustic guitar instead of an electric. I was motivated to start an acoustic oi! project because I loved the music of Johnny Cash, and in particular, I loved the way that his songs sounded so authentic and so powerful. I was inspired by this stripped-down style, and I believed that I could contribute something unique and expressive to the skinhead scene by writing oi! songs acoustically.

How many records have you released so far?

So far, I have released one full-length album called “Alberta Rose,” and also a split-album with Discharger called “Clockwork Patriots.” I’ve also got a few more releases coming out soon – an EP featuring Franky Flame, a split with On the Job, and an EP of my new band Birds of Prey which will be out this May.

You are always alone on stage. Does it feel better or why didn´t you start a band?

When I first came up with the idea of writing music and having a more acoustic feel to the songs, I asked a few people to join me and to start a band together. However, where I was living there were not a lot of people who were interested and it was really hard to get something started. I was a bit disappointed, but I believed in what I was doing and I thought that it was better to do it by myself than to not do it at all… so I started out solo. Since I move around a lot (I have moved through 3 cities in the past 2 years, and am moving again this summer), it is hard to keep a strong, continuous band going and playing solo has just been a lot more practical. However, I love playing music with other people and I actually just started a new band last year called the Birds of Prey. We’ve been playing a lot of shows in the Montreal/Toronto/Ottawa area, and it feels so good to play loud, fast, music with a few friends. I really love the energy we have on stage together, and it is great to see a crowd dancing while we are playing. It’s really hard to get this kind of energy when playing acoustic sets, and often times I get really nervous when I play by myself. To be honest, I think I prefer playing in a full-band than playing solo, but I do a lot of solo shows because it is easier to tour as just one person, and I love to play the music even if it is a bit lonely on stage!

A lot of elements in your sound remind me of the dutch Skins Badlands and similar. What are your direct Influences?

I really love Badlands’ music, and the first time I heard it I was captivated by the fact that they were doing something so unique and so powerful. Their lyrics are intelligent and the guitar work is fantastic, not to mention that Victor Nefkins’ voice is strong and moving. I would love to have the talent that he has for writing songs and for singing.I am also influenced by one of the most influential bands around, Cocksparrer. Strangely enough, it was the song “Battersea Bardot” off of the “Two Monkeys” album that really inspired me to pick up an acoustic guitar and start writing songs. My favourite Cocksparrer song of all time is “Out on an Island” – they are able to capture the feeling alone in a crowd, feeling estranged from life, and they do it all to a slow-moving ballad. I would love to be able to evoke the same meaning with my music.Other influences of mine include, as I mentioned before, Johnny Cash, as well as a lot of Canadian punk and oi! bands such as Alternate Action, Blue Collar Boys, the Lancasters, Wednesday Night Heroes, who I listened to a lot when I was younger and who shaped my taste in music. I try to base my song-writing around the punk-rock attitude of being proud to stand out in a crowd, of independence, and of authenticity. These themes are what really interest me and what make me who I am, and so I am strongly inspired by that set of values and ideas.

Do you listen to Ska and Reggae, too?

Absolutely! I love punk rock music and oi!, but there is nothing like dancing the night away to some good rocksteady, soul, or reggae. I love a lot of the classics like Laurel Aitken, Desmond Dekker, and all of that Trojan-sampler kind of stuff, but I’m interested in learning more about it and hearing more about obscure artists too. There is a great skinhead reggae night that happens every few months in my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, which is called Tighten Up Club. They play a lot of 1968-71 reggae and aggressive, danceable 60s soul there, which I love.

You`re are just back from your Tour over Europe in the last year. How was the reaction of the audience at your Concerts?

To be honest, I was completely overwhelmed at how positive the responses were to the gigs I played in Europe last September! Here in Canada, the scene is relatively smaller so we do not have a lot of people coming out to gigs here. When people do come out, they are generally unenthusiastic and have their arms crossed at the back of the venue. It’s very rare that people will come up to the front of the stage and sing along. However, when I played in Germany there were lots of really nice people who came out to the gigs, and who were standing right at the front and cheering me on, and some people were even singing with the lyrics which was so amazing! I had no idea that my music and my songs were so far-reaching, and it was unreal to know that people in Germany were listening to my music and learning the words to the songs. It felt so rewarding as a musician to be playing for people who were so positive and so supportive, and I can’t wait to go back.

What are some of the best memories you have from the last tour and how would you compare the canadian Skinhead scene with the europeans one?

One of my favourite memories was playing at the Punkeria, in Ruhrpott. It was a great atmosphere, and I was really touched by the kindness of the promoters and their friends for showing me around the city and taking the time off of work to hang out and make sure that I had a great time. Everyone I met at the gig was friendly and welcoming, and I felt like I was home… even though I was across the ocean from where I live! It was a great evening, and we drank so much schnapps and sang so many songs together at the end of the night, I think it was one of the best times of my life. That night I realized that even though we are all spread out in the world, being a part of the skinhead scene unites us and brings us together. We look out for each other, we care for each other, and we show each other friendship and hospitality no matter where we’re from or where we’re going. I think that’s my favourite part about being in the skinhead scene – the sense of global community.The Canadian scene is much, much smaller than the German scene. Whereas there are thousands of skinheads in Germany, I think there are only a few hundred here in all of Canada! Also, the scene here is very spread out. Often times, cities are 5-6 hours by car from each other, so it is quite impossible to travel to gigs in other cities, which means that our scene is a little bit less unified than the German scene. We mostly see and spend time with the people from our own cities, rather than travelling to meet new people and go to other gigs. I have played a few shows in Western Canada, and a few shows in Eastern Canada, but I have yet to do a lot of travelling in the middle part. Hopefully I’ll get out there someday, I hear that they’ve got a lot of good oi! bands cropping up in Manitoba and Western Ontario.

Did you have touring more continents or only europe and america? If yes, which countrys and what impressions did you get there?

So far I have only toured through North America and Europe, but I have been invited to tour through Indonesia and Malaysia in 2013 and I plan on going there for a few shows. From what I hear, the scene there is incredible and there are so many people who are enthusiastic about bands coming from overseas to play. I would love to see it and experience it for myself!

When did you get involved in the Skinhead scene and what was the reason for deciding to be a Skingirl?

Well, I first started getting into the punk rock scene when I was younger – around the age of 13. I guess you could say it is a typical story… I never felt like I fit in with my classmates at school and I hated the mainstream music, fashion, and a lot of the values and ideals that were put forth in popular television and music. So, I started digging underground and first found out about bands such as Operation Ivy and then dug a bit deeper and fell in love with Cock Sparrer, Cockney Rejects, and other great bands that every teenager should get exposed to. I played lead guitar in a few punk bands at that time, and did a bit of song-writing as well. I started getting into the skinhead scene a few years later when I realized that the skinhead scene spoke a lot more to my personal values of self-respect, community, and loyalty. I started looking up more oi! groups and going to more oi! gigs, and the more I learned about the subculture, the more I knew that it was where I belonged. I would say that I got into the music and the subculture before I started writing songs on my own, as it was the oi! and punk anthems from previous generations and times that influenced me and motivated me to pick up a guitar in the first place. Being a part of the skinhead scene has given me an opportunity to meet all kinds of different people and to create some of the strongest friendships the world has ever known! I’ve travelled to many cities I would otherwise never have seen if there weren’t festivals or gigs organized there. I’ve been exposed to many distinct viewpoints and philosophies in the skinhead movement, and my participation in the scene is at the heart of who I am as a person. I think that being a part of this community is one of the best things in my life, and I am so proud to call myself a skingirl.

You have released on Randale Records a german Oi! Record Label. How did you get the contact? Did people know the label in canada?

When I first put out my demo in 2008, I was amazed to receive a few messages from different labels in Europe. I was astonished that some foreign labels were interested in what I was doing, and I had no idea that people had heard of my music in Germany because I had only played shows in Canada at that time. I was very excited but I also had a hard time making a decision on who to work with. I had heard of Randale Records before, because I had some albums that they had previously released, but I had also heard a lot about other record labels in North America and in Europe, and I wasn’t sure which one to go with. In the end, I decided to go with Randale because Diana (the owner of Randale) convinced me that she believed in my music, and believed in my potential as a musician. She boosted my confidence, and assured me that she could give me the support I needed to grow as a musician and I felt comfortable working with her. I wanted to go for a European label because, in general, the scene in Europe is a lot larger than in Canada, and that there would be more opportunities for touring and album releases if I focussed my attention on Europe.

Did you have some favorite german Oi! bands?

Germany is the mecca for oi! at the moment, and there are so many great bands playing there right now, and so many bands that are on their way to great successes. I am always amazed when I go to German festivals because there are so many people who are enthusiastic about the music and who show their support for their local bands. Some of my favourite German bands include Volxstrum, Stomper 98, Melanie and the Secret Army, and EK 77.

And your canadian fave bands? What can you recommend to the readers at the moment?

I am proud to say that there are many great past and present Canadian oi! bands. Some of the great bands that have played in the past but are no longer playing include Alternate Action, Subway Thugs, Glory Stompers, Wednesday Night Heroes, King Size Braces, The Cleats, The Emergency and Vacant Lot. Amazing bands that have been around for a long time and that are still continuing to play include The Prowlers, Lager Lads, Buddha Bulldozer and the Kroovy Rookers. Not only does Canada have a long history of good bands, we also have so many bands that are cropping up right now, and that will be inspiring and motivating future generations. I would strongly recommend checking out True Grit, Scab Coma, Shotcallers, Bishop’s Green, and The Birds of Prey.

I like fanzine more than an internet-zine and hope that written fanzines wouldn´t die in the future. You tell me about your fanzine the Subculture Spirit. Does it still exist and what does fanzines mean to you?

I think that fanzines are essential for a strong, healthy subculture to develop and grow. Zines are an alternative and independent media, and give individuals the opportunity to express themselves and to share their ideas with others. Without fanzines, many small bands without record labels would go unnoticed, and a lot of great music would be relatively unheard of if impassioned fanzine editors did not take the time to review it and spread the word. Without fanzines, our scene would be localized, regional, and would consist of a handfull of monopolizing bands instead of leaving room for new bands to grow and flourish. I agree with you that print fanzines are special and have a certain added feeling to them that the internet cannot capture. I have been fascinated with fanzines for a long time, and started collecting them many years ago. I love that many zines are passed on through generations, and they become a sort of artefact that people share, read, cut up, give away, or keep as a memory for the future. I have fanzines from all different decades and countries in my collection, and I cherish the fact that most DIY fanzines are a reflection of the personality and preferences of the editor. I see it as a way that people can immortalize themselves and contribute significantly to their local and global scenes. I decided to start a print fanzine called Subculture Spirit in 2008, because I too wanted to take part in the tradition of written fanzines. I work on the fanzine together with my best friend and co-editor, who is able to focus more on the reggae and soul aspects of the scene, while I am more interested in the oi! and punk elements of it. The fanzine is focussed on the skinhead and mod subculture, and it tries to cover bands and scenes from all over the world. In every issue, we include interviews from bands in both developing and developed countries, but have also tried to maintain some uniquely Canadian content as well. We have so far released 4 issues, and have a 5th issue coming out this May. The 5th issue of Subculture Spirit will be a very special issue for me, because it will be based on the roles and participation of women in the skinhead scene. I am interviewing many male and female musicians, artists, fanzine editors, and participants in the oi! scene about what they think about women’s roles in the skinhead movement, and I am including many features about female-fronted oi! bands. I think it will be a very interesting read, and will hopefully get a discusssion started about the sexism that exists in our scene, and also the ways that we can encourage women to play more active roles in it.

Do you think the very much work you had to put in fanzines is profitable for the Scene? Or in times like this the internet on facebook or something else is faster to bring out the news?

I have struggled a lot with our fanzine because it has been very expensive for me to print, (it costs me about 3 euros to print per copy), and so few people are willing to buy printed fanzines. I think this is in part due to the fact that people seem to think that paper products are easily created and are disposible… we get printed flyers, newspapers, and mainstream magazines all the time and many of us get them for free and throw them in the recycling bin when we’re done. Meanwhile, people are much more attracted to clothing or vinyls that they can touch, wear, play and feel good about. So one of my biggest challenges has been to create a product that people get interested and excited about, and that they are willling to pay for so that I can at least cover a bit of my costs. To be honest, I think I lose about 300 euros with each issue of the fanzine because I always end up selling them for less than I pay for them, and giving away too many for free. Haha, I guess that is my fault for not being a good business person! I think that webzines and blogs must be a bit easier to maintain for that reason, because there are less material costs involved and the editors do not need to worry about mailing the product out or selling it at shows. People can just login online to read the news, and it can be updated immediately. I have thought about trying to take Subculture Spirit to a digital format, but I am really terrible with computers, and I also like the idea of printing an artefact, and creating something with a bit of permanence.

I hope to see you again in the Punkeria in germany. It was always very small concerts but i think they are very familiar and sometimes more intensiv as a great festival. Do you like more concerts in a smelly pub or a big venue? When did the german crowd see you again on stage?

I am really looking forward to coming back and playing at the Punkeria again this May! I am doing a two-week tour of German in May 2012, and will be back again to play the Back to the Boots festival in July, which will be wonderful. For more information on my tour dates, please contact me on facebook or email me at I love going to festivals, and I love going to see shows at smaller pubs, but in general I would say that I enjoy playing smaller, more intimate shows than huge festivals. Festivals are fun because there are lots of people around, and usually there are some big bands headlining. However, I believe that acoustic music is better listened to in intimate surroundings, and it is always much more enjoyable and less stressful for me to play to a crowded room than to a half-empty field of people! In pubs you have the feeling that you are among friends, and I love to take that opportunity to meet new people and to have actual conversations with the people that I meet at the gigs. However, at large festivals it is all too easy to become lost in a crowd, and it is hard to focus on one good conversation with one person when there is so much going on. That being said, I am excited to play all of the festivals and gigs that I have coming up – I am sure that it is all going to be a lot of fun!

Please give a short statement to the following bands!

The Old Firm Casuals?

I know that a few people have turned their noses up at Old Firm Casuals and have criticized Lars Fredrikson for having cropped in as a skinhead in his forties. However, I think the band is pretty good and Lars is a great musician. I have their EP and it sounds like solid, melodic oi! to me. I am looking forward to hearing more from this band. I think that there have been a lot of allusions to skinhead and oi! culture in both of Lars‘ solo albums and also in a lot of the music he put out with Rancid, so I don’t see it as him becoming a skinhead overnight without him having had any exposure to it beforehand. Thus, I think it is fair to say that The Old Firm Casuals are authentic. Even if he did decide to become a skinhead in his forties – power to him! Better late than never, I say!

Stomper 98?

I really like Stomper 98, and I find them to be great people as well as great musicians. I saw them play in New York last May, and they were amazing. Most of the people at the show did not speak a lot of German, but there were so many people singing along to the lyrics and dancing and throwing themselves into the pit. I think that it is a sign of a great band that they are able to transcend linguistic and geographic boundaries, and get people from all over the world to let go and have a great time!

Niblick Henbane?

I actually hadn’t heard of Niblick Henbane before this interview, and I just took some time to search for the band and have just been listening to some of their tracks.They sound pretty good – I like the up-beat, punk rock sound they have and I’ll definitely be checking out more of their stuff in the future. Thanks for introducing me to them!

Jenny thank you very much for spending your Time! Do you have any last words for your fans in germany?

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me and for asking so many great and interesting questions. As I mentioned earlier in the interview, I started this project in 2008 because I wanted to play music but I wasn’t able to start a full band on my own. I started out just hoping to write a few songs and perform them for my friends, and I cannot believe that I have been able to take my project this far, and that I have had the opportunity to be interviewed by your fanzine, and to tour Europe, and to play with some of my greatest idols. I am coming out with a single featuring Franky Flame this May, as well as a split EP with On the Job. I will also be releasing a limited edition flexi-disc postcard which I will be distributing over the course of my upcoming tour in Germany, and I am also working on releasing an EP by my new oi! band called the Birds of Prey, so please do look out for us! All in all, this has been a dream come true and I feel really lucky and grateful to have been helped by so many people and to have made so many friends along the way. My plans for the future are to keep getting on stages, keep releasing music, and to keep writing more songs. I have had so many great adventures so far, but I believe that the best is yet to come. Cheers and thanks for reading!