Is there room for originality in a music industry that spits out one hit wonders more than ever? Alternative artist, Jennifer Hope, says despite some obstacles, there is a lot of opportunity. Case in point. Hope has released tracks on her own label, Mystic Dreams Music as well as on Cleopatra Records. Her most recent EP, SINspirations arrived in January. Her earlier recordings Velvet Fire, and EP, X-Tremities, were sponsored by Eddie Van Halen and produced by Warren Huart. (The Frey, Aerosmith, Ace Frehley, James Blunt).
Access to recording music is easier and cheaper than it has ever been before, Hope says. “If you’re different than what an A&R person is looking for, what the majority of people are listening to or are not the one in a million that is chosen to get signed and promoted, you can still create and release your art. There is the possibility of getting heard and building a sustainable fan base by yourself or with the help of others. And in experiencing the whole process first hand, artists develop on their own terms.” It’s about artistic freedom, she says.
Hope says Eddie Van Halen has been significant in her artistic growth, not only as a sponsor for her two CDs, but by offering her a platform to bounce ideas off of and by offering track and mix feedback.
“As an artist who writes and plays in ways that are different, I am able to understand Jennifer’s unique approach to creating music. Artists who hear music in a new way stand out and help keep music evolving and relevant,” Eddie Van Halen told Un-Block the Music.
Hope, who studied piano, clarinet and drums, says her influences have been
Sinead O’Connor, Heart, Pink Floyd, Type O Negative, NIN, Massive Attack, Delerium, Garbage, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure and Alice in Chains. She originally focused on writing songs for others to sing. “But then realized that the writing was much more the ‘voice’ of a particular artist. I realized that singing my own songs would be the complete artistic vision for me. I then went to the Vocal Institute in Hollywood. It was right after my time there that I began recording my songs.”
Hope describes the songs on her new EP. Deadly Sin was written based on the FOX primetime television series, Lucifer. The track features Jeff Babko (Jimmy Kimmel Live Band Pianist/Keyboardist, Arranger and Composer) and was produced by Hope and Johnathan Bruns with executive producer Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray, James Blunt).
The song Hurt began as a one-take performance in Eddie Van Halen’s 5150 studio. Building on the original live track, Hope says she wanted to retain the freedom, energy and raw emotion of the performance as she produced and completed the song.
Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark was co-produced by Hope and Pete Strobl and includes guest vocals by Christopher Webb, who also sang on her single, Bring Me To Life. Linkin Park’s My December is the fourth song on the EP. This follows its original release as a Download To Donate charity fundraiser formed to increase awareness and get contributions for Music for Relief’s One More Light Fund in memory of Chester Bennington. Bennington committed suicide in July 2017. (See more about the fund at the end of this story.)
Hope’s version of My December was produced by Hope and features Dolce Wang on cello and Tommy Reeves on piano. Reeves is another mentor of Hope’s. He taught piano and other classes at the Musicians Institute when she attended. “He was accepting and supportive of the different kind of music that I performed while there. He ended up being the first person with whom I recorded.”
Reeves and Hope have been making music together for years. “I’ve been making music with Jennifer for years now. From the very first session, the very first song, the very first note, she instinctively knew what her music sounded like. I might offer suggestions to make it more commercial, but she wasn’t really interested in that. Her songs were already recorded in her mind. My job was to put together the musical pieces that matched her vision. Working with someone like Jennifer, who had such a clear, strong vision for her music, pushed me to be more creative. That really helped me grow as a producer. Jennifer is the most confident, dedicated and determined artist with whom I’ve ever made music with,” Reeves says.
That confidence and keeping it all genuine is how to become successful in this business; and you have to be patient, Hope says. “Trust yourself and keep your artistic vision in focus. Keep experiencing, improving and evolving YOUR art for what it is, not what someone else wants it to be. It is very difficult to get honest and useful feedback in any case free of ulterior motives and competitiveness. It’s even more difficult if you’re not looking to grow and progress within the familiar box of a more defined measurable standard. Someone not only has to understand and connect with what you’re doing but also know how to help move it forward for what it is.”
To hear and to download music, go to http://www.jenniferhope.com/
Sidebar: The One More Light Fund
Music for Relief was founded by Linkin Park in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Throughout its first twelve years, Music for Relief responded to more than 30 natural disasters across four continents providing immediate relief and funding long-term recovery with a focus on sustainability. The One More Light Fund honors Chester and contributions will support environmental programs but will also shine a light on mental health and changing the way society thinks and talks about it.
For more information on the charity, and to donate, go to: http://musicforrelief.org/one-more-light-fund/