Bleeding4Metal had the opportunity for an interview with EVANESCENCE guitar player and solo artist JEN MAJURA |
JEN MAJURA has issued her solo-album "InZENity" recently. In addition she is currently on tour with EVANESCENCE, to promote their new album "Synthesis". A lot to talk about between two gigs in San Francisco and Portland as Jen calls via Skype. After an 11 hour bus ride she is still in a good mood and happy to have an extensive chat. The interview was held in German, this is a translation, slightly shortened from the original version.
Hi Jen, great to have the opportunity to do an interview with you. You just had an 11-hour bus trip?
Jen Majura: Yes, we drove the whole night. We are almost at the end of our tour. I woke up at eight this morning and enjoyed Washington State; very nice, very green and many lakes. A bit like "Lord of the Rings". Touring with ENVANESCENCE is great, like being on a holiday. I still remember the times when I was playing in a Pagan Metal Band and sleeping in 2-star-hostels. Here we have a nice hotel, where you can even order a gold fish for your room!
You are on tour with an orchestra, right?
Jen Majura: Yes and no. We play with an orchestra, but a different one in every city. It's always the local symphony, which means that we play with 40 different musicians each night. It is super exciting! The only one traveling with us is Dave Eggar, our cello-player, who has a bit of control over the string session and Suzie Seiter, our conductor. More live than this is not possible! There were incredible orchestra like last night, but also other cities where the orchestra are less good.
That means that there are no rehearsals together with them?
Jen Majura: Our daily schedule is always as follows: we arrive and then the orchestra has their rehearsal until 3. These are the unit players, who have very strict playing times. When there is a scheduled break at 4pm, they drop their instruments and take their break, no matter if they are in the middle of a song or not. Unbelievalble to me, to deal with music in such a way - music is more a passion, not a 9 to 5 thing. Anyway they rehearse for one hour with our conductor; then at 5 we show up and have exactly 30 minutes for a joint rehearsal. After that we have the sound check and then we directly go to the Meet&Greet. Then a quick dinner and up onto the stage. The orchestra always plays a little opening act with some classics. The weird thing to me is that this tour is not about playing guitar at all. Usually I like headbanging, sweating, playing the guitar. That's what keeps me alive. So I had to adapt to that :-). Now I am sitting on a bar stool and play some different sounds, which is not my original thing. I am a metal head and therefore I had to get used to that music.
Playing with EVANESCENCE gave you a popularity boost, I assume.
Jen Majura: Yeah, my social media sites went through the roof! Actually I underestimated, how popular EVANESCENCE are. And now the whole world is watching, what you are doing and posting. I was really shocked - 2 years back my Facebook site was at 5000 likes and now it is 32000. EVANESCENCE fans are different also, I would say they are friendly-fanatic. They are so passionate about the band and the musicians, that is unbelievable. They fly around the whole world to see the band! That is really nice, especially when you even know the hardcore-fans by the name! They also bring nice presents, for instance these unicorn-shoes I am currently wearing and which I got yesterday.
How do you like the music of EVANESCENCE?
Jen Majura: You have to consider, I was coming from EQUILIBRIUM bäm-bäm-bäm-bäm. And then you touch ground with EVANESCENCE. At the very first moment everything was incredible slow for me; that was my first feeling. I cannot say that I've been a hyper-fan before and I even did not know every song. But by time you are growing into these songs and the love to a band always develops when you deal with it a lot. There are songs that I love and some I do not so much, but I could not imagine a life without the music of EVANESCENCE any more. Also you connect certain memories on tour with the guys with different songs. I do not just play a song, I play memories. As said, this tour is different. We are not playing as rock band together with an orchestra; no, we are integrated into that orchestra, without amps and distortion and play dub step sounds; just if David Guetta would meet Beethoven, wearing a steampunk outfit in the opera. I only play a little guitar, but I learned to play Theremin, an old Russian instrument. It is difficult, because you play without touching it. You can create really cool spaceship-sounds!
When did you find the time to make a solo album?
Jen Majura: [laughing out loud] Never! I'd planned it originally for 2017. 2016 we had 2 small tours in the USA and I did not expect that 2017 would be that crazy with EVANESCENCE. I had the songs composed already and planned to record them in 2017, but then my calender went fuller and fuller. I got exactly two weeks from management to make the record. Directly from the recording sessions of "Synthesis" I went to Europe, immediately to a foto shooting for the cover artwork and from there directly into the studio and recorded the album within ten days. I directly went back to LA for a video production for EVANESCENCE. After that back to Europe for the mixing. Definitely it has been the most stressful time I ever had, but very nice! I tend to work very well under pressure. Usually I am very well prepared before I enter the studio, but this time I haven't even made notes. I was a bit scared that I would not be good enough! But this un-preparedness triggers you as an artist and I was more creative than usually. And the guest-artists like Jeff Water, they are all not there for name-dropping, it is for real friendship. It is about human values and not commercial values.
I really like the album!
Jen Majura: I am glad to hear that! What is your favourite?
'Chuck Norris' I like most. 'All The Other Ones' is also great as well as the titlesong, which is a bit awkward.
[b4m-anwtort]Nooo, I do not understand, why everyboday says the titelsong is awkward...
Your vocals remind me of Alanis Morissette, who also does that kind of strange stuff.
Jen Majura: Cool. My kind of singing got often compared with Alanis Morissette. She is great. I'd love to present my album live! All the guys who have been in the studio with me, would immediately do that. My only problem is the time, because EVANESCENCE keep me busy at least for another year. And the music I created is too complex for being performed after only a 2 hour rehearsal. I am a big fan of bands, who write music that sounds simple; but then you try to play it and realize that you break your fingers. Good examples are TOTO or AEROSMITH; their music sounds easier than it is. Maybe I can perform "InZENity" live in 2019.
[B4m-frage]Do you have a Masterplan for your career or are just taking it as it comes?
Jen Majura: That's a good question. I am kinda "Carpe Diem" girl. Sure, you keep looking into the future and timing things, coordinate items, but in principle I am someone who is very grateful for what I could achieve. I have been eating shit for years and I consider this phase right now as a phase, where I can lean back and enjoy things. Nobody can tell, how long this moment can last, but it looks as if it will continue for a little while. As backup I also got my little music school in the Sauerland in Germany, which is my home-pillow. Die music school is running, I got excellent teachers there (one of them is AXXIS-guitar player Stefan Weber), which I am very proud of. I thought of moving to Nashville, but my parents live in Germany, my music school is in Germany, so I will keep my home base there, moreover as I am living in a real castle there!
[The concierge brings a gold fish to Jen's room]
Jen Majura: I got a gold fish! Great!
Your surname, "Majura", does not sound German. Have you got Asian ancestors?
Jen Majura: "Majura" is Thai. My father is a Thai, my mum is German and "majura" is the Thai word for "peacock". Describing me quite well, totally blown up, arrogant, showing off... :-). [laughs]. And Jen of course is short for Jennifer. But only my mum calls me that way "Jennifer, clean your room!".
Thanks for the time you took for the interview; I appreciate it very much! And have fun on your tour!
Jen Majura: And I got to take care of my goldfish! Has been a very nice talk!