Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview with Indie Singer/Songwriter Jennifer Haase

I met Jennifer Haase on Twitter shortly before she releasedher second CD “No More Invitations”in July of 2011. We became friends even before I became a fan of her songs. Atthe time I was a little broke and couldn’t afford to buy it. When I finally heardthe CD, it was instant love! I reviewed it here on “Other Things” back in November. But, I was curious about herlife as an indie musician and asked if I could do an interview with her as well.I was very pleased when she graciously said, yes!

I know a little bitabout your journey and how you moved to New York from Nebraska. To take thesteps that you did requires a strong belief in yourself and your talent. Whendid the dream begin? When did you know that this was what you wanted to do?

There was always music in my house, growing up. My parents are musicians. My mother is a songwriter who was out playingher own local gigs when I was a teen. Iknow my songwriter and entertainer genes came directly from Mom, who definitelyinfluenced my desire to be a singer/songwriter, too.

I started writing songs when I took guitar lessons in my early20s. That's when Ye Ole Muse really cameto life for me. I remember asking myfirst guitar teacher in Lincoln (Nebraska), "How do you know if you'rewriting good songs?" Song structure was a mystery to me, but I wassuddenly writing a lot and it felt so natural. Songwriting made sense to me and excited me in a way that no otherwriting yet had.

I think I will justthrow the question back to you that you asked your first guitar instructor. Howdo you know if you are writing good songs?

I still don't know how to answer that question, I honestly don't. It's all about feel and emotion to me. If the song truly moves me as a writer, nomatter the song structure, it's likely going to move a few other listeners,too. I just go by that gut instinct,though that said I'm not always right.

I get that. It is thesame for me as a writer. Sometimes the writing can be cathartic and I cannotrest until I get it out. Is that true for you too and have you ever written asong that was too personal to share?

Oh, yes. Songwriting is often arelease for me, too. And, yes, I'vewritten songs that were too personal to share. Or the timing wasn't right to share it yet, depending on therelationship or experiences the song is about. I think some songs were more aboutjust writing them than sharing them. Getting them out of my body, ya know?

What prompted themove from Nebraska to New York?

I took a songwriting workshop at The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NYthe summer of 1997, with Rosanne Cash (as leader) and 17 othersongwriters. It lasted five days and wastruly a life-changing experience. I loved the people I met, many of them NewYorkers. I went home and startedapplying for jobs in NYC. I landed amanager position at a new bookstore in the city. I put most of my belongings in storage andheaded east. That was February 1998.

As an Indiesinger/songwriter you are essentially doing this alone. How hard has it beenand what other things are you doing to supplement your income while pursuingyour dream?

It's been, and continues to be, the hardest thing I've ever done butwhen the rewards come they're worth every second of this wacky and oftenfrightening way of living. I'm afreelance writer, as well, depending on article writing and other projects tohelp pay the bills. My goals this yearare to expand my custom songwriting clientele and place some of my songs withTV, film and commercials. Expanding alllevels of my business as a songwriter is extremely important year after year.

Knowing what you knownow, would you do it again?

Yes! As hard as it gets to stay alive and smiling in this business,songwriting is still my deepest love and one of the ways I feel valuable, especiallywhen I'm writing songs for other people. That's still the most moving work forme.

Jennifer can be foundon Twitter as @JenniferHaase and on her websites: http://www.rhymeswithclassy.com/


  1. Love this. It's reassuring and inspiring. Thanks, you two.

    1. Thank you J! High praise from a person who continually inspires and reassures me.