Having worked with the likes of Zrazy, Dorotha Konchevska, Talking Waves and Mystic Tears, Irish artist Jenny Hallahan is making waves in the jazz world. Hailing from Kildare, this bassist has performed for approximately a decade gaining a reputation for an engaging and impassioned style. We speak with Jenny Hallahan about her debut EP This Life, performing in the jazz scene, musical achievements and much more.
OSR: What can you tell us about your debut EP This Life?
Hallahan: This Life has been recorded as a quartet – Owen O’Neill (baritone sax), Luke Dunford (piano), Dylan Lynch (drums), and myself on bass. The idea for this EP came to me while on a three month sabbatical to Indonesia in late 2019. I had a pretty scary experience while surfing one day and genuinely thought I might drown. I made a promise to myself that day that I would never be afraid to push myself musically again. Getting into the ocean or the sea is a lot more dangerous than writing or performing music, so in 2020 I began writing. I chose the name This Life because each track on this EP has a different emotion, story, and inspiration, just as our journey through life does.
OSR: Did you face any challenges when recording the EP?
Hallahan: Yes, absolutely! Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 and the restrictions in place, I was unable to arrange a rehearsal with the band or record in a studio, so we as a band have never played in a room together. Although this was a challenge, the band along with the mixing and mastering engineers (Scott Halliday and Stephen Ceresia) nailed it and brought more to these tunes than I ever could have ever imagined. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
OSR: What are the pros and cons of remote collaborations?
Hallahan: One of the pros of remote collaborations for me is not having to arrange dates and times with musicians, as you can imagine it’s hard to get people into the same room at the same time. The major con is not being able to play together. When a band comes together to rehearse, it can be the most magical experience with ideas flying and just a beautiful sense of unity that cannot be achieved remotely. I also would have liked to give each person a hug and celebrate the completion of our recording over a couple of drinks.
OSR: If you could change anything about This Life, what would it be and why?
Hallahan: The only thing I would have done differently if given the opportunity, would be to record This Life in studio or live. I feel that real-life musical interactions are really important because you have the ability to react in real-time.
OSR: What do you hope people take from This Life?
Hallahan: I hope that people get a positive energy from This Life and, although there are tough moments in life, be brave.
OSR: Why did you opt to go into the jazz scene?
Hallahan: I began playing bass at around 16 and I remember seeing an interview with Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and he explained that he played the trumpet and loved Jazz. This blew me away. I started researching and listening to as much jazz as I could get my hands on. I found jazz so mysterious and still do to this day, but I love how open it is and how it allows musicians to express feelings through sound. When musicians improvise, they dig so deep that sometimes they play music they didn’t even know they could play, and this is pure magic for me.
OSR: What advice do you have for upcoming jazz musicians or emerging musicians in general?
Hallahan: I would say: Enjoy the journey as much as you can. Challenge yourself, there is more to you than you even know. ?
OSR: What is your greatest musical achievement to date?
Hallahan: Hands down, releasing This Life is so far my greatest musical achievement to date.
OSR: What do you believe is the best way to discover music nowadays?
Hallahan: This might sound old school, but I believe the best way to discover music is through friends and family. For me, there is nothing better than chilling with friends or family and having laughs, chats, discussions and arguments about music. To this day, some of my all-time favourite bands/albums have been recommended by someone I know.
OSR: Jazz music seems to be dominated by male musicians, do you think there is gender inequality in the scene? If so, what can be done to reduce the divide?
Hallahan: This is a difficult question to answer. I feel there are not enough female jazz musicians on the scene at the moment in Ireland, and I believe this is something that needs to be addressed in schools and society. Jazz music has a bad reputation and I believe it is a deterrent for many young people. I do think there is gender inequality across many genres of music in Ireland, which really needs to be amended. I think there should be more female acts played on radio, festivals, and TV, and they should be given the same opportunity as their male counterparts.
OSR: What can we expect from Jenny Hallahan in the future?
Hallahan: I plan to arrange a few gigs across Ireland toward the end of 2021 or early 2022 Covid dependant, obviously) to showcase this EP. I have already jumped back into writing and aim to release an album in 2023.