Upon first glance, Brisbane five piece The Jensens may strike you as just any ordinary alternative rock band. That is, until you hear “Coma”, the adventurous, must-hear single off their soon to be released third EP. In this Sungenre Soapbox piece, singer and guitarist Nathan Kendall writes about his desire to perfect his craft.
I used to question my authenticity when writing a song of significant emotional weight. I’d spend more time ruminating on the fact than I would actually writing. Eventually, it became crucial in my mind, to let the experience/emotion/idea I was singing about infiltrate my main frame and manifest into a greater part of my being.
That mindset resulted in a few conflicted years. The physical side of that being youthful hedonism, the kind you would expect from any young adult in a band and fresh out of the family home. The internal side was an attempt to transform those experiences into some kind of dense emotional fuel that would sustain me until and during songwriting time.
For the most part, those years were a mix of pure magic and psychological lows. New faces and new ideas danced around an unmoving centre of stilted process. Never able to embody pure and profound expression, only obsess over that which is unattainable. Frustration grew from uncertainty and teetered on destruction.
We thought hard about the kind of artists we wanted to be and the kind of music we wanted to make.
Over the last year or two however, myself and the other members of my band slowed the pace. We thought hard about the kind of artists we wanted to be and the kind of music we wanted to make. I realised, in the past, I had been doing everything I could to reach for mystery and force my interpretation of emotions to be the catalyst of good or bad songwriting. I am therefore extremely grateful to have had the time and space within my life to step back, view my methods a little more objectively and sculpt them more to my liking.
I now believe the most I can do in the pursuit of fulfilment is to master my craft. I think the better I become at writing a song, the better I can understand what’s happening around me. The questions that have haunted me in the past, (Do I need to have vast experience in a given emotion, in order to convey it convincingly in a song, or do I just need to be a good songwriter? Are the parameters of emotion completely subjective and limitless? Are the preconceptions of what certain emotions sound like inescapable?), now seem irrelevant. I don’t intend to detract from anyone who is in a genuinely bad emotional situation, or anyone that uses music as their catharsis. I’m just using my very fortunate position to question the way I do things and hopefully better my approach.
I now believe the most I can do in the pursuit of fulfilment is to master my craft.
In doing so, I’ve refined my process down to two key ingredients. Mental clarity and practice. I get the former from a combination of exercise, fruit and vegetables, sleep and quality time with the people I love. Then, when my vessel’s humming and my mind is set, I write as much music as humanly possible, every single day, how ever big or small. Just write and write and write and write. I aim for something spontaneous and exciting and remind myself, if I need it, that I write music because I love writing music and for no other reason.
As Nick Cave once said, “An artist’s duty is rather to stay open-minded and in a state where they can receive information and inspiration.” And I agree completely, especially when such words are uttered from the mouth of someone who has undisputedly mastered their process. Becoming a human antenna seems a far more meaningful pursuit than becoming enigmatic.