Exclusive Conversation with multifaceted artist Jeannel

We caught up with Avant-garde artist Jeannel about their introduction to music and creative influences. Jeannel has unveiled a stirring new single, ‘Blue’, and its equally moving video on 03 May 2024 via Unfelt Recordings. The video premiered on the notable tastemaker NOTION. Produced by Jeannel herself and oh.no.ty (Tory Lanez, Belly, Moses Yoofee Trio), mixed by oh.no.ty, and mastered by 4x Grammy-nominated engineer Zino Mikorey (Hans Zimmer, Thom Yorke, Metronomy, Jessie Reyez, Parcels, Sohn, The Kooks, Fred Again). The Berlin-based songwriter and producer has garnered 1.5 million streams across platforms, earning praises from likes of Resident Advisor, Vice Mag, CLASH Mag, Earmilk, The Line of Best Fit, Kaltblut Mag and more, as well as landing placements on various Spotify playlists and earning spins on radio stations such as NTS Radio. Jeannel has graced the stages of Red Bull Music Festival, Clouds Hill Festival and Reeperbahn Festival NYC Edition, in addition to performances at art galleries and museums, and artist residencies (such as one in Havana, Cuba) abroad to boot. These are but a few of the host of achievements under her belt, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Tell us about you, how long have you been producing music? What inspired you to start? 

I started producing music in my teenage years when I was very much influenced by the local Techno scene in my home town and 80`s synth pop. I come from a musician family, my father is a classical singer, and my lineage is full of singing-affine women. I just recently learned that it was my paternal grandmothers dream to become a singer, and that she invested the little money they had to provide musical education for her children. It touched me to realize that me and my older sister, who is also a professional singer, are living that dream today (though it is definitely not always a dream) and that my grandmother paved the way for this to be possible in the harshest of circumstances.


The music industry is super competitive these days, was there a moment in your life that you wanted to give up on music?  How did you manage to stay focused and achieve what you want? 

Yes, definitely, more than once. There was a period in my life, not so long ago, that I felt I need to quit for good, because the music industry is so toxic, and operating in it was really bad for my mental health, especially as someone with high sensitivity and rather uncompromising standards. I felt that I cannot manage to keep the balance and protect myself well enough, and whenever releasing music I would get sucked into the toxicity that was really damaging for psyche. I won’t lie, I still struggle with that, because the world and especially the music industry nowadays does not really support blunt honesty and vulnerability in art, even though it pretends to. It doesn’t promote depth or complexity. Humanity is in denial of the mess we’re in and the majority doesn’t want to look deeper than the surface. It’s a capitalistic machinery and social media made that so much worse. But going through that crisis led me to understand, that there is no way I can quit, that creating art is a necessity for me and with that realization came more equanimity. And with that my goals changed- I want to create art for the sake of experiencing myself, understanding myself, for expressing what I feel, which I also came to understand is oftentimes not my mere personal experience, but me processing collective emotions. And with that honesty allow for people to see themselves mirrored back when listening or looking at my art. And if that is a only a small percentage that connects with that, I prefer that over entertaining a vast majority with shallow algorithm friendly nonsense.


How would you describe your creative processes? Who writes the lyrics to the songs? Are the music and lyrics written in conjunction, or separately? 

The process is always different. Lately I mostly start with the music, then come melodies and lyrics. I write all my lyrics myself, I couldn’t do it any other way, as they are so personal. The lyrics oftentimes come in bits and pieces, I realized that working with my subconscious images became a rather consistent channel through which my lyrics arise.  On my last EP was 2 tracks were entirely co-produced by my long term co-producer oh.no.ty, which was an interesting and new process for me. For „BLUE“ and the Debut Album that I am working on, all the pre- productions come from myself. It is a super personal body of work, and the writing process a rather isolated one, which I needed.


Where does the inspiration come from? 

Most of it comes from my deep processing of things and pain. I am still learning and the realizations come in pieces and cycles, but a big aspect of my creativity I believe is my high sensitivity, (a neuronal condition that about 15-20% of humans and animals have) through which I feel and process things on a more intense level than the rest. This led me to feeling like I am different and „wrong“, an outsider, not fitting in, etc etc., which led to lots of pain and wounding my life. My adult years have been a journey of slow recovery and intergration, understanding the gift and superpowers, that my own (and everbody’s) uniqueness carries. I draw from my empathy, my experiences, my quest, my spiritual considerations, my love, my encounters. Putting all that into art helps me becoming myself, slowly, uncomprimisingly and hopefully one day with full acceptance.


What’s your favourite track from the upcoming album and what other bands/artists are you listening to right now?  

That varies from time to time, but right now it is a track for which we recently started working on the final production with oh.no.ty, which came out quite amazing. It has lots of cello in it and which make the soundscapes super unique and special. I’m quite excited about it.


 What’s next for you?

First and foremost finishing my Album, applying for fundings to be able to create the the visuals, which is always a pain but so rewarding, and then hopefully play a bunch of international shows next year. If I finally get my US Visa, definitely starting off by finally playing a SXSW showcase.