In the average day of a Rutgers student, one will pass hundreds of peers a day without giving them a second thought. We often forget that every person on that LX or at that table at Brower have stories, just as we do. When we take the time to get to know the people around us, we can come to realize the creativity, passion and delightfully odd personalities that surround us everyday. The refreshing differences between each person make the culture of Rutgers one of the most lively and intriguing ones around, so when I discovered the hidden gem that is Jenna Murphy right beside me in class, I knew I would be a fool to pass up the chance to chat.
As a successful musician, boldly independent woman and utterly smart, sophisticated lady, Jenna Murphy and her music exemplify the sensational inspiration that oozes out of New Brunswick on a daily basis. Get to know her.
Trim: Tell us a little bit about yourself Jenna.
Jenna Murphy: I am an indie-folk musician from Hazlet; my sound has been likened to that of Ingrid Michaelson, Rosie Thomas, and Jaymay’s. Anything I can get my hands on ordinarily weasels its way into my live sets; from my toy piano and toy glockenspiel to my uke and guitar– I love experimenting with different sounds and elements of sound. I appreciate the fact that certain emotions can be conjured through varying tools– for instance, my toy piano contributes a sort of whimsy that summons smiles from every face. I’m looking to assimilate lots of new instruments come summer with the band (read: melodica. I know, I’m excited, too!) It is a stirring time to begin listening as my music is in the midst of a transition and I am finding my sound, as well as experimenting and having a lovely time. Apart from my music, I am currently studying Public Relations here at Rutgers and anticipate setting about as a senior in the Fall.
Trim: How did you get started with music?
Jenna: I began playing music when I was a very young girl, starting with my elementary school band. Perhaps it isn’t the most charming of beginnings, but it was the spark necessary to kick-start my passion. My mother and older sister both played piano, and the contraption just totally captured my attention. In around first grade, I began piano lessons; in third, I took up guitar. From there, I’d swing at anything that came my way, hence the vast collection of playful instruments. It was a way for me to express what I was feeling– whether it be joy, anger, triumph, fear– when words failed.
Trim: What are some of your proudest accomplishments and fondest memories as a musician?
Jenna: I must say, my favorite and proudest moment as a musician are corresponding; completing my first full-length album, Strangers, was quite the accomplishment for me– sort of a milestone, I suppose. The album offers insight, it allows people to see how my view on the world has altered. Sometimes we are quick to dismiss the beauty in life’s simple offerings, and it is a shame; Strangers was sort of my field book, things I would note to be true, and though maybe objective truths, it is a documentation of actuality as I saw it at specific points in time.
Trim: Quick, if you had to collaborate with any one artist who would it be?
Jenna: My oh my, only one?! Hm… I would just love to work with Andy Hull. Also on my list?: (despite your request for one only, hehe!) Samuel Beam, Ezra Koenig, and William Fitzsimmons. The Avett Brothers, as well as The Head and the Heart, would make for such wondrous collaborations, too. The list goes on… there are such magnificent artists blossoming as we speak.
Trim: Any advice for aspiring artists/musicians/fellow creative peers?
Jenna: Keep making things. You literally have to exhaust your brain and fingers and eyes and ears. Continually creating ensures that you will eventually do two things: 1) create something incredible, and 2) better yourself, constantly. So what if you look back in a few years and it is totally awful– you’ll be entirely thankful because it was the foundation for your current work. Constantly constructing enables one to grow. Don’t be afraid to be weird, either; life is really too too short to be normal! The smiles and words of encouragement and admiration will surely outweigh the odd glances– you have my word.
Trim: Now, regarding style, how would you describe your own?
Jenna:I would say my style is minimalist geek-chic haha! I am a fan of peter-pan collars, stacked wooden heels ankle booties, and practically anything high-waisted. Often, I stray away from lots of accessories and jewelry as I feel they distract from some really great statement pieces I gravitate toward. I wear what I like and like what I wear. A girl’s gotta dress for herself and no one else!
Trim: What would you consider a fashion or beauty staple in your life?
Jenna: Dry shampoo is just a life-saver; I even stash a mini bottle of Psssssst! in my glove compartment! Never know when you’ll need some volume, some touching up. Another beauty item I always toss in my bag before I leave the house for class, a night out, or a day at work is Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with Aloe, Herb, and Rosewater. It’s a lovely way to look fresh in just a spritz or two. Great for setting makeup, too!
As for a fashion staple, I think it is super important for every gal to invest in a great pair of black leggings; dress them up, down, and all around– it is a basic staple that is so very versatile and practical. I nearly *live* in leggings, they are just so comfy but they also look terrific with a pair of ankle booties and an oversized sweater.
Trim: What are some of your favorite stores and brands currently?
Jenna: I love love love browsing ASOS, I could do it for hours. The cutest dresses and darling tops are always waiting for me there! Otherwise, I’m usually sifting and thrifting in Asbury and the likes. I think it’s really important for people to be creative with what they wear– mix and match, grab your favorite dress, layer it with a top you found thrifting, and pair it with some super cute H&M tights. I think that constitutes *style*, whereas others may think a stylish guy or gal is clad head-to-toe in designer duds… that just isn’t so, nor is it doable, sensible, or realistic (especially for someone on a college student budget!) Target and Foolish Ginger are among my favorite go-to shops for cute new threads. As for brands, I’m a fan of Cheap Monday and Coincidence & Chance.
Trim: Aside from music, what else do you love to do?
Jenna: I am an avid DIY-er! I knit, embroider, mold and shape whatever I can get ahold of. Perhaps it’s the notion of creating something out of nothing, with my very own hands. It’s exhilarating, having a tangible creation to be proud of. I am also a runner and just love to ride my bike– what a high you get when you bond with a beautiful day.
Trim: Who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
Jenna: Personally, I draw inspiration from the people I love, the people I encounter, stories that I see unravel between two strangers on the street. So many people neglect to acknowledge the little moments each day that inspiration stems from.
Musically, I’m quite fond of Ingrid Michaelson and anything the Dupree sisters (Eisley, Sucre, Merriment) create. The whimsical elements of their creations remind me not to take my music so seriously– after all, if you can’t have fun with and enjoy it, what’s the point, eh?
Trim: Do you have any big plans for the future?
Jenna: I anticipate filming many more sessions for my Plain & Simple live video session series this Summer; the videos showcase my original compositions in one take, a different location each time, and oodles of fun! I have been writing and writing and writing and I want to share it. Another EP is definitely to be expected, as well as some super exciting collaborations and live shows galore. I am all about goals and I am quite motivated. Fans can reach me and find out more via my official page; I also post updates to my blog and am on Twitter. For videos, be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel
Instead of turning to TV and movies to soak up some thought, open your eyes and look around you: the dazzlingly inspired people of Rutgers have more than enough energy to spark up inspiration in yourself. Turn your attention to your peers and you may be pleasantly surprised by what they have to offer. Jenna’s zeal is the epitome of the creative influence we need today. Look no further world, Jenna Murphy is taking over.