The annual CMJ Music Festival is in full swing, and while they’re are plenty of buzz bands to see, our Untapped focus is on the overlooked band “S” fronted by Seattle’s Jenn Ghetto who plays the Sub Pop/Hardly Art Showcase at the Knitting Factory this Thursday the 23rd. Jenn got her start with Carissa’s Weird, another somewhat obscure but seminal acoustic act out of the Pacific Northwest. There’s nothing showy in “S”‘s music–it’s simple, slow, driving, and sad. Yet she charges her songs with an earnest electricity and, as any good artist knows, the truth captivates, especially live. We asked Jenn a few questions about her new record Cool Choices (produced of Death Cab for Cutie’s longtime guitarist Chris Walla) and about how her city reflects her music.
How does your city/location influence your music?
Seattle—what can I say?It used to rain a lot here which made it pretty easy to stay inside and play guitar all day, writing songs about rain and being sad probably from not getting enough vitamin D (it rains less now—probably global warming and what not). Really, the most influential thing is how supportive other musicians and bands are. I think the folks in the music community here are super genuine, and care about bands they play with or collaborate with…also that there are cool spaces to play at. It’s really nice to feel supported, and that makes it easier to be vulnerable with writing songs and performing…mostly.
What song(s) of yours best reflect your city and why?
I’m gonna say “Losers.” For some reason this one just reminds me of Seattle…not fitting in and wanting to be cool I guess.
What songs of other artists you like best reflect your city and why?
You know who I really like is Hole, again I can’t really say why this is Seattle…but it is. Also Live Through This is in my top 10. And I’m not sure if Elliot Smith is from Seattle proper but the Northwest has a feel to it generally, and I think he really captured something in his kind of quiet, fuck-you attitude. And just the loneliness he was able to express.
If your band designed a building or urban space, what would it be and what would you put in it?
Well, assuming homelessness has been solved, I would make an indoor dog park open 24 hours. Probably put some ping-ping tables in there, too.
What’s an Untapped City Secret for your city?
There are some super cool spaces to play music at Werewolf Vacation, Black Lodge, and Hollow Earth Radio—I like it!
Any favorite stops in NYC?
I have been to NYC a few times, I had no idea where I was, but I did find a Whole Foods and it was amazing. I was like, so this is how they do Whole Foods in Manhattan, weird and cool. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.