Blesok no. 27, July-August, 2002
Interview with Jennifer Batten
1. Tell me more about your musical beginnings: when did you start to play, was guitar your first instrument and who turned you on to music in general?
– I started playing guitar when I was 8 years old. I took lessons right away and learned to read. I also played clarinet in elementary school. I was into the Beatles and other pop bands of the time. That's what inspired me to play along with the fact that my older sister had a guitar.
2. Was there any musical tradition in your family, so that you could proceed with it in a natural way?
– Both my parents are music lovers though they never played professionally. My mother played piano and my dad had several great arch top guitars and a jazz record collection that included about 3000 records.
3. Who were your earliest influences and did they define your musical path?
– In the beginning it was The Beatles but in my teen years I got into the blues heavily. I played along with BB King records, then got into the Allman Bros. and then eventually I discovered Jeff Beck and that's been the epitomy of music for me ever since.
4. Are you a self-taught musician or somebody taught you the basics of your instrument or maybe you have talen some music course at the time?
– I took lessons for years from local musicians wherever the family moved to. I eventually went to the Guitar Institute of Technology but have self taught since then.
5. Which time period do you consider personally as the most satisfying for you as musician or you think it's still to come?
– I think it's still to come. There are always rough sides to every gig so I tend to look toward the future as the most exciting possibilities.
6. Who were, if any, your guitar heroes when you started out and why?
– BB King, Duane Allman. I loved the tone and the feel. Then with Jeff Beck I found he could squeeze the most amazing sounds out of a guitar I've ever heard and his feel is so superior to anything out there, plus the originality and creativity are inspiring.
7. Who are your favorite musicians at the moment, not necessarily guitar players?
– I go through radical phases with listening. Right now I'm doing guitar clinics for Washburn guitars for their mv300 acoustic model so I'm listening to Michael Hedges and Adrian Legg a lot. i also love some of the euro techno music like the Prodigy and Adam Freeland's Tectonics.
8. Could you name your 5 “Desert island” albums?
– Jeff Beck's Blow By Blow, and Wired, Peter Gabriel's So, Deep Forest (1st CD), Weather Report Mr. Gone
9. You have played or shared the stage with many excellent musicians (singers, instrumentalists…) Are there any special moments which do you recall with affection?
– When Jeff Beck got frustrated after breaking a string in Rio during “Where Were You” and then his back up guitar had problems, so he smashed it to bits and left the stage. Also doing the superbowl 26 with Michael Jackson was a charge.
10. Do you write your material ony or also working other people stuff?
– I write my own though on the last record “Momentum”, I'd take my demos to the band and we developed the songs together.
11. Do you think that musicians nowadays have complete freedom to create music or music industry in a way dictates how it should be done and where should it go?
– Everyone has complete freedom to do what they want but there's
always a question of how many people want to buy it. To get in the major leagues like a Mаdonna there are very specific rules to play by to get radio to play the songs.
12. Do you feel personally satisfied with what you have achieved so far?
– Yes. I've had 2 of the greatest gigs in the world but as far as my own records i'm still developing and i find it hard to judge what i've done in the past.
13. Guitar players usually have collections of guitars, how about you? What models do you have and use the most.
– I don't like to collect guitars because I don't like to change strings. I have my favorite Washburn the JB100 with a synth pickup that I use for most everything and I like the MV300 for acoustic.
14. What is your basic studio and stage equipment at the moment?
– I've been using a 5150 Peavey head for the most part. I generally have a different stage set up every time I go out but it always includes a Midi buddy midi switcher, a Digitech whammy pedal, and a Volume pedal. With Jeff Beck I also had a complete guitar synth rig with Roland 1080's for sounds and Roland GI10 for midi conversion.
15. Your solo discography is not so big, while recordings for other people seems quite “healthy”, how would you explain that?
– It takes me a long time to record to my satisfaction and also I generally leave town to go on the road to make a living so my studio time is always broken up with having to leave.
16. What material recorded do you feel is your best (your solo stuff or guesting on other people recordings)?
– My solo stuff – a solo like “Scottsman In The Carribean” or “Zulu Wedding” off the “Momentum” record are my highlights.
17. What is the current line-up of your band?
– None. I'm doing my next CD all on my own so it's taking a lot longer. I don't currently have any touring plans so I don't know who will be able to travel with me.
18. Lady guitarists are not some many on the scene, are you in touch with them and who would you recommend?
– Linda Taylor is great. She plays on the TV show called “Who's Line Is It Anyway.” I also saw a girl play at the German Frankfurt Music Messe last month who sounded great. I meet women players from time to time but it's a difficult business to be in so it's hard for anyone to rise to the top. I heard the new guitarist for Limp Buscuit is female and I heard she's great so that may change things radically.
19. Any European tour plans soon?
– I'll be doing clinics for Digitech at the end of May in Germany, France, Spain and England and then doing more for Washburn in June in the USA.
20. Any chance to see you in Macedonia in the future?
– I usually don't know my touring schedule very far in advance but dates will always be posted on my website as soon as i get them.