Jennings Couch – not ‘just a guy with a guitar…’
With striking good looks and a mane that would make any Vogue model envious, a distinct sense of style and an easy-going demeanor, Jennings Couch certainly stands out in a crowd. Add to that an innate musical talent encompassing songwriting and vocals and the result is a recipe for certain success. Kaz met up with Jennings in early October for a coffee at Arancini Brothers in Dalston to find out about the man behind the mane.
What’s the first song you remember as a child?
Growing up in America, my parents were really into country music. We’d listen to a lot of country music on long car journeys. One of the first songs I remember listening to as a child went something like “Pearl, Pearl, Pearl, don’t give your love to Earl”. Still cracks me up to this day!
Have you always wanted to be a singer and songwriter?
Actually no! But I’ve always had an innate desire to create music of my own. Even when I was about seven years old learning guitar, I remember asking the teacher to teach me how to make my own song instead of learning already famous songs. After guitar I started learning piano, then drums, then vocals. Then it was time to go to university, and I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I couldn’t decide whether to study guitar, drums or vocals. One day someone said, “How about songwriting?” I never really even heard the word before, but it just clicked. So I went to school for songwriting when I was 18!
Who are you influenced by musically?
I’m influenced by several bands and artists, but a huge influence for me is Chris Martin of Coldplay. The way he creates chords on the guitar and piano is just stunning. This is most evident in their album Parachutes. I’m also influenced by the big sound of Imagine Dragons and the edgy, genre-spanning sound of Twenty One Pilots.
Who or what inspires you?
My writing is mostly inspired by my other interests. I’m really into science, philosophy and astronomy and I like to incorporate some of these complex ideas into simple, relatable songs. For me its one of the many joys of songwriting: taking a very ambiguous idea and shoving it into a commercial pop song that people need to read into a little bit. I like to get people thinking and using their brains.
You spent more time travelling for your China gig than you did in the country – tell us a bit about that.
God what a nightmare that was! Being in China was great and the gig was awesome, but getting there takes like two days, and then you factor in the time difference and you’re screwed. We were on the ground for about 36 hours and spent double that getting to and from Chengdu. Getting back home was especially difficult. Our flight from Chengdu to Beijing was delayed due to fog, so we missed our original Beijing to London flight. After waiting for hours, we finally got to Beijing but the next flight to London wasn’t until the next day, unless we wanted to re-route through Doha. Reluctantly, we chose the Doha route. Luckily, Doha has a very nice airport!
You also played in Texas, USA – do international gigs feel any different to here?
Yes! I played at SXSW 2017 which was an amazing experience. International gigs are always fun because (unless you’re a big star) no one really knows who you are so you have a chance to really blow people away. Italy was the best for this, the people there didn’t know what to expect and they ended up loving my performances! In London, its difficult to stand out because so many people are doing amazing things.
What’s your definition of success?
Success to me is being able to live off what I love doing, which is making music and performing! If I am able to do that and sustain it, I will be the happiest person alive.
Hardest bit about being a musician?
Right now, its getting the right gigs and getting your name out there. The amount of admin work that comes with trying to get a solo artist off the ground is just unbelievable. Sometimes I spend entire days in one chair tending to my social media, searching for more gigs, emailing an endless number of people. It can be really mind-numbing.
And the best bit?
The best bit for me is finishing a brand new song. I love everything about the writing and recording process. After all, I am a songwriter first and performer second. So for me, the best bit is being in the studio and finishing new music. After that, I love teaching the new songs to the band and being able to perform them. That is, if I am able to get some decent gigs.
Any advice for up-and-coming musical artists?
I would say finding your self-confidence is key, especially when performing on stage. People love to watch other people love what they do, if that makes sense? We can tell when someone is enjoying themselves, when someone is confident with their songs, and it lends for a good performance. I would also say that you need to cover all the bases when it comes to your musical career. If you are writing music, don’t only go out and perform your songs. Pitch your songs to radio stations, pitch to sync briefs with TV and film agencies, collaborate with other artists, as well as performing constantly. It’s tough, but there’s more of a chance of getting recognised if you are covering all the bases.
What’s on the horizon for you?
The future is looking very interesting indeed! I’m releasing a new single every 4-6 weeks and playing endless gigs as well. In February, I will be shooting another four music videos for singles that will be released later in 2019. There is a lot of planning ahead to do, to ensure that my fanbase is growing. I am very keen on having the roots of my fanbase come from my local community.
SAT DEC 1: The Fiddler’s Elbow, 1 Malden Rd, NW5 3HS
THURS DEC 13: The Workshop, 243, Old Street, EC1V 9EY
FRI 11 JAN: Cafe 1001, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL