Kasper Bisgaard: Hey. Great finally meeting you. How are you?
Jen Reynolds: You too. I’m good, can’t complain. How are you?
KB: Good thanks. We’re in NY, won’t get better than that.
JR: For sure.
KB: So what’s your real name?
JR: Jen Reynolds, but they call me JR.
KB: And how old are you?
JR: I’m 22 years old.
KB: Where were you born?
JR: I was born in New Jersey.
KB: So did you grow up in New Jersey?
JR: Yeah, I grew up in a hay farm in New Jersey, but I’ve been coming up to New York for a long time, like since I was 15. I would be cutting school, leaving the hay farm, and be going to the city to just kind of hang out in the streets of New York City.
KB: How was it growing up down there, how did you feel about it?
JR: Growing up on a farm was awesome – having horses and being outside all the time. But I really hated school and I remember I kept to myself a lot back there, and for as long as I can remember, my attitude was like “Fuck this, I’m moving to the city”. [laughs]
KB: You weren’t really the school type?
JR: No, actually I’m a big nerd, I went to college and I love to research, study, and learn new things, but I had trouble relating to a lot of my classmates back home.
KB: Could you see yourself going back to school again?
JR: I might go back to school and just kind of nerd out some more. But at the moment I feel there are more opportunities for me to pursue outside of school. I mean being young and living in New York City makes me want to do the music. It’s all about the moment and I know the climate is right. There is something really exciting happening.
KB: What is that really exciting thing going on here right now? Can you explain that?
JR: Great bands and a collaborative air. It’s wild that there are bands making music today in my town that I like listening to. The scene is community based and very positive. All the bands are rooting for each other and getting together to make some fun, weird music.
KB: Who are your favorite bands at the moment?
JR: In New York particularly Pablo Picasso, No Bra, and Hidden Fees. And then there is this guy in LA called Ariel Pink, I talk about this with my musician friends all the time and they complain that there is nothing exciting going on in music, but I really think Ariel Pink is incredible. And he puts out a new song every day and is totally out of his mind and the funny thing is, I hate LA, I hate everything that comes out of that place.
KB: Why do you hate Los Angeles?
JR: I mean, there’s a lot of love out there and I’m not sure how I feel about love. [laughs]
I like my rock, art, and people to have a little hate in them. A bulk of the kids I went to art school with were Los Angeles transplants, and I’m kind of glad they all moved back home. [laughs] But Ariel Pink really blows my mind. He is really talented. He’s doing something significant and is totally going to go down in history.
KB: So tell me about your band Jail Bait. How did that start out?
JR: Well, I have known Matt and Brain (A.R.E. Weapons, TV Baby) for a while. I used to go to all the A.R.E. Weapons shows and kind of go berserk on the dance floor. And then I became friends with them but I wanted to do my own little kind of rock project, so I asked Matt if I could borrow his guitar. He suggested we should just start a band called “Theme Slum”. I thought that name was dumb, and really wanted to do a project of my own so I told him “No, why don’t we just start a band called Jail Bait” and he said, “Ok, let’s do it!” They were down for it, which was kind of unbelievable, because these guys were, you know, only my favorite band in New York City!
KB: Have you always been interested in music?
JR: Oh yeah, since I was a teenager I was just hooked on punk rock then later no wave. I get on these voracious, obsessive kicks, where I just dvelve in and research. I have to know it all. Concerts, radio, reading, searching for video footage. When I moved here I kind of fell into the whole kind of art school routine, another new kick of mine, I thought I’d maybe wanted to be an artist or something. But then I came back to my senses and thought, “Fuck this, I want to be in a band, that’s what I always wanted to do.” I’m not cut out to be rubbing elbows, drinking champagne and behaving. There is something so immediate and so fucked up about rock music, which I guess I kind of like.
KB: To me it feels like Jail Bait is very much about of course the music and rock’n’roll, but also very much about New York City and the vibe and energy and maybe most of all about your love to the city, is that true?
JR: Well me, Matt and Brain initially bonded because of our love for 80′es New York no wave music, which was such a little blip in time, but a huge moment nonetheless in punk rock music and culture. I see all these huge no wave stars on the streets and at the diners. They got no money and they got no respect, yet they are total legends. It’s something that the band loves so much, and admittedly, we all kind of fetishes that kind of New York City, and of course, want to perpetuate that very New York City. Alex the guitarist in our band grew up in SoHo and we can be walking down the street and all these cool people I could only dream of talking to, like Jim Jarmusch, will slap her five. [laughs] They’ve all seen her grow up. Aside from being a killer guitar player, Alex is a real New Yorker at heart, and yeah we think it is important to do this New York thing, I mean Jail Bait can be whatever it want, it can maybe put me, Alex, Matt and Brain on the map but if it puts New York on the map then that’s what’s really important, it’s not about us, it’s about New York City and New York City culture. We got to put the ball back in our court, and that’s across the board, I mean, art, film, and sports. Like, we love The Mets! Just New York City, the best city in the world.
KB: You don’t think New York is enough on the map already?
JR: We have to keep working so it stays that way!
KB: Is Alex an old friend of yours?
JR: I have known her for a while, pretty much since I moved to the city. She was doing this all girl punk band with a bunch of other musicians that grew up in SoHo called Modrocket. I would catch their shows and I became friends with the band. I would bring Alex around to bars and stuff when she didn’t have her ID yet, get her into things you know, give her a little taste of trouble! In that sense, the bad sense, I guess I took her under my wing a little.
KB: Even though it was her that grew up in the city and not you?
JR: It’s funny because the kids that grow up here are so slick and unshaped, meanwhile it’s these little shitheads that grow up on farms that come to the city and go ballistic. Alex is just so cool, like the minute I first saw her play guitar I was blown away, she looks like Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and she plays like Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. And that girl, she knows everything about rock’n’roll and she’s really easy to work with. She really just has to show up to practice once a week because she’s that good. You know we’ll write a song and she just shows up and she’ll just add some kind of lick to it and it’s just done.
KB: What I also love about Jail Bait is that a lot of the bands that get to Europe for years has been a lot about the ‘Brooklyn scene’ type of sound, not that there is anything wrong with that, I mean I love a lot of those bands but it’s definitely also a pleasure to see and hear a band like Jail Bait that is so different from that.
JR: Yeah, there are a lot of bands in Brooklyn that I really like and I feel like they are such a close community. It’s certainly admirable and that same kind of scene is starting to coalesce in Manhattan. The sound out there is very experimental, if not challenging.
KB: You also hang out with a lot of friends from the art and fashion circles. How do you feel about art or fashion?
JR: The art and fashion world seemed to embrace me very quickly. Most of my friends are fine artists or work in fashion.
JR: Beats me. It seems real easy to become this little art and fashion darling in New York but I just got really disenchanted with it, it was like some chic coke and champagne party where you had to be dressed up all the time, which is fine and all but that certainly wasn’t the New York City I dreamt of moving to since I was a little kid.
KB: What was the New York you dreamt of?
JR: Back in New Jersey the New York I wanted to move to was fucking tough, fucking cool, it wasn’t pretty, it was raw and it was weird. So I became a bit disenchanted with what I was being exposed to. I figured I wanted to struggle some; step out of my comfort zone, therefore I sold my soul to rock’n’roll. [laughs]
KB: But you do still hang out at art and fashion party’s, does that feel strange to you?
JR: Yeah, it’s totally strange! I love my glamorous friends, but I mean I grew up in a fucking hay farm in New Jersey. Some people see me as this fashion girl but look at me? Look what I’m wearing? I have holes in my pajama shirt and wear gym shorts.
I guess I got a look. But sure I still love fashion. You know I can’t wait until Christopher Kane sends me dresses to roll around in on stage for Jail Bait shows.
KB: Is he your favorite designer?
JR: Yeah, he and Vivienne Westwood, but mostly I collect a lot of vintage stuff. As long as it’s sexy and has a sense of humor to it.
KB: Do you see yourself as a New Yorker?
JR: Most New Yorkers are not born and raised here. In fact most of the prominent New Yorkers are born and raised in New Jersey. Because there is this whole attitude from the natives here that they really hate New Jersey so we got to hustle twice as hard. I love my home state, what a fucked up place! I’m really glad I grew up there and I’m proud to say I’m from New Jersey. But that being said I do consider myself as a New Yorker and I can’t see myself leaving this city, ever.
KB: What is the best about this city?
JR: Definitely the people. Not so much else I think, it’s just he people and the personalities, it seems like we’re all in exile.
KB: I love how you put that you’re all in exile. Seems like the exact way to describe a lot of the citizens here. But in exile from what? The rest of the world?
JR: In exile from whatever awful place or circumstance that drove us to think that NYC is so wonderful in comparison. [laughs]
KB: How do you see your future?
JR: I think that in order to be happy in New York, maybe that’s in general, you got to take it day by day, not think too far ahead but despite that sentiment, I think there is something very exciting about to happen in New York City especially with the music. There is a sense of panic. It’s starting to get very gritty. Rock’n’roll is so immediate and palatable. It has the right attitude, as opposed to more cerebral types of art, which can be alienating.
KB: More back to basic? More raw again?
JR: Right. An electric guitar that pounds your scull, it get’s you, that’s what I’m talking about. I just think we’re a little tired of too clever, avantgarde, anything postmodern. I’m no cynic. Let’s strip it down, get stupid, have a fight on stage or something. [laughs] I personally believe it is for the greater good!
KB: Thank you so much JR, it was a pleasure.
JR: Thank you Kasper, take care.