Interview with Jen Galinski of The Morleys
In a world full of bands claiming to be original sounding, St Louis based band The Morleys truly do have a sensational sound to call their own. This talented young band featuring powerhouse vocalist Jen Galinski skillfully mixes retro sounds with modern rock. St Louis Music Press interviewer Angie Knost spoke with Jen about the band’s unique sound, their future plans , the evolution of Jen’s unforseen vocal career and more…
Angie: I’ve heard The Morleys sound described in different ways. How do you describe it?
Jen: We describe it as swing rock or jazz infused rock. Nobody can quite pin point it. That’s really what it is. It’s 1930 swing mixed with modern rock.
Angie: I have to ask, who’s idea was that? I mean, swing is just not a common genre nowadays. That’s a unique combination.
Jen: It is. I don’t know where that came from…It’s definitely my sound. I’m definitely a huge fan of jazz music. I love 1930’s standards, and that’s what I started writing, when I started writing. I don’t know where it came from.
Angie: There are how many other members in the group?
Jen: There are five including me; two guitar players, a bass player, and a drummer. I play a little bit of acoustic, and I sing lead. Juice also does some leads and backing vocals.
Angie: Are all the band members St. Louis natives?
Jen: Yes, they are. I’m actually the only non St. Louis native.
Angie: Where are you originally from?
Jen: I’m originally from New Jersey. I was born in Passaic, lived in Manmouth county New Jersey until 14, and moved to St. Louis before high school.
Angie: Now that I think of it, there’s a tiny bit of New Jersey in your voice…
Jen: It comes back any time I go back to the East Coast. For the next week or two, the accent is a lot heavier.
Angie: As far as what’s going on with the Morleys now, you have a couple of recordings under your belts now, right?
Jen: We have technically, I can say we have two recordings. We did a self made EP, a four track EP. Our friend Sloan Kranzberg did all the recording out of his house. And then we did another four track EP with 12 Bar, and we’re finishing up a full twelve track album with 12 Bar right now. This summer is when we’re hoping to release it.
Angie: Are you planning to have a special CD release party of some sort then?
Jen: Yes . We’re actually starting to plan, a really, really big party for this. It’s been a long time coming. We put a lot of work into it. It’s been about a year and a half that we’ve been working on this album. We’re all really excited about it.
Angie: You guys have played around town a lot. I see your name all the time, all over the place.
Jen: Our bass player actually counted up our shows and appearances at various places, and I think…we’re still a fairly new band; we’ve been together for about two years, and I think we’ve played over 50 shows.
Jen: We’ve definitely made our way around town.
Angie: Do you have favorite venues that you all prefer to perform at?
Jen: Well, Cicero’s has always kind of been our home base. It was where our first real show was, and we love going back there. It’s comfortable, It’s homey. We’ve never had any problems there. They treat us well. We love the staff. We did a couple of shows at the Voodoo lounge before they turned it into a piano bar. That’s where we did our EP release, and we really liked it there. Unfortunately, that’s not an option now. The Old Rock House is another venue we all really love playing.
Angie: Besides your new recording coming up, what else do you guys have going on…any shows upcoming?
Jen: We will be at Blueberry Hill June 4 playing for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention St. Louis Chapter Kickoff Party. From the beginning, we’ve always been quick to play charity events and give back to the community. The AFSP holds special meaning to me, personally. We played their annual fundraiser last year, and we’re glad to be a part of it again this year.
Other than that, we’re just playing around town. We’re actually hoping to maybe do some festivals in the summer. Everything’s still kind of in the works, though.
Angie: I’m sure the summer concert season will be a busy time for you.
Jen: I hope so. This whole year since January first has been really, really busy for us.
Angie: You guys have made some TV appearances, right?
Jen: Yeah, that was pretty awesome. Me and Juice, one of the guitar players, we were on Tim Ezell show around the time of the Metro Music Playoffs, and then the full band got to go back on, and then we did Patrick Clark’s show, I guess a couple of months ago. Then we did a spot on STL TV , which is the local cable access show, and that was a whole lot of fun, too.
Angie: What are your feelings about the TV appearances? Are you nervous before you go on live [TV] or is it the same as playing on the stage?
Jen: The very first time, I was nervous. After the first time, I think it begins to get addictive. There’s just something about the camera that I really enjoy. It’s just totally different than playing a live show, because you don’t have the energy of anyone else to draw off of, but it’s a whole lot of fun.
Angie: I’ve heard you guys play live a couple of times. I haven’t had the opportunity to sit and pour over a CD and really soak up all the content, but I wanted you to speak a little bit about what your songs are about. You have some songs that are kind of funny and other different kind of subjects…
Jen: I’m definitely not the only writer in the band. John King, our drummer, he’s a very talented song writer. Most of the funny songs…if it’s a funny song, it’s probably his. He’s got a great sense of humor and a very quick wit. And Juice is also a writer. It’s really good to be in a band with other people contributing. If it’s a John song, it’s probably about food, sex or… food. Juice tends to write a little bit more across the board in terms of emotions and events and things important to him. I pretty much write about either getting out of a relationship or going into a relationship. Those two book ends are where I do most of my writing.
Angie: So are those songs biographical, or are they just fictional?
Jen: The truth is subjective, and it’s the truth as I see it,and the truth as I feel it, and it’s as close to the truth as I can get it. That’s kind of what comes from what I write. So probably not.
Angie: Some people write from personal experiance and some people kind of throw themselves into an imaginary situation.
Jen: I always wanted to be the type of person that could imagine what something might feel like…. I just have never been able to do that. I tend to write from where I’m at from any given moment. Usually the more intense the moment is, the more intense the song. But it seems to work.
Angie: Do you feel that helps the intensity of your singing, when your singing a song from your own experience?
Jen: Initially it does. I think it’s really cathartic to put the emotions and the feelings into something tangible like a song and be able to share it, and to be able to use the energy up on stage to kind of get rid of some of the negative stuff that’s left over. Definitely, you know, a year, two years, three years down the line, some of that’s lost, but it’s cool to kind of have those mile markers for myself along the way. Like, “Okay, I made it through this, and I have this song to show for it.” And so the writing, for me, isn’t just a release. It also gives a lot more purpose and meaning to whatever I’m going through, because I have something tangible to show for whatever I’ve just gone through.
Angie: I’ve wondered how that feels, to just get up there and sing things about yourself. I mean, some people are more outward with their experiences, some people are more private. It seems like it puts you in kind of a vulnerable place, and you have to have the right personality for that.
Jen: It definitely is. I don’t normally think about how vulnerable my songwriting is, and I think a lot of the time it’s because I’ve got a full band behind me, and I just assume that people aren’t really listening to the words. But when you’ve got something like a CD coming out or a full album that’s got all of it just layed out there, I think that changes that. If we’re in a venue, you’ve got everything else going on, people are talking, most people aren’t really keen to the words. Juice and I do acoustic shows here and there, and those definitely feel a lot more vulnerable than when you’re playing with a full band, because you know people are actually listening to the words. But at the same time, when you’re playing with a full band and people aren’t hearing what you’re saying, I think there’s something lost on that. And there’s something really rewarding about somebody coming up and saying, “Oh my God. I get that song. I totally relate to it. I’ve been there, and thank you for putting what I went through into words.” And that’s a phenomenal feeling. I don’t know if there’s anything to describe that.
Angie: As far as your personal musical history, think back as far as you have to, whether you were twelve, five, whatever…What drew you to music? And what was your first experience with wanting to sing and to express yourself in that way?
Jen: Honestly, I think I probably came from the womb wanting to do that. My mom is a musician, and a very, very talented singer and songwriter, and I don’t know what her future would have looked like had I not come into the picture, but I definitely feel like I inherited a lot of that from her. As I grew up, she would play piano… she tells this story, she would play some kind of game show like “dunt-dah-dah-dah-dunta-dun-daa” [imagine sound effect announcing hero entering the room] and I would run down the hall to present myself, and things like that. [laughter from both] And we would sing songs together…I just grew up listening to music and singing. It’s kind of funny because somewhere a little bit later in my childhood, I got it in my head that I couldn’t sing, and so I just stopped. I would sing when I was by myself, and I knew I could sing in key, but I really didn’t think there was anything special about my voice. I didn’t think there was anything attractive about it…I just thought it was a voice. So I didn’t do anything with music until I was in my early twenties, and it was just a complete fluke that it even came out and that I had a moment of bravery and sang to somebody, and they were like, “Oh my God!”. But I really had no idea. I knew I loved it. For my entire life I’ve loved singing and I loved music, but I just didn’t think anything would ever come of it.
Angie: Wow. Interesting story ! I really enjoy stories where people find a talent they didn’t know they had. Some people know when they’re two, they want to be a fireman, or whatever, and sometimes people just have this lightening bolt, and are suddenly like, ” Oh, I can do this!”
Jen: That’s exactly what it was like. It was something from my earliest memories that I loved and wanted to do, but I had really just written it out of my life as a possible option. I thought I had to come up with something “better” than that, something more stable or more realistic. I just threw the idea out. I think it means a lot more, and I’m a lot more grateful for it, being able to tap into this. Also, I can’t take as much credit as if I had worked my entire life to be trained as a musician of any kind, because I didn’t do anything; it’s just what came out. It was definitely something I was blessed with. I can’t take too much ownership.
Angie: As far as the future for The Morleys, what are your aspirations, as far as…Do you want to stay local?…Push it all the way to the national level? I don’t know if you know the other band member’s feelings on that or can speak for them, but where do you see this train going?
Jen: As far as I know, we’re all on board. We’d like to take this as far as we possably can. And it’s difficult, because we all have day jobs. Some of us have families. But we’re definitely doing everything we can to get the message out there and see what happens with it. But right now we’re all okay with being local. We’re having a really good time in St. Louis. We’re trying to expand our fan base here. It’s a lot of work. I think we have something really different and really unique. I’m hoping it will catch on outside of St. Louis.
Angie: Is there any thing you want to say directly to your following of fans in the St. Louis area?
Jen : From the Morleys, we’re all so grateful for all of the support that we got so far. It’s because of the fans, the people that are out there helping us to promote shows and get this thing moving, that we’ve been able to do as much as we have. And we really are supremely grateful to all of them.
Find our more about The Morleys at their official website, www.themorleysmusic.com .