Q & A with Jewel
June 11, 2007
Q: When did you realize you have a great singing voice?
A: I’ve been on stage since I was 6. I never thought I was anybody that special. I just loved working. All my brothers and mom and my whole family sang. I just love practicing and doing harmonies for five hours a day.
It just fascinated me learning to control my voice. I’ve always enjoyed taking risks and changing it live. I’ve never really sang that great on records. I think I’ve always sung better live. (I don’t want to try to) find the perfect shape of a song and stick with it. I like to push it every time I sing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Q: Did growing up in Alaska help you as a songwriter?
A: I think it helped me as a person. I still write about stuff I saw up there singing in bars as a kid. Everybody up there’s a character. Everybody’s an adventurer. Everybody’s really eccentric. Everybody has an interesting tale. And it’s really not like that in the Lower 48. People down here are a little more streamline. People don’t go to Alaska unless they are looking for something out of the ordinary.
Q: Your album “0304” was different from anything you’ve previously released.
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A: That’s another record where, for crafting songs, it’s one of my favorite records. I was combining Tin Pan Ally-style rhyme schemes through the verses with really modern choruses. I was sampling horns from the ’40s dancehall music and incorporating with really modern beats, meanwhile telling a story. It’s still folk music. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end, talking about social climate, my human heart and society at large. I was really tickled. I really wanted to push myself on that and make a smart pop record.
Q: Do emotional times in your life contribute to your songwriting?
A: I’ve never been a writer who wrote better when I was miserable. Being choked out, struggling to live, that always just sort of choked me out creatively. I’ve always been fascinated with the puzzle of words.