Singer-Songwriter JENA IRENE ASCIUTTO Opens Up About Her Newest Single ‘Floating Down The River’, Her Biggest Influences and More!
Posted On 11 Apr 2017
Meet Jena Irene Asciutto! She recently released her new single, “Floating Down the River,” and is getting ready to release her debut album, Cold Fame, this month.
Jena has maintained and nurtured a dedicated following since her stint on American Idol, where she placed runner up on the 13th season. With a social media following of over 200k+, Jena released her debut EP Innocence in early 2016 to fan acclaim and is set for an exciting 2017. Not only does she have the release of Cold Fame to look forward to, she’s also got a nationwide tour in the works and cool upcoming opportunities working towards revitalizing the city of Detroit’s music scene alongside the Detroit Institute of Music Education and her label partner Original 1265 Recordings.
Here’s the link Jena’s student story page on the DIME website:
Learn more about Jena Irene Asciutto in the following All Access interview:
Thank you, Jena for taking the time to share your musical journey with us! Let’s start off by talking about your newest single, “Floating Down the River”! Can you tell us about the inspiration and meaning behind the song?
A: Floating Down The River is about this feeling of being fed up with putting on a “fake face” and completely giving in to being myself in any situation. Self acceptance is still hard and I work at it everyday- but Detroit is by far the most accepting place i’ve been too and I’ve loved growing here.
I understand with the release of your debut album, Cold Fame will be tour dates. Is this your first tour? If so how does it make you feel to be going on tour for your first time? If not, will you tell us about your experience touring and share your thoughts?
A: Not if you count the idol tour after I was on the show. We did a 40 show US tour, and I don’t think I can compare it to a regular touring artist. Our buses were split between girls and boys, and the traveling was by far my favorite part of it. I didn’t have a full on set, I just did a couple song in a row to feature the highlighted cover songs that I sang that season. That was my least favorite part of it- I wanted to showcase my own music while I had the chance to be in front of that many people. Overall, I had a lot of fun- but wish I wasn’t under so many fuckin’ rules! (Laughter)
How has your experience competing on American Idol shaped you as a performer? What did you learn from your time on the show?
A: I learned a lot about work ethic and versatality while being on the show, but honestly I had to unlearn a lot of the components that became routine to me over that period of time. I definitely learned a specific way on how to perform for television, which is very useful for (hopefully) some future TV appearances ;)…but I also had to relearn how to perform my own music, rather than someone else’s.
Can you tell us about your relationship with Detroit Institute of Music Education and what you two are working on together?
A: DIME is a music institute-different from the label I’m signed to- but I am getting my BA in Songwriting in the mean time ;). I met the heads of DIME and Original 1265 Recordings about 2 and a half years ago after traveling back and forth between NY and LA trying to find someone to embrace my music (I didn’t even have a vision of the album at this point, I just knew I wanted to write/sing my own music from there moving forward). Kevin and Sarah were the first adults in this crazy industry I could comfortably have a conversation about my future with. Right from the beginning they’ve taken all of my ideas seriously and have accepted all of me- on top of that, I’ve never got the feeling of being misunderstood when working with them. Up until meeting with them, I always felt every industry person I talked to immediately had this pre-mentality or stigmatism because I was on American Idol.
What was your favorite moment following the release of your debut EP Innocence? Was the EP greatly received?
A: My favorite moment after my first EP release was when I saw it charted on Billboards Heatseakers (an up-and-coming chart list for the US). I was stoked because all of my songs are brutally honest and the Innocence EP was kind of the “first chapter” to my upcoming record, Cold Fame. It had some awesome recognition, and that EP served its purpose for what is to come.
What is the overall message and vibe that comes with your music? How do you hope listeners feel when they hear you?
A: The overall vibe to my songwriting is confidence, it’s honesty, and it covers a lot of emotions and the outcome of those situations. I’m obviously young, but hope that listeners feel some sort of connectivity and less alone in their fight of figuring out this world and all the crazy mentalities and predisposed judgement that comes with it….whether you’re my age (20) or mid life.
Which of your personal songs do you hold closest to your heart?
A: “Song For Myself” is the first track on my upcoming record, almost acting like an overture to the whole album. It’s written in the second person, -a pep talk to myself and the listener before sharing the content on the record. Other than that, I would say the honest ones are the songs I hold closest to my heart. Probably because it was hardest part in writing the record-to get real with myself.
How do you approach songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes?
A: Every song is different when approaching writing. Sometimes i’m by myself and a lyric pops in my head, or a melody, or sometimes I come up with a piano lick/chord progression that sparks inspiration. The only constant with inspirational songwriting is that it’s completely random.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences? What is it about them that most inspires you?
A: Amy Winehouse, Fiona Apple, John Mayer, Lana Del Rey, Coldplay to name some more recent artists- but I listen to a lot of older artists like Ella Fitzgerald, just really got into Aretha Franklin, Etta James. I think what attracts me to their music is their lyrical delivery and overall originality. I only gain inspo from music/musicians that make me feel the exact emotion they were in when performing/writing the song.
What genre of music do you most often listen to re-creationally?
A: I’ve really been into Jazz or Blues lately, but I’ll always have love for alternative music because it’s always been what sounds naturally pleasing to me.
And to end on an high note… will you tell us about a time in your career when you felt overcome with joy? Perhaps a moment that made all your hard work feel completely worthwhile.
A: The moment when my managers and I sat and listened to “Cold Fame” after about 2 years of writing, developing, recording, and finalizing the songs. I couldn’t believe I had created a full body of work, and it was everything I had imagined and more.