By BRUCE DENNILL
Jeri Silverman’s music is darkly self-reflective folk-pop that’s both moving and uplifting. The South African-born singer developed her visceral writing style amid the hustle of living in New York City, writing late into sleepless nights. Her song Fall For This was written as a warning ‘note-to-self’ amid a fiery romance – the kind you know you need to leave but can’t.
“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
I was initially influenced by incredible lyricists and songwriters like Regina Spektor, Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac. One of the first albums I was obsessed with was Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill – though at the time, I had no inkling that I wanted to or would become a musician.
Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
I’m constantly listening to new artists, to expand my own taste and ability to write in new ways. I allow myself to write in whatever genre emerges – whether it’s very folky or anything else, all the way to commercial pop. I’m exploring the merging of synth and electronic beats with the acoustic folk. I’m still obsessed with lyrics though!
Name one song you wish you’d written. What makes that song so important?
Hyperballad by Bjork. It’s the best-written song – the way she figuratively describes the tension of living – about how to consistently wake up and work on yourself; to be ok to show up in a relationship for someone else or even, to the rest of the world. It’s magic.
Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?
Lyrics are my favorite. But they need to be combined with catchy melodic riffs and some unique guitar parts.
The music industry is no longer a single-narrative operation. For you, what is the best way to get your music from your head to potential listeners? Please comment on digital means (from social media to full streaming and download distribution), playing live (how often; where; to whom), being a cottage industry (eg selling CDs from a box in your car) and any other creative channels you’ve explored.
I’m constantly working to learn more on using online platforms to sell music, since CDs and physical assets are no longer as mainstream. Digital is the best way to reach audiences abroad, playing live wherever possible,without saturating the local market, is important. I think YouTube is an excellent way to reach fans and grow your audience.
In terms of the above, is there a gap between what you envisioned and what you are experiencing now? Does it matter, and if so, how do you close that gap?
There’s definitely a gap. The music industry being saturated with outstanding artists using the platforms alone is not enough to ensure that your music will actually be listened to. You have to know how to use these outlets well and find a way to stand out, and be consistent about it. So… always more work to do!
What is your new/most recent release? What is the story behind it – the genesis of the song, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?
The latest release is my single Fall For This. It’s inspired by a fiery romance – the kind where you need to get out but a part of you is hooked in deep. I recorded it in New York with the producer of my previous album Dear Life – Katie Buchanan.