Out musician Jenn Ghetto has been part of several bands (including Carissa’s Wierd) but her solo name is S, which she jokes about on social media as completely “unGoogleable.” Her new album, Cool Choices, is a gorgeous piece of indie pop with hints of electro and lot’s of emotional lyrical fodder. Inspired by a breakup, it has songs with titles like “Losers” and Pitchfork likened the record to Tegan and Sara‘s The Con. (The albums share a producer, Chris Walla.) There are also hints of late ’90s/early 2000’s tracks from the likes of Tattle Tale and The Murmurs, making it sound almost nostalgic in a perfectly pleasing way.
We spoke with Jenn about writing sad songs and how her being queer fits into her musicianship.
AfterEllen.com: How soon after your breakup did you start writing these songs?
Jenn Ghetto: Yeah, sometimes breakups take a while. We lived together so it was a lot of separating things and that kind of stuff. And I started writing it when things started going array, so I kept continue writings. I think breakups are tough because you have to see them, or they want the dog, or stuff like that.
AE: I don’t feel like the whole album is sad. Did you attempt to balance the songs so it wasn’t a complete downer?
JG: Yeah, I went through a lot of things over the couple of years that I wrote it. It’s not about this particular break up. It’s about making friends with an ex and that’s weird and having a lot of—you have the person that liked you but doesn’t anymore. I guess it can be about beginnings in general. But I feel there’s hope in the album as well.
AE: Why did you decide to call it Cool Choices?
JG: I think having a record title that was less sad—I like that it could be meant a lot of different ways. Sarcastic or sincere.
AE: When did you move to Seattle?
JG: I moved here in 1998.
AE: This was post-grunge, post-riot grrrl, What was your sense of the music scene when you first moved there?
JG: All I remember was billboard grunge everywhere. That was pretty dominant.
AE: Were you influenced by any of that ? The riot grrrl type stuff?
JG: Sure. Yah I loved Sleater Kenny, those bands. I ended up in Seattle on accident but I stayed because I thought the bands were so cool.
AE: Have you ever thought about moving somewhere else like LA or NY? Is that necessary to “make it?”
JG: Well, I love Seattle. The music scene is supper supportive, we’re all bands going for the same thing. There’s not as much competitiveness that you might find in LA. Everyone is like, “Yeah! Cool record!” But if I ever thought about film, I’d move to L.A.
AE: You have a female guitarist in your touring band with you. Do you actively try to work with women or is it who is best for the job?
JG: I definitely feel like I found really great women to work with. Music is really interesting. It is still so male-dominated, so I always want to know who are the women that are working there.
AE: So, now that you’re on tour, I know you’ve been playing for a long time. I’m sure you’re finding new fans and listeners so what kind of crowds do you see.
JG: I see a lot of younger people which surprises me who are dedicated. I think, “How do you know about us?” I think that’s super cool.
AE: Have you been out for your entire music career?
JG: Yeah! I guess no one ever really talked about it early on but I always was.
AE: Is that important to you ? Or not really related to your music.
JG: It’s important—it’s a fine line. My experience growing up was in a society that wasn’t the most accepting. So I’m in awe that it’s just totally different now. It’s cool.
AE: I haven’t read any interviews where you’ve talked about it so I guess people don’t really care—it’s not a thing. But I was just curious. I love to listen to music knowing that there’s something in common with me and there’s people that don’t care about it also. Do you write and shy away from pronouns or specific things that would highlight that?
JG: I guess not particularly. I tend to write directly at a person. So I use a lot of “you.” feel like I guess maybe it’s a way of addressing it and not addressing it at the same time.