Jen Dixon's career is on the up. Originally a drummer, she began writing during the lockdown and hasn't looked back. Jen's got the attention of BBC Introducing and Radio X with her blend of melodic pop and big choruses. Tim Sparks talked to Jen about her growing success...
Outsideleft: Tell us about Jen Dixon, how long have you been a songwriter and performing?
Jen Dixon: I’ve been a drummer from a young age and did sound engineering at uni, but I’ve only been writing since the first Covid lockdown. I bought a load of gear and just decided to start writing and recording whilst I was furloughed. Performances didn’t start until a while after, due to restrictions but also my confidence took a while to build up!
Outsideleft: Do you record all of your music at home or in a studio?
Jen Dixon: Everything so far has been recorded at home in my spare bedroom! Mainly due to me not having the money to go to a studio, but also the convenience of me just recording when the mood hits me. My EP was mixed by Lisa Murphy and mastered by Pete Maher - it’s the first time I’ve outsourced something so I was very nervous but they smashed it.
Outsideleft: What are your thoughts on being a solo female artist in current times?
Jen Dixon: I could rant all day, It’s hard to get noticed whatever your gender because there’s so many amazing artists out there, but to see the lack of gender balance in festivals and gigs is really disheartening.
I feel like I’ve got much less chance of getting onto a line up because I’m female and if I want to get someone's attention I need to wear certain clothes and act a certain way instead of letting my music doing the talking.
Outsideleft: What inspired you to create this new music release, how long did it take?
Jen Dixon: Some of the songs on the EP were written at the very start of my journey, but they didn’t fit with what I was doing at the time, as time’s gone on and I got a band behind me the music has started to develop a style and those songs suddenly worked! I actually started finishing up the production of all the tracks at the end of last year, then it was sent on for the mixes and masters in the new year.
I really wanted a collection of songs to showcase what I can do, and I hope this EP delivers.
Outsideleft: Can you tell us about any specific musical influences or genres that inspired the sound of your material and this release in particular?
Jen Dixon: I always struggle with this one, in the early days people compared me to Dido but I think I’ve come away from that now and have a more ‘bandy’ sound. My inspirations aren’t specific, I’ve got a really random music taste so I guess it’s a collection of bits I’ve taken on board over the years.
Outsideleft: Are there any particular tracks on the EP that hold a special meaning for you, and If so, could you share the story behind one of them?
Jen Dixon: They all have a story and a meaning. Not sure about special, but the title track ‘Less than a Feeling’ was very much about that dark Covid time. I lived on my own and didn’t really see anyone for months so that track came out of it and when I listen to it now I’m reminded of how bad stuff can be turned into a positive in the end.
Outsideleft: Did you face any challenges or obstacles while creating this music? How did you overcome them?
Jen Dixon: So many, constant writing blocks, songs not quite sitting right, not being able to decide which tracks were good enough to make it on the EP. Then personal stuff as well, I quit my job in December and started my own business in the new year then got told I had cancer and two weeks later they told me they were wrong… so I had a few set backs where music unfortunately wasn’t the priority - but I just powered through and kept working because it’s what I love and what I want to do.
Outsideleft: How does this new release differ from your previous work? In what ways have you grown or evolved as an artist?
Jen Dixon: I think the sound is bigger, more guitars, bigger drums. Less electronic in ways too. I’ve still tried to have the big vocals, a rap section, catchy melodies - all things I’ve done previously but hopefully this is better! and more tailored to me playing live with the band.
Outsideleft: Were there any collaborations or featured artists involved in the making of this release? If so, how did those collaborations enhance the overall project?
Jen Dixon: I’m admittedly not the best guitarist, so thankfully my amazing band guitarist Phil Wing played on ‘less than a feeling’ for me - he’s much better at soloing! I also co-wrote a song with Neil Walker from local band Ward. He wrote a song that he didn’t feel worked for them and asked if I could do something with it. So he did the guitars and bass for Number 13, then I did drums, vocals and produced it. It a great track and deserved to be on the EP.
Outsideleft: Is there a specific message or feeling that you hope listeners will take away from your music?
Jen Dixon: If things feel hard, it’s not forever. If someone upsets you, take the high ground. Don’t be afraid to talk about your struggles. I hope people can relate to the songs and the EP helps if they’re struggling.
Outsideleft: What are your plans for promoting this new release and connecting with your fans?
Jen Dixon: I’ve managed to get 100 preorders to release the EP and all previously released tracks on vinyl! So that’s amazing. It’s been sent to radio, had coverage in the likes of NARC magazine. And obviously I won’t stop talking about it on social medias for a while…
Outsideleft: Do you think social platforms are essential for music promotion?
Jen Dixon: I don’t think you’d get anywhere without social media these days, some are more effective than others. I personally find Twitter the best platform for Networking and getting involved in the music community.
Outsideleft: Where can we find your music, on what platforms?
Jen Dixon: Available on all the usual streaming platforms and download places.
Outsideleft: Whats next for Jen Dixon?
Jen Dixon: I’m not sure! Keep writing and think about the next release.
Keep building my fan base. I really want to get on some bigger festivals next year. So anything I can do to get there will be happening!
Jen's upcoming shows
14th July supporting Reverend and the Makers, Stockton|
23rd July Tramlines Fringe, Sheffield
12th August Wax and Beans, Manchester
14th October Twisterella Festival, Middlesbrough
24th November Georgian Theatre Headline gig, Stockton
And some others to be announced…