I had the opportunity to call and interview one of our new Green Room Musicians Jennifer Andrea, a hypnotic pop rock vocalist in bands like Pop Rock Suckers/Driving Buddies. Jennifer Andrea is a local Waukesha artist, but performs all over southeastern Wisconsin.
Me: So how did you get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?
Jennifer: I think Bruce Humphries had reached out to me initially in the early throws and was like, ‘Hey, play an open mic at Bottle House 42,’ which WMV was running at the time.
Jennifer: And I was like, ‘sure, I’ll do it.’
Me: That’s great! Tell me, what kinds of music do you do personally as an artist?
Jennifer: Myself, I’ve enjoyed accented and rich piano parts [music]. It was easy to gravitate towards. I actually had made a list as I was trying to figure out what I would play if I was playing for an older audience, that I actually really loved all the Motown classics a lot. They used all those cool chords, you know, piano heavy. And the shameless pop heads, like Katy Perry, Rihanna, if it was Top Forty it was just shameless pop as a child. I remember lusting after [it] like kids want candy from the gas station, you know? Like candy for your ears. So I always would like to buy CDs as a kid and like to listen to them and I could pick out what the singles would be.
Me: Are there other influences in the pop or rock genres that you really gravitate towards?
Jennifer: Well, it’s hilarious. I think I’d be best able to answer this question by telling you a large range of things. Like everything else in my life I kind of explore. So I would say in my early upbringings, you’re exposed to what the world is showing you, by the time I was really into music, I think it was mostly Britney Spears and boy bands and stuff like that. But once Goo Go Dolls came out they were my first rock band and then Matchbox 20, and then I wanted more intense rock and soon I was in choirs and there was more dark classical music that I was studying and I really liked these big angry symphonies. So I started my classical training with that and was like, ‘well, what happens if we made it like rock?’ You know? and then Evanescence was getting big at the same time. So I shot my shot and I unintentionally ended up pretty much creating a similar thing at the same time.
Jennifer passionately described the brand images for iconic singer songwriters like Jewel, Amy Lee, and Tori Amos, and the looks and voices that pop into your head when you think of them. A blend of folky pop, the rah-rah-rah in your face of rock, and very exotic in the ivory beauty is some of what Jennifer takes inspiration from for her own brand and artistry.
Jennifer: I was one step behind Michelle Branch [and] Avril Levine, and that’s the curse of coming up with the same ideas at the same time. So those are some of the people I grew up listening to and creating [music] kind of at the same time, inspired me.
Me: Absolutely. So, segueing a little bit to Driving Buddies, can you tell me a little bit more about how you guys became a band and the music that you guys create together?
Jennifer: Yeah, so when we played our creative music, we had rebranded it as Pop Rock Suckers, but we will still add candy into a Driving Buddies set. Pop Rock Sucker originals, which are Driving Buddies’, but doing our music. And then it’s pop, rock, and country, all the hits across the decades. So you kind of get a little mix of what everybody really wants to hear. We can get a few requests. We study a lot of what’s being requested, like on billboards, L.A. billboards, or the juke boxes in the area. We poll the bar themselves, if the people will talk to you. We’re like a live jukebox. It’s like if your jukebox could sing.
Me: That’s an amazing way to put it! So, growing up, who and what kinds of people in your life really inspired you and supported you to pursue music as a career?
Jennifer: You know, it’s really funny . My upbringing is in its own a story, an art of its own and the people who raised me are educators. So mostly my music teachers were pretty tough. They were all of them trying to get to whatever was next. So my elementary school music teacher wanted to be a high school music teacher. My high school music teacher wanted to be a college professor level music teacher. And then when I went to college I was a UWM school of the arts student, but I didn’t see how I was ever gonna make that a viable career and I really hated the classes, , and everything I loved about music kind of slipped away and I was like, this is not good. Because it just wasn’t the avenue that I was supposed to take. I’m actually a professional educator. I am an interventionist reading interventionist, and I teach full-time, so the people who really influenced me were actually my teachers.
I went on to ask the most important question in this interview, what is your go-to shower song. Jennifer says when she sings the ones her heart desires: the Disney classics like Moana’s How Far I’ll Go, Beauty and the Beast’s Tale As Old As Time, and even some Aladdin songs every now and then.
Me: That is awesome. I love that. You can’t go wrong with Disney classics in the shower. They always sound good.
Jennifer: You can’t. They’re timeless. They’re beautifully crafted.
Me: Exactly. My last question is: currently, music-wise, what are you working on now?
Jennifer: Oh God. Well we just finished five more songs in the studio for pop rock suckers. Yeah, it is insane. It’s been quite a journey, A quick long cuz now we’re, we have a lot of songs between us. See were songwriters separately and then we join forces and we still kind of almost get competitive with the other, so we just keep writing.
Me: That sounds great! Well, thank you so much for meeting with me. I hope you have a great rest of your day and break a leg on the upcoming shows!
Jennifer: Oh, fantastic. Thank you. I hope to see you out. Have a good day!