Michigan native Jen Fodor threw caution to the wind, and packed up her life and moved to Los Angeles, to follow her dreams. The City of Angels is well known for taking young hopefuls and spitting them out the other side, but thankfully Jen is made of sterner stuff, and her immense creative vision and drive has seen her take on just about every role you can think of in the entertainment industry.
She’s worked with the likes of Spike Jonze, she’s created her own podcast, and she was the director of the PBS documentary, ‘The Dancing Man Of LA’, which inspired her previous single, ‘Front Row‘, and featured vocals by Nadia Vaeh.
Jen’s new release, ‘Saturday’, was written two years ago, and Jen at first pictured it as a melancholy track, layered over whimsical instrumentals. The vocals on this latest track are provided by Sarah Beth Go, and their sweetness complement the lyrics and music perfectly. The accompanying music video, also directed by Jen Fodor, is set against a retro Nashville backdrop, with Sarah Beth and band playing in front of a vintage Airstream camper, as well as a gorgeously – if kitschly – decorated house. Both song and clip fully convey a nostalgic feel and and an overall feeling of warmth, yet with a bittersweet tinge, as Sarah Beth sings of that blue feeling you get when you realise you’re no longer in love. Jen Fodor makes a cameo in the video as well, her smile beaming from behind the drum kit as she reveals yet another of her many artistic talents.
Such a great song deserves further investigation, and so we caught up with Jen Fodor; you can read our interview below.
First up, you packed up and moved from Michigan to Los Angeles, chasing your dream. You’ve worked with some big names out there, what would be your advice to anyone considering doing the same sort of thing? I mean, it looks easy on paper but…I’m sure there was a lot of hard work behind it!
It’s a lot of hard work! You really need to feel the pull to work in entertainment because there are a lot of ups and downs. If you can’t see the big picture and evaluate where you started from to whatever goal you want to reach, you’ll become entitled. You have to think about the long game and world you want to create surrounding that.
What made you decide to break into the music business when you’ve been doing so well behind the camera?
I’ve always viewed Producing Film/TV and Artist Management as the same skill set. So when I started working as an Artist Manager 10+ years ago I knew I could transition. I’ve been obsessed with music my entire life. To this day “That Thing You Do” and “Billy Elliot” are two of my favourite movies.
What makes a good video for you? What elements do you have to bring into it? Do you approach making music videos in the same way as making documentaries or are there distinct differences between the two?
There are distinct differences between the two. With documentaries there’s always a sense of surprise because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the storyline. Music Videos you get to plan out and build the world, which is super fun to do. For “Saturday” I knew I wanted a cool setting with a retro vibe and was able to build the storyline around the location.
You seem to take a back seat in your music videos – ‘Front Row’ focuses on The Dancing Man, as well as vocalist Nadia Vaeh, and guitarist Britt Lightning – you’re nowhere to be seen. In Saturday though, you’re literally sitting in the back, playing the drums. Will we ever see you front and centre in your videos, or are you happy to shine a light on others?
Actually, I do make a guest appearance in “Front Row.” At the end I join in on stage and dance with Nadia & Howard. I always try to make a small appearance in my videos where I feature different artists. Yes, when I start releasing songs with my voice on it I will be front and centre for sure. But for now I love letting people shine.
What or who are your greatest inspirations, in life, and creatively?
Some of my music inspirations are Bruce Springsteen and Lizzo. I love Bruce’s energy and how he just kills it when he’s on stage. 3.5 hours of pure energy and fun! You have to work hard in this industry and Bruce’s work ethic shows. I remember seeing Lizzo before she really became popular and I was just in awe of the positive vibes her live show put out. I strive to have that hardworking spirit and be a force of good energy in what I do.
What’s your ultimate dream creation? Similarly, who would you most like to work with?
In true Jen Fodor fashion I want to do it all! Keep writing, get into some bigger songwriting rooms, make more documentaries, direct more music videos, and eventually direct for film/tv. I want to come to a place in my career where people trust my song ideas and I can call someone up and be like…. “Elton! I got a song for you.”
How does the muse take you? What’s your creative process, not just directing, film making, and music, but all your artistic endeavours?
When creating I try to think about the good things that can come out of something, not only for my career, but for others. I want people to succeed! I love cheering people on and also helping them to push through so they are successful.
What’s next on the horizon for Jen Fodor?
My For Your Consideration Grammy campaign just launched for my song “Front Row.” I wrote it for the PBS documentary “The Dancing Man of L.A.” that I Co-Directed. In November, I will release my next single. It’s a country tune called “Some Kind of Beautiful.” I like working in different genres and mixing things up!
Finally, and I ask this question of everyone I interview, what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does? And what’s the answer to that question?
What’s one thing people reading this article would do?
Watch my music videos, listen to my music, and think of me for new creative opportunities.
Find out more about the incredible Jen Fodor, her music, and all her other creative ventures, on her official website.