Five minutes with… Jenna Andrews
As a co-writer, producer and publishing company head, this talented Canadian knows what it takes to create a hit song
For most people, co-writing and producing songs for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Jessie J, Drake and Dua Lipa would feel like they’ve well and truly made it. But not Canadian songwriter Jenna Andrews, who has recently performed the musical equivalent of the poacher turned gamekeeper by founding her own company TwentySeven Music Publishing, alongside her business partner Barry Weiss (co-founder of the label RECORDS). With a roster which includes Jade Thirwall and Leigh-Ann Pinnock of Little Mix, as well as rising pop star Lennon Stella, it’s easy to imagine Andrews’ hot streak continuing in her new role.
We recently had a quick chat with Andrews about her career in music and her new business venture…
Can you remember the first song that you ever wrote?
“Yes, I can. It was when I was 14 and no one will ever hear it.”
What are the steps you then took in order to pursue music as a career?
“I just hustled as much as I could living in Calgary. I used to sell tickets to artists that would come play in Calgary to open up for them. I also worked at local radio stations just to learn as much as I could. Believe it or not, I was actually discovered on Myspace. I wrote a song for my parents for Christmas and that was when I signed my first record deal with Island Def Jam.”
Was there a specific moment that made you want to be a professional songwriter rather than an artist?
“To be honest with you, I have always loved writing and creating more than touring. I do love performing, but always found myself drawn back into the studio. When I left my label, one of the first projects I was a part of was [Canadian R&B duo] Majid Jordan. I co-wrote and vocal produced their EP A Place Like This and I just loved being a part of something that I could have an outside perspective on. It was super inspiring to get into someone else’s brain and help to create a vision for something that wasn’t so personal to my own life but I could still relate to it.
“After that, I continued to work on projects where I not only would co-write but I would also vocal produce and just help with the overall vision, rather than just writing one song here and there… and because I am an artist by nature. I can really relate to artists and understand them on a whole other level, which is honestly so rewarding.”
Have you always been comfortable working with and writing for big names in the industry?
“It’s not about big names necessarily for me, it’s about how their music moves me. Sometimes it’s more intimidating to work with artists you are the most inspired by musically, big or small.”
How do you decide which artists to write for – as well as which ones not to write for?
“I just trust my gut. Again if the music moves me, I’m in.”
Are you always writing with a specific person in mind, or will you just make the best song you can and then find a home for it?
“Honestly, both. If I know the artist I am writing for, especially if they are a good friend, which is often the case, I can try to tell their story even when they aren’t there and send to them over and finish with them.
“If it’s for a pitch, which I don’t usually do, I just pull from personal experiences because we are human after all. Cheesy I know but everyone can relate somehow.”
Would you say you have a specific strength as a songwriter?
“My strength is definitely being able to get close with an artist and have them feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable.”
Are there any songs or collaborations which stand out as being ones that you’re particularly proud of?
“BANKS Mother Earth, Jessie J Personal, and Lily Allen Everything To Feel Something.”
What tips can you give anyone who is looking to write for other artists?
“Great songs always win. Even recently, I had someone send me a song on Instagram and they hit me up three times before I heard it. Their tenacity had me listen and now I want to have one of my artists cut it. So, I think if it’s a good song and you keep hustling, you can’t go wrong.”
Have you always had the ambition of starting your own publishing company?
“Actually, you know what, no. I just love developing artists and I found that starting a publishing venture was such an amazing way to help the artists/songwriters I believe in with their songs and find homes for them too.”
What can you tell us about TwentySeven Music?
“TwentySeven is something I would love to model on the Brill Building era. I want it to be very collaborative. I don’t want to sign a lot, I want to focus on signing a few things I love so I can put all my heart and passion into it. Barry Weiss and I are starting to build an amazing company where we are really able to focus.”
How much does it mean to have artists like Lennon Stella already on your roster?
“It means the world to me. Lennon is so much more than an artist to me, she is my family. I love her so much, I think she is absolutely so special, and I truly think she is going to make a massive impact on this generation.”
If you could sign any living artist to TwentySeven Music who would it be?
Lastly, what artists of yours should we look out for over the next few months?
“Ahhh!! Lauren Jauregui, Zhavia Ward, Anna Clendening, Gracie Ella, and Little Mix.”