Jenny Mitchell has released her new single 'Let Me Be' and its accompanying video. The release comes on the back of a huge 2019 for the young New Zealand based singer-songwriter, who was recently named the Recorded Music NZ Country Artist of the Year 2019 as well as Southland Entertainer of the Year 2019. Her latest album, Wildfires, also reached #1 on the iTunes NZ Alternative Album Chart and #4 on the Official NZ Music Charts.
'Let Me Be' tells the story of Mitchell's mum and dad, paying homage to his love of honey on toast and her love of wine. 'It's definitely a track on the album which crosses genre boundaries,' says Mitchell, 'and I'm really proud of it.' She sings of summer rain and hurricanes and the moment they walk through the door and find your eyes. 'Let me be your honey in the morning when you feel like something sweet,' she asks, 'let me be your wine in the evening when the day takes away your dignity.'
The track was produced by Matt Fell at Love HZ Studio in Sydney, who has worked with artists including Andrew Swift, Fanny Lumsden and Sara Storer. 'He's produced this one in such a powerful way,' says Mitchell, who worked with Fell on the entirety of Wildfires.
The video for 'Let Me Be' was filmed in the depths of the Ahuriri Conservation Park, which 'features some of New Zealand's best scenery,' according to Mitchell. 'This song is all about freedom and love, and I hope the video communicates that while featuring some spectacular views of my corner of the world.' Acorn Photography & Cinema, a Dunedin-based creative team, produced the video and have showcased their skill for storytelling through film.
Prior to the release of 'Let Me Be', Mitchell has completed a tour that included dates in her native New Zealand, Australia, the southern coast of Sweden and a number of heaving Irish pubs. She has proved the reach her genre-crossing music can have and if 2019 is anything to go by, Mitchell will be begging fans to 'let her be' by the time 2020 rolls around.
Upcoming Australian Show Dates:
Friday 6th December - Jamieson Hall (w/Fanny Lumsden) – Jamieson, VIC
Saturday 7th December - Newham Hall (w/Fanny Lumsden) - Newham, VIC
Sunday 8th December – The Spotted Mallard (w/Fanny Lumsden) – Brunswick, VIC
Question: How would you describe your music?
Jenny Mitchell: I think my music dips and dives through a lot of different influences, but I'd say I'm a folk/alt-country artist. My record really demonstrates the different flavours I like to incorporate in my sound and Let Me Be is a great example of a track that blurs those genre lines.
Question: What inspired the track Let Me Be?
Jenny Mitchell: The song is actually based on my parent's love story. They took a while to find each other and my Dad's a bit of a hopeless romantic, so the song is really about their early dating life I suppose. It's about taking a chance and telling someone you want to be there for them, through all the flaws and complications.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Jenny Mitchell: I write a lot from personal experience and tend to take a spontaneous approach to writing - rather than a scheduled one. So generally the motivation comes from experiences and emotions I'm going through, or observing those around me. Let Me Be is an example of one of my songs that tells the story of someone else and I think it's a really refreshing way to write and it's an honour to be the vessel for those stories!
Question: Can you tell us about filming the video for Let Me Be?
Jenny Mitchell: The majority of the clip was filmed in my current city, Dunedin. We created a lot of the scenes from scratch, it took us hours to hang all the strings of lightbulbs! But 100% worth it in my opinion.
After we'd shot those initial scenes, the film crew and I went on a road trip through the centre of South Island NZ and found ourselves in Ahuriri Conservation Park to film all the snowy capped mountain shots.
I'm very much front and centre of this clip, which was a new experience for me compared to my previous releases. My goal was to really look into the lens and communicate to the camera the way I would to a live audience. We wanted to create a feeling of closeness, while being set in the huge space of the conservation park and I'm really proud of how it's all come together.
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Jenny Mitchell: I always love when I sing songs about little details of my life and realise how universal those details are. There's a line in my song So Far, that says, "My mother likes to keep a clean house & my Dad couldn't care less if it was inside out," and apparently there are lots of Dad's out there that are that way inclined! So I'd say So Far is probably one of my favourites to play live.
Question: What should we expect from your upcoming tour?
Jenny Mitchell: I am so thrilled to be joining Fanny Lumsden's Country Halls tour for a few gigs. I'm such a fan of the show they put on and know how much fun it is to be sitting in the audience. You can expect to hear songs from my record and the stories behind them.
Question: If you could have anyone, in the world, attend a show, who would it be?
Jenny Mitchell: Hmmm… that's a tricky one. I think I'd actually say Miranda Lambert, so I could serenade her and tell her how much she influenced me as a little one and continues to influence me now!
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Jenny Mitchell: My experience working with Matt Fell made me fall in love with the process of recording. It really opened my eyes to how creative the process is and how it should be an enjoyable time - rather than a stressful one! But I always look forward to the connection of live performance. Telling stories and connecting with audiences really is my passion, so I guess I prefer that. It really is a gift to be able to have that experience and I never take it for granted.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Jenny Mitchell: I'm really loving Ruston Kelly at the moment and I have had Brandi Carlile's record on repeat since it was a released. They're both artist that I listen to daily.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Jenny Mitchell: My Dad started my love of country music, but in terms of Industry inspiration - NZ based Tami Neilson has always been a huge influence on me. I think it's one thing to release music, but Tami has always had a very hands on approach to every aspect of her career and has carved a life that works for her audience and her family. I've grown up watching her carve that path and that's always been a big inspiration for me. I would say artists like Tami and Fanny Lumsden who do things outside of the box, remain true to themselves and navigate the industry on their own terms are my biggest role models.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Jenny Mitchell: I am a huge fan of Brandy Clark, her writing is right up my alley. It'd be a dream to write with her one day!
Question: What's a typical day like?
Jenny Mitchell: I'm actually currently studying full time, so that takes up a lot of my day. Generally you'll find me at Uni or sitting in a coffee shop somewhere around Dunedin. Dunedin is a super unique Uni city and all my friends live within walking distance. I'm very lucky to have a bunch of wonderful friends and I like to spend as much time as possible with them when I'm not touring or gigging. I try to evenly split my time between music, my pals and study - doesn't always go that way! But that's the goal of a typical day.
Question: Can you share your socials?
Jenny Mitchell: http://jennymitchell.co.nz
Interview by Brooke Hunter