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INTERVIEW: Jo Kroger

Hi Jo, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

– I’ve been all right! Thanks for having me. I just grabbed some Ample Hills ice cream before this…. so I’m pretty psyched about that. How about you?

Can you tell us more about the story behind your track ¨Simplest?

– Sure, of course! Simplest is really about the fear of loving too hard/trying too hard and having everything fall to pieces, and therefore pushing away opportunity and personal connection. The song itself is talking about love and art/work opportunities in a parallel fashion. “Sure, take my number, but this is going to fall apart as soon as we put a little work in” or “Get me out somewhere huge and inspiring so I can disappear into the masses.” Does that make sense? I always have a harder time when I’m surrounded by people I know and love… but still feel like an alien or out of place. I just want to run away to a crowd where I can hide. I think I’m better about that than I used to be, but this song is about that impulse to escape.

Did any event in particular inspire the song?

– I was working with an amazing organization in Connecticut that runs arts programs for adults in the mental health system. I loved the people I was working with, but I’d spent the past four years bouncing back and forth between the coasts, and was simultaneously REALLY missing SoCal and NY, and deeply feeling that fear that comes with getting close to people. I was also challenged by some friends to write the song for a group we used to have in the West Village and all those pieces came together at once.

The single comes off your new EP The Simplest – what´s the story behind the title?

– Well, it certainly comes from the track, but also from the experience of putting out this album. There were a lot of curveballs in the whole process and I tried for a long time to think of the perfect title to encapsulate it all. And then I realized I had a track called “Simplest” and that was pretty much all I needed. Every song is about an obvious, simple solution that either works or doesn’t. I think artists (myself VERY included) have a tendency to overcomplicate. But it was an Occam’s razor kind of title situation.

How was the recording and writing process?

– Writing-wise, this song was one of those songs that just flew out once it was ready. I was sitting in the music room of that organization (they’re called ArtReach) after we’d closed for the day and the repetitive strum just kind of took over. The next day I was recording a demo of it and sending it back to friends in NY. Finding the right sound for the recording was tricky for a little bit, but once Dalton (Deschain, the album’s producer) and I decided we wanted it to sound like a classic rock song on the brink of completely falling apart into little pieces, everything fell into place.

What was it like to work with Oscar Zambrano and how did that relationship develop?

Oh, Oscar is one of my favorite people. He’s not someone I see a lot outside of working on the project in front of us, but I’m always super psyched to get back into his mastering studio. He just has such infectious joy for life and for what he does. I always learn something new about the process, the music, and whatever adventures he’s been up to. A mutual music friend recommended him when we were finishing up the last album, and I can’t imagine working with anyone else.

Any plans to hit the road?

– Absolutely. We’re rolling out a new website (same URL! jokroger.com ) in the next couple weeks and finalizing tour dates, so keep an eye out there. Until then you should hit up the album release at Rockwood on March 25th, 10pm.

What else is happening next in Jo Kroger´s world?

Last year I worked with a sketch show called APT 33 as their music director, which was a blast. I also sing with Dalton Deschain and The Traveling Show, which is where I get to let my punk-rock self fly. I’m much more contemplative in my own writing, and that project is a hugely fun release. I hop in with the girls from Maude Gun from time to time, which is a very cool project by Molly Murphy and Jenni Messner. They’re making stunning music and turning it into beautifully empowering community. But more than anything I’m looking forward to getting back out on the road.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, play guitar, music geek, movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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