Singer and Musician Jerina

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Jerina, a remarkably talented singer and violinist, recently lent her voice to the theme song of “Self Rising Flower,” an audio drama series that reaches into the intricate dynamics of an African-American family growing a baking business from the ground up. Known for her ability to infuse deep emotion into her performances, Jerina’s collaboration with composer Liam Bradbury has resulted in a beautiful and evocative theme song that perfectly complements the series.

In this interview, Jerina shares her experience working on the project, her approach to music, and highlights from her impressive career. Join us as we explore the journey of a singer whose passion for music and storytelling continues to inspire.

What inspired you to take on the project of singing the theme song for “Self Rising Flower”?

Uh, you know, I didn’t think much about it. Liam approached me and I know he loves working with you so I was excited to join you two! He pre-recorded the vocals for me and they were very much in my range and I got to do a soft and gentle voice, which I always love. So an accumulation of enjoying the general idea and the company of the people who created it!

 

Can you share your experience working with Liam Bradbury on this song? How did his composition influence your performance?

Oh, working with Liam is always amazing! We’ve worked together for four years now and he knows EXACTLY what I like. I love orchestral music and anything that feels “epic”. This song starts and ends very soft but gains a bit momentum in the middle which immediately left me with a few ideas, singing a tad stronger, experimenting with harmonies etc. I believe he ended up changing some harmonies at the end, since he knows much more about music theory and I often just do what feels right but might not always be musically correct. But yes, I believe a lot of it was his intuition, combining what was needed for the project but also what I love to do!

What was your preparation process like for recording the theme song? Did you face any particular challenges?

To be quite honest, I wasn’t at home when I recorded the vocals. I didn’t have a studio, just my microphone, interface and laptop and it was late at night so I was very limited in my capabilities. So I had this vision of singing louder in the middle, but I had to work with my limits and what would fit the song. If I start very soft it might be odd to immediately go over to belting, so I had to find kind of a middle. One amazing thing I’ve found though, is that when I try to sing stronger at night, since I can’t be too loud, it sounds quite clean. During the day I quickly try to be very loud and it can tip over into screaming, which you know, shouldn’t happen. I gotta say though, I didn’t love my voice entirely the whole way through. There’s some artists whose strong voice I admire so much, and I often compare myself to them. Honestly, that’s often why I love harmonies. It’s not only fun to experiment with them but also adds some sort of “padding” to my vocals. But in the end, I suppose all that makes it “me”. I gave it my best and I am proud of that.

How did you connect with the story and themes of “Self Rising Flower” when performing the song?

So far I’ve only listened to the trailer and bonus preview episode on Spotify, so I can listen to the episodes in detail on streaming platforms when they come out to support the show! But the first few minutes were already incredibly touching. Actually, my first thought how well the actresses and actors did their jobs. About the story and themes though: it honestly seems to be difficult to listen to for me. Their family sounds so healthy, the communication, the support. Erika sounds like an amazingly kind and understanding mom. When I was younger, my family life wasn’t the best. It took a very long while before I connected with my parents emotionally. Until then pretty much every day was a fight. Stories like these partly heal my inner child but also break me a little bit each time.

It also in a way reminds me of the musical “waitress”, where the main character loves baking and with that works through the death of her mother and her unexpected pregnancy. All these very maternal feelings, plus my own memories of learning how to bake with my mother and still baking a lot to this day, makes it a dangerous but comforting soup of feelings. I cannot wait to listen to the whole thing and I suspect it will be my new favorite source of entertainment during fall. While it rains outside and I bake some apple and pumpkin pie 🙂

What emotions did you aim to convey through your performance, and how do you hope listeners will feel when they hear the song?

I think mostly I’d like them to feel the way I felt. Excited, gentle, soft, and a little scared. This song hold so much emotion, as does the story. You’re rooting for Erika while you’re subjected to all these very raw emotions. The excitement and fear to face something I have long repressed. The comfort of baking and family. There’s a lot of duality playing into it, which I think comes through great in the song.

Can you tell us about some of the highlights of your career so far? What are some of your most memorable performances?

I haven’t really performed live in a while, first with COVID and then I just was really focused on writing and producing. But before then, there’s one experience I will always remember: I was in Valencia with my school class at that time and I performed a short song on a violin I borrowed from someone. I did my usual dancing around while playing, a few pirouettes, nothing wild and honestly it wasn’t very good. But after I finished, a man in a wheelchair came up to me. He was completely paralyzed and could only move a few fingers to type in a message on his wheelchair. He told me that my performance was magnificent and brought him so much joy and that I have an infectious spark! That was such a heavy little moment in which I realized how important music can be. And that I could never stop pursuing it.

I don’t know why that one memory became so engrained in my brain, but it did. Another ,very different one, of my favorite moments was when I got to work with my favorite singer, Annapantsu! That was incredible. I had admired her for years and she joined me on a song while will be part of my upcoming cover album! (Wink, wink!) A lot of success has been very internal, realizing how far I’ve gotten, how I’ve grown, both as a singer and violinist. The positive feedback to my voice, which I never expected! The realization that if you never stop, it’s truly inevitable to succeed. But the project Liam and u have been working on for four years is almost done and then I hope to be able to perform more live!

What are some other projects or songs you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of?

The last four years, since I met Liam, have mostly been focused on writing this orchestral album. I once started writing an orchestral cover of Song Of The Caged Bird by Lindsey Stirling, and then I just never stopped. And then I met Liam and the possibilities became endless, and his writing grew better and better and at the end we had a list of 19 songs, just by Lindsey Stirling which I wanted to cover. It’s been go go go since 2019, and we just finished writing the last song.

The fact that we actually finished an album is so wild to me. That’s crazy! I’ve learned so much during that time, I grew so much as a violinist, a writer and a singer. I am so much more confident in my abilities now and can’t wait to start writing original music with Liam. It’s weird and scary to think I could actually have a music career, but this is the only thing I want in life. I really hope the release of this album changes something, just anything. Even if it’s just my own self esteem.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and how have they shaped your singing style?

So, I’m a violinist as well as a singer. So of course my biggest musical influence is Lindsey Stirling (hihihi!) But some singers that have wildly shaped me are Sia, Lana Del Rey, Dodie and Annapantsu. I always said I wanted my music to be a combination of Sia and Lindsey Stirling. I want to sing, loudly, energetically, accompanied by Liam’s Orchestra and with my Violin sprinkled in. I’ve also been extremely influenced my film music, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lin Manuel Miranda, Bearlow and Bear, and so on. Any music that makes you want to jump up, run for a hour, over a field or through a forest and grab life by its hands is what drives me. I realize I’m not yet in the same level as Sia or Annapantsu, but I’ve grown a lot. And so I’m currently trying to figure out how to be energetic and loud with my own little voice.

Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations you’re excited about that you can share with us?

Well, again, probably my album hahah. That’s my biggest thing. I also want to face my fears and start filming my own music videos and short films. I’ve worked in the film industry for three years now, did the connections thing and the starting from the bottom thing and technically have met all the requirements for filming my own projects, were it not for my fear of failure (and, well, money. Lol).

I’m currently in a phase where I’m leaving a lot behind. I’ve worked a lot of minimum wage jobs, moved out of home, burnt out a few times and lost sight of my dreams. I left my last job now and I am focusing on doing and becoming what I’ve always promised myself. I guess that’s what I’m mostly excited about – meeting the future I prayed for.

What advice would you give to aspiring singers who are looking to break into the industry?

Well, since I haven’t necessarily broken into the industry yet, I’m not really sure lol. I’d say start with what you have, where you are. Do the projects you’re passionate about. At some point, people with inevitably come into your life. As long as you don’t stop, opportunities will come. You always keep on growing, so long as you don’t give up. People always talk about finding your niche, but I believe that’s something that comes naturally. Try it all, do it all, explore your options, one way it another your niche will form.

But also learn what you can. Learn the basics. Of singing, of music theory, of writing. After that you can build on it whatever you like, but those first steps are important. Also, practice is important but I feel like with singing and playing an instrument, there seems to be a time for some things. Your vibrato will come, you will figure out how to belt, but you can’t rush it. It takes time. Time and experience and experimenting.

The only “key to success” is just to never stop. And that’s why it’s important to love what you do.

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Listen to Jerina’s amazing vocals for Self-Rising Flower on Spotify and Apple Podcast now!

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