5 questions with: Jenny Mitchell

Jenny Mitchell, of Gore, plays in the opening concert at Tamworth’s Country Music Festival on...
Jenny Mitchell, of Gore, plays in the opening concert at Tamworth’s Country Music Festival on January 19. PHOTO: LOUISE FRAMPTON
Louise Frampton caught up with New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards winner Jenny Mitchell, of Gore, after she performed in the opening concert at Tamworth’s Country Music Festival.

Q How long have you been coming to the Tamworth festival?

My first trip here was when I was 3, but I don't remember any of it!

I next came when I was 13. It was part of the sister city relationship between Gore and Tamworth. I was invited to play in the opening concert.

I was so terrified then. But now I love it.

I have returned on my own back since then. Except this year where part of my prize for winning the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards was a free trip back.

Q The music is not just traditional country. Has the term "country'' become broader in recent years?

That's the cool thing about Tamworth.

[There's people such as] Rachel Fahim, she was the 2017 Star Maker winner. She does pop country.

Then there can even be Irish music [such as in the opening concert].

In these types of big shows it's predominantly pop country; it's more commercial.

The Americana in the Park [event] is new. The whole alternative scene is up-and-coming.

There's still predominantly older people attending [the festival], but there is a younger audience in late-night shows in pubs.

Q You are studying at the University of Otago. What do you hope to achieve?

I'm doing communications and music. It's good, but it's hard.

It's difficult to swap between academic and performance.

I self manage [my performances], and do my own bookings, which can almost be a full-time job, so the course is helping.

In Australia, there's lots of people who want to sign country artists, but in New Zealand it's not like that at all. I want to be educated as well.

Q After the festival, you are staying on in Australia to record your new album due out in June. Tell us about it.

I recorded my last album when I was 15 (with John Egenes, from Dunedin).

I didn't know the process then. This time there is more crafting in what I want the album to be.

I'm proud of my new songs. There was more of an American influence last time. This time it is really me.

It's hard being a writer and staying true to yourself.

I'm recording with Matt Fell. He's known as the best in Australia. It'll still be released independently under Jenny Mitchell Music though.

Q How has growing up in Gore influenced you?

It all started with The Thomas Green [Public House and Dining Room] where I would sing on Friday nights.

Then TV was my pivot point [making the top three of New Zealand's Got Talent when aged 14].

There were shop windows covered in posters of me saying ``Vote for Jenny''.

Gore punches above its weight in home-town support.

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