INTERVIEW 70 jeremy jensen (the very most)

photos by MaryAnne Remer
For over 10 years now, Jeremy's The Very Most has been making pure, uplifting, simple and heartfelt indiepop.
Known as "the only indiepop band in Idaho" (which sounds pretty awesome because we rarely see "indiepop" and "Idaho" in the same sentence and because Idaho seems to be a pretty magical place), TVM crafts heartwarming melodies straight from a shed turned into studio.
With a playful way and with a diverse aesthetic - part melancholy, part shooting-smiles-at-sunshines - TVM is captivating and irresistible. The purest indiepop.

Do explore their discography, in case you haven't yet. Lots of EPs and two albums that are brilliant (A Year With The Very Most contains 4 songs for each season and 2 of my all time favorites 'The Motor-VU Lights' and 'You're In Love With The Sun').

Also, their new EP Just A Pup, will be out via Manic Pop! on June, 14th. Here's a sample featuring The School's Liz Hunt.

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My interview with Jeremy is below, he answered the questions before a concert from Yo La Tengo. 

01. What time is it now? Where are you and how's your day so far?
Right now it's about 7:30 pm and I'm at the Boise Knitting Factory concert venue waiting for Yo La Tengo to start. I've still got an hour to wait. My day's been pretty good so far. I wasn't feeling really great earlier today, so I took a half day off of work. I did manage to finish a Kickstarter video today, so, with that and Yo La Tengo, I figure that makes today pretty dang awesome.

02. The Very Most started over a decade ago. What sparked the desire of having a band/making music? And why the name?
It's really hard to remember what it was like *before* I had this crazy spark/desire to make music. Even before The Very Most, I was running my own label, and before that I was in bands, going all the way back to when I was 15. So, for over 20 years. I honestly don't remember what it came from. My dad plays, my great-grandfather played in dance bands, my siblings all play to one degree or another. I think playing music is just an inescapable, integral part of being a Jensen. My kids, one of whom plays guitar and another of whom plays piano and clarinet, are proving that theory out.

The name "The Very Most" comes from the phrase "I love you the very most." It's about that life-affirming feeling of knowing you are someone's favorite person and that that person is your favorite too.

03. If you had to materialize your music into a planet, how it would look like?
It would be pale blue. It would be mostly composed of an edibly, subtly sweet crystal. It would orbit a maroon sun that maintained a constantly moderate temperature, and the inhabitants would eschew dark thoughts and actions but have enough time on their hands, due to the abundant blue crystal food source, to good-naturedly complain about their condition.

04. More than a band, I see The Very Most as a collective built around your musical ideas. What inspires you to create lyrics and melodies?
To be clear, my bandmates do contribute quite a few ideas, especially on our album "A Year With The Very Most." That said, I agree that it is a bit of a collective because so many people have come and left.
The way that I write my songs is like this: I noodle around on an instrument (I've written songs on guitar, keyboard, ukulele, and omnichord) until something catches my fancy. Then I record that "songlet," as I call them, and file it away, often for years. Then, when it's time to get serious about making a song, I pull the songlets out, combine them, refine them, or add simple connecting parts. I construct the entire backing track, as well as the vocal melody, before I even begin thinking about writing the lyrics. Then, at the last possible moment, I sit down for an hour or two and bang out some lyrics. Sometimes I've been given a theme (e.g., seasons for "A Year With The Very Most") which usually makes it a little easier. Other times, I have to think of a topic. In those cases, I just try to express my opinion about the topic in the least bad way that I can: no cliche (except to play off them), no ugliness, no laziness, and no awkwardness, though I often fail at that last one. The topics are usually just what has been stewing around in my head. So, I guess my inner mono/dialogue is what inspires me, though that's obviously influenced by the things that are going on in my life: family, politics, my day job, my work as a musician, my spirituality, etc. 

05. Whether as natural evolution or conscious choice, what do you think has changed in your music during all this years?
Over the years I've gotten better at recording and my music has maybe gotten a little less cluttered. Really, though, I don't think there's been a ton of change or development over the years. We've been pretty consistent since Congratulations Forever. Hmm, kinda scary. Makes me wonder if we should shake things up a bit. Do an all sitar and synth album or something.

06. Your new EP Just A Pup is set to be released in June 14th via Manic Pop! Records. A 4 track vinyl featuring Liz Hunt from The School singing in 'It's not Unusual'. How the collaboration happened?
I emailed the School maybe in '08 or so, pretty soon after their first few songs came out on MySpace. I told them how much I loved their music and gave them a link to mine. Fortunately, they liked it! Since then, I've been in touch with Liz on Facebook a little, and it dawned on me that that she would be perfect for that track, both because she has an amazing voice (the most important reason) and because both she and Tom Jones are Welsh. She agreed and the track turned out great. She's so easy to work with and such a nice person.

07. I read at Musical Rooms that you record your music in a converted shed in your back yard. Could you send us a picture of it? Any neighbors complaining about the noise?
What's weird is that we never get neighbors complaining about the noise, but I do occasionally have to ask my neighbors to be a little quieter. The shed is quite warm, but it's not very soundproofed. Sound from the outside can easily get on the tracks.
08. You're playing NYC Popfest in less than a month (May, 31st). How excited are you to play there? How's the preparation and rehearsals?
WE ARE SO EXCITED!! This sounds maybe a little cheesy, but I feel a little like we're representing our state at Popfest. We're the only indiepop band from Idaho and the only Idaho band to ever play at a popfest. That makes me happy. I'm also grateful and excited that I get to see such amazing bands, one after another after another.

The prep and rehearsals are going quite well. It was a little rough at the start, but starting about three practices back everything started clicking. We, and most of the other bands, only get a 30 minute slot, but I'm actually a little grateful for that because it means we have time to get each song really tight. I also get to play keyboard with Math and Physics Club for two songs too. 

09. Time and place to listen to The Very Most.
Time: late morning/early afternoon
Place: in a car, a bus, or a train

10. Anything else you feel like saying?
Perhaps the one thing I'd like to say above all else is that indiepop is not "lightweight", it's not always cute, and it's not just throwaway pop. It carries as much emotional heft to me (and thousands of other people) as all those "serious" genres do for the people that love them.

Well, Yo La Tengo is about to start. Thanks so much for interviewing me!

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