Welcome to “Six Questions With…,” a series of interviews with emerging artists, musicians, and bands focusing on the music scene and how they live within it. It started as a quick, fun project, but has quickly gained serious interest, so we’re making this a permanent feature on the site. Over time, the questions may change, but the sentiment will stay intact. This is a way for independent artists to be discovered by new fans on a global scale.
Within in each post, you will find all of their social media links, and also either a link to their music, or the ability to stream at least one of their tracks or videos, depending on the availability.
We hope you enjoy this series, and if you know anyone that might be interested in being part of it, please have them reach out to us for more information.
Next in the hot seat is Richmond, VA-based indie rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Thorp Jenson. We have not yet had the privilege to cover Thorp Jenson here on the pages of Indie Minded, so it is great to get to know him. If you’re not familiar with him, sit back and enjoy! This is what is great about this series – the discovery of new music. Trust us, you’ll want to keep your eyes on him.
For those who may not be familiar, please tell us about your music: the type of music you play, where you are from, and how you got started?
I just try to write the best songs I can. There ends up being a lot of elements thrown in and I think that’s just rock and roll. Rock n roll is sort of a stew of country, blues, gospel, soul music and everything else thrown in. Folks seem to be using the word Americana a lot these days. That’s fine with me, whatever works.
I grew up in Chester, VA, a small town about 25 min south of Richmond. I also spent a lot of my summers and school breaks at my grandmother’s house in Staten Island or my aunt and uncle’s in small town New Jersey, so I really got the north and southeast small town American experience growing up. I did not grow up playing music, aside from singing in my church. I drifted to it in young adulthood and by my early 20’s I was playing around town and doing some light touring with a band I had formed. After that fizzled out I eventually started getting work as a sideman on the local scene here in Richmond and have been able to keep busy doing that for the last 10 years.
As an artist, how do you define success?
I consider being able to make this record on my terms with some of my best friends, who are also some of the best musicians I know, a huge success. Every time we get to play music for folks, I feel lucky to do so, and if I can make a lifetime of performing and making records, I guess that’s the ultimate success.
What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?
It’s an interesting time to be an artist. Someone like me has the ability to make their own record, part of which I made in my apartment, on a shoestring budget. It used to be where you couldn’t make a record without the backing of a record label. Now anyone can make a record. ANYONE can make a record. Before the record labels were the gatekeepers so you had to be the cream of the crop. Now we’re inundated with so much music, it’s hard to get above the noise. Even for me as a listener, I find it tough to digest all the music that’s out there.
If you could only play ONE of your songs for the rest of your career, which one would it be?
This is going to sound like a cop out, but I’m really proud of this group of songs as a whole. I would be happy to play any one of them, and I hope I get the chance to play all of them for the rest of my career… But I guess ask me in 10 years.
We’ll let it slide, Thorp, and in the meantime…. listen to “Oklahoma”
Who do you consider your greatest influences?
I’m really enamored with songwriting and the craft of writing a good song. I grew up on the Grateful Dead, so Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia come to mind. I think often times the music that hits you when you’re young leaves the biggest impression. I grew up on stuff like The Band, Tom Petty and Eric Clapton, but I’ve also found a lot of influences from country singers like Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard, soul singers like Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, and the great rockers Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones. I think MC Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger is an excellent contemporary songwriter, Ryan Adams and Sturgill Simpson come to mind as contemporary artists who inspire me. I’ve also been inspired by my peers and friends here in Virginia.
Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?
I think life in general shapes you as an artist. Your personal experiences are going to be part of who you are as an artist, that’s impossible to escape. Aside from that, I find inspiration in good art in general. I love the beat era books like Kerouac and the generation after that, guys like Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson, or Ram Dass if we’re going to the more spiritual side of it all. A good film can be really inspiring too, I love Kubrick and I think the Coen brothers have some great stuff in the contemporary world.