Just before ringing 2018, we had the pleasure of seeing The Verigolds put on an electric performance live at the Casbah in San Diego, CA. Jenna Cotton, lead singer of the local group, took some time to tell us a bit more about herself and the band.
How was it that you first became involved with music?
My first introduction to music was from my dad in South Florida. I grew up on a boat with my parents between Fort Lauderdale and the Caribbean. He would make me sing with him and when he purchased a second guitar I saw it as my way out of turning the pages in his song books. When my parents would leave me at night to go dance, I would entertain myself by learning new songs, usually from an array of Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffet, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Neil Young, and The Beatles. No one really knew, besides a select few that I let into my world, that I could sing and play guitar. It wasn’t until one night 4 years ago, with the help of some saki, that I mustered up the courage to play in front of the boys. In the next couple of days, they called me to play in their first show. I had known the boys for 3 years before I actually sang with them. They were always true musicians at heart and most nights that I would stop by their place in Ocean Beach they would be sitting on the floor playing guitar and jamming. One of the reasons everything came together was artist and close friend, Celeste Byers, was coming back into town and having an art show. She asked Eliot if he would be interested in playing the show.
Your music seems to be a blend of psych, folk and pop. How would you describe The Verigolds unique sound? What are your influences?
Influences, that’s the easy part. Describing our sound, well, that’s a little harder to describe since we tend to create based on how we feel in that moment. Sometimes I’m on a hot one and love channeling Donna Summer or Early Madonna which gives a more pop influence. Other influences would be Phantogram, The XX, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cults and classic rock like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Fleetwood Mac.
Jenna, you’ve made your way to the beach cities of San Diego all the way from Florida. What originally brought you to San Diego?
I came to San Diego from Florida 8 years ago for acupuncture school. I’ve been an acupuncturist and herbalist for 4 years now.
The Verigolds band members all live together under the same roof, correct? Does that get a bit crazy from time to time? Do you find this good or bad for your overall creativity?
Someone once told me that the quality of your relationships determine what you are capable of. Our house is very alive and unique. We live in a space that is covered in instruments, art, record players, and we all love to entertain. It definitely has its advantages. We have a recording and practice space in our house which allows us to be creative whenever we want. We all share a lot of space which in times can certainly push buttons, however, I’ve found that in those times it spurs emotion and realness which is what I usually draw from when writing songs. It’s in human nature to look for constant satisfaction, and I’ve found that when you let things go that you can’t control and own up to the fact that life is the sum of all your decisions, life becomes easier.
What do you want people to take away from your music or feel when they hear your sound, what are you trying to convey? What does your music mean to you?
I ask myself those questions quite frequently and my answer to that changes frequently. Overall, I want people to come to a show and feel good. I love curating a show/night that is wild, creative and open – turning a venue into a magical spot for a night that brings creatives and trippers together and creates a fun atmosphere. I’m into fun. However, in all reality, what would my ultimate goal be with music? I can really only explain it from an experience I had when I saw Arcade Fire headline Coachella a couple years back. Their music made me cry. It made me feel so deeply. It brought together heartbreak, love, and hope into a streamlined arrow that penetrated deep into my soul. I will never forget that experience as it actually made a difference in my life. If anything, that is what I hope I can do one day.
Do you find music is the way you best express yourself? Do you express yourself with any other creative mediums?
Music is very vulnerable for me. It always has been, so to express my thoughts and feelings out loud… it can be overwhelming. However, you have to learn to love what is good for you. For a while I was singing in a style with high reverb and delay and I think that was a direct correlation to my vulnerability of having people know what I was saying.
Who, what or where inspires you musically? What are some of your influences and how have they shaped you into the artist you are?
Right now I’m inspired by the idea of painting elaborate pictures with words that allow the listener to create their own experiences and meanings.
How do you find your mood or emotions at a given time influencing your sound?
For me, I’ve found that the purpose of life is to experience. I tend to try and live life by charting into the unknown, traveling by myself, and pushing boundaries and comfort zones. By doing this I feel more alive and create new experiences, which in turn definitely turns me on creatively.
Are there any upcoming plans with The Verigolds? Can we expect to see you guys touring anytime in the foreseeable future?
We have a lot in the works for 2018. We are currently recording another album which will be finished in March of 2018. Our album release party will be April 28th at Music Box in San Diego. We are also playing Lightning in Bottle Music Festival and will be planning a small West Coast tour based around that in May/June.