For over two decades, Jenn Champion has been making open-hearted music in the Pacific Northwest. Champion made her name in indie rock favorites Carisa’s Wierd, then found success with her solo project, S, which favored a more stripped down bedroom pop. It’s refreshing to see Champion’s recent pivot to electro-pop, presented in effervescent glory on her tear-stained dance album, Single Rider, released earlier this year.
“I was kinda dabbling in electronica on my record before this one,” sayid Champion. “I just started playing around with synthesizers and drum machines, after playing guitar for so long. What a world! I’m always so interested in learning about this and learning about that, and then suddenly I’m making an electronic album. Because I don’t know about it, and I’m still learning about it, I’ll play some notes on a synthesizer and say, ‘That sounds cool.’ With guitar, I maybe over-complicate what I’m doing because I’m good at that instrument, whereas the synth I’m only OK at, so I can only play at my skill level. Things tend to be a little more simple, but that makes me a little freer.”
One would be forgiven for not guessing how new Champion is to the synth-pop game, considering how polished and immediate Single Rider is. While the music’s uniformly polished and packed with hooks, what draws the listener in is Champion’s confessional lyrics. There’s a vulnerability with Champion’s songs, in a way that might be familiar to fans of Robyn’s similarly emotional dance music.
“The tough part is always deciding whether I’m going to actually put this song into the world,” Champion explained. “I wrote it, and that’s what I wanted to say, but now I gotta put it out there. Sometimes there’s struggle in that, but I think mostly it’s about figuring out how to say how I feel. Because that’s not easy in my regular life, but somehow, in songwriting, with instruments, it’s easier to say ‘that’s what I was trying to say!’ … Sometimes, there’s a lyric or a feeling in a song that can be a little brutal. But I really enjoy songs that I get that feeling from – how difficult it is to be a person sometimes, to have a lot of feelings, and to just walk in the world.”
Crying and dancing never need to be mutually exclusive, and with artists like Jenn Champion, you know you’ll always a partner on the dance floor.
Jenn Champion, w/NAVVI
8 p.m. Wednesday, October 24
$13 General Admission, $10 for OFS Members
206 5th Ave. SE, Olympia