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MUSIC: If I only had Jellied Brainz!

Jellied BrainzOne of the most popular attractions at downtown Mesa’s recent Steampunk Street extravaganza was a fun, up-and-coming band called Jellied Brainz! The trio’s entertaining mix of modern electronics with catchy carnival-style melodies and eclectic lyrics set the stage for the evening’s myriad of amazing sights and sounds. It seemed that everyone stopped to listen and was talking about this incredible new band.

The Jellied Brainz trio consists of Janna Jennison-Jones (vocals/piano-keyboard/melodica), Maura Kay Jennison-Obenshain (vocals, trumpet, baritone euphonium, washboard) and Luis Holguin Dela Cruz (drums, vocals). Everyone is wanting to know more about the Jellied Brainz, so we tracked them down to answer a few questions to quell the public’s curiosity.

Tell us about the band, how long have you been playing and how did you come together?

Janna – Luis and I have known each other since 2009, and we were in a band together before we left it to form Jellied Brainz in September 2010. My sister Maura become part of our band in March 2011.

Luis – The band started when Janna and I were both leaving the same band and decided to start our own group. I suggested to her that we try to take on Steampunk as a musical genre and she loved the idea. I threw out the name “Jellied Brainz” more or less as a joke and it just happened to stick.

We jammed together to try to hash out our sound. Janna started playing “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin and I threw a punk beat over it. Both of us gave each other a big smile because we knew that we had found our sound. Eventually we added Maura to mix to fill out the sound and we’ve been happily gigging as a 3 piece ever since.

You have a fun, energetic and unique sound. What are your influences?

Janna – My dad raised me on Classic rock, such as Aerosmith, Kansas, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, The Who, etc. I had Classical training for both piano and voice, so I am greatly influenced by Classical music as well. I love ragtime music for piano, especially Scott Joplin. During college I discovered a lot of contemporary Alternative, Punk, Electronica, Goth, and Rock music, and even Symphonic Metal. My favorite singer/pianist/songwriter of all time is Tori Amos, and her music has been influencing me since high school.

Not surprisingly, we are influenced by other steampunk/cabaret acts such as Unwoman and Dresden Dolls. We also take influence from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, various punk rock groups, Classical and Ragtime music, and old folk songs or “old timey” standards such as Bicycle Built for Two and I’ll Fly Away.

Luis – Artistically I am very influenced by the imagery of the 20’s, Victorian era and my own odd sense of humor. Musically I tend to draw influence from early drummers like Earl Palmer, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich as well as a slew of old Mexican corridos that I grew up listening to. My singing voice was once described by Maura and Janna’s dad as a mix of Zach De La Rocha from Rage Against the Machine and Ronnie James Dio. That comparison made me very happy because those are some of my biggest musical influences.

Maura – My brass influences stem mainly from listening to Mexican Huapangos and Mariachi groups. For background vocals, I try to use ‘close’ harmonies in the style of The Andrews Sisters and other groups of that day.

Although you are being labeled a “Steampunk” band, your music seems to cross several genres. How do you describe your sound?

Janna – A mixture of Classical, Ragtime, Jazz, Blues, Swing, Reggae, Rock, Punk, Vaudeville, and Cabaret! We love to fuse old-timey sounds with newer rock or punk-type styles.

Luis – We simply refer to ourselves as “Steampunk”. When asked to describe our sound I describe it as ragtime/jazz/punk. We tend to cross genres a bit because we tend to write more based on imagery or concepts and just try to keep it all in the vein of “old timey”.

Maura – As Luis mentioned previously, our songs cross many genres and we tend to write not based on style but on concepts that all fall under Steampunk or Vintage themes. When people ask, I usually say Vaudeville/Ragtime/Punk mixture.

Lots of people want to purchase your music. Where can they buy a CD, or download your songs?

Maura – The three songs we have recorded so far can be listened to on myspace.com/jelliedbrainz and we usually have EPs at our live shows. We are currently working on recording a full-length album when our busy schedules allow. When that is finished, we will sell it at our shows and online through iTunes and CDBaby.com

What’s up next for the Jellied Brainz?

Janna – December 2nd at Donna Jean’s Libations in Glendale – we play with a bunch of rockabilly and alternative groups! It will be a fun time! December 16th at Icehouse Tavern in Phoenix – we play with Psychadelic Mooj for the “Lead-Free Christmas” show.

Luis – Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook for a updates on when/where we’re playing.

With fun futuristic “old-timey” tunes like Deus Ex Machina, Mechanical Love, and Sun and Planet, we advise you to keep your goggles focused on this group, we have a strong feeling they’re going to be bending space & time far beyond the local music scene.

Jellied Brainz on FACEBOOK:
Jellied Brainz on MySpace:

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.


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