Jeanne Marie Boes Interview
Jeanne Marie Boes, based in New York City, is a pianist and singer-songwriter. She talked to me about pianists and singers who have inspired her, the songwriting process, and how she came to compose for short films.
Tessa: You’re a great piano player. How long have you been playing? Do any pianists in particular inspire you?
Jeanne: Thank you. I’ve been playing since I was 10 or 11 years old. The first pianists that come to mind are Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder. They’re both extremely talented songwriters, pianists and performers, and I definitely count them as inspiration.
Tessa: You’re also an awesome singer. What singers inspire you? Is there anybody you ever tried to sound like?
Jeanne: You’re so kind. I think I’ve tried to sound like many vocalists over the years, but my main source of inspiration comes from the greats – Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.
Tessa: A lot of singer-songwriters start out by testing their material on audiences at open mic nights. Did you do that? If so, were there ever any interesting experiences you had?
Jeanne: Of course, I’ve been to many open mic nights, more than I can count. Not one in particular stands out to me, but I’ve gone to many all over Long Island, Queens and Manhattan. It’s one of the best ways for performers starting out to hone their craft and perfect their sound in the most honest way possible.
Tessa: What’s the most interesting paid gig you’ve had?
Jeanne: I once played for a yoga class. Very interesting and intimidating, but fun.
Tessa: Some of your playing seems to have a jazzy flavor. Did you ever play in a jazz band? Did you play in any other groups before becoming a solo artist?
Jeanne: I’ve never played in a jazz band, although I would absolutely love to someday. I’ve always done the solo thing, long before playing with bands – but over the past couple years, I’ve played or sang in a few local rock bands.
Tessa: Did you study music in college or high school?
Jeanne: In high school I was a music major at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.
Tessa: What’s the songwriting process like for you?
Jeanne: It always seems to be music first, then lyrics. I’ll either think of a tune or mess around on the piano first – but it always comes back to the melody that starts it off.
Tessa: You have an interesting variety of covers—Adele, the Jackson 5, and Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington. What music do you like to listen to?
Jeanne: I listen to so many different types of music. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Kills, The Black Keys, Taylor Swift and Adele, just to name a few.
Tessa: Why did you choose to sing backup on the Little Embers‘ song, “Raise the Dead?”
Jeanne: I was so thrilled when they asked me to sing in their music video. I had been singing back-up vocals at a number of their shows, and I guess it was just being in the right place at the right time – but it was an absolutely wonderful experience and I enjoyed every second of it.
Tessa: I saw that you compose for short films too. How did you start doing that?
Jeanne: Another example of “right time, right place.” I know the director of the films personally and he liked my first effort. He’s used my work a few times, and hopefully more to come.
Tessa: How did you come up with the creepy music for “Who’s There?” It’s hard not to be freaked out by that video.
Jeanne: I watched it many times before starting to write down and record ideas, but one thing I knew was that I wanted to take part in the suspense but not overshadow it. It’s a wonderfully made short-film and I was so glad I could be a part of it.