Big Machine label group artist Lauren Jenkins utilized her background in acting and film directing to produce a video short to compliment three traditional music videos related to her new album.
She said she had to "tactfully” convince her reluctant record company that the 11-minute film “Running Out of Road” was an integral part in telling her story. She said the executives turned after viewing the three traditional song videos and realized there was a larger story to be told.
“And I said, ‘Yeah there is, here’s the script, let’s go back to New Mexico and make the short film,’” laughed Jenkins recalling the moment.
“This is my first short film I’ve had complete control over,” said Jenkins. “Most of the time I’m working on someone else’s film. So, this was my vision and I felt like I had to make it whether the label signed off on it or not.”
The film also has legs as a potential entry into film festivals and house screenings.
“It’s just a model that if the story is there, it’s something I’d like to pursue throughout my career,” said Jenkins.
Both the short and album are full of pain. As music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote for allmusic.com in a glowing 4 ½ star review, “Filled with songs about open roads, whiskey, and inner demons, No Saint captures a singer/songwriter with a restless heart, yet Jenkins channels this wanderlust into music that's remarkably assured.
High praise for anyone’s debut album. Jenkins said the demons were real, though she did take creative license with the characters in both the film and album.
“And I’m not going to tell you which parts are autobiographical," she laughed heartily.
“Running Out of Road” is also a song on “No Saint.” It’s a rootsy Americana-ish ballad that chronicles the ache and pull of a recent lover.
I've got a full tank of gas
But my hearts on empty
Windows down, radio loud
But I just wanna scream
I keep trying to find a place
Where I won't find your ghost
But I keep running, I keep running
Running out of road
- “Running Out of Road” by Lauren Jenkins
“I often feel like I am (running out of road),” Jenkins again laughed. “It’s ironic because I haven’t, but I often have to create my own road by going off on the dirt path. And that’s why I love the (soft acoustic) guitar intro, and the juxtaposition between the lyrics and the sense of hope. I really love that because that’s sort of life for me right now. I’m always on the road and sometimes I feel like I’m hitting dead ends, but there always seems to be more roads even when it feels like there’s not.”
Jenkins was unusually focused as a young girl, even telling her parents she wanted to perform music and act.
“I was burning to start telling stories. Playing music, as well as working in film and photography," said Jenkins before trailing off and hinting at, but no pursuing something deeper.
“School was tough for me … so 15 is when I was finally able to start hitting the highway.
That road led her to film work behind and in front of the camera. She also found time to write and perform music.
“But it was for tips at coffee shops and trying to find clubs that would book this random 15-year-old who writes songs by herself. I didn’t understand you could make a career in music. But I’ve always been a storyteller and it (film and music) kind of happened at the same time,” said Jenkins.
The connection to Big Machine came from the music producer she was working with in her early 20s. Since she didn’t really understand the music business, she didn’t think much when the producer asked permission to shop her music to record labels.
“I said, ‘Sure, knock yourself out,’ as I was working on an EP at the time,” said Jenkins. “Next thing I know I’m on a flight meeting with labels and signed a contact with Big Machine shortly after.”
Recent WGLT conversations with various industry heavyweights, including this one with producer Steve Albini, show the varying opinions on the value of especially major record labels today. Jenkins understands the shark infested waters, but said her experience has mostly been positive.
“I think it’s different for everybody,” said Jenkins. “I can’t picture what my life would be like if I hadn’t signed with Big Machine. They’ve been very gracious about being patient and letting me follow my crazy ideas even though I don’t really follow the rules. At the end of the day, I know I would be doing music and stories and making songs with or without the support of a label.”
Jenkins plays the Castle Theatre on Friday night. She opens for Wild Feathers.
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