ARTIST NAME: Genna & Jesse
SONG TITLE: Two Dimes
ALBUM TITLE: Say Ok
RELEASE DATE: November 2018
GENRE: Retro Soul Pop
Genna & Jesse – Two Dimes
Genna & Jesse are defined by a unique alchemy born of the quirky chemistry, intricate vocal harmonies, and ardent storytelling which infuse their songwriting and vibrant performances. With whispers (and sometimes roars) of folk, blue-eyed soul, jazz, blues, torch song, and popular music from the ‘60s and ‘70s, their self-chosen genre “Retro Soul Pop” doesn’t quite encompass what they conjure up in their joyful live shows and sensual, deliberate albums. These two shrugs off music industry conventions in favor of doing what feels good and this genre-defying dedication to being current and free has an exciting and irresistible effect.
Drawing inspiration from their romantic nomadic lifestyle, Genna & Jesse might best be described as modern troubadours, generously offering listeners glimpses of their always-moving world with something fresh, true, and genuinely independent.
They are not content to perform only their own songs, however. With so much talent flying under the commercial radar, Genna and Jesse actively seek out and perform songs by lesser-known artists whom they meet in their travels and collaborations. Their evocative performances of these tunes provide a springboard for connecting community – artists and audiences. Every show is different because they are not content to sit in their comfort zone. They stretch their creative boundaries, finding (and constantly creating) new music and playing with it.
Genna and Jesse began performing together in 2009 when Genna hired Jesse to play piano in her San Francisco soul-punk band “Fiction Like Candy”. While working together, a romantic union blossomed and the two decided to write and perform as a duo.
Genna Giacobassi is originally from Lansing, MI. Her parents are both musicians and she grew up surrounded by, and immersed in, music. Inspired by her love of musical theater, jazz, and Motown, she attended Interlochen Arts Academy High School, where she studied voice. A rebellious spirit, she put aside a future in performing the works of others in order to obey her internal muse.
In 1995, still a teenager, she dropped out of school and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to hone her performance and songwriting skills. Her soulful voice is at once easygoing and acrobatic, with hints of Billie Holiday, Rickie Lee Jones, Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt, and Joni Mitchell.
Jesse Dyen has a colorful musical history — he has drawn praise for his anti-war anthem “Sons and Daughters,” from Willie Nelson, bought beer for Joe Strummer, broken Joan Baez’s guitar string, and been to jail with Daniel Ellsberg.
Jesse has self-produced hundreds of tracks and has appeared in projects in the U.S., Europe, and Africa. His album “Contents Under Pressure,” recorded in his hometown Philadelphia and featuring some of Philly’s finest musicians, has received radio airplay both domestically and internationally, and was recorded by producer/drummer Andy Kravitz, who also engineered and produced a number of tracks on the duo’s 2016 release, “Asphalt Rhapsody.”
Genna & Jesse have been living the gypsy lifestyle for over six years, and are currently on an international perma-tour, promoting the “Asphalt Rhapsody” album. In November of 2018, they will be celebrating the release of their long-awaited studio album, “Say OK.” Their tour, which includes club venues, house concerts, restaurants, cafes, and festivals, is being done with as small a carbon footprint as possible.
State your reason for choosing music as a career.
Music is what we’re best at. It’s what we’re passionate about. We’ve both had day jobs in the past, and although there was more stability, it didn’t make us happy. As touring musicians and recording artists, we’ve finally committed to doing what makes us tick, and we put a high value on that.
Tell us how you write the lyrics to your song.
“Two Dimes” was written during … in residence stint in South Bend, Indiana. During residencies, we like to write music that is inspired by the community we’re in; by its history, or by experiences we have while visiting. In this case, we wanted to write a song that was inspired by the history of this town as seen through the eyes of some downs and outs.
This song is unique in that it was written in collaboration with some South Bend songwriters (Abby and Kevin Joiner) and the process was totally collaborative. We just threw ideas out and pieced it all together like a puzzle. If you’re asking about how we write lyrics in general, that’s a bit more complicated.
We both write lyrics and music, and often one of us takes the lead on a given song. Then, the other comes in and offers edits, new ideas, or just cleans it up. It’s really satisfying to collaborate in this way.
Share your press release and reviews with us.
“Literate, grownup, soulful pop… [Genna & Jesse] combine folk and jazz with a classic pop bent, and the results are…incredibly catchy, with melodies and hooks that’ll make pop cynics smile, and have fans of grown-up radio reaching for the volume dial.”
– Leicester Bangs, UK
Rave reviews for Genna & Jesse
“With an old soul steeped in jazz and folk, Giacobassi’s velvety vocals coast across piano keys on ballads like ‘Don’t Be Surprised.’ Dyen boasts a storyteller’s intonation; when the two join in harmony, it’s like earth meeting fire.”
– Savannah Connect
“[Genna & Jesse’s] performances are tailored towards an intimate audience, demanding attention through intrigue rather than volume. Routine and monotony are challenges not faced by this pair, or by their music…Each song comes from a different place, both musically and lyrically.”
– Carousel Magazine
“Simply impressive…They offered us one wonderful, very emotional show.”
– Tried & True Magazine, Germany
“…incredibly catchy, with melodies and hooks that’ll make pop cynics smile, and have fans of grown-up radio reaching for the volume dial.”
– Leicester Bangs Music Magazine
“You will laugh, you will cry, you will connect, you will involuntarily dance in your chair… Genna and Jesse are mind-blowing, warm, passionate, energetic, engaging, and uber-talented craftsmen of songs…”
– Brian McCloskey, Folk at Foul Rift
“It’s a rare thing to see this kind of band, this kind of singer before they’re famous. If you get a chance to see Genna & Jesse, do so. They are remarkable.”
– Christopher Garlington, Chicago Editorial Columnist, Author, Humorist
★★★★★ Genna & Jesse’s “Give and Take,”
NBT Music Radio’s best album of 2013!
“[Give and Take] is a very diverse record that offers something for everyone.”
– Strutter Magazine
“…The 9 self-penned songs on this sweet and soft record can certainly be regarded as beautiful results of [Genna & Jesse’s] creative and spiritual collaboration.”
– Rootstime Magazine
In 2016, Retro Soul Pop duo Genna & Jesse released their third album, “Asphalt Rhapsody.”
An international tour to promote the album kicked off shortly after the release. With richer production and strong pop elements, this work is a surprising departure from their folkier debut album “Give and Take,” and their live sophomore release “Wild Enough to Try”. Genna & Jesse, who live nomadically, recorded this album over the span of several years.
The duo cut tracks in over a dozen locations, with guest musicians including Klaus Fluoride (Dead Kennedys), Roger Rocha (4 Non-Blondes), David Hood (Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman), Will McFarlane (Bonnie Raitt, Etta James) and Andy Kravitz (Taj Mahal, Joan Osborne).
“Asphalt Rhapsody” embodies the duo’s love for experimenting in the studio, and is touched with whispers (and sometimes roars) of folk, blue-eyed soul, jazz, blues, country, and popular music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Although the music is more produced than previous works, it still captures the unique alchemy and quirky chemistry that define the duo. Fans of their intricate vocal harmonies and ardent storytelling will find plenty to be excited about. With this new album, the modern troubadours offer listeners glimpses of their always-moving world with something fresh, true, and genuinely independent.
The “Asphalt Rhapsody” Tour features intimate performances at clubs, small theaters, cafes, house concerts, and festivals, and is done with as small a carbon footprint as possible. Many of the tracks on “Asphalt Rhapsody,” including the desert-inspired love song “Tumbleweed and Tonic,” have already received extensive radio play in the U.S. and Europe.
“Pop/folk duo Genna & Jesse come out with joy, soul, and a little bit of edge in their new track ‘Tumbleweed and Tonic.’ It’s a fun, light, friendly song that showcases Genna’s beautiful, haunting, crystal-clear vocals, and great production coming from Jesse.”
(Music Worth Reviewing)
“For those who like their pop with a little more depth and sincerity, delivered with charm and just the right amount of sassy attitude…Genna & Jesse are definitely a duo to look out for.”
(Ross Barber, ReviewYou/Electric Kiwi)
Discuss your life outside the music world.
We’re nomads, so life is a lot about travel and experiencing new things. We’re also married, so we get to do this traveling as a couple, which is cool. We enjoy checking out the places we’re visiting, going to museums or other cultural sites, tuning into the local music scene, being out in nature (hiking, kayaking, etc.), and generally having adventures. We also like connecting with friends wherever we are, and now our friend pool spans the US and about a dozen European countries.
We’re both foodies, so we enjoy experiencing culture through the cuisine of the place we’re in. We spend a lot of time in the car. We talk a lot, listen to podcasts, and the passenger (usually Genna) reads books aloud. We just finished Chrissie Hynde’s autobiography.
Discuss your music career.
We both have had interesting music careers since the early 90s, but they were totally separate until about 8 years ago when we were playing together in the soul punk band “Fiction Like Candy”. That was in San Francisco. We started working as a duo after that band split, and in 2012 decided to do it full time. In the last 6 years we’ve released 3 albums (soon to be 4), played concerts all over the US, Canada, and in about a dozen European countries, and in that time never had a home of our own – the nomad life suits us. What we’ve done with our career is an example of how persistence and thinking outside the box can create a successful career in a world where the music biz is totally unreliable.
We’re self-made and our operation is done totally independently. And we’ve found a way to make it work! In spite of the image that “nomad” might conjure, we live a very good life. We never want for anything and have rich experiences daily. People forget that superstardom isn’t the only route, and in fact may not be the ideal route.
We’re doing what we love, our career is growing (especially in Europe), we’re respected by those whose opinions we care about, and we have an awesome quality of life. We hope that other artists can be inspired by the way in which we’ve gone about making our dreams come true.
Elaborate on your artist’s name.
Ha! That’s easy. We spent all of about five minutes trying to think of something clever (every band’s nightmare?) and quickly decided to keep it simple and just use our names.
Tell us your source of inspiration.
Travel, experience, social justice, love, spirituality, tragedy, joy.
Tell us your impression of dealing with paparazzi.
Our impression is that it sounds like it sucks and we hope we never have to deal with that.
Elaborate on the recording of this song.
This song was recorded in Nashville with some of the finest musicians ever. Steve Mackey on bass, Lindsay Jamieson on drums, Barry Green on trombone, Steve Patrick on trumpet, and we flew in Genna’s dad Dan Giacobassi to play sax. We cut the song really quickly. It’s a duet, and we both sang live in the room together, then overdubbed backing vocals later. It was smooth and fun. Our producer, Jacob Lawson, knows how to get the best out of players and create an inspired and relaxed recording environment.
Tell us about your future projects.
Unknown! We’re always writing new material and love making albums, so there’s always a new record on the horizon. We’re looking forward to relocating to Europe (we’ll still play concerts in the US) and so that’s a big project, though not necessarily an overtly artistic one.
We’re releasing ‘Say OK’ soon, and so there will be some videos created to go along with that, and we’re also releasing an accompanying songbook so people can learn the tunes themselves.
We’re also doing some ongoing philanthropic work, teaching songwriting to inner-city kids.
List the names of those that have supported you so far.
That list would be nearly endless. Friends, family, other musicians, reviewers, critics, fans…
Tell us your point of view on vocal tuning.
Our point of view is, basically, don’t do it. Stylistically it’s become a thing, and we are not fans of that. It sucks the soul and earth out of the music. Everybody’s a robot now. That said, autotuning can be used skillfully and when it is, you don’t even know it’s there.
On rare occasions, there’s a performance that’s just so good – catching just the right vibe and energy and style – but there is a note that’s slightly out of tune. In those rare cases, we’re ok with the producer using a little bit of magic to clean it up.
But in our world, it’s better to just totally nail the part when we sing it. It’s so satisfying to sing the vocal in the studio and be right on point. But also, part of the beauty of music (to our minds) is that it’s human, and little imperfections are sometimes just what the song needs.
Our musical ethic is that the purer it is the better. By the way, that’s why our albums match up to our live shows. We’re not that band that has a killer record and then you see them live and they can’t pull it off. How many times have you heard a singer live who just can’t hit the notes?
Most people actually enjoy our live shows just as much or more than our records, and it’s because we know how to be just as good, live as we are in the studio. So… if you’ve got the vocal chops, there’s no need for tricks in the studio. And if you don’t have the chops… maybe you’re not a singer!
Tell us your thought on quality and quantity for the release of songs.
We are always focused on quality over quantity. Could we write and release a song a day if we wanted to? Sure. There’s no need for that, though. We feel like releasing a really great album every other year is the sweet spot.
Tell us your viewpoint on comparing a music career to a non-music career.
We’ve done both, and a career in music is our preference. That’s a totally personal choice though. Not all musicians are happy with a career in music, and not all people with careers in music are true musicians!
We’ve got tons of super talented musician friends who ended up deciding that they needed the security that a music career can’t reliably provide. We respect that. There are all kinds of ways to be a musician.
Tell us your opinion on categorizing music into genres and sub-genres.
We understand the necessity of creating genres and sub-genres, but it can be difficult to navigate when you are an eclectic act. So it’s sort of a headache for us, especially when we’re dealing with platforms that only give us a handful of choices as to genre.
We’d rather people just listen and then make up their minds about what it is we’re doing.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
“Two Dimes” is sung from the perspective of a down-and-out couple in South Bend, Indiana, in the 1960s. They work hard all week to save enough money to buy records and hit the town together on the weekend. The title is a playful take on the saying, “Don’t have two dimes to rub together.” It’s an American phrase meaning that you ain’t got no money. So… neither of them have two dimes to rub together. But she’s got one dime, he’s got one dime… maybe they can rub their dimes together. Wink wink. It’s kinda silly but also sweet and a bit sexy.
We can all relate to this universal need to have fun and let loose after a hard work week, and to doing whatever we need to do in order to make that happen, whether we’ve got some dollars in our pocket or we’re flat broke.
State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title.
The album is titled “Say OK,” which is also the title of one of the tracks on the album, a little love song. I guess it’s appropriate because the song on which the album title is based is about a couple who adventures together – that’s us.
But there are several levels of meaning. We’ve found that saying “yes” is sort of an operating principle within our lives. We say yes to people, to experiences, to places… we say yes to our big ideas, even if they’re crazy. We give ourselves permission to want things and to fulfill those wants. Nothing is off the table… It’s a good way to live.
There’s also another element to this, which is that with this album we are launching our “Say OK community project,” wherein we bring music to kids in challenging economic situations. We actually launched this project in the springtime, and it’s been really successful so far. The underlying concept is that we all need to be saying OK to kids – championing their creativity, their brilliance, their voice. Kids have something to say, something to give, and we want to help them express themselves and be heard.