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Judy Blank – Mary Jane

Judy Blank - Mary Jane
Judy Blank - Mary Jane
Judy Blank – Mary Jane



State your reason for choosing music as a career.
I’ve always had an interest in people who were brave enough to pursue unusual careers. Acrobats, dancers, actors, singers; I never knew exactly what I wanted to be as a kid, but I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to be sitting behind a desk from 9-5. When I started writing my first songs and playing around town for a little bit, I soon realized I was doing something truly special: addressing people’s feelings, meeting talented & interesting people, and exploring the world all at the same time. To me, that’s a dream job. Also, with a career in music, you’re never done learning! There’s no ultimate goal for me. I just want to keep improving myself while I try to enjoy every second of the journey.
Tell us how you write the lyrics to your song.
Sometimes good song lines accidentally find me. I can be watching a b-movie on Netflix when one of the characters says something that keeps ringing in my head. A funny line, a quote, just a pretty way of saying something, or a saying I’ve never heard anyone use for. I write it down on my phone or in a notebook and usually have an idea for some kind of melody for it. I obviously pause Netflix and start humming the melody, while trying to fit in the syllables of the line I like. Then, I let it sit for a few days, and the rest of the song kind of evolves around that first, main idea that usually turns out to be the chorus. But I do scribble down a LOT of different rhymes before I’m finally happy, haha.
Tell us about your life outside the music world.
I live in Utrecht, a charming little city in the Netherlands. There are many cool coffee places I like to go to. My favorite one is Blackbird coffee & vintage, a 70’s-inspired place on the canal with the sweetest owners in the world. You can find me there on the regular catching up with my friends. Utrecht is a lovely city to come home to when I’m not traveling. I really like skiing and snowboarding. There’s something about the crisp mountain air that makes me feel brand new every time I go. Oh, I’m also a songwriting teacher at a young artist academy called Herman Brood Academie. And believe it or not; I’m in the hip hop department!
Brief us about your music career.
When I was 14, I believed I was a cool skater girl and started singing in a band called ‘Boobytrap’ with friends from school. We covered Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. We were so cool. Gnarly. But nobody knew I was actually taking piano classes and writing sad sorry songs about my miserable teenage life. I started writing more regularly and playing more shows as I grew up, and when my debut album came about in the Summer of 2014, I had the pleasure of playing at some of the biggest festivals in the Netherlands with my band at the time. All of a sudden we were playing North Sea Jazz festival, Lowlands fest, and Pinkpop. In the fall that followed, I did my first club tour, played a lot of radio & TV shows, and supported artists like Macy Gray & Maria Mena. But as the album momentum slowly died, I ended up in a bit of an identity crisis. I had no idea who I was and definitely no clue of what I wanted my songs to sound like anymore. I didn’t feel connected to the songs on the album anymore, and nothing came out of my hands when I wanted to write something. And most of all, I didn’t feel like playing the piano when I didn’t need to. I was ready to give up on pursuing a career in music in general when I started traveling. I ended up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where I picked up a guitar and started playing every day. My inspiration slowly came back; I started writing simpler folk-based songs and tried them out at open mics around town. When I came home after that trip, I never touched the piano again. A year later I supported my favorite band of all time, the Wood Brothers in a sold-out LantarenVenster in Rotterdam. I met up with the lead singer, Oliver Wood, in Nashville, where I was just being a total tourist, a few months later. He showed me the studio where they had recorded some of their albums: Zac Brown’s Southern Ground. I immediately fell in love with the place. I went back to record my next album there exactly one year later. And now the first single is out and I’m currently trying out all my new songs while being on the road with Scottish singer-songwriter Daniel Docherty. Life’s cool.
Elaborate on how you come about your artist’s name.
I think my parents thought it was a cool name; they gave it to me when I was born.
List your five favourite music videos with reasons.
Johnny Cash – Hurt. It’s just gorgeous, so real, and so human. Johnny Cash is my hero.
Matt Maltese – As The World Caves In. It’s a surreal video that feels 100% real to me. Way to go.
Nick Mulvey – Cucurucu. I can just look at this forever. Thank God for slo-mo.
Ben Howard – Keep Your Head Up. This made me wanna be IN the video. Vibin’!
Justin Timberlake – Say Something. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen while watching this.
It’s just so great. And when the choir comes in… chills. All in one take. Who does that?!
Tell us your source of inspiration.
Traveling. Nashville. People. Heartbreak. Aggravation. Netflix. More heartbreak.
Tell us your impression on dealing with paparazzi.
I love pizza paparazzi. It’s the best.
Elaborate on the A-Z process of this song.
The first line of the song, ‘How many times do I need to fix myself?’ had been stuck in my head for a few weeks. Then one day, I was driving in my car, singing, the rest of the verse and half a chorus came out. I was on my way to a friend’s house for a social visit and I remember just not being able to get that melody out of my mind. I picked up a guitar and started writing at the kitchen table on a Friday night, with all my other friends in the room, getting drunk. I ended up going to the attic to record a Garageband demo of the song on my iPhone; I was already hearing some backing vocals in my head so I just had to lay them down. I had almost everything done, except for the lyrics to the bridge part. When I flew back to Nashville a few weeks later to record the second half of my new album, I remember being a little frustrated because I hadn’t been able to come up with that teeny tiny bit of text. I was really amazed by the stuff bassist Joe Dickey, drummer Andrew Peebles and guitarist Ethan Ballinger laid down in the first place. But then I started tweaking the lyrics with a little help from my producer Chris Taylor. Some of the things he said and the pictures he saw that he described just got my inspiration mojo going again. I remember him saying something about driving to the west coast, and then the ‘’I’ll be riding shotgun’’- part came to me. The bridge part wasn’t finished until an hour before I recorded the vocal track for that song. Isn’t that crazy?
Tell us what you have on the way for your fans.
Well, my fans are in for a treat. My second studio album will be out in September this year, and before that, there will be a few singles out on Spotify for them to binge on. I’ve never been more proud of anything I did or made, so I’m super excited to share it. I’ve never been more honest and more personal in my songwriting, either. In a way, that’s kind of freaky, but I do believe being honest has improved the songs in many ways.
List the names of those that have supported you so far.
Over the past few years, I’ve gotten some sweet words from a lot of people! I don’t remember all of them and I don’t want to put them on the spot, but there’s one really special thing blues grandpa Seasick Steve said about me during his show at North Sea Jazz festival that still rings with me today:
“This young girl sang some songs that made my heart drum. If she was anywhere around me, I’d go see her every night.’’
Tell us your opinion on the use of auto-tune.
This puts me in an awkward position, since I’m teaching at a hip-hop academy. I’m not supposed to say this, but… I hate it. Hate it. There’s nothing about auto-tune that affects the way I listen to music in a positive way. In my opinion, it takes out the life of a voice. Ugh. Sorry pupils! (I think they’ve always known how I truly felt, anyway).
Tell us your opinion on quality and quantity in terms of releasing songs.
I haven’t released anything new in four years, simply because I wasn’t happy with what I was making and not sure what I wanted to sound like at all. If I would have released songs in the meantime, they wouldn’t have been near as good as they are now. I’m glad I waited and can now show the growth between the two albums. But I won’t deny I had to totally rebuild my momentum again. There’s something to say for both ways of doing it, I guess.
Tell us your opinion on comparing music career to non-music career.
The other day, I went to a nail salon I go to, to get my one fake nail done for guitar strumming (it’s like having a plectrum attached to your index finger. Try it if you’ve never done it, it’s heavenly). The lady who was fixing my nail started questioning me about my music career. Many people do. While buffing my nail like a crazy person, right after she had heard me out completely about all the things I had done so far, she asked me this: ‘’But I can’t imagine you making a living out of that, right? Isn’t it all just for fun?’’ It killed my vibe. So bad. I felt so aggravated when I left that place. What on earth gave this lady the right to even talk to me like that? After everything, I just told her about all the effort and dedication I put into my music career? Even the shiny new nail couldn’t cheer me up. But as I was biking home, I realized something vital. People who are not pursuing a career in music will simply never truly understand it. And that’s as much a curse as it is a blessing.
Tell us your opinion on categorizing music into genres and sub-genres.
I think I would like to start a new genre called ‘great songs’. It would definitely make things a lot easier. But seriously; I’m a Dutch girl singing Americana songs. How would you call that? Dutchicana?
State the genre you hate most with reason.
Death metal. Screamo. Everything that involves grunting. I just honestly don’t get how that turns people on. For real. Intense forms of audioterrorism.
List your five favourite movies with reasons.
  1. The Lobster
This movie is so perfectly weird. I watched it in my favorite movie theatre in my hometown and it left me feeling completely awkward. Such a funny concept.


  1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Such great acting. Ugh. Too good to be true. The main character is so badass and yet so vulnerable, it just gets me.


  1. Dumb & Dumber
Cracks me up every time. I watched this movie with my dad a gazillion times as a kid and it never gets old. Jim Carrey is my favorite and he always will be.


  1. The Shining
Oh, that tension. It just kills me. And I love it. Here’s Johnny!


  1. The Broken Circle Breakdown
If a movie can leave this happy dog feeling depressed for a week, it’s doing something right. Right? This is the most touching movie I’ve seen in all my life. I wrote a song from the perspective of the main character when I was in my sad sorry state. It’s called “Unbroken” and it will definitely be on the new record.
State the links to your stores and website.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
Sweet, Sweet Mary Jane. We’ve all come across her one way or the other. She’s tempting and always dressed in green. You’ve met her.
State the title of the album and the reason for picking the title.
My life was a big mess when I made my previous album, “When The Storm Hits”. I feel like now, four years later, that storm has died down. I’m now finally ready to greet the “Morning Sun”. It’s still early, I’m still young and there’s a lot I got left to learn about life, but it’s a Sun. A morning sun that’s about to rise.



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