Photos by Daniel Galindo and Internet
In 2016 the Canadian oi! singer and musician Jenny Woo visited Mexico and moths ago of her Mexican tour i did this interview. The interview was published in Spanish for the web site EL Alebrije, link of that post: https://elalebrije.net/2016/09/15/jenny-woo-el-problema-es-que-hay-una-doble-moral-en-la-escena-skinhead/
-How was your begins in the skinhead culture?
“I first was a punk rocker before I got into the skinhead scene. Unfortunately, the punk and skinhead scene in my hometown is quite small and I didn’t have anyone to introduce me to it. I heard a song by Rancid on the radio and it really hit me in the heart unlike any other music I had listened to before. I became more and more interested in punk rock and soon found out about many other bands and decided to shave myself a Mohawk and learned about local punk shows. However, around the age of 17 I discovered the skinhead subculture, and I realized that the values of the skinhead scene – loyalty, community, self-pride, were exactly what I needed. I loved the music associated with this subculture, the long and rich history, and I loved that the values and ideas behind the scene pushed me to become a better person.”
-When you decide make music?
“I am lucky because my mother’s husband is a piano teacher and he started to teach me and my sister how to play piano when I was just 5 years old. I started to learn to play guitar and drums when I was thirteen because I wanted to start a punk band, and I played as a guitarist in a few local bands during these years. I started my acoustic solo project in 2007 because it was difficult for me to find other people interested in starting an oi! band and playing my songs in my city. I figured it was better to play alone than to not play at all. I decided to play acoustic because it was easier to have a one person project where you can sing and play acoustic guitar, and the vision behind the project was to play music with skinhead themes and values through an acoustic medium.”
-How describes your music project?
“Well, I have done a lot of different music projects throughout the last 20 years. I played in a few punk bands when I was younger, then I started my acoustic oi! project, and then I also started a powerpop/77 punk band Birds of Prey in 2009 and now I have my own oi! band in Italy called Jenny Woo’s Holy Flame. I think through all of my music I try to write songs that are authentic to who I am, and that talk about the values and ideas that I have. One theme I write often about is how to survive and grow from the hardships of life. I try to have lyrics that are both accessible, universal, and personal to my own experiences. I try to write music that is internally diverse (I have both acoustic, piano, and full-band songs on my new album) but that is always true to the person I am.”
-What is your inspiration for write songs?
“Creativity is a very difficult process to explain. I get ideas for songs from a lot of different places – sometimes it’s just one word, sometimes it’s a phrase, sometimes it’s a simple idea from a movie or a conversation or just from looking at someone else’s life circumstances. I try to build all my song around one central idea, and the central idea is always repeated and reinforced in the refrain. I think that a strong chorus is the foundation of a song, and it’s really important that it sticks in the heart of the listener. I don’t believe in writing something mediocre – in order for me to continue writing a song and to release it, the song has to speak some truth to my own life, and it has to have something in it that is of true value. I have written songs about finding strength in our darkest hours, about fighting for the things we truly believe in, about questioning ignorance and absolutes, and about admiration for my friends and family. I have changed a lot musically throughout the years but I have always enjoyed song writing because it’s an opportunity to express myself and create something lasting.”
-In the Oi! and punk scenes it’s rare find a musician girl there. Have you ever a complicated moment for be a woman inside these music genres?
“I think that there is a lot of machoism in the skinhead scene. There are not a lot of women playing in skinhead bands, but this is not because women are not talented and not because women don’t want to play music… I know a lot of strong, talented women who would love to play in bands. I think the problem is that there is a double standard in this scene. A lot of times men are judged just by the quality of their musicianship and for how they act, but women are often judged for what they look like, their sexuality, and this can be very hard. A lot of people criticize me because they say that I have only had success because I’m a woman in the skinhead scene. However, if this were the case than every woman would have success who wrote a song or played an instrument. I think in reality women have a lot of hurdles and you have to work twice as hard to get half as much. That being said, all the hardships or criticism I have received because of my gender has only pushed me to work harder for what I want and to try to encourage other women to do the same. The feeling of being on stage, writing a great song, playing music with your friends… these are the best moments of my life and I’m glad I fought for them.”
-A few months ago, you visited Mexico, how was your show in this country?
“I had a wonderful time in Mexico. I played in 4 different cities there with two concerts in Mexico City, and each gig was incredible. The people were extremely supportive and I was sincerely touched by the hospitality and kindness of the Mexican people. I made a lot of new friends, ate some churros, and saw some incredible live bands. ¡I truly hope to come back one day soon!”
-Talk me about the skinhead scene in Canada.
“Canada is a very big country and so our scene is very spread out. It is difficult for people to travel from one city to another city because of the long distances, so each city tends to have its own scene. There are some great Canadian oi! bands such as Alternative Action, Lancasters, Subway Thugs, Street Troopers, The Emergency, The Strike… but in general, our scene is quite small. There are some great people in Canada, and I am glad to say that we are few but we are strong.”
-The last question. What are your future plans?
“I just release a new album called Proud of Every Scar on Randale Records and now I started a band in Italy called “Jenny Woo’s Holy Flame.” We are touring a lot in Europe to support the new album. You can check out our new clip Ignorance on YouTube which is a song on the new album against ignorance and prejudice. Thank you so much for your support and for this interview. ¡All my best and hope to see you at the next gig!.”