We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Pearl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
Scott Spaulding, friend, brother from another mother, and drummer in our band, VUM, introduced me to the popular aphorism ‘expectations are future resentments’ as I was railing against the pay-to-play system of promotions, transactions, negotiations and promises entrenched in the business of being a band. This ever so prescient set of letters was later reiterated by a PR agent moments after we handed over our scraped together, meager savings to him in exchange for blog writers to tell the world how much they loved us. Ironically, he was one of the few who delivered! Overall, however, our experience in the music industry, peppered with devoted music fans, dedicated DJs, sycophants, hard working musicians, narcissists, impressively talented people and human barnacles, ultimately lead us to decide that negotiating the bureaucratic web of scene administrators and label keyholders operating somewhere between legitimate enterprise and racketeering proved too expensive and too socially complicated for us to maintain. Keep Going? Give Up? If it’s something you really love to do and you can do so without compromising your responsibilities, stay in. If your intuition tells you so, stay in. For the long run. Scale back as needed. Make it manageable and take opportunities as they come your way. How will you know if this was the right choice? You probably won’t. What did we choose? We made the decision to scale back, but stay in while we were simultaneously, aggressively making moves away from music: studying for the GRE, taking new job opportunities, developing businesses, and other measures to try and become proper grownups as we were ripley crossing the threshold into our 40s and had little other than albums, artworks and children to show for it. In 2019, right as we were approaching the apex of adulting, opportunities started to flow in. We were approached by Justine Bateman to score her debut film, Violet, and landed sync placements in Netflix’s Messiah and the film Materna, which premiered at Tribeca 2020 and was awarded Best Cinematography and Best Actress. We had an excellent experience and a great deal of creative license in scoring Bateman’s Violet, which was set to premiere in SXSW’s narrative feature competition before the entire world buckled under COVID-19 and SXSW was abruptly cancelled. 2020 proved to be both our most fortunate and disappointing year. And, of course, the global pandemic, mass death and joblessness puts teenage dreams in perspective. Keep Going? Give Up? Amidst the virus, the shutdown, and the protests, we wrote, recorded and released an EP entitled Wild Enclosures as a means of acquiescing to this brave, new reality; the sci-fi film that was now our everyday lives. Though we had some dreams dashed when our first film score premier dematerialized overnight, we decided to stay in. In January of 2021 we were delighted to find out that Violet will now be premiering at SXSW 2021 and our first film score will, after all, get heard. Here we are, for the long run.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I primarily make recordings as a member of the band VUM. I also have a new recording project just beginning to open its wings, known as Radiant Flux. I also make photographic works and sculpture. In my work, I like to braid the tassels of the known and confirmable sensory existence we are currently bathed in and the possibilities of senses yet discovered; a peak around the corner, if you will. I still don’t know exactly why I feel so compelled to create, but the energy and drive to do so seems everlasting.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The first place we will visit post-COVID-19 which happens to also be one of our favorite places in LA, is the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, now in Highland Park. Before and afterwards, we will get get a double-decker ice cream cone at Mashti Malones, 10:00 am – Grocery run at Follow Your Heart for something to eat in between ice cream parlor visits 11:00 am – Mango ice cream- Mashti Malones 12:00 pm – Midday show at the beloved Bob Baker Marionette Theater 1:00 pm – Rose water saffron ice cream- Mashti Malones 2:00 pm – Record shopping at Amoeba 3:00 pm – Turkish coffee ice cream at Mashti Malones 4:00 pm – Scott has to stop by El Cholo on Western, motive unclear. 5:00 pm – Buy more records at Mount Analog 6:00 pm – Creamy rosewater ice cream – Mashti Malones 7:00 pm – Stand in front of Mono Records, wait for it to reopen 8:00 pm – Bring large pile of books to the front counter at The Last Bookstore to keep bookstores alive in LA The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Thank you to Henry Rollins for relentlessly spinning our tracks and keeping us out of the crypt even when we were ready to go there, Meg Cranston for opening every door Christopher Badger has ever walked through, Justine Bateman for conjuring us up to score a film when we had never done so before, Lauren Fay for keeping our cuts in your queue, and to every nook and cranny fan for supporting us from the far reaches of New Labrador and sending us messages of sonic devotion.
VUM triplex photos and photo of Jennifer Pearl by Kristin Cofer, Black and white photo of Christopher Badger and Scott Spaulding by Gus Russell and Andy Brown.