We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenny Karr and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenny, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
When I went to Berlin, Germany for a songwriting trip in the summer of 2012, little did I know that I’d walk into a recording studio to do a songwriting session with a person I had never met, then walk out of that session with someone who would become my life and business partner. Mati Gavriel and I were set up to do a songwriting session for a project by BMG Rights Publishing and Budde Music Germany as we were both music industry professionals with years of experience as songwriters, producers, and featured vocalists. Mati was signed as a recording artist to Warner Music and has a background as a composer and multi-media artist, and I have worked with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Michael McDonald to name a few, so music has been at the forefront of most of our endeavors. Besides our involvement on commercial and independent projects, when we first met, we would write personalized songs for our nearest and dearest for birthdays, graduations, weddings, or just because, which led us to think during one of our frequent brainstorming sessions, “Wouldn’t it be fun to create an app that could make personalized songs for every occasion?” And lo and behold this one stuck and that’s how SONGYFT – ‘Your App for Personalized Songs’ – came to be. We wanted to share the possibility for everyone to be able to create, send, and receive personalized songs, as we saw how much joy it brought. Shortly after we had the idea, we began developing the algorithm where the user can choose between names, words to describe the person, and genres and share their SONGYFT immediately. In these rapidly, ever-changing, and exciting times, where creativity meets technology, we believe that there are endless opportunities to imagine and make ideas happen.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets us apart is our ability to shift but stay true to where our passions lie. I used to think you could only be one thing. For instance, in the beginning of pursuing a career in music, I was convinced that I was a singer and that was all, nothing more, and I thought it was enough for me because I didn’t know any better. I was convinced that I wasn’t a songwriter until I started being hired as a session singer where I would sing a demo for a songwriter/producer, and they would ask me to do adlib tracks at the end of the song. It was then that I realized I was singing catchy hooks, which made me a writer. Then I thought I was only a singer and a writer, and soon realized I was a vocal producer/coach and arranger, then I had the idea to write a TV show and never believed that I would be developing Songyft. Life and experience is one big learning curve and the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that none of us are just any one thing. That’s what excites me the most. The discovery of who we all can become and the layers that are discovered underneath, which comes with taking risks in life. I love being surprised by people. For me, music was not necessarily an easy path, but the path I have chosen is what has made me strong and built character and given me the chutzpah to make some of the moves that I’ve made, both personally and professionally. It is a business filled with highs and lows. It has also made me a better musician along the way. When I lived in NYC, I worked at record companies and would always tell the executives that I was a singer, but I was too scared to go out and actually sing for people. As I have always been a bit of a late bloomer, it took years for me to get up the nerve to perform, but when I started singing at open mics with the best singers out there, the entire world opened up and my life changed. I also quit a job that I didn’t like and the next thing you know, I heard my voice all over the radio on Jennifer Lopez’s first single, and overnight I was in the biggest studios. That period in time is a huge personal reference to keep going and has been a gift to remind me of the power of confronting our biggest fears. Also, what we’ve learned along the way is that obstacles can be opportunities and that when you see an opportunity you should grab it and be grateful, and always find a way to give back.
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.
When we have visitors, we start the day with a strong coffee and vegan donut from The Oaks Gourmet in Franklin Village, then we hike from The Fern Dell path into Griffith Park and head to the Observatory with a view of the Hollywood sign, From there we would go to the Grand Central Market in DTLA, to grab the BEST vegan Ramen at Ramenhood, After that, you can walk around the Arts District, go to Hauser & Wirth Gallery, come home and then have a dinner party with friends. My absolute favorite restaurant in LA is Pura Vita in WEHO. If we had a week, I’d go to Joshua Tree or Ojai for an overnight stay. LACMA and The Tarpits are walking distance from my house, so I always take visitors there. For a concert on a beautiful LA summer night, we always try to go to the Hollywood Bowl or Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Seeing Jeff Goldblum play piano in Los Feliz at The Vermont is always a fun time. And of course, a trip to the beach, meeting friends who play volleyball at Ocean Park, and jumping in the ocean is a must!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give my shoutout to my beyond-supportive and talented friend Suzy LeQ. She is an ever-evolving LA artist who is a jewelry designer and singer/recording artist. CloudCities1@gmail.com
Instagram: @jennykarrsinger, @matigavriel