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Baker's Dozen

Sweet Thirteen: Jennifer Herrema's Favourite Albums
Nick Hutchings , July 29th, 2014 12:56

Following their interview about Black Bananas' new LP Electric Brick Wall, Jennifer Herrema talks Nick Hutchings through her Baker's Dozen of seminal records

Photograph courtesy of Cat Stevens

How does that old rock & roll adage go? If you can remember it you weren't there, right? I'm sure it's something like that. Jennifer Herrema, the charismatic leader of Black Bananas and half of the cult duo Royal Trux has certainly been there and worn the sleeveless t-shirt. Doing her Baker's Dozen in a scattershot mixture of Skype and call and response e-mails, Herrema has a diligence and determination that belies her slackerish demeanour. It's no surprise, given the fact she has truly lived the life of all her rock heroes thrown into one, that she only remembers some of her favourite albums and artists in mind-jolting flashbacks. But it's not just the hard living that's proved distracting, it's also the sheer amount of stuff she's doing right now. Being Jennifer Herrema is busy. Black Bananas recently released their second album Electric Brick Wall on Drag City, featuring two songs written remotely with her old Royal Trux sparring partner Neil Hagerty. They've also done a remix straight swap with Liars - 'Mess On A Mission' for 'Physical Emotions' - and Herrema has written a song called 'The Stepkids' for The Avalanches. It may have seemed that her time was in the nineties as part of the post-Nirvana carve-up, which produced some of the most truly alternative music ever put out on a major label, but in a meeting of the space-rock time continuum, Herrema's time has come again and how! In fact, that's what I need to find out, the how – the sum of Herrema's parts that make her and the Black Bananas and in fact all of her work to date so vital. It's time to let Jennifer speak, so as you read this hear her distinctive drawl narrate in your head while you take a journey into hers.

"Writing this Baker's Dozen, I can remember parts definitely – I can remember a myriad of stories from the Royal Trux days but I can't tell you necessarily what years they were. I think it started as subconscious where I didn't remember some stuff because it was too fucked up to remember, so you just go into that kind of wall and don't let it back in. But I think over time subconsciously I don't let myself get stuck on too much. Even with press and stuff. Neil taught me early on it's just like "never read your own fucking press". Miles Davis – that's what he said and I've learnt to tell you to do what he said. And I stayed true to it for the most part. I read a few things and think, "I wish I hadn't read that". Not because it's bad or anything but because it's so finite. I go months and months without listening to any music at all and it's just trying to remember the way I think about it, 'cause any record I put on, like Physical Graffiti, which is one of the Baker's Dozen albums, it just takes me straight to this place where that became the soundtrack of my life. So I listen to it and it sounds great but I'm not just hearing it for what it is.

"I had a really hard time of putting a timeline together – I only remember things in the abstract, like I spend a lot of time kind of downloading information out of my head and just holding onto the ghosts and the glimpses and retain that. What's past is prologue and it's not even a conscious effort to do that with me. As I was really remembering doing this Baker's Dozen, I was like, 'What the fuck year was that?' I kind of put stories along that went with the different albums I was picking and shit like that. It's just me being self-conscious. I picked albums that I not only love but that became the soundtracks of my life…. The list could have gone on forever, but I chose the ones that defined periods of my life and why…"

Electric Brick Wall is out now on Drag City - read our interview with Herrema from June about the album here. Black Bananas play Seaport Music Festival in New York on August 8 and tour Europe in November; head here for full details. Click on her image below to begin scrolling through Jennifer's choices