Jennie Z. (Specific Recordings)

Jennie Z.
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In this offering, we are very pleased to get up close and personal with Jennie Zakrewski.

Jennie runs Specific Recordings, a small vinyl-only label since 2011 dedicated to indie and Japanese contemporary music along with her husband Flo; while also working as communications officer for La Face Cachée an indie record store which has housed the label for the past few years.

The first record I ever bought with my own money was…

Listen Without Prejudice by George Michael. It was actually a tape. I was 12 when it came out. I saved money for months and asked my dad to drive me to a German record store because everything was cheaper there (I’ve been raised very close to the German border). When we listened to it (without prejudice, lol) on our way back home, he was totally baffled to hear what I wanted to buy so hard because it was completely different from my bad classic everyday teenager taste. But I mean, let’s be serious for a moment: George Michael is beyond taste, right? I’ve been in love with that guy since I was 6 or 7 and I find this album to be the climax of his art. It’s so thoughtful and deep, so beautiful and touching without being cheesy… By listening to it, you can tell he was a concerned and soulful human being. It’s quite important for me to know that artists I listen to are not complete assholes. It really is. He died the day before my birthday and I was totally broken-hearted. The only other artist that death made me cry was Syd Barrett’s one.

The record that made me want to make music was…

It is with great regret that I have to confess that I don’t make music. I don’t play any instrument, my hands can’t do two different things at the same time… But I can sing in tune and I tried to do that in a band with a bunch of friends once. I say “tried“ because none of us were committed nor talented enough to succeed in making something decent enough to be recorded or played live. But still, the record that made us wanted to form a band together (after a few beers) was Three Imaginary Boys by The Cure. The four of us agreed it was a masterpiece, and then someone said “I have a great idea for a band name and I have this synth at home… It sounds so simple but yet so great; all we need is good ideas and practice, I’m sure we can do that!“, and then we were renting this crappy rehearsal room… You already know the end to that story: it may sound simple, but of course it’s not. And that’s OK, not everybody is meant to be under the spotlight and there are plenty of ways to get creative around music without actually creating it.

The record I’ve played more than any other is…

I play all the records I really like until I know them by heart, so that’s a tough question… Maybe Cosmos Factory by Creedence Clearwater Revival (I was already listening to it in my mother’s womb I think) or Listen Without Prejudice. Maybe Quadrophenia by the Who or Is This It by The Strokes. I have a lot of cherished “milestone records“, albums that have been the literal soundtrack of my life and that are very meaningful to me.

I listened to Quadrophenia and Is This It a lot when I was a young adult. I think they both talk about that, about the perks and joys of being a young adult. And I also think they both have that “mod feeling“ to them. It’s obvious for Quadrophenia since it has been written around that theme (mods vs rockers) of course. But even if Is This It definitely has a more rock vibe, I kinda sense the same “let’s make something completely new with something old“ feeling to them. When Is This It came out, I was mainly listening to old stuff, tracks or LPs from the 50s, 60s and 70s. At that time, exception made for some hip-hop artists, indie or mainstream music wasn’t appealing to me. And Is This It was a real breath of fresh air. Since then, I have loved every single second of everything that has been recorded by The Strokes and still do so. Almost the same applies to Julian Casablancas’ solo career, so I guess he’s the artist I’ve played the most.

The record that always make me feel good is…

Regulate… G Funk Era by Warren G. I love smooth West-side hip-hop, I love G-funk and I love the fact that Warren G took his revenge with that successful album after all the Death Row Records case around Snoop Dogg’s first album credits, etc. It looks like the victory of the nice and quiet guy versus all the greedy nasty boys and I really like that (but I still love daddy Snoop too). And of course, this album is frankly amazing: each track is a hit. What more can you ask for? Nothing! Nuthin’ but a definitely better G thang!

The record I turn to when I’m feeling down is…

This Is Hardcore by Pulp. Not all the songs on that album are dark and gloomy, but all the themes evoked in the lyrics can clearly remind us of how life can be hard(core), the eponymous track of the album being the paragon of that. It’s one of the most honest album I know and maybe Pulp is also one of the most honest band I know. They worked fucking hard to get where they were at that time and music has always been a serious business to them. I value that too. Jarvis Cocker is also a brilliant guy and a talented lyricist who can describe life in a very poetic and at the same time very blunt way. So blunt it can be quite disarming. I heard once that he wrote this title song when he was drunk and that he was later unable to record it sober. You can totally feel that in this track. It’s pure (and sadly fair) despair. A real gem for the tormented souls… that can then be healed by listening to “We Love Life“, Pulp’s next and last LP.

The record with my favorite cover art is…

This Is Hardcore (designed by Peter Saville) was also my first answer to that question, so I looked for another one. And it was quite hard to pick a single record, so I’ll go for a Sonic Youth LP cover: either Goo or Daydream Nation. Sure, these are not original artworks, and the band was able to use them thanks to Kim Gordon’s connections, but still: choosing a Raymond Pettibon or a Gerhard Richter art piece for a record cover looks to me like the ultimate class act.

The strangest LP I own is…

Usually, I don’t keep records that I don’t listen to… I’m not what one can call a real record collector; I don’t collect anything, I’m not comfortable with the idea of stacking unused stuff. Exception made for The Shaggs only LP. It’s so flawed, unsteady and quirky that it’s hardly believable it made its way on vinyl. Or on any other support, frankly. On the back of the cover, there’s a text which says “The Shaggs are real, pure, unaffected by the outside influences. Their music is different, it is theirs alone. (…) They will not change their music or style to meet the whims of a frustrated world. You should appreciate this because you know they are pure“, and in a very disturbing way, it’s kinda true. My husband used to wake me up by blasting that record on Sunday mornings. It was maybe funny the first time, but I quickly hated him for that. Really. I truly believe that beginning your day with “My Pal Foot-Foot“ is one of the worst sonic starts you can ever imagine. Nobody deserves it. Please don’t do that.

The rarest LP I own is…

Probably one of the first four Sheena Ringo LPs. They’re pretty rare (and thus pretty expensive) even in Japan. But they’re also cheaper in Japan than on Discogs. If you ever find one of those early LPs in a Japanese record store (which is nonetheless rare), buy it if you can afford it! Not because you can speculate online with it, but because they’re all amazing albums for anyone into any J-pop streams. Nothing surprising here: she’s an amazing artist. And a complete one: every album seems to have been created by a different woman and set in a different universe. She’s a Goddess.

The last LP I bought was…

Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog by Norma Tanega. Folk music isn’t really my cup of tea, but I bought it because I love the track “You’re Dead“ (like almost everyone else, I heard it for the first time in What We Do in the Shadows) and because I found the title funny. Naming my cat dog, that’s the kind of thing I could do… If I had a cat of course!

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Find Jennie:


Jennie: @zjenniez
Specific Recordings: @specific_recordings
La Face Cachée: @lafacecacheerecordstore


Specific Recordings: @specificrecordings
La Face Cachée: @lesdisquesdeLFC


Specific Recordings: @spcfcrecordings


Specific Recordings:

La Face Cachée:

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