Arts Around Terrace profile: 17-year-old follows his passion for electronic music

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brandon jennings
Zvezda (but we know him as Brandon Jennings)

Recently, music enthusiast Derett Jacobs wanted to alert us to a musician who was gaining momentum among his friends.

Derett sent us this message, which – as I will explain later – led to an amazing coincidence and discovery!

My name is Derett Jacobs, I’m 34 and I am . . . currently living in Lynnwood . . . I found out about a guy in the Seattle area through some friends who is producing electronic music. I looked into his content, and I’ve come to like it.

I’m not sure what his real name is, but he goes by Zvezda (don’t know how to even pronounce that). I read his bio on Facebook and what struck me the most is that he is only 17 years of age . . . I’ve [followed] his social networks and he’s posted photos of himself in Edmonds, so I think it’s pretty cool to have a music artist in one’s own town!

I really think he’s earned himself a story, being so young. Somebody in this field of entertainment, at such a young age is something people should know about!

I say give him a chance, maybe even talk to him!

Just thought I’d give you a heads up on something cool in the world of local music!

Thank you,
Derett

Well, of course we wanted to know more about this young musician who was grabbing the attention of local fans. So we began sleuthing…

. . . and came up with an amazing discovery! Zvezda is Brandon Jennings, a Mountlake Terrace High School student who works as a cameraman, film producer and all-around production talent for the My Neighborhood News Network family of websites: MLTnews, My Edmonds News and Lynnwood Today.

Yes! Leading a secret life unknown to his My Neighborhood News Network colleagues, Brandon Jennings has built a music career that is catching on like wildfire.

Of course we wanted to know more – so we invite you in to our Arts Around Terrace (AT) exclusive interview with someone who thought we knew so well . . . Brandon Jennings, cameraman . . . aka Zvezda (Zv)!

AT: Your musical alter-ego, Zvezda, has been discovered by one of our readers. Start us off – who are you?

ZV: I’m 17 years old, about to hit that wonderful 18-year mark. It’s a weird but exciting time in my life I guess! I live in Brier; but I do spend a lot of my time in the surrounding towns of Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood.

– – –

AT: Discovering your passion for music must have come at an exceptionally early age. Tell us about that: Piano lessons? Classical training? Are your parents, or siblings musical prodigies?

ZV: I did start young! Very young, in fact. I began working with music way back in 5th grade. I was 9-10 years old at the time. I had discovered my elementary school’s music program and decided to at least give it a shot. I ended up playing the trumpet at first, later finding out the hard way that I was allergic to the brass mouthpiece (that is a common thing apparently), so I ditched that instrument and went along with a clarinet.

I ended up playing the clarinet until my freshman year of high school began. I lost interest in band that year due to the negative comments about my genre of music from fellow students and my teacher at the time. In a way it kind of pushed me to do more, so I dropped the class to focus entirely on electronic music.

By 7th grade I had discovered an application on my dad’s Apple Mac called “GarageBand”. This was my entry into the world of electronic music. I began playing around inside of the program and ended up creating a few tracks. I never published them though, thank goodness, they were awful. But I had deemed it interesting, so I kept doing it.

Eventually I got almost bored with GarageBand and upgraded to different music studio softwares. The years went by and I kept upgrading my software, from Fruity Loops Studio to Logic Pro to Ableton Live 9 Suite. As of now, I am still using Ableton Live 9 Suite, which is the industry standard for music productions. And I haven’t even played with all the toys it has to offer yet! I’m kind of excited to see the range that it offers.

– – –

AT: Where do you attend high school?

ZV: I am currently a high school senior at Mountlake Terrace High School. But I am a full-time Running Start student at Shoreline Community College. That is where I spend all of my schooling time, where I study the art of film, primarily. Structurally Mountlake Terrace High School has a really great music program though.

– – –

AT: What genre (predominately) does your music compositions reflect?

ZV: As far a genre goes, I am strictly an electronic music artist, so I only create electronic music. But the term “electronic music” can be an extremely broad term today. It’s so diverse. You’ve got sub-genres like Trap, Chill, Dubstep, House, Electro House, Future Bass, etc. But the cool thing about electronic music is that you can basically pull a “mix and match” with the sub-genre’s and come up with, for example, Chill Trap, a mix of Trap and Chill electronic music. I usually just create tracks and don’t even bother to label their genre. I just let the public decide.

– – –

AT: The percussion/rhythm comes in pretty strongly in the cuts I previewed on iTunes.

ZV: Yes, percussion is featured predominately in a great deal in my work. I love percussion instruments, I always have. They provide the backbone to a song. It’s the one element of music that can get people bobbing their heads or imitating the beat on a desk. Percussion also helps with build-ups. It acts as a ramp to the most exciting part of the song.

I also do a lot of synth work as well, don’t get me wrong. Synths are the other second biggest subject in my music. Usually I end up using a lot of concert or big sounding synths, I’ve found that that style of synth can really bring a person in to the music. It’s more satisfying in a way.

– – –

AT: What is your ‘balance-music/balance school’ schedule like? How do you manage your time?

ZV: My schedule is always jam packed to the brim. I’m constantly managing my job at Safeway, as well as my job as a filmmaker, digital artist; photographer and music artist.

And then on top of all that I have school as well as my family, friends and church to think about, which obviously take the priority.

Some days I leave work and actually have free time, and I try to not waste those moments. I spend them with friends and family, but those opportunities can be a rare thing.

– – –

AT: What is your performance schedule like?

ZV: I don’t do a lot of performing actually. I have performed at two church events. A few years ago, I did guest DJ at a Homeschool Spring Formal. I enjoyed that a lot. The people were really cool and I gained a few new fans that night.

A booking agency, Divine Bookings from Paris, which is interested in my work, did just recently call me; and I’ve accepted. So I can expect a lot more performing later on in the future!

– – –

AT: How might fans follow your career?

ZV: My compositions are available on multiple websites. I have listed them below:

– iTunes: http://bit.ly/notions_itunes

– BeatPort: http://dj.beatport.com/zvezdaelectro

– Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/notions_soundcloud

– Amazon MP3: http://bit.ly/notions_amazon

– Google Play: http://bit.ly/notions_google

– ReverbNation: http://bit.ly/Zvezda_ReverbNation

– YouTube: http://bit.ly/Zvezda_YouTube

11038107_685439914911355_1890116759815696777_nI have an album release on May 23. People will be able to stream the release on many Internet radio sites such as Spotify, Beats Music, iTunes Radio, Rdio, Tidal, and Shazam.

I usually post my music updates on the following social media websites:

– Facebook: facebook.com/zvezdamusic

– Twitter: twitter.com/ZvezdaElectro

– LinkedIn: Zvezda_LinkedIn

– – –

AT: Is “America’s Got Talent” or any similar performance setting in your future?

ZV: No, I don’t see myself doing anything like “America’s Got Talent”. I don’t think shows such as that would approve of what I have to offer. It would basically be me just standing on a stage playing music. I do see myself performing at clubs though. I think it could be pretty cool to do that!

– – –

AT: What questions do you WISH we would have asked; and how would those questions have been answered?

ZV: Some of the questions I get a lot, provoked by curiosity, include:

“How did you come up with the performer’s name, Zvezda?”

The name was suggested to me by one of my friends, Collin Rhodes, during a youth group event at church. The name sounded really cool, so it stuck!

“Who does all your artwork, promotion, and videos?”

I do everything. As of right now, I am completely 100 percent independent in terms of music. That is why it takes me so long to do everything music -elated. I can spend up to two months working on one single song because of it. But it is fun. I love putting my own imagination into the art and videos. It’s more authentic. I don’t really see the point of being an artist if you don’t do half of the work.

– – –

AT: Well Zvezda – you are quite a surprising quantity! Your news team colleagues are thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know the “you” away from the film-producer’s desk; and to introduce you to the Edmonds community.

Thank you so much for this interview. We wish you a future of nothing but success!

— By Emily HIll

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