Serbia’s Jenner Discuss Origins, Festivals and Influences with Iron Serbian

How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto rock/metal?

Marija Dragićević: Well, us two, sisters, Alexandra and I, were always close, and our mother Aneta had a huge influence on us. She was rocker from the 80’s, and little by little, she intrigued us with rock and metal music, and we loved it! She gave us her tapes, vinyls, magazines and posters she kept for years. Anđelina also had an influence from her parents, and Nevena from her friends.

How did you become a singer or guitarist and are you proficient in any other instruments?

Marija Dragićević: As I said, our mum had a great influence on us. But we hadn’t started to play right away. Alexandra had started at age 15, first as bass player and then she learned guitar and a little of keyboards. At the same time, I was 18, and had passion for playing drums even If I had no drum kit. The two of us have begun our music career by forming an all girl hard rock band. It wasn’t as good as we expected and we had a lot of problems finding good members, but even ourselves were not so good musicians. The band existed for 2 years, and we had 2 gigs, after that we decided to disband, and practice more. Alexandra was a bassist first, and since we’ve had many problems in finding a good female guitarist, she decided to learn to play guitar. Anđelina started to sing a little before joining the band, and Nevena has similar story as Alexandra, but she was guitarist at first, and then, a lack of good bassists forced her to change her instrument. The fact is that all the members of Jenner are self-taught. We practiced for years and relied only on our sense of hearing. In the beginning, we had used the Guitar Pro, in order to practice notes, we wrote many tablatures by ourselves, and then we had a lot of rehearsals instead of musical school classes.

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Were you forced to go to church as a youth, if so did you sing in the choir or participate in some other ways?

Marija Dragićević: Alexandra and I had participated in school choirs, but no, we’re not so religious, and not forced to go to church.

What was the local scene in like in the beginning in Belgrade, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?

Marija Dragićević: Serbia is a small country for which much of the world in general has not heard of. This happens to us, metal heads in Serbia. We have much difficulties coming to media, because our genre is not part of the culture, but we have built our community, subculture, the underground scene. While many here think it is not so, politics in Serbia is such that some things just can’t be found in the media, only certain things that are served to the people and that’s it. We are limited and politics has an affect on almost everything. And we, the different ones are a major problem. In the last year, many of e clubs we hung out in and played in are closed. But we manage to survive, and we don’t give up. We’ve been supported by many internet portals, they always publish about our progress and our music, and that’s basically that. All the information about us can be found only on the internet. We are proud of all of the sub genres of metal bands. Some of them are really successful, for example Infest, Alitor, Nadimac etc, who plays all across the Europe, and they’re accepted very well. We’re all very tight, hanging out together and supporting each other. It isn’t easy for us being in a band, cause it doesn’t make us a living and it needs a years of work and sacrifices, metal is very expensive hobby. But we’re all making it, mostly because we do what we love.

Marija Dragićević: – The first Serbian band Alexandra and I loved was Forever Storm. And as we discovered more, we liked Alitor, Space Eater, Deadly Mosh etc. Until now, there are lots of bands we love and support here, for example Superhammer and Steel Hornet. Anđelina is also a fan.

Nevena Ilić: Z.Z. Rok, the band I play bass in, and also my friends’ bands Orest, Cesium etc.

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Who are your biggest musical influences? Who are your biggest role models as women?

Marija Dragićević: – I’ve started to play at age of 17-18, under the influence of Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), and by time, I had more influences, for example Rick Allen (Def Leppard), famous one armed drummer, and Charlie Benante (Anthrax). First band I played in, had a huge influence of Vixen, Lita Ford and Doro Pesch, but at first, Jenner took influences from Doro, and also Rock Goddess.

Aleksandra Stamenković: One of my greatest influences is Alex Skolnick from Testament and Jody Turner from Rock Goddess.

Nevena Ilić: Angus Young (AC/DC), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Janick Gers (Iron Maiden), Floor Jansen (Nightwish) and Maria (Arcona)

Anđelina Mitić – This may sound little strange, but my main influences for singing are Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and of course Doro Pesch.

How would you best describe your sound?

Marija Dragićević: Jenner’s sound is a huge mixture of melodies and old school riffs, combined with high pitched clean vocals. Actually, our thrash is not as it is expected to be. Yes, he have some growls, and fast tempo, but let’s see, at the first place comes melodies and catchy choruses, which may clear us a path to bigger audiences from all around the world. Also, fast drum parts with slower tempo sections. It’s not all about fast and loud. We’re so proud of Alexandra’s composing ability, and also on Anđelina’s voice. Both are so talented, and it provides a winning combination as shown on our debut album To Live Is To Suffer.

How did the band meet and how long did it take to finalize this lineup? How many other musicians did you try out that didn’t make the cut?

Marija Dragićević: Jenner is a speed/thrash metal band coming from Belgrade, Serbia. I’m not gonna say, all girl, or all female this time, cause we’re trying to prove that the gender is not of the main importance, and the most important thing is our music. Our story began more than 3 years ago, when Alexandra and I decided to form a heavy metal band influenced by Judas Priest, Warlock, Accept etc.. Under my pressure, two girls are called to perform with us, Andjelina Mitic, as vocal, and Jana Bacic as bass player After a year of covering songs from bands who influenced us, with the recommendation of our friends, we started to play a bit harder. First, we covered some Overkill, Anthrax, Exodus, Agent Steel songs, and then we realized that Jana could not fit in with our new sound, so she was replaced with Mina Petrovic. Soon after we recorded our first two demo songs – “Hear The Thunder Roar” and “On A Judgement Day”, which you can find our our official Youtube channel, in order to promote the band more, and participate in the iconic Serbian Guitar Festival in Zajecar. We made it to the semi-finals and had a remarkable performance. Few months after that, our debut album was prepared for recording, but it was delayed due to family obligations. I become pregnant so I had to leave the band for a year, and Selena Simic, our good friend and drummer who also plays in Nemesis, Vibrator u Rikverc, Goatmare and The Hellspades, helped with recording the drum tracks, a few gigs, and both bands, Jenner and Nemesis, performed the as opening acts for the Brazilian female thrash metal band Nervosa, here in Belgrade last summer. I came back in November 2016, did one gig, and after that, album was done at Citadela Sound Production in Belgrade, and ready for release. Inferno Records released our album on 20th of February 2017, as CD (1000 pressed) and cassette tape (100 pressed). Now, the situation is a bit different, as Mina left the band and started to work abroad, but we succeeded in filming the video before she left. After that, we found a new bass player, Nevena Ilic and have had one gig with her.

You have a new record To Live Is To Suffer out, what was the writing process and recording process like? What kind of obstacles did you have to overcome?

Marija Dragićević: Alexandra is the main composer in the band. She wrote every song on the album, did all arrangements, singing melodies, solos, drum parts by herself. I am in charge of the lyrics, my husband Ivan and Alexandra participated in the writing, and we wrote some lyrics together. Two songs’ lyrics featured on the album are written by our producer Luka Matkovic. Due to my maternity leave and rest of the band members’ family obligations, it took a little longer than planned to record te album. We had already found a label, even the album was not yet finished, Inferno records from France. I must note once again that Selena Simic (Nemesis, Vibrator u rikverc, Goatmare and the Hellspades), helped us a lot with drum tracks. Our former bassist Jana helped us with crowd vocals. The entire album was recorded, mixed and mastered at the studio of Citadela Sound Production in Belgrade, which worked with many Serbian bands – Centurion, Infest, Alitor, Nadimac, The Stone, Kobold, Space Eater, Quasarborn etc, by Luka Matkovic.

What was the first music you bought and what have you bought more than once?

Marija Dragićević: Alexandra was more into collecting than buying but we support the local scene and buying their merch. Our mum gave us a lot of tapes, vinyls and magazines from the ‘80s, and we were amazed by that. The first CDs we bought were fom Serbian bands  such as Art Diler – Miris jeseni and Alitor – Eternal Depression.

Nevena – That was CD’s from my all time favorite band Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death and The Final Frontier.

Andjelina: Overkill – Years of Decay.

DIY forever or signing with a label at first opportunity?

Marija Dragićević: The album is recorded, mixed and mastered at Citadela Sound Production in Belgrade by Luka Matkovic. All songs and arrangements are done by Alexandra. The label we signed contract with, Inferno Records from France, was patient. Our label was not our first contact with labels. Some of them have already sent us their contacts and conditions, wanted to sign for them. But we have chosen Inferno, because of the really nice contract Fabien gave us, for one underground band. The contact with Fabien occurred thanks to our friend Danilo Trbojevic, frontman of the band Nadimac. He has contacts all across the world as his band is very famous in underground scene, and he told his friend from Japanese label about us. Then that label contacted Fabien, and he sent us email. That’s how it started. He was amazed by our demo, and also wanted to wait few months for album to be finished so he can release it. When the album came out, he was very satisfied with the response of the audience. Also, he uploaded our song “How Deep Is Your Greed” on his Soundcloud channel, and we had the most plays in such a short time, and in comparison with other bands that were signed to Inferno Records. There is only half of the total number of copies left for order in only one month after its release! He distributed our material all across the world, and many of web zine’s and portals have already did a reviews of an album and interviewed us.

Whats the biggest show you have played so far and do you still get nervous before a gig?

We’re proud of our first entry to Serbia’s famous Guitar Festival in Zajecar. The festival began 50 years ago, and we’re very happy that we’ve been a part of it in a competition for demo bands. We played our demo songs, which were very well accepted by the audience, and we had a very remarkable performance which opened up the door to further success. Even we did it only to the semi-finals, we had a great time and we came home satisfied because we had an honor to perform at such a prestigious festival here in Serbia. But let’s see… we played as the opening act for Brazilian thrash metal band Nervosa, here in Belgrade, that was very important to us. And about stage fright, well, the answer will be, sometimes. I don’t know, in the beginning, it was awful, now, it’s a bit different, I mean, band exists for almost 4 years, and we played so many gigs. Nevena was damn nervous on our first gig together, but it was okay.

You have a new music video coming out, for which song and shot with who?

The video is officially out and uploaded on our YouTube channel as of July 1st. The song we’ve chosen is Factory of Death. We decided for it to be simple, as we had no time for better, Mina have already left the band, and have prepared herself to go to Prague. Our good friend Igor Stanić, guitarist of the band Superhammer and a owner of Graveyard Neighbour Photography, helped us with filming and Mina’s Drumwitch video, did a montage and corrections.

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Out of all your songs which one touches you the most when you perform it?

Marija and Alexandra – That’s definitely Demon’s Call. It has some strange vibe, sounds different that the rest of the album, It’s aggressive and soft at the same way.

Nevena and Andjelina – The Heath Is Coming Again. This is the first song I learned to play when I entered the band, and the first song that we composed, and it’s chorus with backing vocals are very catchy.

Are there any political or social issues hidden in Jenner songs ?

Well, not exactly.We’re inspired mostly of the dark side of the world and human inner conflicts. The themes about I write are mostly themes you can find in old school heavy, and thrash metal songs, for example, I was always inspired with the judgement day, because I am really afraid of it, I wouldn’t like to die in such way. Also, every human on planet earth is fighting with some inner demons, on some way, you know. That may be most ridiculous problems ever, but however, it can lead a human being to do the most disgusting things ever imagined. All the themes, mixed up in the album, represented by it’s title To Live Is To Suffer, makes perfect sense when you pay attention on it.

 

What are your festival plans for this summer?

We are not quite active band, one, or two gigs per month is the best we can do, for now. We usually play at motorcycle festivals. So this summer, we’ll play only few gigs, here in Serbia.

What endorsements do you have and what endorsements do you still want?

To be a female metal band is not easy, not only in Serbia. Prejudices follow us on every step, it’s a kind of an etiquette we all female musicians must carry with. To be a part of a female metal band, that’s weird to most of people., but we learnt not to pay attention and do what we love, the best as we can. There were some stories we’ve heard, that we haven’t even recorded our own demo. Some people just tend to overlook the real musical skills. Sometimes it’s correct, but usually they just follow some patterns and they don’t want to give us a chance. We’re trying to give our best to prove that our work and effort is not just for nothing. Female metal bands are rare everywhere but now, when our album is released and half of the world has already heard of us and has nothing but praise and admiration for us and our work, but the etiquette is still here. In general, most of people here are surprised by our decision to deal with thrash metal. They say we have a lot of courage for we have ventured into it and they all maximally support and assist us. Stereotypes, of course they’re everywhere, but we’re not worried, we know very well what we are doing and there will always be someone who appreciate it.

Bands you would love to tour with and musician or artist you would like to meet and interrogate.

Marija – Well, I’d love to perform with and meet Anthrax one day, as they are our influences, we covered some songs at the beginning, and they are my favorite thrash band. How modest I am, haha!
Alexandra – That would definitely be Havok and Rock Goddess!
Nevena – One more modest girl in the band – Korpiklaani, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Nightwish
Andjelina – Rock Goddess and Black Label Society.

Song to be played at your funeral and 3 albums to take to your grave?

Marija – 1. Def Leppard – Hysteria, Anthrax – Among the Living and Osmi Putnik – Glasno, glasnije. The song to be played at my funeral, let it be Living On A Prayer by Bon Jovi.

Nevena – The song I’d love to be played at my funeral is AC/DC – Highway to hell; And the albums: AC/DC – The Razors Edge, Iron Maiden – Powerslave, Jenner – To Live Is To Suffer.

Andjelina – Albums I’d bring with me are Danzig – Danzig, Mariah Carey – Vision of love, Agent Steel – Skeptics Apocalypse and the song would be definitely Warlock – Burning the witches.

Alexandra – Sepultura – Beneath the Remains, Testament – The New Order and Sodom – Better Off Dead, and the funeral song is Kreator – Some Pain Will Last.

Whats your next gig?

We’ll play in Niš, Southern Serbia, in festival Rock in Niš, organized by Ride to Rock organization, on 15th of July, and also on the Bike Festival in Grocka, town near Belgrade, on 22th of July.

Final thoughts, shout outs, dirty jokes?

Well, here is some information about the band name. We noticed that many people are comparing us with American celebs Jenner & Kardashian and making fun of us because we decided to name the band Jenner, but they’ve never heard about Dr Edward Jenner who invented the smallpox vaccine and who was our inspiration for the band name. Actually, Alexandra was learning microbiology when she found out about the Dr. Jenner, she drew the logo, showed it to me and the rest of the band, we immediately liked it, and the same logo we use nowadays.

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