Updated: Jun 23, 2020
I'll be honest and admit to you that I've been sitting on this interview for several weeks, in the vain hope that I could release it as part of a celebration of lockdown ending!
Truth is we have no idea if, how, or even when we're going to be getting back to live music - at least the kind of live music scene we're used to. I cannot think that the atmosphere of a drive in gig is going to be a patch on the raucous, sweaty and down right beautiful thing of a mosh pit in full pelt. Anglo-Maltese super punks Ġenn (pronounced Jenn) are certainly a band who are more akin with latter atmosphere.
I was lucky enough to speak to Ġenn guitarist Janelle Borg at the end of March about life in lockdown, name changes and the plans they had for this summer.
Dreaminisfree: I've been reading more during lockdown; but music at time like now is more important than ever. It gives us a way of connecting with our emotions. Has music been helping you during lockdown?
Janelle: Yeah definitely. I'm trying to explore different kinds of music, as we're going to be doing some writing sessions. I've been trying to set up a recording studio at home, I have all the equipment, so I'm going to record some stuff. That's my project for this period of lockdown anyway, to try and become more technical at the recording side of things.
Your last single was 'Dudda Dance' and was quite a move away from the album 'TITTY MONSTER'. Is that the direction the band will be going in, in terms of writing?
At this point we're trying to find our feet as to what kind of sound we're going to record. We were meant to be going into the studio in June in Malta but that's obviously not going to be happening now. So now we're taking a bit of time to explore the next step. When we wrote 'Duda Dance', we didn't have the drummer Sofia that we have now, so there's going to be another element to our writing that wasn't there before. We'll maintain the fun, retro feel of 'Duda Dance', but we'll try to create a larger body of work, hopefully a six track EP.
A track that really blew me away when I first heard 'TITTY MONSTER' was 'Island Blues' - it's a far throw away from 'Duda Dance'. You can get a real sense of your vibe and where you were as a band during that track.
Thank you. I love that track. It was written at the time we were living in Malta. This time around we're trying to go into the studio with more of a plan of the songs we want to write. We're trying to take elements of melancholy like Island Blues as well as the cheeky elements of 'Let's Go Suki'. We're trying to explore different elements of our sound.
I read an article before this interview and it said you're the "girls next door, turned punk bad asses". Is that fair?
In a way we're very relatable as people, because for us it's very important that we're approachable. Some musicians curate their image and it's nothing like real life. We're very down to earth! We want people to feel like they can get up on stage and play too! Nowadays with social media, people try to portray this unobtainable image. What you see with Ġenn is us. There's no fake.
What was it like, working with David Vella?
Ah we were going to record with him in June - he's a really nice guy. He's more of a mentor to us, he's recommended things to us, confirmed our thoughts. He's helped us a lot. His studio is next to the beach as well, so we were really looking forward to it. I'm not sure when we will get out there to write again, but we will at some point.
So you've swapped Valetta for Brighton. Palm trees and Prickly Pears for The Pavillion. What made you choose Brighton?
So basically we knew if we wanted to make it in the music industry, we were going to have act sooner rather than later. We were back and forwards to Malta and the UK a lot and it was getting exhausting. We were obviously operating under another name then Cryptic Street, we knew if we wanted to take this to the next level we needed to leave Malta. There are so many talented musicians and bands in Malta, but due to its size opportunities are very limited. We had other ambitions.
The drummer at the time didn't want to leave Malta and so I was scrolling online musician forums, Brighton bands and I contacted Sofia and we asked her if she wanted to join us and she said yes.
We actually met her a few hours before our first performance together was due to start in London! We've been together ever since. We decided on Brighton as there are some aspects of it that are similar to Malta and we thought that would have a positive impact on us. It also has a pretty good music scene and its close to London. We decided to choose the name as we were entering a new chapter.
I asked my partner who's also Maltese to explain to me what Ġenn means. She said it means a kind of chaos or change.
We chose Ġenn because we lead a pretty chaotic life - at least before coronavirus! It signifies our life. In Malta people would say we were crazy for thinking we were going to become professional musicians so it kind of fits. We're reclaiming the craziness, we're owning it!
My thanks to Janelle for taking the time out of building her studio to take the time to speak to me.
Thankfully you don't have to wait too long for my next chat with Ġenn, as I'm going to be speaking to Leanne from Ġenn this Wednesday 24th June on Instagram Live at 8pm BST as part of my Good Vibrations series.
Any artists looking to collaborate with Dreaminisfree can contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org