• Darby VanDeVeen

JEN Z claps back at haters with new single, “Falling to Your Knees”

Being a Youtuber, you open up your life to the Internet - the good and the bad. Jennifer Zhang is the owner of the popular channel, JENerationDIY, which has amassed over 2.6 million subscribers. Outside of making DIY videos, Zhang has been pursuing her passion of music on the side and released her fourth single, “Falling to Your Knees” in October of 2020. Born out of a hateful comment left on one of her videos, Zhang turned her anger into a song, producing an upbeat and danceable track airing her frustrations. I was lucky enough to sit down with Jen and chat with her about her process of making the song and the backstory behind it.

I listened to your song and it was really good. I was super impressed.

It was super low budget. I recorded it in my bedroom, so I’m so happy it turned out the way that it did.

You’re a DIY Youtuber, so what inspired you to start making music?

Well my first channel was actually a singing channel before my DIY channel and at the time I only posted one cover, but it was really embarrassing. I really was too shy and introverted to sing in front of people. I quickly deleted it and now I’m kind of returning back to my roots, which is cool. Yeah, but it was fun while it lasted. I don’t remember the password to the account so I can’t go back and watch it. It’s probably really embarrassing, but for the memories.

Yeah definitely! Did your love of DIY play into the making of the song itself? Like you said you made it in your bedroom.

I definitely think it ties into it - I have a lot of fun with the music creation and recording process cause I do all of it basically myself. I don’t produce the songs myself because I’m still trying to learn that part, but I literally use my YouTube voiceover mic for the vocals and blankets and pillows to absorb the echo around the room so super DIY and low budget. Yeah, I’m having a lot of fun trying to figure things out. I feel like it’s really a testament to the fact that anyone can do it if they wanna do it. It’s so easy nowadays and I think with quarantine a lot of people really can try it.

The pillows and the blankets were super creative! I never would’ve thought that.

I feel like there’s a lot to learn just trying to figure out how to make things sound good.

“Falling to Your Knees” is this empowering track about overcoming hate and bias and I read it was inspired after a hurtful comment on one of your videos so did writing this song help you work through that?

I wrote this at the start of the pandemic in March/April when everything kinda started to hit the fan. I was getting a lot of racist comments which I never had to deal with to that extent before so it was hard to navigate that and it was really frustrating. I started arguing with this one guy in the comments (which I probably should not have engaged), but it was just a lot of back and forth and eventually, I was like ‘I’m done with this, I can’t change this person’s mind.’ So instead I wrote the song to channel my frustration and it’s also built up with a lot of thoughts and ideas I’ve had throughout growing up and stuff so it’s just really good to get all of those thoughts out and into a dancy, happy song.

I’m so sorry that you had to go through something like that. That’s really awful.

It sucks but at the end of the day it’s helped me build a thicker skin and I know a lot of other people have to deal with this too. I know it’s not just me and it's a larger, cultural issue.

There are super impactful lines like “You’d think I’d cry, you’d think I’d die but I feel so freakin’ alive.” When you were writing for that did you think this song would become something bigger than itself? Did you know it would have an impact as it did?

I really was just trying to channel my own emotions at the time and I was being like “hey look at this I’m not hurt by these comments” which I was but like “fake it till you make it.” I guess this song is like how I’m trying to be. I’m still not completely this confident, empowered person. It’s like my ideal version of myself where I’m, just unbothered and confident. So I’m still working on it but I just hope that anyone listening to it brings that empowerment into their own lives in whatever way that they need.

I totally agree that “fake it to you make it” that really confident, powerful version of yourself. Listening to this song I would have no idea that you weren’t that person.

I’m very, super, introverted, and shy and I feel like doing YouTube over these past few years has helped me out a lot, but I’m still at heart this closed-off person. So I think music is one of the only ways I can open up a bit more. But I’m still trying to reach that ideal version of myself.

So after this song, what’s next for you? Do you have anything coming up that you’re working on?

I’m always working on new YouTube videos and whatnot and always writing new songs and stuff but with the climate of this year, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I hope that my new music will see the light of day in the future so for right now just stay tuned! I haven’t been releasing a lot of music it’s been like one single per year for the past four years and I really want to start focusing on my music more but it's just hard to find a balance between full-time YouTube and doing music because music takes a lot longer than I thought it would, but it’s really exciting and hopefully, I’ll have more to show sooner rather than later.

Last but not least, is there anything else you want people to know?

Stream “Falling to Your Knees!” You can check it out on all streaming platforms, all music platforms under JEN Z. I hope everyone has a good rest of the year, and let’s hope that December is the best month of 2020.


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