Q&A With JiHAE: Collaborator With Leonard Cohen & Dave Stewart On “It Just Feels”

1200px-JihaeLiveDCNote: It is useful to keep in perspective that this Q&A with JiHAE, who has earned co-writing credit for “It Just Feels” and will release it on her 2015 Illusion of You album, was originally posted Nov 21, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric. The preceding posts about Leonard Cohen, Dave Stewart, & “It Just Feels” (listed below) were first published two years earlier, in 2011:

JiHAE

This excerpt from a recent interview1  provides a helpful introduction to Jihae:

… a singer and songwriter with a sultry voice and raw energy who’s not afraid to express her opinions. JIHAE isn’t a new face in the music industry: her debut LP My Heart Is An Elephant featured guest percussion from filmmaker Michel Gondry and Lenny Kravitz on guitar and bass, while 2008’s Elvis Is Still Alive showed off her dynamic vocal range and more avant-garde musical influences. She’s performed at Cannes Film Festival, the United Nations and even received a nod from Hillary Clinton, but JIHAE’s talents aren’t just limited to her smoky voice. The artist has composed scores for The North Face Japan + Nanamica and more, wrote and directed a multimedia rock opera with Academy Award-winning playwright and director John Patrick Shanley and if her face looks at all familiar, it’s because JIHAE’s been a regular model for Eileen Fisher ads. In the midst of all these creative endeavors, she’s somehow also found time to start a hybrid indie label and multimedia company, Septem, to support rising artists as well as social causes. It’s these years of experience and her worldliness (having lived in South Korea, Nigeria and Sweden before settling down in New York) that set JIHAE apart from emerging talent.

And, as mentioned, she has reworked “It Just Feels” and performs it on her upcoming album.

JiHAE – It Just Feels

Naturally, I had questions. Happily, she had the answers.

Q&A: Jihae

1. I know Dave Stewart sent “It Just Feels” to you. Why do you think he felt it would be a good fit with you? What did he tell you about “It Just Feels?”

I was told it was a poem he had co written with Leonard Cohen in the 90’s about an orgasm. He said he thought I could do the poem justice. Dave was well acquainted with my previous work and felt I could put a great melody and music to the poem.

2. What was your initial impression of the lyrics?

I found them to be simple and visual.

3. Would you describe how you went about fitting words to music in this case?

I started off with finding a melody and then the chords.. It all came together pretty quickly.

4. What did you know about Leonard Cohen before working on “It Just Feels” and has your opinion of him and his music changed since then?

For a long time I’ve considered Leonard Cohen as The master of song writing, and regarded him as one of my heroes. I remain unchanged in my opinion.

Did you have any direct contact with him yourself?

We’ve emailed back and forth a few times. I’ve not yet met him in person but we spoke of having tea together one day.

5. I’ve read that Dave Stewart sent a recording of your live performance to Leonard Cohen, asking about giving you co-writing credit. What did Leonard have to say about your effort?

“Beautiful and brilliant”and he said giving me a co-writing credit would be ok with him. It was the most beautiful and astounding gifts in my life. The moment I got this email, all the years of struggling as an independent artist felt ever more worthwhile.

6. Was “It Just Feels” a one-off event or do you have thoughts about working with Leonard Cohen directly or indirectly (e.g., covering his songs) in the future?

There are a number songs I’ve wanted to cover: Everybody Knows, Suzanne, I’m Your Man, Famous Blue Raincoat, Hallelujah. I have an ongoing covers project so one of those may most certainly end up in that album.

7. What made you decide to make “It Just Feels” part of your new “Illusion of You” album?

I was at the beginning the writing process of my new album, Illusion of You so it felt only natural to include it and didn’t find a need to make a decision on the matter.

Credit Due Department: Photo “JihaeLiveDC” by Trafficattic – I took a photograph of Jihae performing live on Earth Day in Washington D.C.Previously published: It’s been used on Jihae’s Facebook account.. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikipedia.

_____________________

  1. Interview: Jihae by  Nara Shin. Cool Hunting: 23 September 2013 []