Dylan Jenet

Our Exclusive Interview with Universal/Republic Records Star,  Dylan Jenet.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dylan has packed an awful lot of great experiences  and accomplishments into a career which is really starting to lift off.  She talks to TLL about how she started out, her musical influences, what its like to perform for the President, the thrill of having Stevie Wonder executive produce her current album and the importance of teamwork.
 
 
Tell us about the early years and how you got started in the Entertainment Business?
 
I was always singing the jingles or songs on the cartoons at about 3 or 4 and the music that my parents played (all genres). We moved to Sag Harbor, NY when I was 6 years old and that was where I began doing local theater to meet other kids in my new town. While I was doing a play at the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE), the founders of  The Bay Street Theater were in the audience. They spoke to my parents after the show and asked me to audition with the director of what would later be my first professional musical, “Once on This Island”. I was cast to play the character Little Ti Moune and it was a wonderful experience. They were looking for a 9 year old but chose me at 6. I immediately picked up the acting bug, lol! I then signed on with Abrams Artists Agency. I then began to take that 2-hour drive for auditions, vocal and dance lessons after school sometimes once or twice a week.

 

Who did you look up to/admire (artist wise) when you were growing up?
 

 Fortunately, I was exposed to music in many different genres. My parents would often joke about how they listened to real music by musicians that were really talented and not auto-tuned. I’ve always admired and enjoyed the music of Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Paramore, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder and so many others. They would listen to the greats and I would always listen.

 
Your parents are very supportive of your career! What does this mean to you and how has it helped you to become successful?

 

 

My parents enrolled me in taking voice, piano, and dance lessons. Growing up, both of my parents were Suffolk County Detectives and involved in several community groups. My dad was president of police fraternal organizations that represented women and officers of color. I was often asked by his organization, other community groups, schools, charities local politicians to sing the National Anthem at public events. But if I didn’t have the support of my parents, I would not have had so many beautiful opportunities. When you’re underage, having the support of your parents or guardians to pursue your dreams can make all the difference. I have been incredibly lucky to always have both of my parents and so many others in my corner.

 
How did you get your first Big Break in the industry? 

 

I have trouble figuring out when I actually received my first big break. I guess the 1st has been being BLESSED. There have been so many times when I felt that achieving a certain milestone was that break. I usually just tell my story and allow people to make their own opinion on that. Every accomplishment and all the supporters that I’ve gained over the years are all extremely special to me in different ways. However, I can easily say that any of the following was that break including landing my first professional musical at 6, winning the Apollo Theater’s Star of Tomorrow at 8, being Young Nala in Disney’s Broadway Production of The Lion King, singing at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and President Obama’s Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, becoming the youngest Native American Award winner with a NAMMY for Best Pop Artist at 13, or signing a major record deal with Universal Republic with the help of Stevie Wonder at 15.

 

You sang at: The Democratic National Convention in 2008, and met the President of the United States. Tell us about that experience?   

 

I was asked by my longtime mentor, Ray Chew (American Idol Musical Director) to sing at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 which he was the MD. It was one of the most mind-blowing experiences I’ve ever had. There were over 30, 000 people in the audience with media from all over the world. I sang a few solos including songs by Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder.  A few months later, I was asked to perform at the President Obama’s Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. I was honored to be able to meet President Obama personally. He gave me a big hug and told me that I did an awesome job at the convention. I was completely speechless at that point. Being a part of that moment in history was what was really awesome to me.

 

Who is on your team and how important are they to you with regards to your overall success? 
 

First of all, without a team, there is no success. I believe that I have been Blessed to be where I am right now. I haven’t “MADE IT” yet. I have only begun to work. I have been given an opportunity to prove that I belong here. Getting a major record deal is just the beginning. Now the real work begins. I have been even more Blessed with the members of my DREAM TEAM! As I continue to work on my debut EP with my label Universal Republic Records, my management and creative team {MY DREAM TEAM} consisting of Joe Simpson, super producer Cory Rooney and Jeff Gordon. I’m also humbled to have Stevie Wonder as my Executive Producer and Kimberly Brewer as my A & R consultant. Having a strong team all working together to strategize, find great songs, develop my branding and marketing is a major importance. I’m still pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

 
You have had a lot of success at an early age including singing at: Showtime At The Apollo, performing at a Motown Tribute Concert at Carnegie Hall, and co-starring in the Disney Production of The Lion King as Young Nala! How have all of these accomplishments shaped you into the person you are today, and how did this change and/or effect your childhood and teenage years? 
 

My experiences and accomplishments have helped me grow as a person and as an artist.  I believe that I’ve grown and learned from every experience, good or bad. There are artists and musicians that have had a positive and significant influence on me. There are also those that have demonstrated examples of what I never plan to do. Working on and off and taking lessons has taken away some time with my friends or my ability to participate in organized school activities growing up. I’ve been attending high school online for the last few years as well. It has allowed me to have more flexibility with my schedule and keep good grades. If you work in the entertainment field as a minor, you have to maintain good grades to obtain your state entertainment working papers. At times, I miss seeing my friends or other teens everyday. Luckily for me, I’ve been able to make time to socialize and stay connected with friends. Many of my close friends in New York flew into California for my Sweet 16 last month. My parents also make sure that we all spend quality time together several days each week. I have a few good friends here in California that I see regularly also. So there are definitely sacrifices if you begin working before you’ve completed your education. However, I wouldn’t change anything if I could.

 
The Legendary Stevie Wonder is the Executive Producer on your Debut Release for Universal/Republic Records! How did you meet him and what is it like to work with one of the Biggest Names in music history, and his team? 
 
My longtime mentor, musical director Ray Chew took my family and I to a Stevie Wonder concert at Jones Beach, NY back when I was about 9 years old. I had the opportunity to meet and spend some time with him backstage. The following year, I performed at President Obama’s Inauguration with Stevie Wonder. It was great to spend time with him again. However, last year his close friend, singer/songwriter Kimberly Brewer slipped him a song I had recorded that she wrote for me.  Ms. Brewer and I had met over facebook/social media and we both had mutual contacts and friends.   The next thing I knew, Mr. Wonder left a hysterical message on my dad’s cell phone. We originally thought it was just a joke. However, thank GOD it wasn’t because I was soon sending a demo of songs that I had recorded to the executives of Universal Republic Records. Having the opportunity to learn from and work with someone as iconic as Stevie Wonder is truly a blessing. He’s also a great person, has a marvelous sense of humor, and an incredible humanitarian. You can’t help but to push yourself to be a better musician and person if he’s a part of your life.
 
What is a typical day like for you? Walk us through a 24 hour period/day.
 

I love to write music late at night so if I’m not walking my little brothers and sister to school I usually up by 9 or 10. I’ve never been much of a morning person, so I’m sleep walking until I have some tea or a hazelnut macchiato. I have my healthy food days and days when I eat everything in sight. I try not eating certain foods if I’m going to sing or record that day such as dairy or any fried foods. My breakfast could be an herbal tea with a bowl of fruit one day and hot chocolate, juice with a bacon and egg sandwich the next day. I try to eat better food when I’m singing or performing. If it’s a day that I’m running with my dad, I’ll eat after our run. I try to spend a little time answering and sending a few messages on my social media accounts.  If I don’t have the studio or vocal lessons, I’ll do my vocal exercises and then I’m at my laptop doing schoolwork. Once I’m done for the day, I’ll likely meet up with my girlfriend to walk around at the Grove, hit some local thrift shops or grab a late lunch at one of our favorite spots or help my younger siblings with their homework. If it’s really nice out, I’m getting in the pool, I love to swim but we usually close our pool in New York by early September. I’m really enjoying being able to still swim at home in CA because it’s warmer here. If I’m working in the studio, I’d either be doing a writing session or laying down lead vocals for a song that is already written. Either way, I’m usually in the studio at least 3 hours but sometimes before I know it, It’s been 8 hours or more, depending on what I’m doing that day. Sometimes I could be working on several songs and the time just flies by. If it was a long day we might go out to dinner or grab take out. If not I’m waiting on my moms hand and foot praying for dinner to be ready. Her cooking is the bomb like tick tick! I try to get in some face time with my friends in NY before it’s too late over there. We usually just gossip about boys, talk a lot about fashion, and catch each other up about our day. I also try to get in a little Wii Just Dance competition with my brothers or girl time nail painting with my sister before their bedtime. I used to watch more television. But lately, I’ve only wanted to watch an occasional movie. I’ve been accomplishing and creating much more without it. Generally, I write in my song diary, work on songs that I’m presently co writing or record myself playing my bass or keyboards. I also spend a little time caring for and playing with Earl, my baby ferret and our two dogs Prince and Barkley (Standard Poodle and an English Bulldog).

 
Who are you currently working with (songwriters, producers, collaborators, etc.)? 

 

I have many songs recorded so far and I’m presently working on and co writing with several great songwriters and producers. Here’s a short list of people I’m working with: Stevie Wonder, Cory Rooney, Ken Lewis, Barry Eastmond, Nasri, Lovy, Ron Neffu Feemster, Isaac Hasson, The Heavyweights, Chris Hines, Abram Dean, Tarryl Jackson, Justin Gray, Sha Sha Jones, Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, Sevyn Streeter and several others. My team and I also receive submitted music to check out almost on a daily basis.

 
Tell us about the writing/creative process and do you always focus on writing a Hit Song? 
 

I don’t concentrate on writing a hit song when I begin the writing process. I usually start with the theme or concept of the song and then write the hook first. I usually find some inspiration from the track or feel of the song. After I write the hook, the verses usually just fall into place for me pretty quickly. Writing about things that I can relate to or personal experiences makes the process much easier. It also allows me to easily find the emotion I need to sing the song with a lot emotion, attitude or pure conviction. The whole songwriting process is pretty organic for me whether I’m writing alone or with a small group of musicians or co writers.

 
You are a Triple Threat singer, songwriter, performer, and actress! Out of all of the things that you do, do you have a favorite and why? 
 

Starting out in the business young, being able to sing, dance, and act was critical in landing the job. Having and developing more than one talent helps you become a stronger entertainer overall. Despite enjoying acting and dance, I’ve always believed that my true instrument is my voice. I’ve always enjoyed singing more than anything else.  I’ve also worked the hardest at developing my voice and signature sound over the years and I’m still learning. Fashion is my 2nd love and I do plan on creating my OWN Fashion line someday.

 
You signed a Major Recording Contract at the young age of 15. What advice can you give for young singers/entertainers who want to follow in your foot steps?  
 

I’ve always taken advantage of opportunities to sing anywhere I could. I’ve received so many invitations to sing after performing at a specific event or because of good press I’ve received after a performance. The more opportunities you have to perform, the better you’ll become and the more comfortable and confident you’ll be. Practicing and learning from the best people you can is tremendously helpful. They can be at your school, a community or church or with professional lessons. Having good grades and being responsible is an absolute must. You’ll need to show your parents that you’re serious and that your academics won’t suffer because you also want to pursue your dreams while continuing your education. However, remember that this is a business run by adults that are going to expect you to be professional and prepared at all times. You also can’t legally work without having state entertainment working papers in most cases. You need to be doing well in school and have the support of your parents or guardian to obtain them. However, with all the accomplishments there will be many disappointments. I’ve gone on hundreds of auditions for jobs that I didn’t get. If I just gave up, there will be so many things that I missed out on. I auditioned for Lion King for almost 2 years before I finally landed that part. So use your disappointments to help you grow stronger and try harder on the next shot.  Also know that sometimes might not meant for you no matter how much you nailed the audition. It is also extremely important to remain humble, focused, positive, and stay away from anything or anyone that is negative, discouraging, or drags you down. My interview skills have been enhanced at an early age because of my association with the National American Miss Organization. They focus on presenting and preparing young for interviews with a strong foundation making you more confident and relaxed.

 
Do you consider yourself a positive role model and what do you plan on doing with your celebrity status to help out other people who are less fortunate, and to give back to your community? 
 
I’ve been volunteering from a very young age and that has also helped me stay grounded. Volunteering has been more of a benefit to me than the groups and people that I’ve volunteered for. Over the years, I’ve volunteered for the NAACP, been the Youth Ambassador for the Urban League of Long Island, Long Island Alzheimer’s Association,Oxfam America, Red Cross, Teen Suicide Prevention, the Retreat Domestic Violence Organization as well as numerous local community, schools, sport leagues, and charities. I’m a regular teen that makes mistakes like everyone else and truly believe the youth should look up to and strive to emulate their parents or people that they see everyday doing wonderful things in their lives and communities first and foremost. There are so many entertainers and athletes that later revealed to not even be good role models. They would benefit in looking up to many of today’s youth or someone else themselves. However, I’ve also felt a responsibility to be an honest, realistic, and positive influence on others, especially young girls. This Thanksgiving weekend in Anaheim, Ca. I have the opportunity to give back to National American Miss and perform and speak with young girls and hopefully give them that extra motivation to succeed in whatever dreams they may have.
 
 
Are you currently involved in any charities?

 

I’m still involved with and support many of the same charities that I have for many years.  Now that I’m on the west coast and will also have a larger platform as a recording artist, I plan on also working with groups that have a national and global presence as well as local. I also plan on being more involved with Native American youth throughout the country and Canada. In December, I will be attending my first event for the African Millennium Foundation, AMF. The organization helps fight the spread of AIDS. One of my closest friends is their Youth Ambassador.

 
Do you want to write for other artists and if yes, who is on your short list? 
 

While working on my record, I’ve co written songs that may not make my CD. If they don’t make the cut, we plan on placing them with other artists. I’d also love to write for so many but Beyonce, Pink, Adele, Christina Aguilera, Haley Williams, and Rihanna would be some early favs.

 
What venue and city was your favorite place to perform in and why? 
 

I would have to say performing at President Obama’s Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C. It was a once in a lifetime event and I’m still blown away that I was part of it all.


In addition to the Great Stevie Wonder, who else is working with you on your Debut Album?
 

18.  In addition to Stevie Wonder, I’m working with Cory Rooney, Nasri, Ken Lewis, Barry Eastmond, Lovy, Ron Neffu Feemster, the Heavyweights, Chris Hines, Grinehouse, Abram Dean, Tarryl Jackson, Justin Gray, Sha Sha Jones, YoungFyre, Bekuh Boom, Vita Chambers, Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, Aeternum, and Sevyn Streeter and others.

 
Who are your current musical influences and why? 
 
My current music influences include: Stevie Wonder, Micheal Jackson, Will.I.Am, Pink, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Adele, Drake and Ne-Yo to name a few
 
Are there any current artist that you want to collaborate/or feature on your upcoming release or theirs?
 
I’d love to work with several artists both up and coming or true music veterans including Justin Timberlake, Drake, Pink, IM5 and Bruno Mars to name a few
 
Tell us one thing about you that no one else knows?
 
I can’t think of anything that no one knows about me. There are several things that my small circle of family and close friends may know. But 1 thing is that I have a life-like looking mannequin, named Alyssa in my room that is also my height, 5’8. She also wears the same size clothing as me but her foot is at least a one size smaller than mine.Whenever I see my big heels just hanging off her feet, I’m jealous, lol! I usually design my fashions on her and check them out before I sport them. I love experimenting with makeup and trying out new looks on myself, my sister, my mom , friends and occasionally my dad. I also REALLY want a capuchin monkey like nobody’s business!  
 
Do you have any "Shout-Outs" to anyone? 
 

I’d love to give a shout-out to OUR CREATOR, who has made this ALL possible, all of my Family, my Dream Team, my friends, supporters and my bffs Lili, Natalie, Laura, Gabby, Tahtiyanna, Harmony, Will, and Kennedy!

 
What companies/products do you want to endorse/work with, and why? 

 

 

Wow, that’s a hard one when I love anything that embodies music, make up and fashion! I use a mix of make up and skin care products. I don’t use just one specific brand for everything. I do have my favorite brands that you pick up at the drug store and those you’ll find at a store like Sephora or MAC. I received this nice Urban Decay Naked Palet for my birthday that I’m in love with right now. But like most teens, I have combination skin. I tend to use Clinique products mainly but the Proactive Refining Mask is great when you need to get rid of a blemish pretty fast. Getting your make up done professionally can be fun but I’ve learned so much by watching make up tutorials like Michelle Phan online. She’s a genius. I rarely buy expensive clothing or shop at expensive boutiques, I’m obsessed with thrift shops and stores with a unique style. But like most teens I enjoy spending time in Top Shop, Love Culture, and H & M to name a few. When it comes to music, I presently have a baby grand piano, a Fender P Bass, an electronic keyboard, and headphones by DNA/ Monster and of course Beats. I also have  my own studio using Logic with my M-Audio In/Out Interface, NS-10 Studio Monitors, newer Yamaha powered Monitors, and my MPC-4000 and a few other toys. I’m also MAC and IPhone all the way.

 

Eccentric shoes and platform sneakers might be my real weakness though. I’m not going to even begin with giving those details. But if a box arrives from Europe, my parents immediately look at me and I begin to run, lol.

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