From the streets of Alberta Canada, Jenny Woo strapped on her guitar to travel the world with her songs and her music. She gained recognition as a female performer in the male-dominated genre of Oi! music which had not been achieved previously, with pride and determination she has forged not only a loyal following but created a path to be followed.
Ten-Midnight asked Jenny about some of the most important songs in her life, those that created that inspiration to get up on stage and do it herself.
Play: Rancid – Ruby Soho
This is a feel-good, ultra catchy punk song that came out in the 1990s. It was the first punk song I’d ever heard, and it came on the radio when my mother was driving me to school. I was instantly addicted. At this time punk rock was vaguely mainstream as Rancid was hitting the charts, but without the internet and without a wide social circle in my life at that time there was no way that I could have found it on my own. I’m grateful for this first encounter as it introduced me to a whole new world!
This is a very socialist folk song with strong punk rock attitude given its anti-authoritarian lyrics. I identified with the song as I was going through struggles finding employment and trying to get ahead when the world’s economy seemed to be set up for my own failure. This song inspired me to pick up an acoustic guitar and to start writing my own songs, as it showed me that one person’s voice does matter and that one person can do it alone.
Play: Bikini Kill – Rebel Girl
This is classic 3rd wave feminist Rrrriot girl music. I felt so much frustration in the punk scene and in particular the oi! scene being a woman and struggling to have my voice heard. This song both echoed my rage and frustration, and also empowered me by showing me that there can be strong female characters and that females can and should support each other in our struggle.
This is a very cool Rock’N’Roll song that verges between power pop and punk rock. I empathized with the lyrics – the inability to find stable employment and a place in society. I loved the melodies and the structure of the song. It inspired me to start my first punk rock band, Birds of Prey, which was based on sugary melodies and bright harmonies, as well as my current glam rock/power pop project “Rebels Rule.”
Play: Blitz – New Age
Recorded in true 80s style, the power and sheer brilliance of the guitar riff is what defines this song. I learned that a riff can be as important as a single phrase or quote in terms of bringing up the strength of a song. I also learned that taking musical risks can pay off, as it did for Blitz as they moved into their New Wave style of music.
Play: Knucklehead – Shelters
Knucklehead are a local punkband from my home region, Alberta Canada. Their music is melodic sing-along street punk, and I love this song for the social message. It speaks about the need for more housing for the homeless and vulnerable populations in Canada, and how we have to re-think our funding programs. It’s a song with heart and it taught me that good songs touch on real issues and that the songwriter shouldn’t shy away from possibly controversial or delicate issues simply out of comfort.
Wednesday Night Heroes is a local band from my home city, Edmonton, Alberta Canada. They were the first punk band that I saw live, and their music left a deep impression on me. They used to play all kinds of shows where the venues would be packed with friends, the sound would be horrible, but everyone would be singing along at the top of their lungs and with all their hearts as if it were the last night on earth. The song “Music for the People” is about punk rock being a genre for the people – it’s free of corporate control and it’s written for our friends and for ourselves.
I love this song because it’s just so silly, and it’s just so much fun. The vocals of the Rezillos are done in duet – one male part, one female part, and I love the way they work together. The songs are just about the most random things in life and usually with a supernatural twist. As much as music can and often should have a social message, there should be songs for a great party as well.
The 101ers, the first band of Joe Strummer before the Clash, are a class ’77 punk band. This song is so simple and so beautiful. It demonstrates that the best songs are just melody and good lyric, with 3 chords. If you rely on distortion or effects or other production techniques to make a song “great” you’re missing the point.
I love this classic ’77 punk song because it speaks about a love situation and broken heart, which we’ve all had, but it personalizes it so much. It has a great melody and the perfect chorus. I spent many years of my life with this song playing in the background, so it’s become an important part of my personal soundtrack.
Favourite song ever:
This is a classic hit by punk rock’s classic band – Cock Sparrer. So it comes as no surprise that it’s my favourite. The lyrics are just so true – we’ve all been there, and we all know people who are there now (now that we ourselves are smarter and wiser, haha). It’s an anthem. Every time I hear it I can’t help but sing along. The greatest moments of my life have been traveling to the UK in 2007 alone to see this band play at Rebellion Festival for the first time and making life-long friends while standing in the front row. Every time I see this band it is a religious experience.
Favourite song you have been involved in musically:
I recorded this song in 2013 when I was living in Moscow. It’s a song about refusing to surrender to the struggle of life and refusing to lie down and take the misery and difficulties that life hands you. It’s about finding the fight inside of you, taking responsibility for the events of your existence, and taking a stand for something.