Stephan Jenkins on Becoming a Musician
Stephan Jenkins is lead singer and guitarist for the Third Eye Blind, a San Francisco-based alt-rock group Jenkins founded in the early 90s. Although diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, Jenkins showed an early aptitude for music. He went on to attend UC Berkeley and graduated as valedictorian of his class with a BA in English Literature. Third Eye Blind’s first self-titled album won Billboard’s Modern Rock Track of the Year in 1997 for “Semi-Charmed Life.” Jenkins has advocated strongly for a digital release model as an alternative to album-dependent music releases and has allowed open-source online remixing of Third Eye Blind material. Jenkins has also had acting roles in Rock Star and Art of Revenge.
Question: What made you decide to go into music?
Jenkins: I became a musician because I couldn’t do anything else, because, like, I think, all musicians making music was the way that I make sense with the world.
Question: How do you write songs?
Jenkins: I have no description for my creative process. I have no idea how it works except to just try and be available and vulnerable to what’s happening with me and life and just kind of… it has more to do just sort of relaxing into it than anything else. And also I think a creative process happens when you’re not in a state of judgment about yourself. You’re in this kind of like, you’re not editing, you’re just kind of expressing without any kind of recrimination, which is kind of hard to do since most artists are engaged in quite a bit of self-hate, myself included.
Question: How did your education affect you as a musician?
Jenkins: I had a lot of ups and downs in my whole pedagogy. I have some learning impediments. I have ADD and I have dyslexia and that made it very hard for me to function in an institution of school, so I failed the 1st grade but I also managed to go to Cal, Berkeley and I studied English there and I think there, I learned two things from studying literature. One was I learned how to pay attention to what I was thinking, to what was happening in my own mind. And I also learn how to edit, to say this is the cookie cutter of my thoughts, these are the things that fit in and these are the things that don’t. I think a lot of my education happened in the music business itself. We’re now in a new music business, the old style, the major label records is in the process of ending. It’s not over yet and certainly they are still relevant but they are changing into something else. If they weren’t changing, a group like Big Think would not be doing an interview with me, we would… there wouldn’t be anything to talk about. So what we’re talking about is the change. I think my education, say, as a student is just about sort of being collegial with people and learning senses of balance, but I probably learned that as much in… in the process of having a band with a record deal and dealing with marketers and radio promotions people and publicists, etc.
Stephan Jenkins charts his course from school to the stage.
These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.
We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.
Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.
For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.