Jena Rose is only 20 years old and already living out her dreams on the daily. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, the rising star grew up listening to a broad spectrum of musical genres before discovering her own talents behind the microphone. Jena is a jack of all trades: singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist, dancer, actress, and overall music-lover.
In describing herself, Rose states, “I love music and have always loved music. I got into music by chance. My friend asked if I wanted to take voice lessons with her and I said ‘’sure, why not?’ And I loved it! I’ve never looked back. I love what I do. My music has some 80’s influences in it. Also I’m Cuban-American, that’s very important to me as well.”
While Jena may belong to Gen Z, her biggest inspiration comes from the 80’s era of music, particularly Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Blondie. With her smooth, sultry vocals, paired with her girl-next-door personality, Jena is here to take over both the music and fashion worlds, partnering with brands such as Tommy Hillfiger, FabFitFun and MAC.
Fast forward to today, Jena unleashes her newest single “Checkmate,” with a vibrant visual to match. The song holds fans over until the release of her forthcoming EP titled Baby, Maybe.
Flaunt caught up with Jena via Zoom, who was posted in her home in Marina Del Rey, California. Read below as we discuss her sound, her roots in Texas, the turning point in her music career, inspo behind “Checkmate,” her love for fashion, her new project, goals, and more!
How would you describe your sound?
Songwriting has always been a true passion of mine and I am always trying to push the limits. I’m a big audiophile and love 80’s new wave music, modern pop, hip hop, country, classic rock and singer-songwriters from all eras indie. I have so many playlists—all kinds of playlist on repeat, but that emo 80’s sound has my heart. Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Echo & the Bunnyman, The Cure, Blondie, etc.
What was it like growing up in Dallas, Texas?
I love Dallas and it will always be home for me. My first performance was at the House Of Blues in Dallas, which was always such an iconic venue to me. The moment I stepped on stage, I knew that I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. I started writing my own songs shortly after, at 10-years-old, and haven’t looked back since.
How would you describe being Cuban/American plays into your life and career?
Being Cuban-American is something that I’m so grateful for. I’ve always been a fan of Latin music. My last single, “Forever Yours” which I released last summer was something born from my Cuban roots. My Cuban-American roots also instilled the huge love for music that I have. My mom is from Chicago and that too has contributed to my love for 80’s music and the can-do spirit that the midwest is known for. I’m lucky that my family has always been 100% supportive of my music career.
When did you know you could do music for a living?
I’ve known since I was a very young girl and it was solidified that first moment when I stepped on stage at the House of Blues in Dallas, I knew right in that moment this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I grew up a very shy kid but the second I step on stage, it all goes away.
How nervous were you?
I was pretty nervous, but I don’t get too nervous anymore. I love it and I feel at home on stage, it’s a part of me now.
Fondest memories from touring with AJR, Echosmith, and Why Don’t We?
It’s so fun, always so many memories on tour. Every night seeing new people and new places, it’s such a cool experience. Meeting people after the shows, then getting to do what I love every night is so rewarding and so fun for me. I really miss connecting with fans and other artists in person and doing what I love to do night after night. Being on stage, surrounded by people who love music as much as you do, is a gift. I also love meeting everyone afterward and checking out new cities, new venues. I just love every aspect of it.
“Checkmate” out now! How are you feeling?
I still cannot believe it. I am so happy it is finally out and I have a lot of new music up my sleeve coming soon.
How therapeutic was it for you to write the song “Checkmate”?
Songwriting in general is so therapeutic for me. It’s like my diary. This song was very, very fun to write and I hope people get inspired to stand up for themselves after hearing the message.
How does it feel to hit 2 million views?
I literally cannot believe it. Words cannot express how amazing it feels.
What was your vision with the video?
The video is basically a crazy whimsical chess world where The Queen’s Gambit meets Alice in Wonderland.
You’re serving looks in the video! What was your favorite look in the video?
Oh my gosh, fashion is so important to me. I truly loved every look, but I have to say the yellow ball gown on the chess board was my fav! I also LOVED the black bodysuit. That was super fun, It was a custom by LaQuan Smith. That was great.
What was the highlight from shooting the video?
Throughout COVID, everyone’s been in their own type of funk. But for me, getting to be around so many people was amazing. We had COVID police and everyone was masked up, but there were so many people and the energy was insane. Getting to do what I love was rewarding. Having everyone I love around me… it was so cool.
How would you describe your fashion sense?’
Fashion means so much to me and goes hand-in-hand with my music. There’s so much creativity and self expression in what you wear and how you wear it. I’m definitely someone who thinks about clothes and the environment a song or album can inhabit. I also like to experiment with looks and all of the other creative elements. With fashion, I mix and match my favorite vintage pieces with designer pieces and my other go-to staples. I’ve actually gone to NYFW the last few years and worked with a bunch of great designers which has been a dream come true. Some favs are Chanel, Prada, Alice and Olivia, Anna Sui, Cynthia Rowley and many more…
How often are you thrifting?
So much. I’m always at the Melrose Trading Post with my friends.
What can we expect from your forthcoming EP, and why did you name your forthcoming EP, Baby, Maybe?
Baby, Maybe was one of the lyrics in one of the songs. My manager called me, she’s like, “I had a dream! I had an epiphany in the middle of the night, this is the title!” I said “Okay, great!” So we went with Baby, Maybe. The EP’s going to be a mix of the music I already have out there in that same style with even more 80’s influences than I already do. There’s a ballad I’m super excited about. I can’t wait for everyone to hear. It really is super representative of who I am as an artist and I’m very excited for it.
Who are you as an artist?
“Forever Yours” and “Checkmate” have both been examples of who I am as an artist. I’ve always tried to stay true to myself. I started off writing songs on my piano and guitar in my bedroom, so having that element in there is always very important to me. When I perform, I’m up there with my piano and guitar. It’s just me, plus a band sometimes. I really want to be authentic to who I am and I want people to see that. As well as when I write songs, I write them for the listener to interpret and take them how they want. When I listened to music growing up, I would cry. I would laugh, I would smile. It’s how it makes you feel as the listener. That’s my goal with songwriting and being an artist, is to make people feel something however that happens for them.
3 things you need in the studio at all times?
Hot tea, that’s important. My phone for the Voice Memos and Notes. And hopefully a dog. A lot of producers and songwriters bring their dogs, that’s what I look forward to a lot.
What do you like to do for fun?
You mentioned thrifting, that’s a major thing for me. I love thrift. I love to go to the beach and get in the pool. Relax, watch TV and movies. Those are the normal and boring things I do, but I love them.
What are your favorite shows?
The Queen’s Gambit, of course. Breaking Bad has been an all-time favorite, as well as Game of Thrones. I love reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Million Dollar Listing, Selling Sunset, etc.