Jennifer Batten’s continent-hopping career means her diary is always full: a clinic tour here, her renowned solo show there and, recently, she’s found herself in demand from Michael Jackson tribute acts, having toured with the man himself for 10 years back in the 80s and 90s.
“Yes, I’ve done so many different things,” she tells us as we settle down in the GT studio. “It’s like you never know; when you wake up, there can be an email that shows up and I go, ‘Okay. Well, that’s what I’m doing in March.’”
Spending so much time travelling has meant that she has refined her gear to be flight-friendly – we were impressed by the fact she knows the weight of everything she takes with her on tour. As an example she points to her Boss FV-50 volume pedal and says, “It weighs 1lb. It’s plastic and if it breaks I’ll just buy another one. You know, weight is everything when you travel.”
In clinics around the world she’ll spend a while detailing to guitar hopefuls all the unexpected trauma of touring, such as “broken guitars and missing luggage, and the ‘not joys’ of travel”. All the stresses and strains of the modern-day itinerant minstrel aside, the clinics bring together Jennifer’s vast and impressive experience.
“Three years ago I put together a seminar called Self-Empowerment For The Modern Musician. I wanted to base it on TED Talks, where it’s 20 minutes and then move on, and that was inspired from having students that just shocked me from what they didn’t know. I went out with a buddy of mine for six weeks in my motorhome and we just stopped in every city, did a clinic for Fishman TriplePlay one day and then did this other seminar the next day. I put a lot of effort into doing that: it’s four hours and it’s hard to get through everything. There’s so much ridiculous content. It’s crazy.”
What sort of subjects do you cover?
“One of the things that I had in there was an instructional on the app called ‘Transcribe!’ [by Seventh String Software]. I could start a church with that app because I’ll fly over to Europe, or wherever, and play with a band I haven’t played with before and, obviously, the songs are talked about in advance and files are transferred, and, invariably, we’ll start running it through and I’ll go, ‘Uh-huh. That’s not how it goes. I just wish you had this app where you could loop things and slow it down and do karaoke mode, get rid of the lead instrument and do an automatic bass drop-out so you could really hear what’s going on there…’ because it just drives me nutty. So I turn everybody on to the app that I can.
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