It was only a couple months ago that he was in Melbourne as the drummer for Vera Blue’s ‘Lady Power’s Tour’, and now he is here again promoting his very first solo project.
After being a part of musical groups and duos for a few years, including the alternative band Young Romantics and the retro pop duo Vigilantes, Dave Jenkins Jr launched his new indie-pop project NOT A BOYS NAME back in August.
“I feel like my own person now, which is very liberating,” he says.
“I have kind of always been a solo artist because even when I was doing my other projects, I was always making this music, I just didn’t know what it was. I didn’t think that it would really resonate with anyone so I never pursued it, until now.”
Jenkins decided to separate this new project from his old work with the new pseudonym NOT A BOYS NAME, which relates to escapism and not being predetermined by the name you are given when you are born.
He says that this project is the most honest thing he has ever done, and the refreshing change allows him to do anything he wants to do. From what he has released so far, he has been experimenting with sounds and visuals to be as authentic as he can be.
His debut single, ‘Hazard Perception Test’, is a catchy song about strength, freedom and overcoming life’s obstacles. It reached the top 20 on the Spotify Viral Chart, and was chosen as BEAT Magazine’s Single of the Week.
Written in one day, Jenkins says that if he doesn’t find a spark immediately with a song then he moves on. He describes his writing style as “painfully literal”, often inspired by real life events and feelings.
“Everything I write can be traced back to an exact moment of my life, which is just really cathartic,” he says.
“For this song, it was kind of like me readjusting to being home after being away for a really long time. I kind of felt like I was in this weird simulation where everything was just against me.”
These themes are evident in the accompanying music video, which was directed by Matt Sav, where the lyrical concepts are represented through Jenkins running on a never-ending treadmill while enduring difficult obstacles.
While the colourful and innovative video features Jenkins smoking carrots, being wrapped in tin foil and trying to balance a stack of champagne flutes, he says that the next video takes some of the ideas from ‘Hazard Perception Test’ and pushes them a little further.
While he was described as “one of Australia’s most versatile and in-demand drummers” by the Australian Musician Magazine in 2014, he says that his career in the music industry started off as “a total fluke”.
He played in bands with his friends growing up, and when the friendships ended he began to play for other people. By chance, he bumped into alt-pop singer-songwriter Andy Bull, and began touring together. From there he “became somewhat of a chameleon” and played for a number of artists, including Bertie Blackman, Eves Karydas and Vera Blue, as well as major-label international artists, like Carly Rae Jepsen, Adam Lambert and Rob Thomas.
In 2016 when Crowded House had their reunion concert, Jenkins performed with Kirin J Callinan as the supporting act. Having watched the footage of their farewell show as a child 20 years earlier, he describes the experience of seeing them in real life as a “definite career highlight”.
As well as performing, Jenkins also founded a music agency ‘The Echo Creative’ in 2013, which only ran for a few years. Essentially, he and a friend rented a warehouse in Sydney, renovated it for six months and turned it into a studio home base for artists to both work on their own projects, and for other people.
While the project ended after the warehouse was flattened, he did help establish the careers of many Australian artists, including Nicole Millar, who released her debut album this year.
When he moved on and decided to pursue a solo career, Jenkins decided that he didn’t want to be defined by his drumming abilities and branched out to play guitar and sing on his songs. With ‘Hazard Perception Test’, Jenkins played all of the instruments on the track, including drums, bass, guitar, tambourine and glockenspiel.
“I have a whole album that I’ve done just by myself, and then since I’ve finished the record I kind of went back and decided I want to have a few guests here and there to add little flourishes and flavours,” he says.
“I’ve got Lindy Morrison from The Go-Betweens playing drums on two songs, Kirin J Callinan plays guitar on a bunch, Roy Molloy from Alex Cameron’s band plays saxophone. It’s kind of become this bigger project then I ever really imagined it would be, just accidentally.”
Looking towards the future, Jenkins said that he would love to collaborate with Olympia, who is similarly bringing glam back into the indie pop scene. Another artist he would love to work with is none other than Shania Twain, who he admires for being “a real oddball”.
He has a new single coming out very soon, with a “very over the top” music video directed by Matt Sav, and also has plans for a short film to be released around the time of the album.
“I just want to create a world that is like a bit immersive for the audience so they can fully understand where the music is coming from,” he says.
Until then, Jenkins wants to hone his current skills and develop the live performance side of his career.
“I only recently started performing without an instrument, without a guitar or anything, and I really love that. It’s terrifying but it’s also really exhilarating at the same time.”