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BeatCrave brings you duo, Jen & Abby, as part of our Know Your LA Bands series. Sometimes it takes the complete opposites to make music come together just right. Jen Trani and Abby Miller, who may be day and night, are living proof that two different ideas can beautifully meld. Lucky for us, their peronalities, influences, and skills have intertwined for our listenening pleasure.

Writing folk-pop songs that sell out the most popular singer-songwriter spot in Hollywood, Jen & Abby continue to take advantage of their fortuitous meeting (one lucky flyer was all it took), and extend their talent to anyone who will listen. It’s been working, too. Their attitude is nothing but endearing and one could say their lyrics are an exact carbon copy of that. However, there’s a gumption in there that saves them from being called anything too saccherine-sweet.

They play Hotel Café once again on Janruary 31st. The show starts at 9:00pm, but make sure you get there early -especially, if it’s anything like their last show. Until then, check out our exclusive interview with Jen & Abby below!

There’s hardly any bands these days that go by their real names. Did you ever think of other names for the band? If so, what were some of the contenders?

Jen: I think that was the beginning of the end for Jen and Abby… our first fight really.
Abby wanted to be called ‘The Romantics’  (lame) and I wanted to be called ‘Jen and Abby’ (awesome) Awesome mainly because my name is first… I kid. We actually had a long discussion about it (post tears) and decided ‘Jen and Abby’ rolled off the tongue better than ‘Abby and Jen’ and the rest as they say, is history.

What part of LA are you both from?

Abby: Originally we are both from the Midwest, but the first of many over priced studio apartments for Jen was in Hollywood.  The same for me actually!  I lived in a shoebox with my best guy friend. Our place was so small we could only fit one bed in the room, so we shared a full size for 9 months.  Jen never left her apartment until her third year in L.A.  So, I guess we’d have to say, Hollywood!

You often describe yourselves as “A bird and a fish tied together, not by choice, but out of necessity.” What does this statement mean and where did it come from?

J: Well, our awesome engineer/producer now friend Chris had this shirt, with a walleye tied to the back of a chicken.  Abby and I had been struggling (aka arguing) about what our logo should be. We wanted some kind of design for our album and one day it just came to us in the studio.  They are complete opposites. Actually, if you look up ‘bird and fish’ on the internet, you will usually see a pic of a bird devouring a fish. We thought it was quirky, weird, funny (everything that we are) and they’re tied together!! They can’t escape each other kind of like Abby and I. ( I swear, I’ve tried to get rid of her at least three times but she just keeps coming back, a glutton for punishment.)

Hotel Café is such a hot spot for singer-songwriters these days. Why do you think this venue, in particular, has been so successful?

A: I went to Hotel Cafe for the first time 3 years ago. The artists that play there are truly quality. We’ve been playing out for over 3 years and have come across venues that just weren’t for us.  Hotel Cafe was for us, the owners rock, the sound is great… and I really couldn’t answer for you concretely why it is that Hotel Cafe stands out above the rest.  Maybe I just did.  All I know is right now, you are correct, it is the hot spot in Hollywood.

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Congrats on having a sold out show there! What was the first thought that came to you when you realized what had just happened?

J: Um… I think I just thought, “Holy shit!” That’s all I thought: “Holy shit.’
A: It was weird, I was surprised but then again not at all surprised if that makes sense.  Our friend fans (thats who we call our fans who have become our friends and vice versa) are incredible and have really supported us.  So, I expected a crowd.  I told Marko (the owner of Hotel) to expect over 100.  We brought in way more than that.  It was awesome.

You guys have been a band for a few years now. Do you think it’s easy or hard to be a musician in LA and why?

J: For me, I’ve been incredibly lucky with the opportunities I’ve been given. I wouldn’t say its been necessarily easy, I mean if you look at the big picture I have been playing guitar for 14 years. I’ve worked really hard. There have been some really tough days and tough decisions I’ve had to make, but would I want to be doing anything else? No way. This is it for me.
A: It’s been super easy.

What do you both do besides music? Is it hard to lead a double life?

A: Well funny you should ask that, I do have a bit of multiple personality thing going on – a double life. I am also an actor.  I moved out here to do that. While Jen was practicing her chord progressions I was acting in highschool theatre.  I just always knew I loved being on stage.  I moved to L.A. to pursue the film business and ended up back on the stage with Jen.  Its weird and cool. I still love to act and now music has taken over my life as well, it rocks.
J: (She didn’t want to answer..She’s being difficult.)

So, are you guys flyer advocates now?

J: Well, actually, we are huge fans of flyers being put up at Musicians institute. Abby put up the flyer and I answered it.  Note to self people:  Don’t be afraid of the flyer.

How did you come up with Cannot Rearrange for the title of your album?

J & A: It was the name of one of the songs on the album and we thought it perfectly described us.  We are both stubborn in our own ways and no matter what you do, you can’t really change us.  Plus it totally worked with the whole bird/fish thing.  Can you imagine if the fish was carrying the bird?  Weird.

Who did the artwork for it?

J & A: Our AWESOME friend, Adam Jefferis, took the picture on Chris’ teeshirt (with the walleye and chicken) and created an image that he thought perfectly suited Jen and I – and I have to say he did such a kick ass job.  Then, we took the image to our other awesome AWESOME friend, Justin, (who is a graphic designer in Nebraska) and he flushed out the idea and finished the artwork for the album.  Our friend, David Muller, took the photo and he, too, is completely awesome in every way.

Quick-Fire Round:
Which celebrity has gotten you the most star-struck?

J: Jennifer Aniston
A: Jenny Lewis

What other LA café are you fond of?

J: I don’t leave my apartment, ever.  I eat cereal three times a day.  I am very poor.
A: I am very poor too but eat out a lot!  I love Frank’s Diner (in the valley) and Mustard Seed (in Los Feliz).

Which do you prefer? Poultry or fish?

J: Poultry
A: Fish

What name would your alter-ego go by?

J: Brian
A: Marlena

Tell us one thing about yourself we probably don’t already know.

J: I’m wearing the same clothes that I wore yesterday.
A:  Gross, Jen, but true story. My right arm pit always smells worse than my left.

Photography courtesy of David Muller