Jen Majura on dedication, hard work, and Evanescence

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Photo by Tom Row

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 9 – Autumn 2019 – Ladies of Metal

German guitarist, bassist, and singer Jen Majura has been shaking up the metal scene since 2000. Throughout her impressive music career, Majura has been a member of the metal bands Black Thunder Ladies, Equilibrium, Knorkator, and is currently the rhythm guitar and backing vocals for Evanescence. Majura has also pursued her own solo projects and even opened a music school the Unity Music School in Hamm, Germany in 2007.

As a diverse and incredibly talented musician, Majura is the perfect example of hard work paying off. Her guitar mastery is absolutely astounding, and she is the epitome of a rock/metal goddess.

Having just wrapped up a North American tour with Evanescence, and back on the road this summer, we caught up with Majura to ask about the tour, her vlogs, her independent project Something On 11, and what it’s like as a female metal rocker.

You’ve been with Evanescence for four years now. What’s it been like?

My life changed drastically when Amy [Lee] announced me as the new guitar player for Evanescence in summer 2015, that’s for sure. I tried my best to make all the right decisions and to be a positive role model for younger musicians. We played some crazy tours all over the world, and it’s been a blast ever since! For our latest album Synthesis, we toured with an orchestra for almost a year and a half until September 2018. It was a phenomenal experience to be on stage with so many people.

Recently, we finished a short US rock tour (without orchestra), and it was super fun to headbang again. We all get along really great, which from my experience is not always the case. To sum it up — not only have I found a great band, I also found friends.

So you’ve just wrapped up a North American tour. How did that go?

This was a nice US rock run. Amy, the boys, and I had a blast! We revisited venues that we played before, and we discovered new places. Being on tour with Evanescence is more like being on a great vacation with your best friends and also having the opportunity to play all these great shows.

Now the writing process for the next Evanescence album has started.

I have to say your vlogs are fantastic. I especially loved the behind-the-scenes bits from your last tour. What prompted you to start doing them? 

When I joined Evanescence, I first started putting out these behind the scenes Instagram stories, but by now literally, everybody does them, and I never liked being just another sheep in the herd. So I started to edit these vlogs, and I realized how much fun it is and that it is another creative outlet for me. The topics of my vlogs on my YouTube channel vary from “Finding a pet for JenJen” to me joining different musicians on stage. So it’s super versatile, and I plan on many more videos.

Are you going to do more “Four Questions” videos?

Absolutely! I try to keep it in mind whenever I see friends, but it takes up a lot of time to create one four-question video. The questions are hilarious, and I will never get tired of the funny faces my colleagues give me when they hear them. I would love to interview my Ibanez colleagues Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, and Joe Satriani for these videos and see with what they’d come up with.

Can you tell us a bit about Something On 11? 

It’s my guitar side project together with Alen Brentini, a good friend and guitarist from Croatia. Something On 11 is an independent project, which allows us to creatively work on our music without having the pressure of a deadline. We already recorded eight songs: instrumental and songs with vocals of the both of us. My goal with this project is to create interesting music art without paying attention to the rules of mainstream music, similar to my last solo album InZENity. One of our songs has a guitar melody line instead of a chorus with lyrics, for example — I mean, who does such things? Something On 11!

We are going to release the album probably this summer with an exclusive crowdfunding campaign as soon as the mixing is done.

When you’re touring, what guitars do you bring with you? 

I am an Ibanez endorsee for many years, and with Evanescence we use a lot of baritone and seven-string guitars. Usually, there are two RGIB-6 baritones and two standard RG450s for the drop D stuff. On this last tour, I also played some of the newer Ibanez Axion Label 6- and 7-string models (RGA61 and RGA71). I completely fell in love with them. All of my guitars are equipped with Fishman Fluence Pick Ups which provide the best sound for my taste.

Which guitar is your favorite to play on stage? Is it different from the one you use in the studio?

When I recorded InZENity, I used almost just one guitar, my favorite, an Ibanez BFP-JEM. For the doubling part, I played my FR6UCS most of the time, which has a more twangy sound, and the bright frequencies are a great addition. For the new Evanescence album, I will probably play the Axion Label 7-string a lot, but that, of course, has to do with how the songs will turn out. We are still in the writing process.

Most of the guitars I play in the studio are the same like the ones I use for live shows, and to ask someone about which his or her favorite guitar, is the same as asking a mother of many kids “Which is your favorite child?”

What got you interested in the guitar in the first place? 

My dad is a bass player, and as a kid, I always went to the shows he played with his band, so music was never strange to me. I knew at the age of 4 that I would become a musician. After piano lessons didn’t really rock, I decided to learn to play the electric guitar. My first interest in rock music as a child was Bon Jovi. That was until I discovered Steve Vai’s music at the age of 11 or 12. From then on the sky was the limit. As all my school colleagues listened to boybands or Euro-dance crap, I discovered guitar players like Nuno Bettencourt, Joe Satriani, Scott Henderson, Richie Kotzen, Mattias IA Eklundh, and many more.

What’s it like being a woman in the metal music world? 

I truly believe we are on a good way in the right direction. I never heard anybody pointing out the male drummer or the male keyboard player, and yes we are still a minority, but why is it so extraordinary!? We are all passionate musicians trying our best and gender shouldn’t matter, in my opinion, whether if you are a woman, a man, or a unicorn. I’m happy to see more and more girls on guitars like Nita, Courtney, Nili, etc. (or other instruments) who rock and are finally being accepted by the sausage party. In the end, we are all one gender — musicians.

Do you have any advice for young musicians? 

I own a music school in Germany, and whenever my time allows it, I’m teaching kids of all ages there. I try to teach them the right attitude: nothing is for free, you have to practice, learn your technique, improve your skills, and work hard. When you can stop concentrating on techniques, you will be able to do music. Never stop trying to become better, because no one will ever be perfect. With all that social media YouTube white noise out there, it’s both tougher and easier nowadays to get your music out. Be creative and also do not just play alone in your little bedroom. It’s so important to play with other musicians, battling the loudness of an amp, learn control over your instrument — these are experiences and lessons you won’t learn with your little two-watt amp in your bedroom.

And the last question, you always seem to have something on the go. What’s next for you? 

I’ll be doing a guitar clinic at a music university here in Germany at the end of this month, and this month, I wanna focus on songwriting again, to prepare for the second writing session with Amy and the boys. I’m looking forward to another four Evanescence shows in the States this month; then we’ll be touring Europe in fall.

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