The Underground Flourishes in the land of the Rising Sun
Jenn and her team maintains a great underground community in OKINAWA and the rest of Japan. Through various projects giving outlets for artist of various talents to share and develop their talents. Such as Lyrical Lounge an open mic and artist showcasing in OKINAWA and mainland Japan which she hosts. If that wasn’t enough every saturday on Heat 76.1 Fm she co-host Okinawa’s Sex, Love and relationship show with King Takeshii, DJ M, Celine, Losa and WillMakeIt.. With so much going on you wonder when she gets time to enjoy herself. We sat down with Faa Jenn to get to know whats reallly going on in the land of the rising sun.
Faa Jenn it is good to connect with you! Got to respect the work and care you put in maintaining the underground art community in OKINAWA. What inspires you to create such opportunities for your community?
I thank you for even reaching out. It really means a lot. But to answer your question … I myself am an artist… Which “side note” (you can find me on most social media platforms as Pretty Poetic). When i got to Okinawa about 3-4 years ago, there wasn’t a place for me to perform or i didn’t know of any at the time. So it pretty much started out for selfish reasons and then somewhere along the line it turned into selfless reasons; because I saw how much people appreciated it and enjoyed it. That’s what kept me going… all the performers, talent, audience, and supporters.
Tell us a little bit about Faa Jenn and your artistic drive?
Well, like I said throughout social media and YouTube I go by Pretty Poetic. And like the name states… I’m poetic, I write poetry. I have always been a writer… It really started in High School. It was a way to cope with an over thinking mind. It was a way to cope with emotions I didn’t quite know how to deal with. It used to come in waves… depending on how I was feeling. Once upon a time, I could only write when I was feeling extreme emotion. Really in love or really hurt… Those two things were my inspiration a lot of the time. 2011, I was approached by a friend of mine who wanted to start an open mic… More of a poetry night in Yokosuka, Japan. Yokosuka is my hometown and I had just moved back in to the area for work and for love. So my friend got the poetry night started and I was all about it. I loved to be on stage. Then from those on-base shows… I got introduced to some people in Tokyo who invited me to an open mic and the response was really good. It kept me excited about being in front of an audience. 2012, I got married and that marriage brought me to Virginia. I never really lived in the states as an adult. I’ve lived in Japan for the majority of my life… it’s been collectively about 26 years. As soon as I got to Virginia, the first thing I wanted to do was jump into an open mic so I Yelped a good venue. IT WAS AMAZING. The vibe… the talent… it was an experience. It had this hometown feel… very intimate, everyone knew each other and I loved it. The last artist to perform was this girl… she was probably in her late teens early 20s. She got up and killed it on stage. It was so raw and full of emotion. I was in awe of her skills. I remember going home thinking… I am nothing like her. That thought alone pretty much killed my desire to go to any more open mics. I didn’t have a good support system because at this point, my performing was still a secret to the people closest to me. I was hard on myself… Instead of trying to do better… I just quit. I became deterred. And life at that time was emotionally overwhelming. I was distracted from myself and more focused on the marriage I was in and how it just wasn’t working. Fast forward to 2014… My husband at the time was on deployment. I was at home with some friends getting high. We just started talking about life and experiences. Then one of the guys spoke about writing. And I was inspired… I started thinking of ideas… And I thought… I am going to write something really personal. Something that is very specific to me and what I’ve been through. A trauma or hurt that I’ve had to live through. And that was when the poem “13” was born. As soon as I read it to my friends… They were speechless… and that feeling I triggered within people I shared that poem with… motivated me. I realized… I was right that night after the open mic. I am nothing like that girl who performed. I am Jenn. And no one can ever be like me… and no one can ever share my story the way I can tell it. So needless to say, about a month later… I went back to that same open mic and I got right back on that stage. Since then… I’ve been doing open mics. Whatever city or country I am in…. I find an open mic and I get on that stage to share a piece of myself.
How is the art and underground community in OKINAWA and how is it different from main land japan.
Here in Okinawa… I am always surprised by the amount of talent that lives in such a small area. But I think being on a small island helps the community… because it’s easier to find talent or people who just like the creative scene. I typically deal with the foreigners (mostly Americans) who are here because of their military affiliation… whether its active duty or military civilians. The creativity out here is pretty dope. I love Lyrical Lounge because it affords me the opportunity to have a space that is dedicated to these artists. My way of supporting and thanking them for what they do. As far as mainland Japan… There is a lot more space…. A lot more cities with talented individuals. Tokyo has a lot of avenues for the creatives. When I was in Tokyo 2 years ago living… I got the opportunity to go to a poets open mic and it was such a laid back environment with a bunch of ex-pats called Drunk Poets Tokyo. But I think I like Okinawa cause its like a one stop shop for performers… it’s just easier to reach/find/hear about new artists since we are all stuck on this island together. **insert shrugging girl emoji**
Respect on doing an open mic allowing people the opportunity to express and sharpen their talent. Tell us about Lyrical Lounge how long have you been hosting it and what is your ambition for it.
The first show i did was at a nice little bar/restaurant called Cafe Nirai in february of 2016. It was great… really intimate. Loved it. But soon after because of personal things i was going through… i left the island and ran off to tokyo for about 6 months. When I finally decided to come back… my friend E introduced me to Mark Mcbride. Me and Mark begantalking about my love of poetry and just how I used to host a show and he was like “lets create an open mic!” So we did. And that’s how Lyrical Lounge was born about a year and a half ago. September 2016. As far as for the future of it… I am leaving Okinawa soon but I plan to stay connected with people in Japan to still do the show here ever so often… My goal is to do shows all over the world. So when I get to the states I’d like to host one there as well. I just love the artistic community and I feel like people need a place to vent and share. So if I can create a supportive environment for them and provide a mic and a stage… then I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
Faa Jenn the Love Doctor! Can you give us the juicy info on the Okinawa’s Sex, Love and relationship show on Heat 76.1 Fm co-host with King Takeshii, DJ M.
LOL. Love Doctor… Oh No I don’t think I’m a love doctor… I think at times in the past I would have needed a love doctor… LOL. But currently I am in a wonderful relationship so I think I’m doing pretty good without the extra help. But as far as tthe show is a collaborative effort by all the cast. We all have our opinions about the topics discussed… and it really adds depth and layer to the discussion. We also open up the show for guests to come in…. either aspiring artists, current artists or business professionals, which can really add that surprise aspect because you never know what the guests will say or do. The cast is pretty close… We get together for meals now and then… and also party together. We have some things coming up for the show and the cast… And it’s pretty exciting. That may not be the juiciest answer… so you should tune in… the show gets pretty juicy. J
I see you are jack of many trades explain to us the varies things you do?
Someone once told me… You don’t have to spend your life doing only one thing. And those words always stuck with me. There are so many ways to make money and not just that… you should enjoy the things you do. But if you don’t try something… how will you know that you don’t like it. So I live with the motto… I’m always willing to learn. So a lot of things I’ve learned came from just being a child of life, willing to be open to new experiences.. As far as day jobs I’ve held… I’ve worked on school busses, an elementary school, day cares, boys and girls clubs… majority of my early work experience has been with children… from infants to 18 year olds. Switched it up when I got to Okinawa so at the moment I work as a catering coordinator at a Staff NCO/Officer’s Club. Now, my night time activities… which started with Foreign Affairs Promotion Group in Tokyo… is really where my passion lies… I still organize parties… I assist celebrities/special guests when they are in the country… I host Lyrical Lounge twice a month… I’m on the radio once a week (if I’m not traveling)… Now, I am trying to bring the Lyrical Lounge show outside Okinawa so this past weekend was my first time taking the show to another city… AMAZING experience by the way. I also support other peoples events a lot of the time behind the scenes. And sometimes… if asked to… I will perform at events, meetings, or parties. Hobbies: I’m a bowler, writing you already know about, and my number 1 is travel. Always willing to try things once so I’ve had some amazing experiences in my travels. I want to travel to all new places anytime I get on a plane… So far I’ve been to about 15 different countries and I have soooo many more countries to go.
Lastly Whats next’s for Faa Jenn and do you have any shout out and what we should look for coming from OKINAWA?
Well, I have another poetry video in the making which I am really excited about. A book that is still being worked out because I can’t decide my angle… visual or audio or all of the above. Like I said before… I am actually moving very soon. I am going to Sin City… Good ol Las Vegas. I plan to network out there… I have some great connections right now, so I think it’s my time to take this leap. I will be coming and going from Japan because I still plan to host events-open mics here. This is home for me so I don’t think I’ll ever just leave and never come back. As far as my ultimate goals… I would absolutely love to have my own show one day. I’m thinking Oprah, Ellen, Conan… Then maybe Jenn! J
I’d love to shout out all the people who believed in me and really pushed me, even when I didn’t believe in myself… Sheem, Shaney, Crista, Anna, Joy, Nikki, Malik Rose, E, Losa, myForeign Affairs family and of course, my mom, dad and brother… Just to name a few. Everyone has lent a hand in directing and guiding me towards the direction I am going. There are others who I didn’t name so to them THANK YOU TOO!