Multi-hyphenate Jenna Andrews has held just about every role in the music industry — including major label artist, A&R executive, publisher and songwriter — and now she’s adding digital series host to her resume. With “The Green Room,” Andrews is giving fans a “look inside” the songwriting process.
“When you go into a writing session, you never know what will happen,” says Andrews, whose recent credits include BTS’ hit “Dynamite” and “Supalonely” by Benee, which Variety earlier this month named Isolation Salvation Song of the Year. The native Canadian is hoping that “The Green Room” captures the same vulnerability and improvisation she finds during her collaborations. Although the idea for the series first came to Andrews at the beginning of 2020 — inspired by a Grammy week event she hosted with The Jed Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to to promoting emotional wellness — “The Green Room” was launched during quarantine. Says Andrews: “What better time to be able to bring people together?”
Hosted by Dash Radio on YouTube and Twitch, the live-streamed show finds guests discussing topics at the intersection of mental health and music. Among the artists who have appeared in the past are Lennon Stella, Kiesza and Rebecca Black. Andrews’ latest installment features twin singer-songwriters Tegan and Sara, who talk about the difficulties of coming out as LGBTQ+ alongside songwriter Alex Hope and her manager Hannah Babitt, and therapist Janis Whitlock, a PHD/MPH.
Andrews notes the importance of including a licensed mental health professional on “The Green Room.” “I often think back to my high school days,” she reflects. “Something like this could have been potentially a lifesaver.”
Admittedly, Andrews, who identifies as straight and cisgender, was first motivated by her personal struggles with mental health, including anxiety and a past eating disorder. But she’s now interested in exploring topics beyond her own scope. “I realized this year that educating yourself is the first step,” she says. “You may not say the right thing all the time, but if you’re humble enough to accept criticism and try to evolve, it can be so amazing.”
Featuring an organic approach to its interviews, the latest episode on coming out leaves room for its guests to steer the dialogue as Andrews hangs back, interjecting only when needed. “I want to make sure I’m letting people tell their story in a way that they want to tell it,” she explains, though she often prepares via pre-interviews with her guests and licensed mental health professionals to learn everyone’s boundaries. Says Andrews: “The last thing I want to do in this context with mental health is to say something that makes them feel uncomfortable. You don’t want to make somebody feel bad when they’re actually trying to be honest.”
In its latest episode, Andrews invites Tegan, Sara and Alex Hope, all of whom identify as lesbian, to share their coming out stories which occurred nearly 20 years apart. The three musicians recently worked together on the track “Make You Mine This Season” for the gay romantic comedy “Happiest Season.” “Hearing those stories, especially Alex Hope’s, who very recently came out, were really inspiring for me because I thought it took so much bravery,” Andrews says of the conversation. “Sometimes there’s so much power and healing in talking to somebody.”
The Green Room was produced in partnership with The Jed Foundation and She Is The Music, an organization close to Andrews’ heart, which seeks to increase the number of female songwriters, engineers, producers, artists and professionals in the music industry. Adds Andrews: “As a female artist, and as a female in general, we go through so much. I hope I can be a mentor and inspire other [women] with my actions.”