Courtney Jansen’s Closer to Eden

Dec 13, 2012

By:  Krista Doran
courtney_jansen_article_photoEvery once in a while a brand new original artist comes fourth from the Philly area that inspires all of us with their music.  Many of you already know the artist I am about to present from her band Gypsy Wisdom and have grown to love her; not just for her musical talents, but also for the truly beautiful person she is.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Courtney Jansen!
Courtney just release her CD, “Closer To Eden”, an expressive, fresh and energetic collaboration between Courtney, her husband Danny Gunz, and co-writer and producer Stephen McKnight.  The soulful and poppy, positive sounds of her CD come from her inner-strength and leads the listener down Courtney’s own personal path of self-awareness. I first met Courtney a few years back, when a mutual friend of ours, Lori Stidham, gathered a bunch of local musicians together for an event she called, Lovefest.  I was instantly drawn to Courtney.  She has a glow of peace and love around her, and it embraces you whenever she performs.  She is just one of those people that has a warmth about her everyone appreciates. I had the privilege of interviewing Courtney, and instead of working the questions into a story like I do for most interviews, I decided to just print the questions and answers below, so that all of our readers could get a better idea of her personality.  Here is what we discussed:


Q: Who are your major influences?
A:  Whitney Houston and Alanis Morissette

Q:  How long have you been together?
A:  This project has only been myself, my husband (Danny Gunz), producer/songwriter (Stephen McKnight), and two stellar drummers (Bobby Pyrilis and Kevin Soffera). We’re not a band per say. Me, Danny, and Stephen have been working together on this project for about a year now.

Q:  Why this group of guys/what’s the chemistry like?
A:  Well the chemistry with my husband is a given:) Knowing someone so deeply has allowed us to finish each other’s sentences and, in this case, lyrics. Stephen has proven to be the perfect piece to finish this tripod off. When one of us hits a creative wall, someone is always there to break it down with a fresh idea.

Q:  Who writes your songs? What the main inspiration for most of your songs?
A:  It’s very collaborative between the 3 of us. The general pattern has been, I come up with the initial subject matter, Danny gives it a rewrite with fresh eyes, and Stephen composes music around it all. But, it’s really a mix of all those things. As for the inspiration, this whole album has been about self discovery, inner strength, and moving on.

Q:  What is the process you use to write?
A:  For the first two tracks, I had little voice memos on my phone that I brought to Danny and Stephen and we built up from there. The last track, “Surrender”, was a song that Stephen had begun writing a while ago with me in mind, so we just started grooving with that sweet guitar lick and came out with a sweet EP closer.

Q:  Has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
A:  Very much so. We actually tried to get this project fired up in 2010, but as always with life, things happened and we had to put in on pause. The songs I was going to record in 2010 are much different than what we have with Closer To Eden. As I always say, “everything happens for a reason” and where I was during this writing process in 2012 was more where I wanted to be as far as inspiration and creativity.

Q:  What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
A:  TIME! As you know, Danny and I are in the cover band Gypsy Wisdom and Stephen is in the cover band Steal the Sky. Between the travel, life’s daily chores, and everything else sometimes it’s hard to get out there and do all the things I’d like to do with this EP. But, we accept challenges! And, time will be what it will be. We have things in the works for 2013 and as long as I put them in my iPhone, they will ALL GET DONE! haha

Q:  What genre would you say you fall under?
A:  Pop rock

Q:  What are your shows like?
A:  Our first original show will be in the new year, but I can tell you what those will be like. Energetic, warm, emotional, and definitely entertaining, especially with the line up of musicians who will be around me:)

Q:  How do you all like touring?
A:  When you do what you love with people you love, does it really matter where you are? Nah;)

Q:  What do you want everyone to know about your band?
A:  Once upon a time, I wanted to be a famous performer. I wanted to be on Star Search with Ed McMahon soooo bad. haha. That carried over for awhile. I wanted the world to know my name. Over the past few years, as I’ve really come to know who I am, that shifted… big time. Now, I just want to inspire people to know themselves as they really are through the beauty of music and lyrics. The world can be a tough place if we let ourselves believe all the hype about appearances, material things, etc. But none of that is important. Being strong and healthy is beautiful. Sharing love is beautiful. That’s what I”m trying to do with my songs:)

Q:  What have you done locally?
A:  I have been working in radio stations for the past couple years recording radio jingles and I have very supportive friends who are working on some things for us, I’ll keep you posted. There is also a World Cafe Live show in the works that will be with two amazing women artists. This will be a highlight of my life kinda night.

Q:  What do you want the Philly area to know about you and the band?
A:  We’re comin’ for ya! Make sure to check the website (www.courtneyjansen.com) for all upcoming events and info. We plan to get out and share what we got in the new year and I hope to have people feeling like they’re on cloud nine after a night of positive messages on sweet melodies with some very talented musicians.

Q:  What’s your advice for new original bands?
A:  Just be honest. Never write or play a note for someone else. Make it real from your heart because at the end of the day, we all have different taste in music. We’re not going to please everyone. So make something that you are proud of. That’s what original music is all about for me:)


You can check out the first single from the CD entitled, “The Girl I Used To Be”, on itunes, and you can also grab the CD on CDBaby.  Simply go to her website www.courtneyjansen.com to check it out right now!  All of us here at the OOT would like to congratulate Courtney, Danny and Stephen on such a wonderful offering of great music!

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