Life Outside Music: The Story of Jensen McRae

Author: 
Zoe Adler, GRAMMY Camp LA

The USC cafeteria is not a small room. It’s actually rather large. However, Jensen McRae’s personality is so full, so vibrant, that it spreads to every corner of the Trojan dining hall. Casual as she is, she still holds a professional presence, and does not even seem surprised when asked for an interview.

McRae is currently participating in the songwriting track at the Los Angeles GRAMMY Camp. Her voice is like her aura: radiant, memorable, and fun. However, her life encompasses more than just music. “I like to write, which stems off of music,” says McRae. “Being a songwriter, I write poetry. I also like to write fiction; that’s my main other interest.”

McRae spends large chunks of her time at a desk, writing and expressing her views on the world. “Mainly I write about day-to-day life...I take inspiration from other people’s stories; I’ll write from other people’s perspectives.” 

Everyone takes different approaches towards the writing process, and this is how McRae does it: “Sometimes I write when inspiration strikes, and sometimes I sit down and say, ‘I wanna write about this,’ and then I write about it.

“I draw inspiration from everything. If I hear a song, or I see a painting, or if I have a conversation, [it] can become poetry for me. I write all in free verse. I’ve tried to write a Sestina, but it took me two hours,” laughs McRae. “They’re so hard! But when I write in free verse, those can sometimes [take] ten minutes of writing.”

McRae revealed another aspect of her writing. “My school has a playwriting festival every year. They’re all one act and student written. So, I wrote a play.” She makes it sound so simple. If only it was… “I wrote mine about a girl [and] the story takes place in her mind. All the characters are like Emotion, Intellect, Sense of Humor...The plot of it is how those characters work together and then what happens when outside forces try to intervene.” 

McRae wears many hats, and appears to be pretty fantastic at wearing all of them. “I started one day writing a dialogue between Emotion and Intellect because...I liked the idea of personifying them and having them talk to each other and make fun of each other. Then, I started adding in more characters and gave it the story and form.”

On top of her music, poetry and playwriting, she is in the revision process of a novel titled Vinyl Cafe. “It’s about this girl who has absolutely no musical talent, but she loves music and...eventually wants to be a record [label] executive,” McRae describes passionately. “First, she has to manage a band. She ends up meeting this guy from a band who’s a drummer and she falls in love with him. She ends up working at her schools radio station and et cetera.”

Every piece of writing carries a bit of the author in it. Whether it’s a personal story or a personality trait, the author always leaves behind a piece of themselves. “I’d like to say that I have some musical talent,” laughs McRae, “so I’m pretty different from the main character. I kind of based her personality off myself...but her world view and her actions are very different from mine. She’s kind of an amalgamation of all of my friends and various teenage archetypes.”

Jensen McRae has talent in music, amazing talent. But she doesn’t let it stop there. McRae explores the world of writing and delves into a different aspect of creativity. Make sure to remember her, because someday you’ll be sitting at home, reading Vinyl Cafe, and listening to the radio when, all of a sudden, a Jensen McRae hit starts booming out of your speakers.

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