Milwaukee’s Abby Jeanne has come full circle. Growing up in Milwaukee, living around the world and back again, she has a renewed love for Milwaukee music and the talent surrounding her here. Here’s Radio Milwaukee (88.9fm)’s interview with Abby Jeanne.
You write your songs, you play instruments, and you produce. What was the first thing that you did and how did you get started with songwriting?
I’ve always been songwriting, since I was a tween. My first official project where I actually released something in the world was called EdenAbby, which was in 2011 with LeAnna Eden who I met here in Milwaukee. In fall of 2011 we decided to go on tour for the first time.
EdenAbby was the first official thing that I ever recorded, a little EP. When we were on tour, my friend LeAnna, who I was making music with, fell in love with somebody on the road and chose love over music. They were madly in love and she said, “this is all I want” and totally went for it. So, I ended up just playing and writing after that by myself and living in my minivan for the next year.
My friend Jeremy gave me a minivan and I found these old 1970s light carpet patches from the thrift store. They were bright orange shag carpet squares and I stapled them to the ceiling, and then we put a futon in the back and painted the whole minivan and made curtains for it with some trippy vintage fabric.
What do you think of the Milwaukee music scene? Did you grow up here?
I did. I grew up here but I left when I was 16 and I moved to Georgia. I ended up coming back to Milwaukee because something really tragic happened in my family. That’s when I met LeAnna, and then I left again. Ever since I had been living on the road, and I lived in Europe for a while. I moved there with like a thousand bucks. After that I lived in my minivan. It’s been pretty crazy.
Where did you go in Europe?
I went everywhere. I started in the U.K. and visited a friend of mine. I did a foreign exchange program when I was younger with Skylight Opera Theater because I went to the Milwaukee High School of the Arts, so I was fortunate enough to make friends there. My host brother is actually a producer now in the U.K. and went to the Paul McCartney music school in Liverpool. It’s really funny because we used to joke like, “What are we going to do as adults?” and I’m like, “Hey check it out we’re doing it.” I visited him in Ireland, booked it over to France and then Italy and Spain.
I hopped trains and got jobs at hostels. I would play my music in the streets of whatever city I was in. Europe is so cool because they are so much more open there. Especially in bigger cities, you can just go out in Italy and Spain, even in the Benelux area in Belgium, people just gravitate towards you. Then all of a sudden there’s a group of 10 musicians who hear you play and they come and they bring their instruments. I met so many beautiful people.
This story is from our partner 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.