An adventurous spirit and uncompromising passion brought Jenni Cochran of Frederick The Younger a bounty of love, success, and artistic triumph. Rocko Jerome catches up with her before the band embarks on a U.S. tour with Houndmouth and plays their send-off show at Headliners this month. Add that to your pre-Derby must-do list.
A pivotal moment for Jenni Cochran came when she was around 8 or 9 years old, as a kid in Cleveland. Third-grader Jenni entered a songwriting competition. Going through that exercise of starting with an idea and making it into a full work was an enlightening experience. It was as if a key had dropped into her lap, a key to a new world of creativity and self-expression. She wouldn’t get to use it just yet, but she carried it with her, tucked in her proverbial back pocket, as years went on. She kept creating as she grew, but put her effort towards earning a Ph.D. in Anthropology. Her creative instincts were burning inside, but just for herself. No one could predict just how far from home she would have to travel, just to finally begin to bloom.
As a young woman, Jenni was part of a teaching program in Vietnam. The culture there is one filled with an emphasis on and appreciation of musical performance, one that welcomes and invites everyone to perform. It was here in a foreign land that she began to know the joy of performing. She and some friends performed Lady Gaga’s hit Poker Face. “The thrill of the adventure made me realize that I only live once,” she says, “and I want to spend my time doing the things that I love. I always wanted to play my own songs for people, so when I came back to America I wanted to start seriously working on own music.”
In her absence, her parents had found their way to Louisville. When her time overseas was over, she intended to visit them in the River City for just a season, then move on to the next wonderous thing to experience. Fate had other ideas. She met a kindred spirit in Aaron Craker, the leader of a band called Dr.Vitamin. A multi-instrumentalist and fellow free spirit with an easygoing nature, Aaron fit Jenni like a glove. The two quickly found that they could create together and grow together. They often work on songs separately, then combine the pieces and collaborate, eliminating ego from the matter and putting all effort towards making killer songs. Jenni’s specialty is melody. Aaron brings the instrumentation. Together, they’re like early Lennon/McCartney. They fell in love. It was all natural, just a simple matter of natural fact.
Bandmates would come and go before the formula solidified. Dave Givan is the bassist, Jake Hellman holds down the beat on drums. Dr. Vitamin became Frederick The Younger. The band played around the region, racking up experience at renowned spots like Zanzabar and Headliners in Louisville, the Comet and MOTR Pub in Cincinnati, the Best Friend Bar in Lexington. Their reputation grew, their sounds shook audience after audience. Once you hear them, becoming a fan is like an afterthought.
The group has much to celebrate, as this month marks the beginning of a cross-country tour, in support of their friends in Houndmouth. Ahead of that tour, they have a big send-off show at Headliners on April 6th. “I’m very excited to kick off the tour in Louisville,” Jenni says. “It’s going to be a great show. GRLwood and Bendigo Fletcher are playing with us, and they’re great bands. Can’t wait to go on the road with Houndmouth in April!”
IF YOU GO
Check out Jenni and Frederick the Younger at Headliners on Friday, April 6. Tickets are $10. For tickets or more information, go to headlinerslouisville.com/events. Or visit fredericktheyounger.com for more on the band.