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Jewel Is Picking Up the Pieces

It was a pleasure speaking with Jewel whose beauty resonates from the inside out. Her recently penned memoir Never Broken is candid and so graciously offers up the idea that choosing, thinking and being happy is a reality for us all. Accompanying the book is her latest album Picking Up the Pieces that takes you on a journey that blends the thoughts and soul of a young girl with the Jewel of present day. – Fresh Independence

J E W E L

Tell us about your memoir Never Broken…

I’ve often been asked in my life how I went from an abusive background, to moving out at 15, to being homeless, to turning things around. So I set out to talk about those things and answer that question. I knew at 15 when I moved out that girls like me end up becoming a statistic. That statistically a girl like me ends up in an abusive relationship, or on drugs, or in a ditch or on a pole – one of those things. I wanted to beat those odds. I had read a lot of philosophy and I read a lot of nature vs. nurture and I wanted to see if I could re nurture myself if I did not like the nurturing that I had received in my home. So I started on a scientific discovery to see if I could learn happiness if it wasn’t taught in my household. I studied nature and read a lot and I learned a lot and I think the most surprising thing for me in the book to express and talk about, was how being diligent and  focused helped me a lot. But I didn’t avoid all the pain that I hoped to. I learned that you can’t avoid pain in life and the thing that kept me safe in life was not avoiding pain, but actually how I handled pain and how I transmuted pain and how it kept me resilient and undamaged from the amount of trauma that I went through in my life. There are very specific things that helped me and I talk about them in case they can  help someone else. I wanted to be honest and transparent in the writing so that people could understand and feel what it meant to heal from it, and that it is possible.

a jewel never broken

You story is a soul filled with character – do you feel you were born with tools already or was it something you had to learn…

I don’t think I have any gift that others don’t, but what I think happened to me was I had a great philosophy teacher who introduced me to great literature at a young age. It helped me look at my challenges from a different perspective and made me ask myself can I reason or think my way out of this. Instead of just feeling completely hopeless. It made me feel that there might be a ladder that I could use to climb my way out of the problem if I focused a lot. But that said my gosh, I was doing incredibly dangerous things like hitchhiking through Mexico, that shouldn’t of worked out for me. Shop lifting and I got in all kinds of trouble, it’s not like I had things all figured out. But when I was left to my own devices I was able to come up with some kind of  incredible paradigm shift that really helped me, for instance I was able to train myself to be not agoraphobic.

I really wanted people to learn from this memoir is that you don’t need to wait to be happy,  you don’t have to wait for somebody, or the right amount of money, the right therapist, the right partner or the right house to be happy, if I could figure it out when I had nothing. I remembered when I was homeless that Buddha said that happiness doesn’t depend on who you, what you have, it depends on what you think. I really tried to put that to the test, because when I was homeless and shoplifting I had nothing left but my thoughts, and my thoughts weren’t great you know. They were incredibly negative, victimized and it was difficult but I really tried to turn my thoughts around, and that is a lot of what the book talked about.

Let’s talk about your new album ‘Picking Up the Pieces’ – why no label…

When I was making that record I wanted no voices in my head, I wanted to have a completely free experience. I didn’t want to think about genre, I didn’t want to think about singles, I didn’t want to think about tempo, I didn’t want to think about anything except my poetry and who and what I am even if it didn’t fit in with where culture is at. I wanted to make a really honest record  and to do that I didn’t want to invite other voices into the party and I had to learn to turn off my own voices and everything I had  learned over the last 20 years in the business. So that ended up being really difficult even though I was alone in the studio with myself producing, and I had great musicians who had the same vision as I did, it is still difficult to turn those voices off in my head of the things I had learned over time, that didn’t have a place on my record and I had to learn how to tune them out.

a jewel picking up the pieces

A true labor of love – how long did it take to make this album…

It was a really emotional year. I was going through a divorce and  going through writing a book. So I had to prioritize and my first job was being a Mom and making sure my son was stabilized. My second job was making sure my ex husband and I were going through the process in a humane way, making sure we could transition into a friendship which is really hard to do in a divorce. My third job was the art, the record came together really quickly on different levels like I probably only did five days of tracking and that was it, then I had to layers and over dubs but I spread the record out over a years time because I was writing the book, being a Mom you know, come and go with it over the year. 

What can the listener expect…

It is a very emotionally, raw record. I tried to make it where it would feel like there was a direct line from my vein to your vein. I wanted there to be no filter, nothing separating the listener from what I was feeling. I wanted the listener to have a very visceral response when they heard the record. 

Jewel with all you’ve been through what might you tell your younger self…

It was interesting to make the record because there are quite a few songs on there that I wrote when I was about 18. So it is almost like having a conversation with my younger self and there were a lot of things I liked but had sort of let go of in a way, as we do as we grow up and mature, start a business, get a job. Something had become very domesticated about me and my 18 year old self was anything but and there was a certain wildness and a certain audacity that I had, that I wanted to re embrace. So part of it was seeing what worked for me at 18 and re embracing that most essential vital self and stripping away any veneer that might of covered that up over time. The other part was seeing what worked about where I am now, there’s a real tenacity, strength, calmness and confidence that I didn’t have then. So it was an interesting process to let those two talk as it were.

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