My Journey from drumming in Skillet, to launching a solo project, to working a double
We are four months deep into 2018 and Jen Ledger is busier than ever. The drummer for Skillet released her debut solo record on April 13th. This is the first time we have seen Ledger step out from behind the kit in taking on songwriting and lead singer duties. But then, she goes right back behind the kit. What do I mean? Well, Ledger is currently on tour opening for her own band, Skillet. Currently a typical day includes working a double shift by fronting LEDGER in a supporting act, then getting a short break to shift gears while for King Country performs, then grabbing the sticks to pound the drums for Skillet who headlines the night.
LEDGER finds the UK native exploring a new side of her creative self. Co-writing each of the songs on the project from a raw and vulnerable place, the six-song collection is inspired by her own personal experiences with love, heartache, anxiety and “the fight — to not let these things hold us back and stop us from living,” personifying the tension between fear and boldness.
Ledger credits her decade of Skillet experience for serving as a driving force behind her intent to encourage others through the power of her own music. We recently had the pleasure to collaborate with Ledger who shares her inspiring personal journey.
What made you start LEDGER and how long did it take you from concept to forming to recording?
About six years ago, I talked to John and Korey Cooper about starting to write my own music. I didn’t know much about songwriting then, but they knew this was something I would love to learn and step into. Korey immediately took me under her wing and began working with me. It was during that time that we wrote our first batch of songs — a good ten or eleven that year. It was incredibly exciting for me. I’d never dug into writing like that, and it was thrilling and challenging to learn it from the basics. As a new songwriter, that first year of songs were all-over-the-map both directionally and sound wise. But from that initial batch, one song, “Ruins,” made it onto this EP. To this day it’s still one of my favorites!
What is the emotion of creating this project and music for you?
This whole experience has been incredibly surreal and overwhelming. I’ve spent so much time wondering if I was stupid for trying and working hard to overcome a lot of self-doubt to get here. The process behind it all makes these moments feel all-the-more special.
Leading up to this tour I’d wake up every night thinking, “Is this really happening?” All of it feels like a dream that’s finally becoming reality. I’m so grateful that John and Korey have come along side me and put their incredible force, talent, and expertise behind it. For years I’ve been able to have somewhat of an apprenticeship under the rock duo, and now my own music benefits from them in so many ways. They are such talented writers in the business and Korey’s producing skills are stellar. The way everything has come together is so spectacular. I get to keep playing the drums with Skillet, but also explore my solo career and lead a band with some of my best friends!
How was the process different for you? What have been the biggest challenges?
A lot of this experience is brand new for me. To start, being the head of a business is no joke! In the past, I’ve loved being the drummer and band member without having any of the practical responsibilities. I’ve only just begun LEDGER, but it’s already very weird to be the one making all of the business decisions.
Musically, stepping out from behind the drums is stretching. All of the sudden, I’m very aware of my own limbs — and I’m not sure what to do with them now I’m not behind a kit! Not only that, but to have your songs presented is incredibly vulnerable. It’s been intimidating because there’s nothing for me to hide behind anymore. It’s my voice, my songs, and my heart that’s all out there on the stage.
What is the anticipation, excitement, overall feeling of now launching the music and going on tour?
It’s incredibly exciting to have all of this out there for the world to hear. These songs have been through so much with me. They’ve been birthed out of various seasons of my life over the last six years. There have been some real highs and serious lows, and it suddenly feels like the whole world is travelling on this intimate journey with me. I definitely feel very exposed. It’s thrilling, it’s intimidating, it’s real. I hope that fans can come alongside this journey with me.
LEDGER is out now! For tour dates and tickets visit: LEDGERBand.com
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Produced by/in collaboration with Jeff Gorra: