Jeen O’Brien is admittedly “trying to be an introvert in an extroverted world” that is the music business. And “Medicate Me,” from her upcoming album Gift Shop, explains exactly how she plans to do that.
“It’s a bit of an ode to introverts,” the hard-rocking Canadian singer and songwriter tells Billboard about the track, which premieres below. “Being an anti-social person by nature, this music industry is obviously a tricky one to navigate for someone like that. So the song touches on using medical marijuana to calm my nerves, to medicate me a little bit. That’s what was in my head.” And Jeen doesn’t mind being an advocate for weed therapy.
“It’s fabulous,” she says. “It’s kind of a shame it’s not more available to people for different things. There’s a real need for something like that, aside from pills or anything. But it definitely gave me the inspiration for (the song).”
Jeen — who’s also part of the currently on-hiatus group Cookie Duster and has written songs for Serena Ryder, Great Big Sea and others — does want it known that she’s “not on medication, for the record.” And she works hard to overcome that anti-social nature. “It’s just day by day, going out of my comfort zone,” she says. “I stopped playing live for awhile ’cause it was sort of soul-sucking, but I’m back and trying to do that again. It feels good to go and get out of your box and not let yourself get too sheltered in your little bubble. But you have to push yourself, too.”
Jeen produced Gift Shop, due out during September, herself — “out of necessity,” she says. She recorded mostly in her home attic in Stratford, Ont., and the process gets easier each time out. “I’m learning as I go,” she says, “and I feel like on this record I just realized more of what I had to do — keep it simple, don’t get in over my head, don’t overdo crap, ’cause it convolutes everything. It takes time to learn that, especially in real time when I’m putting out records and learning as I go.” She also wrote more material this time, up to 30 songs from which she chose the final nine, and Jeen says the state of the world definitely played a role in her writing.
“I started writing at the end of 2016 and it was the only thing I could do to try to get through that shitty time,” Jeen says. “I think the world has shifted quite a bit. There was an undercurrent of, like, chaos I felt, and I think a lot of that came out subconsciously in the lyrics. It was, ‘What is going on?’ You watched the news and were like, ‘Is this even real?!’ So that’s what was surfacing in some of the songs. It was sort of like therapy for me, which is probably what it feels like for a lot of people.”