Me Of A Kind is an edgy, atmospheric, female-fronted alternative rock band from Los Angeles. The band’s principle member is singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jen Schwartz, who wrote, performed, produced and engineered the entire album. Me Of A Kind’s sound is reminiscent of 1990s classic 4AD bands and British alternative rock bands, but with a very modern sensibility and forward-focused lyrics. The songs on You Are Here offer a compelling blend of lush arrangements, intricate rhythms, and intensely personal storytelling.
Schwartz grew up in a small college town in New England and started playing drums at the age of 11. She quickly became an accomplished drummer, winning awards from Berklee College of Music during high school. She got her start in punk bands, Riot Grrrl bands, and post-punk art bands of the 1990s. In 2000, she joined the infamous queercore band Tribe 8 and played drums with them until 2005.
Schwartz’s earliest musical influences came from her parents’ 60’s music. The family playlist featured a steady stream of Motown girl groups, British Invasion bands, and classic American crooners, an early education that informs her songwriting to this day. In an instant however, Schwartz’s world cracked open when she saw Blondie on television for the first time. “My parents’ music was wonderful and fun and sweet,” Schwartz recalls, “But when I saw Debbie Harry sing ‘Heart Of Glass’ into the camera, my little mind was totally blown! Even at a young age, I knew that this was not a nice girl. This was no ‘It’s My Party’ and I loved it!”
Schwartz’s love of Blondie lead her to an immersion in early punk, followed by a free-fall into 80s and 90s alternative artists, always gravitating toward bands with strong female and/or androgynous leaders. “Once I found my own music, that was it.” She says, “The Banshees were my Beatles and The Smiths my Stones.”
When it came to creating Me Of A Kind, Schwartz was clear that the project would not be a solo effort. “I always envisioned Me of a Kind as a full-fledged band, which is what the name is about, being a part of something bigger than the individual, but I recorded everything basically as I was writing it, so I ended up playing almost everything on the album myself.” Jen had her cousin, Patrick Doane, a Julliard graduate who’s also recorded with The Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s Nick Zinner, play violin on three songs.
Once the recordings for You Are Here were complete, Schwartz sought out a top-notch team to mix and master the album. On a recommendation from world-renowned producer Alan Moulder, Schwartz teamed up with Adam Moseley to mix the tracks at the legendary Village Recorder. Adam cut his teeth with Alan and Flood at the world-famous Trident Studios in London. Schwartz was not only pleased with Adam’s work in the studio, but also with his penchant for telling stories. “Adam was in the studio with Robert Smith when he recorded the vocals for ‘Close To Me’” She says, “I grew up with that record, and there I was, working with the very same engineer on my own album.”
When it came time to master the album, Schwartz sought out another legend in the business, Howie Weinberg. Schwartz was thrilled to work with him stating, “Howie’s mastered almost every one of my favorite records, so he was definitely my first choice. I mean, who wouldn’t call the guy who mastered [Jeff Buckley’s] ‘Grace’?”
The lyrical subjects of Me Of A Kind’s songs are diverse, thought-provoking and often refreshingly confrontational. As Schwartz points out, “Not many artists are singing about the experience of being a woman, or queer, or bullied, or voted against by your neighbors, so we end up with very limited points of view in modern music. When I sat down to write this record, I wasn’t interested in only talking about desire or lost love in my songs. There are experiences I have as a queer woman that I wanted to sing about. I wanted a balance of story telling and realism.”