Originally appeared on the 405, view archived article here.
Jen Awad is LA’s glittery, soul idol. She has cultivated a relentless fanbase home in Los Angeles and she has been consistently recording, releasing, and performing for the past few years; her latest EP, released this past spring, is called Jewel of the Nile, a reference to her Egyptian background. There is wisdom spread across its five tracks, but the video she put out for lead single ‘Bad People’ was particularly poignant.
Read more about what she had to say about responsibility, compassion, and cancel culture in an interview with the 405, archived here. Find an excerpt below.
405: ‘Bad People’ is a wonderful, upbeat song, but then the questions at the end put you in a different headspace. Why provide Socratic questions?
Jen Awad: There’s a contrast between why this song was actually written and why we put those Socratic questions at the end of that video. When we filmed the video, we were using a lot of guns. It was funny because we were very desensitized by that fact, just carrying around all these guns and pointing them at people and shooting people. Later, my five-year-old niece saw that video and she told me, “I love that video with the guns.” So when we were doing the editing, me and [co-star, editor, and director] Liz [Nistico] were like holy shit—it’s our responsibility to take a stand and say that we do not accept this, we do not want this, and in no way is this anything that we support. Even if it’s for a kitsch, camp, fun reason. Any artist has a responsibility to their viewers to say, “this might be fun and this might look cute but this is a real issue.” That’s why we included the Socratic questions.
In your first question at the end of ‘Bad People’, you ask, if someone has done something bad, “should they be exiled?” So I was wondering, what are your thoughts on cancel culture?
I hate cancelling people. I think it’s really fucked up and unfair. We are virtually stoning people. This is some Old Testament shit. We have the facts, people are welcome to feel however they wanna feel. There is a thing called forgiveness. I believe that we’re a little too extreme these days and there’s a lot of grey area that we should kind of just live in. Be angry, that’s fine. I don’t know, [just] don’t write things off so easily.