On the surface, a story like Adam Jensen's seems all too common in the music industry: an aimless, mischievous youth is heading down the wrong path until, almost serendipitously, he picks up an instrument and develops a life-changing fascination with the craft of songwriting. But, dig a little deeper, and you'll find that Adam Jensen's story is a stupefying coming-of-age tale, filled with bookies and bar brawls, knives and jail cells, recovery and redemption. It's a small miracle that Jensen is alive; let alone producing some of the most vibrant and inspiring songs of the last few years.
It's no surprise that Jensen comes from Boston, given his laughably thick accent that all but disappears when he sings. When asked about his story, Jensen wears his heart on his sleeve. "As for me, I'll be the first to admit it – I used to get in a lot of trouble."
Up until his early twenties, Jensen was far from a law abiding citizen. After being kicked out of George Washington University and Northeastern University for fighting and stripped of his soccer scholarship, he made money working for a bookie and selling "a little weed". Stabbings, assaults, scars, arrests, robberies, weekly supervised check-ins; these were just some of the reasons he decided to make a change. "I finally realized I needed to turn my life around when I flew to LA to record some music," shares Jensen. "I got back to Boston, and the police were waiting for me as I got off the plane. I was arrested for violating my probation."
Even during the darkest of days, Jensen always made time for music. "I started playing piano when I was about 9 years old," he explains. And, I practiced on an old upright piano that I had to keep outside in the garage. Then, when I was 12, I saw Kurt Cobain on MTV and immediately started teaching myself guitar. I used an old acoustic that one of my uncles left behind after he was tossed into rehab."
At 13 years old, Jensen used a 4-track recorder – a Christmas gift from his mother – to record his first original song. Soon after, he started posting his songs online and making his own CDs. By 15, he was playing at open mics all over New England. "Another uncle of mine would drive me everywhere," describes Jensen. "We'd even drive down to NYC and back in the same day, just so I could play two songs."
Influenced heavily by The Beatles and the proud owner of every Beatles pressing in circulation, Jensen also gets inspiration from Kurt Cobain and Third Eye Blind's Stephan Jenkins. Though Jensen is – in some ways – still finding his footing, he has already made a name for himself with his boyish good looks, buttery voice and astonishingly unique brand of alternative-infused pop. Most impressive, perhaps, is his ability to pair buoyant, upbeat rhythms with dark and thought-provoking lyrics. "Musically, my goal is to keep growing as an artist – never getting stuck in one place. Of course, I also have plans to not die or get arrested again."
Jensen is set to release "Ritual" and "Sandcastles," the first two singles from his debut EP this spring.