There is a sense of inevitability about Jenna Raine’s career to date. The Southlake native, who is 19 years old, has known from an early age — as far back as preschool —she was destined to connect with others through art.
A brief stint in girl group L2M, a handful of acting roles (including the 2017 TV series “Hyperlinked”), a few stints as an opening act and one viral TikTok track — 2021’s “See You Later (Ten Years),” and Raine (born Jenna Raine Simmons) finds herself on the cusp of releasing, via Warner Records, her first major label EP, Big Dumb Heart, Chapter 1, on May 5.
I recently caught up with the effervescent singer-songwriter to talk about her roots, the role of social media in her rise, and what inspires her. The following conversation has been lightly edited and condensed.
I’m curious: How did growing up in Southlake help shape you as an artist?
That’s a great question. I can’t really say anything that bad about my upbringing, to be honest. I mean, the crew that I had raising me were the best people on the whole entire planet. … It was such an amazing city to grow up and create memories in. I still love that city more than any other city I’ve ever been to. … I was definitely very lucky to have grown up there with those people because they shaped me into the person that I am.
What drives you to move from a group project to acting to solo work? Is there something you’re working toward or interested in exploring?
Totally. I think a huge part of it is, I just know how passionate I’ve been about this from the get-go. Since I was six years old, all that I dream of being was a musician, like a singer, a songwriter, a performer. The whole point of all this is to do what I love for a living. The biggest thing for me is I want to be a light in a very complicated, sometimes dark world. That’s the kind of message I want to pour into other people.
That approach to songwriting obviously requires a lot of vulnerability on your part. Is there a negotiation with yourself as to how much of your life or perspective you let into a song?
I think that a huge part of it is keeping a little piece of who I am to myself, but I also feel like I’ve always known where to slightly draw the line, I guess. … It’s not like I’m keeping any information to myself, necessarily, because I think a big part of [songwriting] is keeping it general … I always want people to be able to apply their stories. I think what was so special about “See You Later” is that it was very specific to my life, but I left room for people to be able to feel out what they were feeling.
A big component of your career is social media, which again, requires some vulnerability and boundaries. Is that something you devote as much time and energy to as songwriting or performance?
Yes, for sure. I spend hours and hours on teaser videos and what I think I should say. For instance, those “Stupid Cupid” videos, which is the first single off the EP … I thought about those for so long, to think like, what is relatable to my generation, but also would make me laugh if this came up on my [TikTok] “For You” page. I think that was such a huge part of it — reconnecting with people, reminding them I’m a normal person that watches normal TV shows. … Social media allows me to connect with people in a way that I couldn’t if I weren’t able to post those types of videos.
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.