Twelve years is a long time to do anything--especially front a band--but that's what Jeremy Jensen, of local indie-pop group The Very Most, has been doing since 2002. What has he learned in those dozen years? How to prioritize.
"I take vacation time off of work often to work on music," he said. "Instead of going off camping or whatever, I go work in the studio. And it used to be, in the past, I would just sacrifice sleep. But as I get older, that's becoming less and less feasible. For the most part, unless I've got a big deadline, I gladly put off music-making for playing a board game with my daughter or something."
Jensen doesn't slack in his artistic endeavors, though. He's especially proud of the latest TVM release, Things Too Obvious to Sing, a four-song EP on which he played all the instruments and recorded in his home studio.
"I feel like the recording is actually better, and since I do my own recording, I was pretty pleased with that aspect of it," Jensen said. "And usually, we throw in at least one cover, often because I can't get enough songs of my own done on time. This one was all originals."
Released March 29 by Sheffield, England-based label My Little Owl Records, Things boasts a clear, quietly sophisticated production, which adds an extra luster to TVM's jangling guitars and sunny, '60s pop-influenced tunes. And though Jensen won't play any shows in Idaho for the foreseeable future, he's leaving in July for a short UK tour, which will include a set at the three-day Indietracks music festival in Derbyshire, England.
Jensen's tour (musician friends from Scotland, England and Spain will serve as his backing band) became possible thanks to a small financial windfall.
"I came into some extra money because I licensed a song for some commercials on the Internet," he explained. "Rather than paying taxes [with] that money, I decided to do something music-related with it. And since I'd been thinking about going over to the UK and getting musicians to play with me, I figured this was the best time to do it because I could afford to. ... There's no way that we're going to break even on it; the plane ticket alone was $1,500."
Whatever the financial cost of the trip, it will likely be an investment in Jensen's musical future.
"The kind of music that we do is a lot more popular in Europe than here," he said, noting that 75 percent of the sales of TVM's 2013 EP Just a Pup came from outside the United States.
Vinnie Ransome of My Little Owl Records is certainly enthusiastic about Jensen's music.
"We believe Jeremy is the epitome of a collaborative musician who has the genius--and I do mean genius, watching him work is terrifying--to put together the styles, ideas and talent of others and create perfect pop songs," she wrote in an email. "The Very Most is truly 'indiepop' because [Jensen's] ethos is to make his pop songs sound beautiful for the listener and for himself; they are never crafted simply to be commercially marketable, although we do think everyone should buy the EP because it's just brilliant."
TVM's international fanbase stems from Jensen persistently contacting music blogs, which began with the release of the album Congratulations Forever (2008).
"I think that was kind of a good time to get into it," Jensen said. "It was kind of before every blogger in the world started getting 100 emails in their inbox every day. ... And I investigated a lot of the blogs just to make sure that [they were] right. I didn't spam-blanket everybody; I tried to do my homework."
The work paid off. Dublin, Ireland-based label Indiecater Records released A Year with the Very Most in 2010. More recently, TVM was invited to perform at the four-day indie-pop festival NYC Popfest in 2013.
"It was an amazing time, and I knew it would be," Jensen said. "I think--and this isn't Boise's fault--the chances that you'd get enough of a concentration of indie-pop fans [that] really get what we're doing here in town are very slim, given that we're only a town of 200,000. But it's different playing to a crowd of people that have come from all over the country that understand the genre of music that you do pretty intimately."
Whether in Idaho or Ireland, TVM fans can look forward to more music in the future: Jensen hopes to put out a collection of new songs and compilation tracks in 2015. But home will remain a priority.
"As much as I love making music, sometimes I just want to watch Hulu with my wife," he said.