When we say we’re dedicated to the creative life, we mean it. In fact, even our accountant is a famous musician. Jenny Hoyston is a Texas-born producer, composer and DJ who spent two decades globetrotting as the vocalist/guitarist of legendary San Francisco no wave/punk act Erase Errata. These days she’s settled in Austin, releasing albums mostly under her own name. You can catch Jenny performing live with psychedelic/electronic duo Hey Jellie and DJing everything from classic country vinyl to disco-house cuts at clubs around the capital city. In her spare time, Jenny oversees the day-to-day accounting at Still Austin.
1. What gets your motor running, artistically?
Improvisation is the catalyst of my work—just diving into the moment with trial-and-error experimentation. It’s how I write with all of my projects. I never sit with a pen and paper explicitly trying to write a song. The muse really arrives when I’m acting off the cuff. If I stay open this way, creativity is a well I simply tap into.
2. Tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to be a professional musician.
I started chicken-pecking the piano and playing “tennis racket guitar” before kindergarten. My family suffered through my daily trumpet practice and attempts to cover Black Sabbath with teenage cohorts in our basement. I quit my day job at 19, when my first band started earning enough to pay the rent. There was no other path for me back then. Fast forward 20 years, when I found myself road-weary, longing for a peaceful place to call home. I pivoted to a part-time music career and am really happy with the balance I’ve found.
3. Punk is most certainly not dead—but it sometimes seems to be on life support. What keeps punk rock going?
It’s honestly been a while since I’ve played the punk records in my collection, meaning several shelves in my record room are just collecting dust. I still hold punk ideals, like anti-authoritarianism, and I contribute often to punk-lead projects that feed the homeless. I imagine I’m not the only punk that drifted from the music, yet retained many of the values.
4. Your most recent album—2020’s Hold On, Loosely—moved away from your no wave/punk past into a more lush world. What caused the new direction?
That change is mostly about access. Previously I was primarily self-recorded, relying on a four-track machine, which allowed for three instruments plus vocals. When I could get into a studio, cost was such an issue that I’d barely get the bones of a song down before running out of time/money. Digital recording and programs like Pro Tools have turned many folks like me into more elaborate arrangers. I have to restrain myself from recording more and more layers onto each song. My palette has also expanded due to broadened access to Austin’s diverse music scene. In San Francisco, I primarily heard hip hop, noise, and punk when I went to see live music. You hear that here too, but it’s also easy to hear live cumbia, Cajun, Tejano, and roots music like blues and old-school country. It’s so wonderful.
5. In your “other life,” you’re Still Austin’s accountant. What are the similarities—and differences—between your “numbers brain” and your “music brain.”
I’m a numbers person. I’ve always been interested in data collection and analysis, which is one major function of accounting. Yes, I’ve enjoyed counting cash since I was a little kid, but I’m even more interested in the stories that accounting tells. While one can vary interpretations of numbers, raw data is a direct line to the truth. In this way, it mirrors lyric writing, in trying to get to the truth of matters.
6. What are you working on now? What does the future hold?
I started working on a dance/electronic EP in late 2020 that is near completion. You can hear a demo of the first single (“Let The Elements”) on YouTube. I’m always writing and recording – nearly every day. Recently, I began cataloging unreleased material, trying to group it into potential releases, so a lot of music is in the queue to hit streaming platforms in the coming years.
7. How do you take your whiskey?
I very much enjoy sipping on a whiskey high-ball while eating an orange.