Raised in the small town of Dixon, Illinois, Gina Venier first found musical inspiration from her dad’s background as a blues musician. At age 6, she began singing and playing the drums and at age 13, she learned to play the guitar and has been performing ever since.
Venier chatted with heirwaves via phone from a gig in West Virginia about her journey as a singer / songwriter, her creative process and approach to writing, and what it’s like to be part of the music community in Nashville.
In 2013, Venier moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music after receiving a degree in Broadcasting from Elmhurst College. “Music definitely started at an early age, being influenced with my dad being a musician so there was always a seed planted for me musically,” Venier shares, adding that after studying broadcasting in college, she was led to Nashville, where she moved to pursue her career in music.
Venier began writing songs on her own during her time in Chicago, then was introduced to co-writing when she moved to Nashville. “I thought, if I’m going to take a true crack at this, I need to be in a community that you can have tangible feedback and move forward,” she shares. She adds that when she had this realization, she set aside her media background and what she had been working on in broadcasting to pour herself entirely into her music and made the move to Nashville.
After being in Nashville for the last six years, Venier has further developed her writing and music abilities. “I’ve been in Nashville for about six years now, just doing every possible thing that came at me and I’ve been working on learning how writing songs works and also what my message is as an artist,” she says. Venier hopes that those who see her play in Nashville regularly will be able to measure growth, as she believes Nashville is a place that “allows us to grow as long as we stick it out.”
When it comes to being part of the acclaimed Nashville writing community, Venier shares that she has really embraced being part of it. “Most of us aren’t from here, so we have to rely on each other and keep each other accountable. So, I think it’s really important to have a good circle of people around you, whether that’s a team of writers or just a good circle of friends that you trust,” adding that she has consistently found that relationships are the heartbeat of the Nashville writing community, calling it the pulse of the city.
Approaching a writing session, Venier likes to incorporate the percussion side she is so drawn to in music. “I always bring the drum in, so anyone knows that I’m going to bring my cajon in and make it a good jam,” she says. She draws from her early music experience in Chicago, where she was always with a band and adds that she really, truly enjoys collaboration.
While she doesn’t have a consistent writing process of beginning with a lyric or melody, Venier does note that like many writers in town, she has over a thousand notes in her phone of lyrics, melodies and ideas. “A lot of times, you read the room and let the room tell you who the song is going to be for. I think that is really important to allow a true collaboration,” Venier concludes.
Venier is a co-writer on the Australian sister trio Dozzi’s new song “Ramones T-Shirt”, which was written with Zack Dyer and Summer Overstreet. “None of us were ready for a full on artist project to roll out but we knew we had a really cool song and the band Dozzi heard it and asked if they could use it. They put it out and I think it turned out really great,” Venier shares.
“Writing songs didn’t come naturally, I think I’m a performer first and then I knew that I was never going to be satisfied if i wasn’t singing my own songs. My main growth came from knowing where I was at and knowing that I needed to grow,” Venier adds when thinking about how much she has learned and progressed as a songwriter since she first stepped onto the Nashville scene.
Venier has versatility in her percussive background, soulful and bluesy voice and drive to be respected and recognized as a singer/songwriter in Nashville. Her straightforward approach to songwriting with her ability to convey emotion and present life vulnerability make her a songwriter to watch in Nashville.
“Ramones T-Shirt” Co-written by Gina is available for streaming on all platforms.
*Photos by Zack Dyer.