OCC vocal music alum finds pop success

OCC alum Courtney Jenaé, 30, and her YVR bandmate Stephen Stahl pose for a promotional photograph.

Orange Coast College alumni, Courtney Jenaé, 30, is making waves in the pop world.  

After graduating in 2011, the Southern California native has made a name for herself co-writing for influential K-pop groups. In addition to her credits writing for K-Pop groups such as Exo and Girls’ Generation, Jenaé is also half of Los Angeles based pop duo, YVR.

Jenaé was a vocal music major at OCC, and lists the college’s faculty as some of her important influences.

With writing credits on Exo’s platinum single, “Love Me Right,” as well as Girls’ Generation’s “Paradise,” which yielded the No. 1 slot on Billboard’s World Albums chart, Jenaé has succeeded in writing catchy, pop hits with international appeal.

Jenaé first traveled to South Korea with her co-writers about five years ago and she soon began working for SM Entertainment, a South Korean entertainment company credited for leading the K-pop craze.

By the following year, Jenaé was picked up by Sony/ATV.

Since then, things have changed, she said. “There’s been a shift in music lately. People are afraid to put out pop music,” Jenaé says.

As the shift moved away from pop music, Jenaé said she and her husband, musician Stephen Stahl, were ready to start their own project.

“I was writing for so long for others,” Jenaé said. “We wanted to perform music that was our own.”

She said she believes everyone creates their own journey in the music industry, and many of her OCC classmates are on a similar path as hers. She has kept in touch with many of her classmates and even met her best friend through class.

Jenaé said she first met Stahl, an LA native, at a Dave and Busters in 2010, where her manager would put on Karaoke Nights.

A single from YVR’s most recent album, “Messy,” details the stages of them falling for one another, with the added complication of previous relationships.

“[‘Messy’] was about how I felt about Stephen at the time because of an automatic connection we had, and feelings for him that would become a problem because of my (then) current relationship,” she said.

It began as a working relationship, but quickly became a much more complicated situation.

They traveled to Korea together a handful of times, solidifying a resume of prestigious writing credits before deciding to create their own project.

The name YVR came about during the couple’s trip to Vancouver, where they grew attached to the city.  At the end of the trip, Stahl proposed to Jenaé, and when they returned to LA they named their duo after the Vancouver International Airport code, YVR.

YVR released its debut record, “Night Days” in late April.  It’s a dynamic record with top notch production and catchy lyricism that oozes experience in the pop music department.

Jenaé said she and Stahl are something of night owls, and most of their writing and production is done “in the wee hours of the morning.”

“Our days are all at night,” she said.

Jenaé said that YVR are currently working on their next EP which is slated to come out next year. In addition to the Sept. 4 show at The Hi Hat, they have another show scheduled for Sept. 20 at The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, and are hoping to put together a west coast tour by next year.  

“We want to play all over the world, continue releasing songs we love, and change the way people feel about pop music,” Jenaé said about the future of YVR.

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