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Omaha Magazine

Renner’s Energy (Indie) Rocks: From Bringing the Energy to Conserving It

May 26, 2020 09:00AM ● By Sara Locke

The job of a mechanical engineer may have once conjured very specific imagery, while the idea of an indie rock frontwoman could come with its own set of bias. Splitting the difference between these extremes is the thoughtfully spoken and even more thoughtfully intended Jessica Errett Renner. 

By day, Renner serves as an engineer in the woman-owned Energy Studio. While she wears many hats, she tilts this one in a greener direction. 

“Most of my work here involves building and analyzing energy models for commercial architecture. I get to go to work in a community I love, and feel like I’m impacting the industry in a positive way. Even if it’s something small, like convincing a builder that adding more windows isn’t the most energy-efficient option. Every time I’m able to get that message across, it helps just a little, and it changes the way that builder thinks going forward.”

And considering the evocative lyrics that have spilled from her pen over the years, it isn’t a surprise to find that changing how people think would prove a daily passion. Renner plays, sings, and writes for a number of area bands, including Edge of Arbor, All Young Girls are Machine Guns, Bazile Mills, Fox, and Surfer Rosa.

“That’s kind of how the Omaha music scene is—you play for a band, then you come up with this sound you want to experiment with or a different mood of lyrics and you don’t want to change your band’s image, so you start another one. My first band was actually a country cover band with a few friends from choir. None of us had been in a band before, or even knew what we were doing, really. But it was fun and we loved every minute of figuring it out.”

And as her high school guitar lessons deepened her understanding of math, time signatures, scales, and numbers, she found herself slipping more easily into the advanced numeric studies that eventually produced a mechanical engineer of the poet. 

“It’s all so closely related, but music didn’t just help me understand math and engineering better, it really helps me understand my whole life differently.”

Many people find their exercise regimen slipping when work and family life start to overtake them. Once they’ve given up their strength routines, they find that they have more time, but less capacity for dealing with the stress of the rest of their lives. Renner, however, finds music is her
strength training.

“I have taken breaks from music when other projects became too consuming, but once I’d come back to it, I’d always find a big shift in my mood and motivation. All of my life is affected by the positivity I feel when I’m playing and working on music. Work, family, health, my emotional fitness—it’s all better when I have time to pour into music.”

Renner may benefit from her music, but her fans are just as grateful for her dedication. 

Brent Malnack proudly hosted a number of rising and landmark acts at his former pub Mars Bar and Grill, but makes no hesitation to call Renner a fan favorite.

“She had a regular spot at our space the first Friday of every month. We had very few regulars, but Jessica had to be on the list,” Malnack said. “She has the versatility to really read the audience each day and change things up instantly. Sometimes she’d come in with her bands, other times she’d play alone. It didn’t matter, if she was there, the energy was going to be great. Her voice is lovely, her original songs are beautiful, and her personality…everything about her we really enjoy.”

Renner’s work is actively changing the energy of Omaha, one song and one structure at a time.

Visit @jessicaerrettmusic for more information about her music, including live streams.

This article was printed in the June 2020 issue of B2B Magazine.