We were fortunate enough to catch up with Bath-based musician Jane Allison following the release of her stunning single ‘Magdalene’. Read now!
Hi Jane, tell us about yourself?
My name is Jane Allison; I’m a singer-songwriter, originally from Wales. I’m also an actor and scriptwriter.
Tell us about your latest release ‘Magdalene’?
‘Magdalene’ is the lead single off my upcoming album ‘Like Magdalene’. It’s an upbeat breezy little number with a 60’s Laurel Canyon electric folk vibe.
You worked with Alonza Bevan (Kula Shaker) on ‘Magdalene’, what was that process like?
Me and Alonza have known and worked with each other for about 12 years or so now, so in that respect we’re very comfortable, confident & relaxed with our process.
We both have a rigorous work ethic, which coupled with limited time and just the two of us doing everything means that we’re in the studio from morn, noon and night for about ten days solid. We maintain our sanity with everflowing cups of tea and repartee of silly characters.
Firstly, simple ghost tracks with just my acoustic guitar and voice get the right vibe, mood and tempo down. Over the following week, Alonza lays all the other instruments down, and during this time, the pushing of buttons in the control room is entrusted to me.
When there’s a couple of days left in the schedule, I sing all the lead and backing vocals. This is the point that I start to feel the pressure and lunchtime meditative walks through the surrounding forest keep my inner demons at bay. Alonza’s vast musical knowledge and talent makes it a pretty painless process as he navigates me through any tricky (or ridiculously high) harmonies.
The Tea Rooms Studios are in the barn attached to his home in the heart of the Ardennes so, to be honest for me, it’s a bit of a cosy family busman’s holiday.
What message do you think your music conveys to your fans?
To be honest, when I write a song I’m not really thinking of any particular message that I’m trying to convey. Each song kind of ‘appears” and I have very little control over what materialises.
Some are more confessional, loaded with recent experiences or dredged up from the depths of the subconscious; others seem to be autonomous entities with their own narrative to tell.
I guess the best thing one can hope for with any song is that the listener will relate, in some way, to something in the lyrics or music, and it will bestow some personal significance and context for them to roost in.
‘Magdalene’ is folk-pop, what draws you to the genre?
I reckon with the folk vibe I’ve come back to my roots and my undying love for those elegant wordsmiths who shaped and sustained me in my youth ~ Dylan, Young, Cohen, Baez and the like.
Plus I feel too old and fatigued to be jumping around the stage belting out the post-punk tunes of my KarmaDeva days.
Who are your non-musical influences?
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell exactly what has influenced one’s music and lyrics, but I expect that all the things in life that feed your soul and imagination must influence your creative visions somewhere along the line. Without sounding too much like a dating profile, my other great loves in life are cinema, theatre and dance.
For instance, the work of movie directors like Jean-Luc Goddard, George Ray Hill, Michael Powell, Francis Ford Coppola and playwrights Neil Simon, Stoppard, Berkoff, Bennet and Bleasdale ( to name a tiny few) have predominant agency.
Equally, I find my obsessions often show up repeatedly in songs. Joan of Arc makes regular appearances for instance, as does Divinity, as well as recurring themes like death, dissolution and displacement, doomed romance, faded dreams and dark obsessions and the wincing absurdity of this human experience.
We hear you have a full album in the pipeline, can you tell us any more?
Yes! ‘Like Magdalene’the album will be due for release at the beginning of March. It’s an electric folk-pop record of ten songs with a late 60’s sound and vibe.
What’s the best gig that you have ever played?
A good or bad gig for me can be determined in equal measure by sound quality (on and off stage) and audience (attention if it’s an acoustic gig and atmosphere if it’s full-band electric show).
The best gig I ever played sound wise was supporting Arthur Lee and Love with my post-punk band KarmaDeva. They had their own sound guy who very kindly decided he’d also like to do the sound for us. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced live on stage, the whole band loud and vibing in my monitors but clear and clean with the perfect vocal reverb, utter perfection.
Atmosphere wise it would have to be at Zapata in Berlin in 2009. That gig was on fire!.. literally… they had a gigantic metal dragon, throwing flames out into an already blazing audience. I think it’s the only time I’ve had an audience screaming “Zugabe” ( German for the encore ) without letting up.
I also had a very charming intimate acoustic gig in Berlin where everyone was seated and listening so intently you could hear a pin drop. That was truly a delightful experience.
What is your funniest gig moment?
We were on the tiniest stage ever in a very intimate little venue when some pissed dude jumping right in front of me fell into my mic stand, smashing the mic full force into my open mouth as I was singing. He nearly knocked out my front teeth, so I kicked him hard in the shin. Actually, not so funny at the time but funny now in retrospect.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles for bands/artists today?
Well, the biggest obstacle for bands and artists today is certainly Covid19. What will the landscape be like when this is finally over? Which venues and theatres will have survived? Will there be enough funding for the arts? And what to speak of bloody Brexit!?
How will we be able to gig and tour abroad, especially in Europe where smaller bands and artists in the past have been able to get properly paid. It’s very hard to earn a living playing original music in the UK, so I kind of dread to think what climate we will emerge into after all this is over, if touring in Europe is made difficult or impossible for us Sorry to sound so gloomy.
What are your hopes for the next two years?
Well, I, like all other musicians I suspect, would like to see the return of live music over the next two years that’s for sure. And my personal hopes are to write more songs and make another record.
Acting-wise I hope to see Sky commission a 3rd and 4th season of ‘Intelligence’, and I’d love to see another project I’m involved in getting commissioned over the coming year too.
I’d also like to actually finish writing a couple of TV shows that I’ve started and get them made by Netflix. It’s good to have dreams.
FVMusicBlog January 2021
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