“When I Was in That School in Stockholm, I Found out about Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, like Neo Soul Music, and That Really Opened up Something for Me” an Interview JÁNA

“When I Was in That School in Stockholm, I Found out about Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, like Neo Soul Music, and That Really Opened up Something for Me” an Interview JÁNA

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Having picked up a broken guitar as a child and requested for it to be fixed, it was a love of writing music which then took JÁNA’s interest to another level. A move to Stockholm and link-up with Little Dragon led to the release of her first EP Flowerworks. Now, off the back of her recent collaboration with Nigerian born-California raised duo VanJess, JÁNA chats to Lex about her journey as an artist and how she’s learnt to create her own future.
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JÁNA what was your first step towards music?

My first memory of playing music myself or creating in any way was when I found my mums old guitar. I started to take lessons in classical guitar at the age of nine. Through listening to other genres I learnt some jazz chords and found that that was the kind of music I was leaning more towards.

Was your commitment to music there from day one or did it evolve?

Actually, I loved sports when I was growing up. I wanted to become a soccer player so I did both but I think I think it was when I started writing, and performing live that’s when the music part took over for me. After high school I begun my studies in Stockholm. As I lived in Uppsala, which is a smaller city in Sweden, I had to travel 4 hours a day – 2 hours each way – to go to a music school. That’s when I really decided that this was what I wanted to do. 

When I was in school in Stockholm, I got introduced to Erykah Badu and D’Angelo’s music, like neo soul music, and that really opened up something for me. I was inspired by that space. I wondered why I didn’t know about them earlier! It was all rock/pop when I was growing up. 

Haha, yes same. I had to find Erykah Badu on my own! When did you actually start sharing your music?

I don’t know if I was like 13/14, I started to perform a lot in Uppsala and also I was in like contests and stuff. I recorded some covers of songs and put them up on Youtube but I then deleted them shortly after… *laughs*

I’ve been wanting to release music for such a long time but it didn’t feel right as it did with Flowerworks because I had Yukimi and Eric, the singer and the drummer of Little Dragon, standing behind me and also being a part of the EP and that definitely gave me some type of confirmation that like its ok, you know? To have that confirmation from the people that I respect. If they like my stuff, I don’t care what everybody else thinks. 

There’s a quote I love which says “I believe you measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.” A little convoluted but I think the essence is similar. How did you come together with Little Dragon in the first place?

I actually wrote to their manager about being a supporting act when they were going to have their show, about 3 or 4 years ago. He answered and said I could be their supporting act for the Sweden shows. He said they liked my music and this would give me an opportunity to build that relationship… I was introduced to them after the show, and then I came to Gothenburg where they lived and have their studio and then we did the EP.

And at that time, when you started working on the EP, did you have anyone to ask for advice to navigate the industry? 

Not really. Well I spoke to them and their manager a bit because I did sign to a major publishing, but that was not for me so I’m not there anymore. I talked to him a bit during that year to get some advice. 

So then how did your recent collaboration with VanJess come about?!

I sent them a DM on Instagram and they replied. It sounds like I just message people a lot *laughs* but my thinking is that I don’t have anything to lose. They probably won’t see it and if they see it I might get an answer… so I just sent them the track and asked, do you wanna lay a verse on this song? I wanted to keep it as short as possible. It’s cool that they answered and they’re super chilled.

That’s brilliant that they have the attitude of being decisive with doing features like that. OK, some quick ones. 

Who really inspires you?

Musically, and in life too, I get inspired by people who really live their craft and it feels like they’d still do the thing they’re doing, even if nobody was watching or paying for them to do what they do. I feel with Little Dragon for example, I think it’s very important to try to surround yourself with people who inspire you. 

Favourite books? 

This is super corny but The Mind Makeover by Sharon Lowe. It’s really somebody telling you to shape up and I needed that at the time.

Any favourite quotes or affirmations?

No, but I think I’ve learnt from that book to visualise things and then do whatever you need to do to make that happen, and I feel like that has changed stuff in my life.

Yeah – it’s given you a different framework or way of thinking about your ambitions?

Yeah, that once you think it, it’s not an option not to have that. Once you really want that thing. I make it my reality. I will do everything to get it – I feel like that’s a good mindset to have.

Yes, it’s a funny thing though because I think I used to be scared of allowing myself to believe that things could happen for me.

Yeah, me too. Not to take it before it happens. 

Exactly! But now I realise how important is to believe 🙂 JÁNA what are your plans for next year, and then the next five years as well?

Next year I’m going to release a new EP, a follow-up to Flowerworks, and I want to play live as soon as it’s possible. And then in the next five years I really want to move to another City and travel with music. That’s one of my main goals, to be able to do that. Sometimes I feel like I wanna have a cabin somewhere where there’s no people. Just the people I write with but I think I’d like that for a few months and then be bored. I also want to live a short period of time in New York or LA at some point.   

Haha, yes! Variety over balance.

To see more of JÁNA, you can find her on Spotify, Youtube and Soundcloud.

And to follow her journey, you can check in with her socials @janaandren on Instagram and Facebook

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