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INTERVIEW: Janet Blair

Hi Janet, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Busy! I just finished filming a pair of music videos with Carl Diebold (carldiebold.net), a great director based out of Nashville. All the shoots were here on location in New Mexico, which was a ton of work and and a lot of fun. We got some killer takes, and I can’t wait to share them!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Eternity Grows”?

“Eternity Grows” is a fun song about the realities of life.  If you are anything like me, realities are quite different than expectations. In the song, I sort of turn my daily failures and frustrations on their heads and celebrate them, because its not about my personal achievements anyway.  I get to be part of a bigger plan that does not rest on my accomplishments.  I’m grateful for that!

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

My days are full of derailed plans and missteps, so this song was a natural one for me to write, and came together fairly quickly.  I started out with that opening Wurlitzer riff and the verses and built from there.  All the vignettes peppered throughout the song are drawn from daily life.  Despite my best intentions, I am the queen of leaving my front door wide open and of dead cell phones and all the other references in the song.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes. We just finished filming it with Carl Diebold.  The video will be released March 3 to kick off my pre-orders of the album. The basic concept is a humorous contrast between an idealized day and an actual day. We filmed some of the shots in the historic Rio Grande Theatre (http://www.riograndetheatre.com) and the rest in a lovely home near the Organ Mountains. The real stars of the video are all the kids who show up to reset my expectations. Thanks to all the families who helped make the video possible!

How was the recording and writing process?

I am actually a classically-trained oboist, so songwriting is relatively new to me.  A few years ago, I went through a tragedy involving the death of a young child. The grief drew out a song from my soul and I was compelled to sit down at the piano and write it out. That was my starting point.

In general, I approach songwriting as play.  I enjoy trying to fit two impossible things together or just delighting in an unusual chord progression or rhythm that will catch my ear. From my classical background, I tend to approach in terms of contrasting motifs and ideas.

The recording process was an incredible three weeks.  It is exhilarating to have talented musicians make your music come alive.  I got to work with a fantastic producer, Matthew Odmark, of Jars of Clay, in Gray Matters Studio in Nashville, alongside skilled studio musicians Matt Nelson, Paul Eckberg and Charlie Lowell.  Since it was my first album, I was soaking in the whole process from pre-production to tracking to overdubbing.  I felt like I was hanging on for dear life.

How did you tend to blend pop with your classical background?

Although “Eternity Grows” is pop, “Songs for the Waiting” does not cleanly fit into a category. From my classical background, I frequently reference sonata form, which is the basic concept of laying out two contrasting themes and then weaving them together.  As an oboist, the line of the music is as important to me as the harmonic structure.  I will consider classical tricks like inversion or changing the movement of the line from leaps to steps to generate new material.  The piano lends itself to this more naturally than guitar.  I also draw a lot of inspiration from Beethoven, who did the most crazy, brilliant things in his music.

How has Regina Spektor influence this song and your music?

I love Regina Spektor for her playfulness and her imagination. She doesn’t play it safe with her music; she is willing to go too far with her music or try an idea that just seems crazy.  That sort of freedom is necessary for great art.  She sounds like no one else, and she approaches songwriting in such a unique way.  Her “Ne Me Quitte Pas” is one of my favorite songs.  I ended up playing that song for the studio musicians as inspiration when “Eternity Grows” was starting to head the wrong direction.

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

The beautiful thing about a being a new artist is that it’s all new material! “Eternity Grows” is just the beginning.  I am following that up with another single, “Creation’s Song” on March 10, followed by the full album, “Songs for the Waiting” on April 7.  “Songs for the Waiting” centers around the idea of being fully present in the place where you are, from the elated first track “Belong” to the depths of “For Shania.”  We can find ourselves called to both beautiful and terrible situations in life. And it is good to lean into these circumstances, knowing our hope does not rest in this life.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

“Songs for the Waiting” will come out April 7.  I will be doing a local release concert here in Las Cruces with my band, The Interruptions, to celebrate that!

Any plans to hit the road?

I will be announcing dates for the Southwest region in the upcoming weeks on janetblairmusic.com.  I have those booked through the Summer.   I would love to continue to expand into other regions after that.

What else is happening next in Janet Blair’s world?

Besides being a musician, I get to be the mom to two wonderful young kids.  We spend our days learning to love vegetables and sharing.  And I have had the chance to write some new material, which I would love to see as a second album some day.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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