Hi Janie, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey, thank you for the opportunity. I’m doing alright given the circumstances. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Some Of These Days”?
Absolutely. This is essentially a song about moving past disappointment and moving towards trust and hope for the future. It’s about the search for authenticity and loyalty in a city where that can be extremely hard to come by at times.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
A few different events and situations inspired the song. It was partially inspired by someone I worked with at one point, who I felt was fairly duplicitous. They were great at being charming when they needed to be but they shirked their responsibilities and I felt like no one was seeing it. On another level it is a song of frustration. As a single woman in New York it can sometimes feel as though you’re in constant competition with others who are younger or more well-heeled. People are judgmental and it seems as though it’s always about what neighborhood you live in or where you went to school. I’m a very simple person at my core and the song was really inspired by the search for authenticity and the desire to escape what can sometimes feel like a very superficial place.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
The video was created using a combination of stock footage and video clips that we — The Beat Disciples and Zach — shot on a Saturday in July. We used DUMBO and Red Hook as our backdrops and had fun exploring the areas while looking for good locations to film. I tend to be a little camera shy and it always feels a little strange to have cameras on me but hopefully it’s not too noticeable. After the first few takes it definitely became a bit easier.
The single comes off your new album Balance Me – what’s the story behind the title?
The title track was inspired by a situationship that left me feeling pretty bewildered. I won’t go into too much detail, but basically it felt like this person who was super into me did a 180 overnight. Something was off there and it left me feeling off-balance. At the time I blamed myself, but looking back, it had nothing to do with me. However, it offered an opportunity for growth and allowed me to learn more about myself and others. I think in life we are always looking for a way to find balance, whether it’s between work and life, between our needs and the needs of others or between our desires and the desires of society. It’s not hard to feel off-balance and often the only way to get back to normal is to reflect, introspect and then make small changes one at a time.
How was the recording and writing process?
The idea for Some of These Days came to me on a trip to Los Angeles that I had taken to attend the ASCAP Expo. I was listening to some of Zach’s instrumentals and emailed him with my idea and
the song grew from there. Once I had an idea of the structure for the lyrics and melody, Zach was able to adjust the instrumental to match it. The process for Balance Me was similar, though I can’t recall when the idea for that one initially popped into my head. All the songs were recorded, mixed, and mastered by The Beat Disciples in their Brooklyn studio. It was truly a collaborative process and helpful to get feedback regarding ideas for harmonies, etc.
What was it like to work with Zach Fuller and how did that relationship develop?
I met Zach a few years ago through a toplining camp that we both attended. When I was listening to the tracks that had been submitted before we all met in person, there were a few that really stood out to me. When we ended up getting placed in the same group I realized that he was the producer behind the instrumentals that I gravitated towards most. I think in the music world it can be very tough to find people who are professional and consistent. He has been great to work with and has been the producer behind what I have released so far. I have used his instrumentals as a starting point and once lyrics came into the picture this led to further development of the instrumental track and song.
How much did he get to influence the album?
He was there during the recording process and worked with The Beat Disciples to add in particular musical elements. It was helpful to get his feedback regarding some artistic choices for melody, etc. because, like everyone, I have certain blindspots and can always use an objective opinion.
Do you tend to take a different approach when collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?
I definitely prefer collaborating with others as lyrics and vocals are my strength but the instrumental side of things is not. While my childhood piano training allows me to build a basic instrumental skeleton and mood for a song, which is what I did with a song that I expect to release in a few months, I always need the help of a producer to complete the vision.
What role does Brooklyn play in your music?
Brooklyn, for me, is home and will always represent authenticity, love, and family. Manhattan has the glamour and the intrigue but Brooklyn keeps it real. It has warmth, diversity, and a sense of community. It is also an endless source of inspiration…everyone here has a story and a dream.
What aspect of growth and growing pains did you get to explore on this record?
When I started the process of writing and recording these songs I was still hesitant to see myself as an artist. I had just started to see myself as a professional yet knew that there was this other identity that had been suppressed and needed to emerge.
During this same time period, I was under a lot of stress and pressure, some self-imposed, some socially imposed, and mostly related to not having achieved certain life “milestones”. If you’re female and inching towards 30, regardless of whether or not you are working towards other goals,
if you’re not in a relationship, everyone suddenly seems to think it’s their right to make sure that you know that’s just not acceptable. I was feeling really frustrated and annoyed.
Right before I started to do the toplining camps in 2017 and started to meet the people that I would end up collaborating with on this record, I developed a pain condition as a result of all of that stress and pressure that was improperly diagnosed for about two years. Those years were very difficult, as I felt pretty hopeless regarding finding a solution. Music was the one thing that helped to distract me a bit. Only in the past few months have I been able to find a treatment that works, realize the connection between anxiety, stress and pain, and finally work towards becoming more compassionate to myself.
The timing of all of it, looking back, is pretty serendipitous. This record was released into the world just as I began to realize the importance of being kind to yourself, listening to your heart, and following your own personal timeline and vision for your life instead of the timeline and vision that others may have for you.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I think I process my emotions through writing and poetry. Often a rhyme will pop into my head when I am in my feelings about something, and that’s often how a song starts. NYC has played a large role in my songwriting process in that there is always a sight to behold or a scene playing itself out somewhere. Sometimes I will draw on memories of things that I have seen or places that I have been to find a description for something I want to write about.
What else is happening next in Janie May’s world?
I just finished re-recording a duet that was originally written a few years ago. A song that I wrote last year is also in the process of being produced. I’m looking forward to releasing both of those in the next few months.
I’m excited to work on new music and am excited to meet more artists and producers to collaborate with.
Balance Me EP:
Janie May Spotify Artist Page:
“Some Of These Days” (Feat. Zach Fuller):