Jen Lane has been releasing albums since she was 16 and already has four under her belt. Her latest, entitled For the Night, is chock full of the introspective and deep folk tunes she's become known for. Vue chatted with Lane recently about the new album over the phone from her home in Saskatoon.
Vue Weekly: You recorded For the Night in Vancouver with Steven Drake, can you tell me about the process?
Jen Lane: It was crazy, as crazy as he is. There's a new studio in Vancouver called Stone Canyon Studios and he had a part in designing the room that we recorded in so that was one really interesting aspect of the project because he knew how the room worked sound-wise. But the place was still being renovated while we got there so it was a huge scramble but everybody pulled together and they got it done unbelievably.
We spent the first week picking apart the songs and doing the pre-production stuff in Steven's living room—that was really fun to nail the arrangements down in the first week and then it was just a matter of going in and tracking everything. We did it all on a RADAR which is kind of like digital tape, so there was no Pro Tools involved or auto tuning involved. I wanted a classic feel instead of the really tweaked things you're getting these days. Those are good but when you listen to old albums they have that sound that is so familiar.
VW: Your lyrics are often cited as a strength in your music—can you tell me about how you write them and what inspires you?
JL: I remember watching an interview with Leonard Cohen and he said, 'I can't take responsibility for the songs—they're just there, they come out' and I was like, 'I know what you mean!' You never know what's going to inspire you when you turn around the corner; it could be the scene you see or something that's going on in somebody's life that you know. For me the process starts with a lyric—some musicians will come up with a riff or a melody on a guitar first, but I work the opposite way where I'll get words with a melody stuck in my head and then I'll go and put guitar to it. I always say I'm not much of a guitar player, I'm a singer-songwriter above anything else. I just like to do it, I always have. It's something I just naturally started doing when I was a kid. I just started making up songs.
VW: It's been four years between your last album and this one. Is that a long time for you?
JL: It was a longer process than I would have liked, but everything worked out the way it was supposed to—there was no rushing this. I had an injury about three years ago, so I hadn't been able to maintain a regular tour schedule anyway, but we hob-nobbed at SXSW and NXNE and we went to the WCMAs and Canadian Music Week and I did lots of educating myself about the industry while I couldn't tour and what I learned was you have to tour. It was kind of funny.
VW: Was it frustrating to not tour?
JL: Yes, extremely. We were getting a lot of attention—I released my last album and got a WCMA nomination and right around that time I broke my foot and did a whole bunch of soft tissue trauma, and it was one of those things that took forever to figure out what was going on. So we had this nomination and we'd toured the previous summer and got invited to NXNE and SXSW and I was meeting all these booking agents who were interested but I couldn't tour. I had an ankle reconstruction in January and I'm feeling a lot better. I'm really excited about the prospect of getting back out there and doing this again because that's what I do.
VW: You've been putting out albums since you were 16. How has the music matured in that time?
JL: I was lucky, my parents were supportive and they caught onto the fact that I'd been writing these songs in my room in the middle of the night and they thought I should record them. So it was a process of not knowing at all what we were doing and now four albums later I've graduated to a producer and a studio and pro players and a graphic designer doing the artwork versus 10 years ago not knowing what we were doing. My parents were really supportive—my mom even took pictures and made the CD layout. V
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