An Interview with Jane Weaver

“The first concert there will be tears of joy, I’m sure. The main point though is to spread as much joy as possible and unify people!”

English musician Jane Weaver’s 2019 album Loops in the Secret Society was a pretty fascinating record. Today, Weaver is back with Flock, “the record she always wanted to make” and “a consciously positive vision for negative times”. Flock is certainly among Weaver’s best works. We contacted the artist herself to learn more about its creation process. You can read the Turkish translation of our interview here.

How are you? How have you been handling the pandemic? 

I am good thanks, experiencing a lot of things like most people!

I had to finish the last part of my album after the first lockdown so I was able to keep busy and since then I have been working on all the things that go with it, like photographs, videos and artwork.

Having been in the music industry for over 20 years, what changes do you observe about the UK artists in the light of Brexit and COVID-19?

There’s quite a lot of situations that have arisen because of Covid, not being allowed to play live or watch live music has been very disheartening, also as more people are streaming music, artists recognise that they can’t earn much from streaming unless they are super famous.

Brexit so far looks very negative for UK music and touring, having to have carnets, visas etc sounds expensive. I hope that they can negotiate terms for the creative industry to allow us to continue reaching audiences outside the UK.

Congratulations for your excellent new album, Flock. You define the record as “a consciously positive vision for negative times”. Can you elaborate on that? Was achieving positivity through your music a form of self-therapy?

Thanks! the UK politically has been very imbalanced for some time and after the Brexit vote the country is even more divided, it’s sad and it’s hard not to feel it, personally I was feeling blue writing Flock but I was writing pop songs, uplifting melodies, I was trying to make myself feel happy and it was therapy.

How was the physical recording process? What had you been listening to, and which people and tools were you surrounded by during production?

I was listening to a lot of different types of genres of pop music, retro and modern stuff, and I work with more or less the same band that I tour with too and the same recording engineer and studio. This record was not conceptual or space rock so I was using the synths I normally use, but in a different context, whether it be glam or funk or pop art.

Flock is without a doubt a reinventive record, while retro vibes also come forward pretty often. Do you feel nostalgic towards previous decades, namely the 1980’s?

I love space rock and kosmiche music from the 1970’s but I was listening to a lot of 1980’s pop too whilst recording like Will Powers, Tom Tom Club and Hall and Oates. The production on some of these records is really inspiring.

Do you have special plans for the upcoming tour of this album, knowing that you are artistically reborn and the future concerts will embody new emotional meanings for the audience who missed this experience so much?

After having live music taken away, I really want to make the best shows we can when allowed next, I’m sure it will be a very emotional experience and maybe overwhelming, maybe the first concert there will be tears of joy, I’m sure. The main point though is to spread as much joy as possible and unify people!

The lyrics of “Heartlow” somehow seem to illustrate how you came to grips with the current climate, which I feel to be a strong standpoint to open the record. Was that intentional or is it just me?

It’s quite coincidental, I wrote a lot of “Heartlow” long before then, some was written in France in December 2019, I took a solo trip to an out of season seaside resort so I could be alone and focus on finishing the words for the album, the town was more or less closed and so it was quite depressing, but I was writing uplifting melodies with sometimes sad words so this isolation definitely helped.

What can you say about the song’s music video? Are there more videos on the way? 

I got to work with filmmaker Douglas Hart, I’m a fan of his work, I love his style and thought the song would suit something quite visually creative, he uses a live analogue mix and his process is really interesting. We filmed it in London last November just before the recent lockdown luckily.

Yes, more videos on the way once lockdown lifts, I have some ideas for the next single!

Was David Bowie’s Low influential on you in any way? “The Revolution of Super Visions” in particular is, to me, both very Prince and very Low-side-A Bowie.

Yes! I distinctly remember “Sound and Vision” when I was a kid, it was very modern but futuristic sounding, and Prince songs like ‘Bambi’ or ‘Controversy’ always sounded like they were exciting and new. 

We used a guitar synth in the studio for ‘The Revolution of Super Visions’. This sound is used on Hot Chocolate’s ‘Every 1’s a Winner’ guitar riff, which has that synthetic but gritty sound, but could have also reminded me of Prince or David Bowie.

As you put it in “Stages of Phases”, “anything could happen” these days. How much longer do you expect this overly-crazed phase of the world to last? How quickly can the music scene recover?

Anyone who works in any type of job in the entertainment industry is used to many ups and downs- it’s part of the territory, I think once we are allowed to continue we’ll recover quickly. I’ve really missed performing and don’t take it for granted.

Of course, the pandemic is only the tip of an iceberg if we’re talking about the world’s everlasting problems. “Modern Reputation” condemns patriarchy and endorses new ideas in order to survive. In an age of right-wing governments as well as rising leftist movements, how desperate or hopeful do you envision our future?

I am hopeful that there will be less of a divide in future, there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground and room to manoeuvre. I think Facebook needs to take more responsibility for what it puts out. Equality is very important to me and people being treated fairly, so yes.. We must invent some new ideas perhaps.

What is le bois sonique that you mention in “Flock”?

The Sonic wood was the working title for the song, it was supposed to be the album opener where I am imagining entering a French forest and I can hear flutes and instrumentation like the French Bombarde amongst trees and a flock of birds.

You reference Hammer Film Productions in “Sunset Dreams”. What are some of your favourite films and series?

I love all the Hammer TV series. I used to be really frightened of them so would avoid certain episodes and films when I was a kid. ‘The House that bled to death’ was always scary and ‘Charley Boy’ about a cursed African sculpture. ‘The Devil Rides out’ is a film I didn’t see until I was an adult. I love retro horror films, Dario Argento and horror thrillers like Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. I think the best horror I’ve seen in recent years is ‘Hereditary’. I also enjoyed the remake of ‘Suspiria’.

You seem to describe toxic relationships in “All The Things You Do” and “Pyramid Schemes”, an issue occasionally hard to detect and take action against. How do you deal with such a situation? 

There’s more awareness and advice on how to spot certain types of behaviour these days and ways you can feel empowered and deal with these people. You have to confide in people you trust, toxic people can make you feel like you are coming undone, and you’re exhausted but you don’t quite know why, when you work it out and remove them from your life it’s like solving a puzzle, it’s a relief.

“Solarised” is structured as a disco hit throughout, but shifts into new territory in the final seconds. Where do you want to go from here, having achieved the record you always wanted to make?

I think some nice dance remixes for Solarised would be good, and to collaborate with some producers in the future maybe, and work on film score.

You can check out Jane Weaver’s official website here and Bandcamp profile here.