With the release of her sixth album 'The Silver Globe', in 2014, Jane Weaver became one of the leading names in the UK's psych scene, earning plaudits from all corners and playing major festivals. After a busy 2015 and with South By Southwest (SXSW) to look forward to in 2016, we talk to Jane about her influences, how she got where she is, and much more!
Some success stories occur overnight. Some success stories, though, seem to occur over many nights... thus is Jane Weaver's case. The Manchester-based artist has been making music for the past 20 years, but only recently she's received the attention she deserves. All thanks to her brilliant sixth album released later in 2014, 'The Silver Globe', a conceptual psych-pop album inspired by an obscure sci-fi film and packed with catchy songs and great synth sounds.
Since then, she gained plaudits from all corners and appeared on many "Best Of The Year" lists, besides playing at some of the best festivals in Britain such as Sound City, Green Man, Glastonbury, Latitude and End Of The Road. The Liverpool-born musician was also one of the highlights of the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia back in September, which seemed to crown her as the festival's true and only psych queen.
She was considered by many as a strong contender for a Mercury Prize Awards nomination, but that didn't materialize - which disappointed her growing legion of fans. This mattered little, though: she's embarked on a sell-out UK tour and finished the year with a successful Spanish tour. With celebrity fans such as Jarvis Cocker, Badly Drawn Boy and Coldplay (who've sampled one of her tracks) and a growing appreciation for her music, the future seems bright for Weaver. She's been recently selected to play at the prestigious South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin,Texas, which can only help to further her career. In addition, she's been nominated for the Manchester Evening News CityLife Awards 2015 as Best Breakthrough Act.
This is the perfect time to catch up with Jane Weaver - and if you don't know her already, this is your chance to learn a bit more about her!
You've been on the music scene for a good few years now, and made some really cool albums, but the Silver Globe was your 'breakthrough' release... how do you explain? Was it a matter of right timing, luck, or a more receptive music scene, maybe?
Thank you! Who knows... its just a combination of things, I had the songs mapped out in my head and I knew I was hearing quite layered and big sounds that required for me to take time in the studio and work out. It took me 3 1/2 years in all, I never thought I'd finish it. I guess it was just good timing that when it did eventually come out that people were open to listening to it, I've never had such a positive response from one my records, it's nice.
Have you got any tips for up & coming artists who are still struggling for attention?
To some extent you have to take no notice of the (music) world outside, to get the stuff that's inside out of you and to be creative. The UK is trendy about music, even though we are small, one of our biggest exports is music and we have a high turnover of bands and artists, people's attention spans can be short due to the smorgasbord of delights on show every 5 minutes. Don't get me wrong, I like new music, pop music and I still get excited when I hear something new that blows me away, but just keep writing and going.
Your sound changed a lot since your first solo album, which was very Cat Power-like, guitar-based, to a more electronic sound. How did this transition happen?
I get bored, from one record to the next, I switch instruments a lot, the next record I'm already putting plans in place to switch to something else soon!
On your recent tour, your screen projections pay homage to Delia Derbyshire & BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Was it an important influence on your music?
I'm a child of the 70's so yes, electric soundtracks to weird TV series was just background music then, and now everyone is like 'isn't this strange' but at the time nobody flinched. But when I listen to that stuff now I suppose it's pretty scary. On the flipside, my parents bought me a bontempti organ when I was 8 or 9 and I would stand in front of the TV watching Top Of The Pops, playing along to Gary Numan, not easy in real time.
"You have to take no notice of the (music) world outside... get the stuff that's inside out of you, and be creative."
What are your favourite synths that you use?
On this album, I used various synths and keyboards in Eve Studios, I mainly used a Roland String Synth, a Korg Poly-ensemble and a Moog, plus a Roland guitar synth once owned by Status Quo! When I was last in the studio I was using an Arp too. I've also got an old Farfisa Bravo and a beloved Casio MT46 which also featured. I used to take my Farfisa on tour but it dies on me. I'm currently using Novation. Bass Stations are great, I've just recently bought a Juno 6 and a weird string organ for the next record... I want a double decker keyboard stand!
You seem comfortable as a solo, independent artist. How do you compare this to being signed to a big label, as when you were in Kill Laura back in the Nineties?
Well, I was only 20 then so didn't have as much of an understanding about how it all works, there seemed to big ridiculous budgets available then too, recording and publishing etc and people seemed to spend a ridiculous amount of cash on recording in studios.. I was spoilt I suppose, one of the first studios I recorded in was Amazon in Liverpool which then became Parr St, it wasn't cheap but I loved going there, I think one of the main things you eventually learn though is that essentially you are paying for everything, the labels may bank roll stuff but the more you spend the less income stream there is at the end of it. I try to be a bit more careful these days, and have to be!
A few years ago (2010) when The Quietus interviewed you, you said lack of confidence still stopped many women making music... do you think anything changed for women in music since then?
Not really, it's not that women are not confident in their ability, it's just like applying for a job and there are thousands of applicants, there's not as many opportunities and openings so it's more about not having confidence in the system that exists. I know so many female artists who have thrown the towel in because of this... so you have to try and find your own way. There are so many male bands and artists... you only have to look at most festival line-ups to see something is not right, it's hardly diverse.