By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 2000
How did you come to self-release “Burner”?
“Well I was on Interscope and they had me submitting demos to them for about a year and a half and they wanted me to work with different people. It got to a point where after a year and a half of making demos, we were three days away from starting the album and we had the studio booked in. I was supposed to work with Don Gilmore. And then they backed out, and said let’s await a couple of more months for this’. At the time I didn’t know, but that was right before the black Thursday went down. I got just really frustrated and decided that I wanted to leave the label and I had a friend at KOCH Records. I just wanted to go into the studio, make the album on my own and then when it was finished give it to a label to put out. So originally I was going to do that with Jim Cardillo from Koch, and just as I was finishing the album he had left. With all the stuff that’s happening with the internet, and Internet driven labels, I just realized that the smartest thing to do would be to just do it on my own.”
Do you see this as a long-term thing, or are you still looking to sign to a label?
“I think now, in a situation like that, I’m a lot smarter about what a record contract is , and what it entails. And I could be a lot wiser about knowing what to ask for, and how to handle the situation. So knowing that, if it was an offer I could turn into something that would benefit me over the years, and not just one album, then I would consider it. But I’m not there. I’m selling the album over the Internet, and I’m going to put together a tour. So those are the thing’s I’m going to be focusing on, I’m not doing a big showcase yet or anything like that.”
What things about being on a label did you dislike most?
“There’s a control issue that can happen, and that definitely happened with me. When I was making the demos, there was always someone looking over my shoulder. Wanting to have a word in about what my sound should be. That was the most frustrating part, and it took a lot out of me, too, Because suddenly, your first round of demos are what you want to do, and then you try to fit in because you just want to get the album out and you want to move on. And then you realize you’re making bad music. And then after that, I really just had to stop and re-group and start making music for myself again. That was the hardest part about being on a label, having so many people involved with what this album would sound like.”
In what ways were they trying to shape your sound?
“One of the frustrating things was that initially Sylvia Massey was a possible producer, and I was really excited about that. She’s worked with Tool, and she’s a woman, but the label shot that down because they thought she would make an album that was too heavy for me. And I really disagreed with that, because I wanted to make an album that was heavy. And there was one point when I was in the studio in San Francisco and the person at the label had called and said ‘do it like Madonna, more like Garbage, make it sound more like that.’ So those are frustrating things. You don’t know what someone else has in their head, and that’s really not what’s important. It takes the artistic expression and makes it like you’re making donuts or something.”
What type of reaction have you received so far with “Burner?”
“I’ve only gotten good comments, and that might be because people only want to send me good comments. If they have bad ones they’re not sending them to me. But most people say that they like the album better than the first one, and their favorite songs. And one thing that’s really cool is that most of the time they want to get involved, ‘Can I download some flyers to send around to tell all my friends? Do you want me to talk to the record store here about stocking the record? I know these clubs you should play when you get there, I’ll hook it up for you.’ So that’s really cool.”
What was your approach to making the cd?
“For the most part, I just threw the Interscope demos away. My friend Martin Bisi, who’s got a studio in Brooklyn, and Craig [Kafton] and I went in and just from day one started making the CD, doing the writing pretty much on the spot. Craig and I would do some pre-production at home, and then go in. I guess it was a combination of a few different things. Sometimes I had already worked out guitar parts for other songs and I would implement those and change the lyrics. Or Craig would have something and I would use lyrics from a different song, write the lyrics around that. But basically, it was put together in the studio.”
Have you done any of the material live yet?
What type of instrumentation will you use when you do?
“I looks like probably I’ll have a drummer play to loops, a guitarist, I’ll play guitar on some songs, and a bassist. It’s going to be all girls, hopefully. I’m working on that.”
Did you use digital recording for the CD?
“We did programming, but everything went to 2 inch. I did one song in Pro-Tools. I think it’s the last song on the album, it’s called ‘Angel’ One thing about Pro-Tools for vocals is that give you the most crystal clear vocal sound, where 2 inch tape really warms the vocal up. For me, I think Pro-Tools is better for vocals. So yeah, it wasn’t a really digital album. It was recorded on 2 inch, and then cut to 1/2 inch from there. It was probably the most low-fi electronic album made in a long time!”
Have you been exploring way to creatively market your music online?
“Here’s something funny. Someone send me a listing from some kind of web site looking for musicians to be in a film. I went and checked it out, and to get information you have to download one of their songs. So it’s really just lying, it’s self-promoting. So I don’t think I’m going to do that, but I thought that was really interesting!”
Were you annoyed by that?
“No, I just thought it was some crafty sneaky kids up to no good getting their music out. I work with Spinrecords.com, and I’m their featured artist for August. So that will be a good way of reaching people other than my specific audience. It’s run by Kevin Wyman, who puts together the warped your. And the people there are really great, and young and excited. And I record was done, so I was looking for a way to get in on the Internet and available right away.”
Your website is janejensen.net – did you try to get janejensen.com?
“Yeah, that’s a mess. That’s a really sore spot. Initially, it was under my ex-manager’s name, and he wouldn’t give it back to me so I did all the paper work, like over a course of it seems like it was seven months. I finally got it to the person who needed to sign off on it, to change the ownership of the name, I don’t know why he owned my name, but he applied for it, he was a bit more savvy than I was I guess. He needed to fill out a form and have it notarized and he didn’t do it. Within a two day span of him receiving the documents and the name coming up again for ownership, a woman named Jane Jensen who designs games took Janejensen.com. But .net is cool!”
Do you that being able to make individual songs available online will shift the focus away from albums?
“I don’t know, it’s so different for me. I think I’m so in the mindset of when I really love music I want to get involved with the artist. Favorite artists that I’ve had before, I want to have the CD, I want to read the liner notes. It’s not just that one shot song. I don’t think enough of an artist’s story to told through that one song. The music should re representative somehow of their character, and I think one of the reasons people gravitate towards music the way they do is because it’s an escape. An escape into someone else life. So I don’t think one song is very satisfying in that way. But that’s my mind set, things are really changing. And it could turn into something like that, but I hope not. I think it takes away from what an artist can do. I think in the long run it hurt the life on the artist.”
Have you done any more acting?
“Yeah, since ‘Comic Book Whore’ was out I had a small part in the film called ‘Sebastian Cole’. It was a great director, Todd Williams and was really a great film. Then Will Keenen, who was in Tromeo and Juliet, did a film of his own called ‘Operation Climax’ where he takes over the world and makes an army of women. It’s actually a very goofy film, and I did a little bit of a cameo on that. I did an episode ‘Sins of the City,’ shot in Miami. I just did a reading for a play called ‘Wild Flowers,’ which they’re hoping to make into a film.”
Looking back on it, what are your feelings on “Tromeo and Juliet”?
“It feels like it was so long ago, I’ve forgotten all of the bad things. I only remember the good times. I don’t know what to say regarding ‘Tromeo and Juliet.’ Making that film was a circus, being involved with the whole Troma group is very much like a circus, with Lloyd Kaufman as the ringleader. It was a lot of fun, I met a lot of great people. It’s doing ok in terms of cult status. Some of my best friends I worked with on that film. So it’s certainly something I will never forget, and no one will ever let me forget it either!!”
Was that your first major acting job?
“No, I’d done a lot of independent films that never got to the releasing stage. And some bigger films, but smaller parts. ‘Dream House,’ they’re seeking distribution for still, a film called ‘Jane’s Street’ which does the gay and lesbian film festival circuits. And a lot of theater before that.”
Have you thought about combing your music and acting?
“Yeah, that would be an amazing thing to me. To have the resources to sit down and write some kind of dramatic campy musical. That would be amazing. But no, not right now. The record is the main focus.”
Now that “Burner” is out, what are your touring plans?
“I’d start with regional shows, but I definitely want to tour. I think that’s the best part about making music, when you get outside of your friends who some to the shows to support you and you’re playing for larger groups of people, who really appreciate something that they’re not hearing on the radio every day. It’s really a reward experience.”
“Denver, actually all of Colorado, Texas, Kansas, areas around New York, and Florida. And I don’t know why. But those areas were really most receptive and supportive of my music.”
Do you think most of the people who came to the shows already knew who you were?
“Well for example, initially when I went on tour I was opening for a band called Better Than Ezra, which was a completely different sound than mine. And it was on odd match, so of course those people had no idea who I was. So it was exposing myself to people who listen to different kinds of music, and it went over great. I sold a lot of cds at the shows and got to reach a lot of people that I wouldn’t normally. And playing radio festivals, which I did a lot, there are a lot of bands playing in one day. And often times they also don’t know who your are, but sometimes those are the best shows. It’s outside, and people want to have a good time, so they’re really supportive.”
What made you cover “Miss You”?
“I’m a really big Rolling Stones fan!! Since I was little. And when I was staying in LA with my sister, her neighbor was a really big Rolling Stones fan as well, and he was a collector of things as well, so he had every version of that song available. A video of them rehearsing the song, records of them working on the song before it was a finished writing song. I really love the band,. I would do more than one cover of their songs in some electronic fashion, if I could. But there’s really no point.”
But why chose that over other Rolling Stones songs?
“I wanted to do that one, because that album, ‘Some Girls,’ came out at sort of the end of the disco mania. So it had that back beat to it. And that melodic refrain is so catchy, I would play it on my guitar and it would sound so good as a guitar line. They have so many great songs, though.”See all interviews →