Entertainment News, June 1, 1990
Taking Pleasure In Being Unique.
you happen to spot Jane Child walking down a street in your
neighborhood, feel free to stare - she's quite used to it.
"I've walked around looking like this five or six years,"
she explains, I’m used to being looked at, so I was
prepared for fame! The only difference is now my name. I'll
drive around and someone will yell to me. Grocery shopping
is getting tough, but I’m not complaining because
everyone is nice. I'm no longer just another person in the
world; I'm the center of focus. But this is what I chose
to do, so I have a responsibility to be nice as well,"
to the left of conformity has been key in her life, and
this individuality is the core of her self-titled debut,
which she wrote, performed, and produced. Watching the first
single, "Don't Wanna Fall In Love," climb to the
top of the charts has been the most rewarding of experiences,
and has opened up minds to the unique talents of the Toronto
always been outrageous, as far back as I can remember,"
she notes. "I started to do my hair six years ago,
and got my nose pierced four years ago. The way I dress
has evolved; I've always worn a lot of jewelry. I never
desired to look like everyone else, and people should know
that it didn't happen over night, or all at once. I felt
comfortable in Toronto like this and really am homesick
for the seasons and being able to walk, although I am more
protected driving. I live in Los Angeles now and what's
surprising is that wherever there is a really big conservative
side to a city, there is an equally outrageous underground.
L.A. has no conservative side! That's why you see kids on
Hollywood Boulevard in leather, and in Beverly Hills you
see the Gucci version of the same thing."
grew up in a musical family, with both parents involved
in the classical field. This led to similar training as
a child, and a considerably formal background. This was
eventually eschewed for contemporary sounds. “I am
making a better living than I’ve ever had have classically!”
she laughs. "In classical music you are very limited,
and the amount of self that comes through is so miniscule
because you're interpreting the masters with hard, fast
rules about how to do it. It is very structured and kind
of close-minded. My parents aren't that way, however, and
are less surprised than anyone about my success, I've always
been determined. It is not their kind of music, but they
like what I do. They're proud."
her hours and hours of practice and theory, stepping out
into the real world was quite a culture shock. Joining her
first band, she found herself lost. There was no
music for me to read, I was expected to improvise, which
you don't do classically. You only play piano, organ, or
harpsichord—never a synthesizer—so there were
a lot of changes to make.
a writer, I don't sit down and call up my training. I just
do it by ear, what feels right. I think that is a better
way. The first songs you write are inevitably terrible.
I have figured I can say what I think about things - it is
a powerful medium. At first, I didn't do it because I had
a great calling. I did it because I wanted to sing. Since
then, it has become important to write good songs, so the
motivation has definitely changed."
fifteen, she was on the road with a band, facing the club
circuit, and forced to compromise. It was either play cover
songs, or go the original route and struggle to find work.
She recalls, "It was very, very hard. They would send
us up to places you wouldn't believe exist. The first year,
I worked 45 weeks, ate and slept in these places. It was
a very good lesson in life. They are beyond comprehension
and nobody wants to hear music they haven't heard on the
radio, so you either cover it or slug it out on your own.
I did both and decided not to take any day job, but make
my living in music, so anything I was hired to do, I did
as well as I could without attitude. I played organ in church,
very structured piano for ballet classes, organ at a horseshow—paid
well, very long hours— a lot of piano bars, some classically,
and in those situations it was good if they heard me before
they saw me because they were very upscale. I did a lot
of jingles - and then there were the magical times with I sang
with a band doing my own stuff, which is what I lived for.
The rest of the time, I just supported my habit."
she cut a demo tape that landed in the hands of major labels.
Having done jingle work in the studio, the engineer allotted
her "spec time." With her budget low, she played
all the instruments, since paying musicians was impossible.
"The studio was an hour outside Toronto," she
says, "and it was five dollars by bus to get there.
I recorded about five songs. My entertainment lawyer in
Toronto looked after things and believed in me. He had a
client who was a partner in a New York production company.
They signed me, I moved to New York, then they moved me
to L.A. and got my tape to a label but the deal said I couldn't
produce myself, so I refused. They seized my equipment.
stayed in L.A. and somehow my tape got to everywhere. I
don't know how. Thirteen labels went into a bidding war
and I was without management or a cent to my name. It was
a very diverse time. I lived in a place where everything
was turned off because I couldn't pay the bills, while I
was being flown first class, wined and dined by labels.
I met all the heads of companies and decided to go with
Warner Brothers. Producing myself was an issue, but I got
it the way I wanted, and here I am." .
it was her determination, or her refusal to bend in any
way, but despite her soft-spoken manner and delicate good
looks, she denies ever encountering sexism or not being
taken seriously at any time during her negotiations. "It
never entered my mind," she states.
one to my face in the record business has ever taken me less seriously
than I think they'd take
a male. Maybe there was some hesitation because I was a
new artist, but I demand to be taken seriously and if you
present yourself that way, you probably will get it. I present
myself in a way serious, non-sexual, businesslike manner.
I wasn't going to give anyone an opportunity.
of how I look, you communicate difference of gender in different
ways. I never communicated that at all. I had very strict
rules. Everyone I met treated me fairly and with respect."
While "Don't Wanna Fall In Love" is one of those
infectious melodies that remains with
the listen a for hours, and does lead to bit of toe-tapping,
don't call Jane Child a "Dance"
artist. This is a popular misconception based on one song,
and the mere thought makes her bristle. "No! I absolutely
don't see myself as that!" she insists. "Some
of my music is danceable, but there is a difference between
dance and funk, and I'm a funk enthusiast. I guess
all anyone has heard is the single, and that's what they're
basing it on. Once they listen to more of the album, they'll
see that there's more to what I am.
this will show itself when she takes her show on the road,
the element she considers the "reward" for her
efforts. Although she admits a desire to make a second album
before taking the stage, she confesses, "I'm dying
to go on tour, but I won't go until it's right, I have no
band, and I
refuse to have anything to do with tapes. That's not the
way I would do it. I'd rather have
another record's worth of material under my belt, but since
this success so far, they're making it awfully tempting.
Still, I won't go out until it's right."