IT has been great speaking with Janie Bay…
and finding out about her musical progression. She talks about her latest album, Miscellany, and whether there are tour dates coming up in the future – I ask her if we might see her in the U.K. at any point and whether she is a fan of the music we are producing.
Bay discusses the music scene in South Africa and reveals the artists who inspired her growing up; which memories from her time in music stand out; some great new artists we should get involved with; how she spends time away from music – the talented songwriter tells me the ambitions she wants to fulfil before the end of this year.
Hi, Janie. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m good. Thanks, Sam! My week has been pretty productive so far. Just hustlin’ - as we do here in South Africa.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a singer-songwriter from Cape Town, South Africa (residing in Pretoria) and I have been doing music full-time for almost ten years.
I Remember, your first solo effort, gained huge acclaim. Do you look back at that time fondly? How have you grown as a musician since then?
The songs on my first (independent) album were some of the first songs I ever wrote and recorded properly. I started writing when I was fourteen but we never really recorded anything back then. I had to get a lot of stuff out; from childhood experiences to losing my dad to writing about how amazing my brother is and how I have looked up to him my whole life. So, yes, I do look back at it in a fond way because I learnt so much and I was happy with it as a very first effort.
Might there be a single/E.P. coming soon? What are you working on?
We are still releasing singles from my current album, Miscellany. I have just released my first ballad from this sophomore album called Can’t Be the One. We might still release one more single from this album before moving onto new projects.
Which artists do you count as idols? What sort of music did you grow up around?
My brother and I grew up listening to a lot of the bands and artists my mom and dad used to listen to in the '60s. So, we grew up listening to some of the best music ever written (thanks mom and dad). A lil later, Elton John, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson played in our house a lot. We also grew up watching a sh*t-load of movies, so soundtracks played a huge role in our music-loving-forming years.
Later on, in my teens, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill was probably the album that influenced me most and got me through quite a bit of teenage angst. Metallica was also in the mix; as were Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Green Day. Then, I went through a major Punk phase with NOFX, No Use for a Name; Goldfinger and those bands - and then I rolled over to a lot of Folk like Ben Howard, Boy & Bear; Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons. So; my influences stretched quite far, which I believe also stretched me as an artist and writer, for the better.
You moved from Cape Town to Pretoria. How important is where you live and the people to your music? Do you get a lot of inspiration from the surroundings?
Cape Town is certainly better for the creative juices to flow but Johannesburg (Pretoria is close by) definitely has more opportunities in terms of shows and venues: I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my career in Cape Town. Most industries are bigger up here, so I didn’t really have a choice. I miss Cape Town but, unless you are very established, you have to be up here in my opinion.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lampost People
Is the South African music scene quite strong? Do you find it a natural space for you to perform and create in?
To be honest, South African-English ‘Pop’ is one of the least supported genres in our country. If you are an Urban artist or an Afrikaans Pop artist, you will have a lot of support both financially and fan-wise. Our country’s economy is also struggling currently but my heart is to write in English and I am a singer-songwriter at heart; so I will carry on doing my thing. I am, of course, very thankful for all the support I have had up until now.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I suppose, to get my music out there more. Also, to hopefully successfully plan a tour abroad.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
There have been quite a few. My favourite two shows so far have been (one) at a festival called White Mountain Festival a few years back. Not a very big festival - about 1500 people but the crowd was on fire and the whole gig felt like one song/journey for forty-five. Everything felt so smooth.
Then (two), a very small gig; about thirty people. It was a theatre-like performance about two months ago. The sound was perfect and you could drop a pin on the stage; it was so quiet. Everyone was listening to each song intently. It was just very special and intimate.
PHOTO CREDIT: @imthecarpenter
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would love to support James Bay and, to perform one song with him, would be a dream. Ed Sheeran is coming to South Africa in March 2019. We are both at Warner Music, so…you never know!
Is it true you are coming to the U.K. to play? Are you a fan of the British music scene?
Myself and my label are talking about the possibility of it. Hold thumbs that we can make it happen! Please send me suggestions for British acts to listen to. I would love to learn more about it!
You have played around the world and seen many different audiences. How important is touring and getting your music out there?
I have travelled quite a bit but haven’t seen many bands abroad. We have had quite a few international bands/acts over here. My absolutely favourite must have been Paolo Nutini. What a performer! What a musician! What a band! I was blown away! He really took me to another place for an hour and a half. I believe it is absolutely vital to see international acts perform in order for us to up our own game.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
To play as many gigs as you can; wherever you can, whenever you can. To be gig-fit is one of the best things you can have. Always be ready to play a song to anyone. Do warm-ups before a show, always. Stay humble, no matter where life may take you. Be thankful for every small or big victory. Remember those you have helped you along the way. Work hard. Keep writing.
IN THIS PHOTO: Roan Ash
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I love fitness. So, going to the gym makes me feel amazing. I also love films and cinematography (I am very much involved with my own music videos from start to finish).
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I am bias, but also not. Please check out Werner Bekker’s brand new single and music video for I’m With You. He is amazing; a true singer-songwriter and this is a beautiful song. My boyfriend and his partner produced this song. It is very Damien Rice. So good
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