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- Cross Colours
Written By: Kadeem Pilgrim
Can you remember your last great conversation?
Really think about it for a moment.
Regardless of whether it was via phone call (do we still have those?), Facetime, or in person, the connection was organic, the dialogue was seamless, and the subject matter was rich.
And you find that by the time it’s over, the conversation has made you laugh, reminisce, and maybe even do a bit of self-reflection.
That is the only way that I can describe my recent conversation with accomplished singer/songwriter, Jane Handcock- or simply, Jane.
I’d immediately felt a connection to Jane after being introduced to her music a few weeks ago.
By the day of our interview, I’d played Jane’s single, “Function”, a mid-tempo groove with a vibe reminiscent of a Summertime barbecue, so heavily that I knew the words by heart.
It was her smooth, yet gritty tone, however, further exacerbated by an infectious beat, that led me down a rabbit hole of her work.
To date, Jane has worked with a number of heavy hitters within the music industry, including Kelly Rowland, Rick Ross, and Keke Palmer.
Moreover, Jane has released a number of independent projects, including a joint mixtape with singer/actress, Keke Palmer, entitled “Keyana Nicole”, her first solo EP, “Where’s Jane? Series 1”, and her latest project, “Where’s Jane? Series 2”.
Her lyrics tackle everything from love and loss to growing up in the inner-city, and in a way that is both palatable and impactful.
On the day of our interview, I learned that Jane had just recently returned home to the Bay area; Jane had been spending some time in LA recording tracks for an upcoming Summer EP.
But despite having a little downtime, Jane didn’t seem to miss a beat.
Her jet-black bob was carefully coiffed, her face slightly beat, and her chic yet comfortable streetwear seemed to effortlessly tie it all together.
And with her go ahead, the interview began.
What’s your earliest memory of music?
I think I fell in love with music before I could talk. I was about 3 years old and I remember hearing TLC for the first time; they were my first intro to music besides church.
My mom was also really into “Bad Boy”- the era of Faith Evans, Diddy, Total. I remember always riding around in the car with her listening to that, and subconsciously I latched on.
Do you remember the first song that you fell in love with?
Baby, Baby, Baby by TLC! I remember, as a little girl, singing that song all the time. My mom actually has video of me singing that song, and with conviction!
The drums, how they were dancing, their style- everything about the video had me in awe.
That explains so much about your style! I’m a TLC stan, so I immediately clocked the Left Eye shirt from Cross Colours that you were wore on the cover of your first EP!
I love Cross Colours! I was never really girly, so I always loved TLC’s style. When I saw them come out, I was like, “Wow, this is me, this is who I am”. I knew that from an early age! When I saw TLC, I saw myself.
I just so happen to work for Cross Colours too, so if you ever need any merch for a show, just let me know!
Oh, that would be dope!
What does 2019 Jane now know about the music industry that you wish you could impart on your younger self?
I’d tell her that there is no ‘one’ way to do it- you have to make your own mark. I had a fixation with being this one specific thing, but as I’ve progressed as an artist, I’m just doing things my own way.
I’ve learned that it’s not about being a big star, it’s about making an imprint and inspiring people. That’s what I’m here for. I’m not here to be famous or for the spotlight.
I’m here to move people, and that’s why I love music! It’s about making people feel- whether it’s good, bad, ugly, ratchet- I just want to make people feel!
How do you feel about the impact that algorithms and streams have had on the way that artists make music?
It’s hard, but I’m blessed. My music isn’t, and never has been, about the numbers. And what I love about that is the fact that people seem to bypass things like my followers, my streams, etc. Everyone seems open to hearing me out, and they focus on my content.
And while my numbers are going up, the idea that that’s something you have to think about as an artist, it’s tragic. Because of that, I choose to stay true to myself. I have to!
You got your start in the music industry as a songwriter. Can you talk a bit about your earliest memory of working in the studio with a major artist?
My earliest memory would have to be working with Kelly Rowland. I remember her being so sweet! She had this energy about her that was so graceful, almost angelic. Kelly was from a different time in music, and it showed in the way that she carried herself.
I’d been in the studio working independently when she walked by. I wasn’t expecting her to stop, but she did. She said that she loved what I came up with, offered me some critiques, and then sat there and just vibed with me.
She worked with me on the song, and it ultimately became my first major placement.
That’s so dope! It always feels good knowing that the musicians you go up for are just as cool in person as they are on TV.
Oh, most definitely! All of the artists that came out back in the day just have this incredible work ethic and genuine attitude.
What’s the biggest disappointment you faced during the early stages of your development as a professional singer/songwriter?
It would have to be those moments where I wouldn’t get a placement on an album. With songwriting, it’s almost as if you give so much of yourself and face the likelihood of being told that you’re not good enough- try harder.
It can be kind of disappointing because songwriters oftentimes give so much and get very little back.
There are so many stages/levels to the submission process for an album placement; the artist likes the song, they record the song, and at the last minute they maybe scrap it, or it doesn’t make the album.
But for me, moments like that were also encouraging. I would submit demo after demo, and whether or not I was taken to the next step, the labels would often ask who the voice was singing on the demo.
From there, I made the decision to switch it up and start releasing my own work. I never allowed myself to get so defeated that I stayed down.
What inspired your upcoming project, “Where’s Jane? Series 2”?
My life inspires my work, and that’s how my latest project came together. This go around I was a bit more chill. I think because I was coming off of vocal rest, I was still going through it a bit.
I wasn’t turning up as much. I just wanted to be chill, plus I was coming out of a breakup toward the end of the project, which contributed to the vibe of the album.
So yeah, it’s going to be a real chill project.
Can you talk a bit more about that period where you had to take vocal rest? I can’t imagine how hard that had to have been for you.
It was one of the hardest points in my life, not being able to sing. As a vocalist, you never really know how much you use singing to express yourself until you can’t do it anymore.
This was December 2017- I would walk around with a pen and a pad just writing down ideas, but it was hard.
Even now, I don’t scream or yell, I don’t go above a certain pitch. I’m just really serious about protecting my voice.
Does your music inspire your personal style (fashion), or does your personal style inspire your music?
I think that my style started to develop with the music that I was making. At first, I was just making great records, but as time went on, I really started to explore who I was as “Jane”.
Now, I’d say that my music and style go hand-in-hand. I love vintage clothing, especially streetwear from the late ’80s, early ’90s. My music naturally aligns with that style.
How do you remain authentic in an industry that encourages artists to fit into marketable packages?
Anything I do, I do it because I want to. My mom and others have raised me to be myself and be proud of it. It’s a blessing because it works, and when you’re authentically yourself, it registers!
No one has said anything to me about losing weight, switching up my style, or anything like that. So, for me, when you are unapologetically yourself, and it’s authentic and transparent, you don’t have to try so hard.
And finally, what motivates you?
Me! At the end of the day, that’s the only person I can depend on for motivation. There are some days where I’m just not feeling it, but I have to get up and find the motivation regardless.
The grind, the hustle, it all comes down to me. The fans and the support from people around me inspire me to keep pushing, but when it’s all said and done, I get myself up, discipline myself, and give myself space to make mistakes.
By the end of the interview, I found myself absolutely blown away by Jane and her story. And after listening to her latest project, I have no doubt in my mind that the world is going to be hearing more about her in the near future!
But hey, don’t take my word for it. Check out Jane’s latest project, “Where’s Jane? Series 2”, and you be the judge!