Jane Weaver has seen a fair amount of the music industry in the past couple of decades – from being signed to a major label in her teens to long years chiselling away as a solo artist before finally becoming a favourite of national music magazines and BBC 6 Music.
The attention garnered by her psychedelic-flavoured sixth album The Silver Globe and its follow-up Modern Kosmology, released earlier this year, is, she admits, heartening but she’s not getting too carried away by belated acclaim.
“It’s quite strange,” she reflects. “It’s only a small level of personal success for me. As a musician and artist you just want to put records out and for people to hear your music, so I’m quite happy to do that, but it’s nice to be asked to do the gigs and do various things which come hand in hand with more radioplay or whatever.
“The past few years have been quite busy as well for me, but the opportunity to do lots of brilliant festivals and wanting to do more live stuff, as a working musician it’s nothing but positive, really.”
Modern Kosmology marked an evolution from the psychedelic swirls of The Silver Globe, prompted largely by “production decisions that were kind of bolder”.
“The vocals are a lot clearer and everything’s less swamped with space echo, which I’d always put on everything to make it sound like it’s in space.
“There were definite production decisions and most of the album, apart from when the odd musician came in and out, was me working with the engineer in the studio. I played a lot more instruments on this record than on The Silver Globe, and spent a lot more time in the studio, I think I did 30 dates in 18 months, a lot of coming away from it, so it was different.”
Weaver feels she learned important lessons from the failure of her first band, Kill Laura, who signed to a subsidiary of Polydor back in 1993. “When I was in Kill Laura it was our first experience of the music industry. We were signed to an indie through a major, so I was signed to Polydor when I was 19/20, and it was a lot to take on. We’d only done a handful of gigs and to be in the throes of that...We recorded an album and then our A&R man got sacked, we got dropped and we couldn’t release the album.
“Immediately you’re throwing your passion into something, being supported, there’s a lot of money flowing around and then it’s just all gone overnight and it’s a very upsetting situation. Since that point I’ve been independent. I’ve worked with lots of different independents, and maybe it’s to do with being burnt by Polydor but I think equally burnt by some indies as well. The whole set-up is a bit squiffy, the marriage of the creative and the uncreative.”
Weaver’s early solo albums were decidedly more folky. She says her sonic shift came after a spell in the band Misty Dixon. “That was in 2002, so I did Like An Aspen Leaf [her first solo mini-album] then Iced To Mode, which was Misty Dixon, and I guess it was more explorative for me. After that point I was doing solo gigs and getting schlepped in with all that alt-folk stuff, which was kind of fine at the time but then I got so bored with it, I was just like I’m not getting anything out of this, so I went back to being more experimental. Still using acoustic guitar but switching to electric guitar.
Immediately you’re throwing your passion into something, being supported, there’s a lot of money flowing around and then it’s just all gone overnight and it’s a very upsetting situation. Since that point I’ve been independent.Jane Weaver
“Everything I try to do is slightly different, for my own amusement, really. Like anybody, you get bored of doing things in a certain way so you just shift.”
Weaver has described her latest album as about creativity. She is, she says, fascinated by the creative processes that other artists go through. “I always ask other people how they do stuff because I am interested. Some people will demo stuff then they’ll go into the studio for two weeks and that’s the album and I’m just like ‘Woah, you’re signing that off pretty quick!’ I like to take more time and labour over stuff. I think listening back to stuff is an important part of the process and also changing stuff if you need to. I ask people about production, I’m interested in how people get certain sounds. The mixing engineers and the technology that’s been available in the past few years makes records sound absolutely massive. If you listen to a Rihanna song on headphones you’re like ‘That’s pretty big, how did they do that?’ So I’m interested for my own intrigue.”
The song H>A>K was inspired by the Swedish artist Hilda Af Klint. “She was a trained painter who went rogue and abstract at the beginning of the 1900s. She had a secret society which involved spiritualism, mysticism and channelling energy into creativity. I was looking more towards the art world as well with this record, and more towards her story, and it gave me a lot of inspiration lyrically and visually as well. It provided me with a certain level of energy in order to go forward in a concept way. So for process and creativity it’s not just music that’s important to look at, I’d say, it’s other stuff. You do get bogged down with music. It’s like a self-imposed exile of ‘I do things this way and this is easy, to make a pop song you do this, da de da de da’, but then I think you need to think outside the box.”
Some of the lyrics were inspired by a trip to Anglesey. “I did that because I did a gig on the Isle of Eigg, which is in the Outer Hebrides, it’s an island that has about 30 people on it and it’s quite isolated and when I was there I was drawing off the energy. It’s magnetic, the silence and the stillness and being surrounded by the sea. I came back home and I needed to write some words, and when I write words I cobble some together and I have spider charts and stuff, but ultimately to get it all together I have to go away in order to write clearly and concisely and to concentrate. So I went to Anglesey because it has a lot of druid history, there are lots of stone circles, but also it’s got quite a dramatic coastline as well, so I went there for the lonesome vibes of the island energy. It’s good stuff, it works,” he chuckles.
Jane Weaver’s new EP, The Architect, is out on October 27. She plays at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on Tuesday October 31. https://janeweavermusic.com/