With two acclaimed studio records to his credit, Nova Scotia’s Ian Janes stepped away from music to support his young family.
But, calling himself ‘a lifer,’ he’s back on the stage, with another well-received album to his name and the determination to put in the work to share his gift with others.
His 1998 debut record Occasional Crush saw the singer-songwriter named as one of 100 Canadians To Watch by Macleans while also earning him a spot on the televised East Coast Music Awards show in 2000.
Janes released his followup effort, As It Seems in 2002; it earned the artist the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia Award for Record of the Year, in addition to a pair of ECMA nominations.
And then for eight years, Ian Janes went virtually silent.
Janes didn’t walk away from music in an acrimonious way, however. Following the release of Occasional Crush and As It Seems, everyday life simply took him in a different direction. It would be eight years – until 2010 – before the world would hear new recorded music from Janes with his third effort, Piece of Mine.
“I was away from the music scene for many years,” Janes says. “I had gotten married and had children and just chose to concentrate on that part of my life for a little while.”
In addition to tending to his growing family, Janes found work as a carpenter, admitting that pursuing a career in music can often make it challenging to make ends meet.
“I’ve got a family of five to support. When I released my first efforts, I didn’t have the responsibilities of having a family. Now, I’ve got to be proactive when it comes to booking shows and getting myself back out there. You have to put in the effort before you begin to see any return on it.”
Navigating the ever-changing role parenthood proved, unsurprisingly, to be time-consuming. Even with the release of Piece of Mine in 2010, Janes says that he didn’t quite give the album the promotional push that he would have liked because his youngest child was born the same year.
“(But) my passion for music never wavered,” he says. “It remains a big part of who I am, but it was when I wasn’t so heavily involved in making music that I began to realize how much I needed to have music as a part of my life.
“I’m a lifer at this point,” he laughs. “It became more a matter of how to incorporate music in my life while still ensuring my wife and three children are looked after.”
Janes’ love affair with music began as a child. He indulged in his mother’s record collection that included some of the greatest songwriters of our time: Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Carole King. He started playing guitar at age eight, and began writing original songs shortly after.
Before long, he was making home recordings using what was then modern technology – a Fostex four-track recorder.
“I’ve always been one to hear the arrangement of any given song in my head before it is put to tape. I go into song writing with an acute idea of what I want to hear the other instruments playing for their parts.”
If Janes has his way, he will need to hear a lot of those parts in the very near future. He estimates that he has upwards of 25 songs ready to be recorded but rather than rushing into the studio, he is instead weighing his options.
This past November, Janes struck up a friendship with acclaimed songwriter Andy Stochansky during Nova Scotia Music Week. Janes plans to head to Los Angeles early in the new year for some songwriting sessions with Stochansky.
“I see myself naturally moving in the direction of penning songs for others and so to have the chance to write with Andy and get my feet wet in a different respect is something that I am looking forward to,” Ian says.
“Selling records is such a small piece of the pie for artists these days. Artists have to be proactive in pitching your songs to others while also exploring the possibility of getting your music into film and television. The music business isn’t all doom and gloom like some might believe it is. But there is no question that you have to be creative and find ways to make it work.
What: Ian Janes
When: Saturday Dec. 13, 8:00 p.m.
Where: Parkindale Hall, 3434 Route 895