After having released three moderately successful records in the dozen years between 1998 and 2010, while also balancing the demands of a full-time job and growing family, Nova Scotia’s Ian Janes decided it was the right time to fully commit himself to music.
It doesn’t mean he was confident about his decision, however.
“Relying on music alone to pay the bills was a scary prospect then, and it still is now,” the affable James says from his home in Nova Scotia. He performs at Saint John’s Cask & Kettle Gastropub on Sunday May 21.
“For such a long time, I inhabited this space between trying to make music work full-time and still working full-time. I wasn’t completely investing myself and realizing the opportunities that might come with a full-time career in music, and got to a point where I felt that if I didn’t at least try to make a go of music on a full-time basis – completely accepting I might not be successful at it – I wasn’t probably ever going to invest the energy I needed to make it work.”
Maybe the universe sensed Janes was embarking on a new journey, or maybe it was fate smiling down on the singer-songwriter as a means of commending his decision, but he says that once he consciously made the choice that music would be his full-time career, opportunities began falling in his lap.
He struggles to explain how or why it happened, but he remains grateful for the good fortune that has come his way over the last few years:
“Back in 2014, I met a music publisher that I began working with that has really been a big help in getting me established as a writer. I’ve been to Nashville seven times in the last two years and, each time I go, I’m paired up with an extraordinary set of writers.
“The best way I can sum up the last few years leading to the making of my new album is that I haven’t just been answering the phone, I’ve been working hard to make opportunities happen. I’ve been hustling,” he says with a laugh, “and it’s been paying off. It’s also all about attitude. When you’re more open and positive to what could go right when some of these opportunities come your way, more opportunities tend to come your way. I’ve been happy to be a ‘yes’ man in many respects.”
Given the success Janes has found over the last few years by remaining open to previously unexplored possibilities, it is no small coincidence that he chose to name his newest album Yes Man. Released independently this past February, the album’s first single, “Broken Record” racked up serious airplay on CBC Radio, and Sirius XM.
One of Janes’ biggest career achievements, however, happened this past April when his song “Can’t Remember Never Loving You” was prominently featured in the hit television drama Nashville.
“That song was written with Byron Hill, who just has one of the most enviable track records in music today. Everyone from Alabama to George Strait and Anne Murray has cut his songs. What’s most inspiring about writing with Byron is the fact he’s still hungry for a hit after all these years. Not that he needs it; he just wants to write a song that’s better than the one he wrote yesterday. It’s great to see he’s still pushing himself after all these years.”
While Janes is quick to heap praise upon Hill for still feeling driven to succeed, the singer-songwriter acknowledges he shouldn’t necessarily forget to pat himself on the back.
Having any kind of career – modest or otherwise – is becoming an increasingly rare commodity in the music business today, and yet it’s something that Janes might not have ever found had he not taken risks to pursue his dream.
“My approach to songwriting hasn’t really changed all that much these last few years, but I do feel I’ve grown, especially over the course of these last two albums. I still very much believe in serving the song first and foremost, whether I wrote it myself or co-wrote it with someone else. These days, I’m singing and playing like I have three kids to feed, namely because I have three kids to feed,” Janes says, laughing.
What: Ian Janes with special guest Eloie Richard
When: Sunday May 21, 3 p.m.
Where: Cask & Kettle Gastropub, 112 Prince William St., Saint John
Tickets are $15. Advance tickets are available at the Cask & Kettle.