Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Janis Lyn

Janis Lyn
Photo by Pixelfix Photography & Retouching

Fresh out of the recording studio, we sat down with inspiring, singer-songwriter Janis Lyn to discuss her debut album Audience of One, must-visit areas of Nashville, TN and the power of collaborative musical communities. Audience of One debuted October 5th and you can get yourself a copy here.

AMBY: First, I wanted to congratulate you on the completion of your album ‘Audience of One’, we’re really excited about it. Can you tell me a bit about the record and your experience recording it?

JL: My producer Kevin Ker and I did some informal meetings at my yoga studio and decided that it could be really cool to do the recording in my studio. It was a comfortable space for me and Kevin was able to transport all his necessary recording studio and gear for vocals and guitar sessions. Then to top that off we chose Chalet Studios in Uxbridge, the home of some famous recording sessions, including Rush, to do some drum tracking and piano recording. Kevin and I did a lot of the work between the two of us, and in all truth it was Kevin who drove the whole project forward. Near the end of the project we did a trip down to Nashville to add some final layers and elements to the songs and have it mixed down there.

AMBY: I know you’ve felt a strong connection to Nashville after spending time there in 2003. Can you tell us what drew you back to the Music City to bring your album to life?

JL: I reconnected with a friend, Erik Halbig, in the music business a few months into recording the CD. Erik has worked with many big and up-and-coming country acts, including Sara Evans and Lady Antebellum. He had been producing some new artists and so we talked about the prospect of doing some work together and a few months later I sent him a note and we set up a few days to do sessions in Nashville.  Erik brought a few friends in on the sessions including Jon Coleman, who plays with Trace Adkins. His friend Eric Torres did the mixing and hosted the sessions at his studio, The Couch Room, which is located in a very famous building on Music Row, RCA Studio A.

AMBY: You said that Nashville taught you a lot not only about music, but also about life, can you elaborate a bit on that for our readers?

JL: In 2003 I had the opportunity to spend a few months in Nashville in between jobs. It had been a dream of mine to go down there and see what Music City was all about. I found a room to rent and upon arriving met my new roommate/landlord who was the first of many amazing Nashvillians I met. That first night in Nashville I went out with a songwriter friend and met a few new song writing friends who became my circle of friends for the summer. These people were so open and warm and didn’t seem to have much need to know more about me than just that I was there to soak up music and try out song writing. The warmth and welcoming feeling just seemed to be everywhere in that town, people smiled, said hello, made eye contact. It was like we’d already been introduced. And it happened everywhere from Starbucks to the grocery store to song writing events. It began to feel like home very quickly. I did do some collaborative song writing sessions with some of these new friends and am still in touch with these people even though we’ve all moved forward in our lives to new towns and interests.

AMBY: So if we were to visit Nashville, where are some ‘must-visit’ spots for music lovers?

JL: Well are we talking shopping, eating or music? (Laughs) I think what I first refer people to is all the cool spots to go eat – They are not part of the touristy areas but in other cool areas of town including: 12South, Green Hills, Franklin, Hillsboro Village, Vanderbilt, and now newer areas like Germantown and The Gulch. Nashville has been built up over the past 5 – 8 years like crazy. Music venues that I loved included: The Mercy Lounge, 12th & Porter, Bluebird Café, Tin Roof, Hotel Indigo, Blue Bar. And of course shopping was a great way to spend time. The outfits and dress in Nashville is very hip and fun and colourful.

AMBY: I know you have been making music and performing from a very young age; you actually played violin and piano and sang in your church choir. How old were you when you decided you wanted to make music your career?

JL: The focus on music really happened in my late teens. Up til then I’d sung, and yes played piano, violin and was in choirs and orchestra throughout school. It was part of the school program and who knew the time invested would be so useful as I found music later in my life to be something that really grounded me, helped me to move through things going on at the time. It was of course life events that triggered my path to music, singing, and songwriting. The songwriting became and has still very much stayed as a method to work through difficulties in life. I thing music therapy and songwriting are probably one of the most effective things to do whether it produces a hit song or not.

AMBY: You’ve said that music helped you overcome significant illness in your youth, can you speak bit to the healing power of music

JL: As a toddler I was diagnosed with a rare type of tumour and the surgery and path to recovery was a long one. Most of what I remember from that time were the amazing people who circled around my family and me and then I remember later throughout recovery that I always sang; At the top of my lungs really. I’m sure as I look back on those moments that they were the healing moments. The body, our cells, all respond to our vocal resonance and as the sound improves the cells improve, or as our health improves our sound improves; It is a field called “Sound Healing” that I have read about and studied for years. So I’m a big advocate of having music in your life, and singing that music with your own voice.

AMBY: Wow, pretty powerful stuff, Janis! So, your album, ‘Audience of One’ was produced by Kevin Ker from the alt-rock band Future History. Would you ever considering doing collaboration with a band outside your genre? Maybe even recording some alternative music?

JL: It’s funny how you get a little stuck in a genre of music based on how you sound. I love to sing rock, inspirational music, some blues, but in all of these I’m told I’m singing country. (Laughs) So I guess with some training and techniques maybe I could. I also feel that if I did more songwriting collaborations it would open up the style of music that I’m writing and singing. On this CD there’s one song I collaborated on with Kevin Ker, Yesterday’s Rain. And I think for most people listening to the CD they hear immediately that that song has a different energy to it. I think all along I’m tried to find a balance between country music and some essence of southern rock. I’m not sure I’m there yet, but my next CD will hopefully find its way into that genre.

AMBY: You performed at some local festivals this summer, what have been your favourite songs off the album to play live?

JL: This past year at festivals and open mics the best songs to play are where the musicians really bring their energy and style to the music. The song “In This Moment” is a slow soft song, but we’ve done it at a faster tempo in some live settings and it brought a bit more of a bluesy kind of Van Morrison sound to it which I loved. The songs that are more dominant acoustic guitar are also favourites because I love the sound of the acoustic. Songs like “Remember to Breath” and “Can You Imagine”. But of course any of the songs that really rock out are great fun live like “Fool’s Heart”

AMBY: Which festivals are you hoping to be a part of in 2016?

JL: My schedule is wide open. (Laughs) I love festivals and being outside so excited to see what shows up in terms of opportunities to be out there. There are so many great festivals big and small, local and far, and I just love the vibe of these events. Nothing is on the docket yet but my calendar is open!
AMBY: What message do you hope listeners will take away from ‘Audience of One’?

JL: This CD and songs were written over about a year period. They were personal and reflected some things that I was going through. The hope is that there are songs that connect you to being caught up in life and love, and songs that help you realize that you’re not alone, while other songs hopefully bring you to some resolution on why you might be struggling and find your own inner strength to carry on.

AMBY: Now that you’re back in Toronto, what can we expect next from Janis Lyn? Do you have any plans to tour in the near future?

JL: We’ve talked about the concept of touring and it sounds like fun and also really exhausting. But what I love is the idea of a radio tour, and a small town tour. I’ll be showing up in Spring of 2016 with more definitive ideas around touring.

AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about yourself that most of your fans don’t know yet?

JL: The last ten years I’ve been teaching fitness and have had the odd schedule that fitness instructors have to allow me to pursue music. Through the warm, talented community of Markham I’ve come into contact with some great friends, people and musicians and happy to have had the opportunity to collaborate with these people in putting this CD together. I’m very interested in how we build community in general and so love that my most important project has been the result of the music community here in Markham.

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Thank you Janis Lyn, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Heather Cook | @Outroupistache1

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