Somojo Magazine

Sweet Jane

Hi guys, how are you?
Really good, thank you.

Would you mind introducing us to your band members?
There is four of us. I sing, I’m Lydia, Danda plays guitar and sings too, Donagh is our drummer and Ruairi plays bass.

How long has the current band line up been together?
Danda and myself have been recording under the name Sweet Jane for about four years but the band is about two years old.

How did you meet each other?
Danda and Ruairi are brothers, and I met Danda at a party a couple of years back, he just walked up to me and ask me to start a band with him, so I did. Then Ruairi got involved, we fired our previous drummer for being a prick, and then out of nowhere Donagh turned up at our studio with his drum sticks.

How did you come up with the band name?
When myself and Danda started recording together, he’d bring a little 10 track over to my apartment and we would just sit there &Êrecord music all night. We jut had things happen and somehow it lead back to a ‘sweet jane’ reference. First time we listened back to the first track we recorded there was a Jane Fonda documentary on the TV, y’know her whole Hanoi Jane period, a reporter shouted at her leaving jail ‘what happened to the sweet Jane we know and love?’ Then obviously there’s the song ‘Sweet Jane’. There’s lots of reason’s why we have our name but a name is nothing without good music behind it.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
The best music you’ve never heard.

What music did you listen to while growing up?
I’m still growing up but main influences so far I guess Black Sabbath, Roberta Flack,ÊU2, Ride, Oasis, The Verve, The La’s, Hole, Pantera, Echo & the Bunnymen. The list is endless. Actually Billy Joel, my dad is a big fan, and I’d be totally bullshitting you if said he didnt influence me in some way.

Which artist or track inspired you to want to make music yourself?
I guess it was Hole, which was kind of weird because when Hole were at their prime I was like 7 or 8 years old. I mean I guess for my parents seeing their baby daughter looking up to Courtney Love, thats not the nicest scenario, but I always grew up loving her, not because of all the shit that went on around her, but the fact that she was so bold and fearless, it counts for something y’know. And now that I’m in this ‘business’, and it is a fucking business, you see how hard it is to be that person, it’s alot easier to just be the pretty little singer who stays quiet.

When was the ‘I want to do that! moment?
I don’t think I can pin - point and exact time, its not like I suddenly jumped up on a table one day and said ‘from this day forth I shall be a rock & roll star’. It’s always been in me, when something feels right, its right.

What was the last music you put on your ipod or mp3 player?
Its funny you should ask me that, I bought an ipod last week, Ive never owned one before, I don’t even know how to open an itunes account, so I brought it into our studio last night and Ruairi brought in his laptop and this massive hard drive, and I just sat there filling it up with hundreds of album. I have never felt so cheap. I literally went home and slept with my vinyl.

What have you been up to recently?
We’ve just had some time off, but for the last couple of weeks we’ve been in and out of the studio putting down some demos for the second record.

What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
Hopefully they’ll enjoy our record ‘Sugar For My Soul’. I know that gets a UK release soon, and I hope they come to the shows, and look forward to that.They can look forward to hearing some solid tunes.

What is your current equipment?
I’m low maintenance on stage. I just have my tambourine and mic-stand. The boys are different, they bring the noise. I leave all my guitars and other stuff back at our studio.

Do you have a favourite piece of musical kit that you couldn’t live without?
Danda has a total love affair with all his guitars, and his pedals are like babies.

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Alot of vintage guitars. Alot of vintage everything.

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
Yeah pretty much, I mean when you record the sound is obviously tracked, so you put a multitude of layers on there, so it can’t be the same as live. But yeah, same guitars, pedals.

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
Totally different, and if ever there was a band to respect that, it's us. What's the point in coming to a show to hear whats identical to the record, you pay for the raw energy of a live show. I don’t think any two of our gigs have ever sounded the same.

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
Alot. I didn’t at the start, none of us did, it was all Danda, but the more you grow with the band and the music, the more you need and want to have your own stamp on it. I got sick of singing songs that I couldn’t relate to. To me it was like I could have been anyone up on the stage. I have completely different taste to Danda but it works when we’re in the studio, he’ll hear something that I wont and vice versa.

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Danda’s been writing a score for this independent movie for the last while, so I know he definitely wants to do more in the future, but right now for all us, its just Sweet Jane. Everyone was involved in other projects at the start, but we all sat around and just said ‘y’know if we’re going to do it, let’s do it properly, otherwise there’s no point’.

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
I’m learning to enjoy the studio a bit more. I like recording at like 5am in the morning with a bottle of wine and really setting the scene for a song, the more money you pay for a studio or engineers I feel the intimacy falls away, does that make sense? I like to do it on my own, so its hard when there’s y’know ten people looking out at you from the sound desk. I think alot of it has to do with the fact that I’m never happy, I always think everything can be better.

Do you have any new recordings planned?
We’re constantly recording, whether its in our own studio at home, or in with the studio our label have us with. Its weird we’re on so many schedules, releasing our first UK single, but its our 4th single or something in Ireland, and then the record is out in Asia.

Which are your favourite original tracks?
Of ours? Of ours a new one called ‘Silver Dagger’, of someone Else’s, I could be here all night... The Black Keys ‘The only one’, that’s a good one.

Who are your favourite songwriters?
Hands down, Noel Gallagher.

Who are the main songwriters for the band?
Danda is definitely the main song writer, I come in and tweak things, I don’t get to call myself the songwriter. He’s a fucking genius, so there’s no way I’m going to try ruin it y’know.

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
Danda will usually write something on an acoustic guitar and then we’ll work out a vocal, and then add some piano, just build on it, and then we’ll go into the studio and jam it our all together.

Do you have a method for writing songs?
Usually a melody first for me, and then the lyrics come, I write lyrics all day long, so I never make them up on the spot, It's like I have a melody and then I go find the lyrics that I wrote yesterday, that kind of thing.

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
I find structuring songs difficult, I’m fine with melodies and a chorus and verse, but I cant ever transcend that into a full song, that why you’re in a band y’know, it’s with every ones ideas thrown together that you get the final product.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
So many, John Power from Cast / The La’s, Noel Gallagher, The Coral, Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Primal Scream, The Sand Band there’s a whole bunch.

Would you sign with a major record company?
I’d sign with any record label that genuinely had a burning passion for this band, you’ve got to ask yourself are you going to get that from a major. I guess the honest answer is, I don’t know, Ive seen so many friends bands go under so quickly after signing to a major, we’re a new band, we’re still learning.

Which countries have you gigged in?
Ireland, UK, Germany, USA so far, this year its France, Sweden, Portugal and an Asian tour being added to that, and we’re going to be spending alot more time in the UK too.

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
We’ve always felt very much at home in the UK. The people at our shows just got us, it clicked. We’re not a band that are reinventing the wheel, and we don’t want to. The UK get that, they accept it, embrace it, and just want to have a good time, same as we do.

Who would you like to tour with?
I don’t know. Alot of bands that I ‘d die to tour with aren’t around anymore. When you tour with a band all you can ask for is that there ‘buzzers’, none of this, ‘don’t look at so and so directly in the face if you pass them in the corridor, type bullshit. Glasvegas and The View, perfect example of bands that are ‘buzzers’ [laughs] and Carl Barat, we had a great couple of days last time we played with him.

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
Our record label does alot of that for us now, but we’re still very much in control of the online stuff, so we’re in constant contact with people, I like being able to use things like twitter when we’re on tour. It's like ‘uh were in the middle of this place, and there's nothing to do’, and then someone will tweet us, ‘’hey we’re about 3 minutes away from there in ’matching bear suits’ doing a load of coke off our grannies thigh come hang out with us’’ [laughs uncontrollably]

Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
Facebook and twitter definitely the best, myspace has been changed, I cant figure it out any more. Also there is a great new Irish website called BreakingTunes.com which is like an encyclopedia for current Irish bands, some really great stuff on there, but also a load of bollox on there too. Oh fuck I totally forgot, Soundcloud.com that a really great site for streaming music.

Do you think such sites and the Internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
Of course, anything that can help spread your music is a positive, that’s the aim for any band, have as many people in the world hear your tunes.

With such a variety of similar websites that exist now for independent artist to promote music, is there something missing from them that you would like to see?
I don’t know, I really cant give this a good answer, I’m not that technical when it comes to it. Sometimes also its hard to see it from a perspective of not being in the band, what I think is easy and user-friendly might not necessarily be the same for someone else y’know.

What is your opinion on ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
A load of fucking bollox.

What’s your best/worst experience at a gig?
Worst was playing the Metro in London, a jingle on my tambourine broke in half, and halfway through the set, I took the top of my baby finger off, I didn’t know what happened all I could see was this red stuff squirting all over the stage, Danda was screaming at me ‘Youre spilling your fucking wine all over my guitar’ and then I realised my finger was hanging off. That was definitely the best gig [laughs] No, No, best gig I guess was the summer just gone, Oxegen Festival in Ireland, we had a really good gig, The Coral played on the same stage just after us, so I got to watch them. So great. Mind blown.

Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
Never, just adrenaline. I usually have a fight with Ruairi or one of the boys, I mean play fighting, its all the energy kicking in, it makes me bold. Then we drink, and then I get dressed, and then we go on. There’s usually loads of people in our dressing room so its hard to be calm y’know.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Its been used on alot of independent stuff, but mostly used on TV, which is super weird and very cool.

Is composing for film or TV something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Yeah, I mean I told you about Danda earlier, that’s his area, he’s the composer.

Have you got anything else to add?
Thank you Somojo, that was fun! Kisses!

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