Talking with the multi-faceted musician Jane Weaver.
Having cut her teeth in bands during the 1990s, Jane Weaver has gone on to cut a series of increasingly interesting releases that sit somewhere on the borders between psych, folk, prog, experimental pop, and Krautrock. Her sixth album, 2014’s The Silver Globe, has proved to be her breakthrough, featuring appearances from David Holmes, space rockers Cybotron, Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy) and partner Andy Votel.
Inspired by the life and works of Swedish artist/ mystic Hilma af Klint, 2017’s Modern Kosmology takes a different direction yet sees Weaver continue her ascent… We caught up with her as she prepared for her appearance at Lunar Festival (26th-29th July 2018, Tanworth-In-Arden).
How did you feel about the success of The Silver Globe, especially so far into your career?
“It was a complete surprise for me. When I finished the record and gave it to the label, and my husband used to run the label I was on at the time, and he said ‘Oh, it’s amazing, amazing!’ I was like, ‘yeah, I think it’s okay, it could better …’ that kind of thing. And then we did a show in Manchester before it was released,and my friend who works at Piccadilly Records there, I’d already given her a copy and she was going ‘Oh! It’s really good.’ I was, ‘yeh yeh yeh, it’s a bit poppy, but I kind of like it.’
“But then when it came out, and started appearing in Album Of The Year [lists], and the press had been amazing. I was getting gig offers and it was the first time I’d put a band together in years, after playing solo gigs – and I had people from Glastonbury getting in touch with me just off the back of hearing it, lots of big gigs, Green Man… I was completely overwhelmed. I was used to playing to fifty people. Also having a band and touring for a long time… it was lovely, just from the small amount of success from that record being released, it allowed me to work, which is what I just want to do: carry on working, making music.”
Did you ever think you might have to stop making music?
“I don’t think I’ll ever stop. I had my children in the last 10-14 years and that has been a challenging thing, but I’ve never stopped making music, I’ve just had to work around having a family and being a musician. Being a musician and being in the entertainment industry is such an anti-social thing, if you’ve got a family. It’s unsociable hours, whatever you do, you’re expected to give it your all, it’s pretty relentless. I’ve been in the studio and done stuff and been hugely pregnant! I’ve had to work around it. I thought, ‘Oh Gawd! It’s so hard … so hard …’ But then I’m no different from any other woman who has got children and has to work – you get on with it really.”
Has that success with The Silver Globe shaped Modern Kosmology? Were you thinking about creating something that needed to be played by a other musicians and worked in bigger spaces?
“I think there’s certain limitations to what you can do for yourself, and creatively I think, as an artist, I can get bored playing on my own. I haven’t done a solo gig for a long time really – although I am doing a solo tour in October/ November this year, but I am excited about that because I haven’t done that for ages as I’ve just been with the band. So it’s nice to chop and change and adapt what you do as well. I think, with The Silver Globe, the songs that were appearing in my head and what I was writing, I can’t possibly get this muscular, komische, kraut rock backing with just me, I don’t want to just try and do it with a backing track and play as much as I can as it’s too stressful.
“So it’s important to work with musicians and have that camaraderie with bands but with you. But it’s kind of needed for those venues as well. I just love the sound of a band, I’ve always watched concerts and been to see bands, I just love that heavy sound that you can only get with a band, you know?”
Was Modern Kosmology quicker to make than its predecessor?
“It was quicker to make, but I had to go into the studio more than I did [before]. The Silver Globe was over a period of three years, but I did go into the studio for Modern Kosmology over 18 months … but I spent a lot of time with Silver Globe just thinking about it, as I wasn’t under any pressure, I didn’t have any timescales for a release because it was on my own label, through my husband’s label. Even though I was eager to finish it, there were financial constraints – going into a studio can be quite expensive, and I was self-funding it – so I just had to do it as and when I could, really.”
You recently opened for Public Service Broadcasting and Belle and Sebastian on tour, abroad. How was the experience?
“Belle and Sebastian are a band that I’ve known for years, growing up I’ve loved their music, and I’ve known Chris Geddes for a while, so it was just lovely. We did part of the European tour which was a bit of a schlep, and also terrible weather, it was quite a thing. I felt like Iceland Truckers at the end of it, schlepping through the Norwegian mountains, driving at 20mph, terrified, in the snow. It was beautiful, really beautiful though, and Belle and Sebastian are so well loved outside of the UK as well, they’ve got a lot of loyal fans. W
“hen you’re performing as the support act you don’t expect crowds, but every night, as we were going on early, 7.30pm you’re on stage, or 7pm, and we had a really good response. PSB as well, great performances, similar audiences maybe. But a great opportunity to play some great venues. When you get to that level you can have the pick of what theatres you want to do really, so it was like … this is a nice gig! With no crappy dressing rooms!”
You’re heading out on tour in the autumn for the Loops In The Secret Society – Solo/Cyclic Variations Of Modern Kosmology and The Silver Globe tour. Will that be the last hurrah for those albums?
“Probably, possibly. Alongside this I’ve already started writing songs for the next record as well, so it just depends creatively what happens this year when the next record will be out. It’s exciting, always exciting, to get your teeth stuck into something.”
Since the album, you’ve released The Architect EP and released the seven-inch The Lightning Back. Any more releases or remixes coming up?
“Possibly. I’ve got loads of stuff I’ve not finished – I’ve always got loads of projects that I haven’t got around to finishing. ‘Have you finished that yet?’ ‘Nearly…’. It’s just when you’re gigging or touring you’re concentrating on doing that. And then you stop, and there’s festivals – but at least you’re at home in the week and much more able to do things like that, and get things into a routine. I did five tours in a year for Modern Kosmosloy, and festivals, so it’s been pretty busy!”
Jane Weaver plays Lunar Festival, Umberslade Farm Park, Tanworth In Arden, Warwickshire, on Sunday 29th July. Other acts appearing over the weekend at Lunar include The Stranglers, Goldfrapp, The Unthanks, Basement Jaxx and The Go! Team. For full line-up and tickets, see lunarfestival.co.uk