Jane Weaver

‘I had a burning ambition to make a pop record’: Jane Weaver talks Flock, Brexit and production

On March 5, Jane Weaver releases her new, self-produced album Flock. A significant departure from the prog-tinged space rock that has underpinned so much of her work to date, Flock is a sparkling collection songs that started life as an assortment of misfits, only to be transformed into a seamless body of work. Audio Media International editor Daniel Gumble caught up with her via Zoom to discuss the production process and the impact of Brexit on touring when live music returns…

How did Flock come about?
It usually takes about three years for me to make a new record. It took about that long to make this one, although some of the songs had been hanging around for a while because they were a bit odd or didn’t fit in with the concepts of other records I’d made.

How did you make the album feel so cohesive, given that it’s made up of so many odds and ends? Especially when you’re used to working quite conceptually.
Well, I did have a bit of a burning ambition to make a pop record – something that wasn’t space rock or aligned to a particular genre. If one song sounded a bit glam and one sounded a bit disco that would be fine – it would be an album of 10 different songs as opposed to a conceptual whole. That’s something I wanted to do that I hadn’t done before. It’s quite easy for me to do a concept record, or a record about a particular subject or film and explore that world. But when you decide to make something more personal it’s quite hard to dig in and be a bit more revealing.

When did you realise that this was going to be that pop record?
‘Solarised’ was one of the early ones, it sounded like Kylie with a French pop side to it. Same thing with ‘Stages Of Phases’. I’d been writing those for a while and they were at the stage where I knew they wouldn’t fit anywhere else but I wanted to see them through. ‘Revolution Of Super Visions’ just sounded completely odd as well, so I guess those three started to pull things together.

Did lockdown affect the outcome of the record in any way?
I started demoing in 2019 and the record was more or less finished by March 2020. We put the finishing touches to it in around June-July when we were allowed back into studios. So it wasn’t a lockdown record at all, but it did give me the opportunity to look at everything a lot more analytically and change some things. If I hadn’t had that opportunity during lockdown it wouldn’t have been as good.

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Did you produce the record alone?
I do all of the production. I start the process here [in my demo studio] and see it through to the end. I always work with the same engineer, so he has additional production ideas but mainly it’s me. I haven’t worked with many producers at all throughout my career.

How do you define the role of a producer?
Whoever you work with has to bring the best out of you and vice versa. You need a relationship where you can be creative but allow them to do their job as well. The main reason I produce myself is because I hear certain sounds I want and am pretty determined to get those sounds outside of my head. It would be a case of working with somebody who could work with me in that way.

Who are some of your biggest production influences?
I really like Dan Carey. He’s easy going, he’s creative and has brilliant ideas. He’s very into weird analogue equipment, but sonically he’s not a fuddy-duddy, he’s not stuck in the past. He’s got a modern edge to what he does. I also like John Parish, I’d love to work with him. You can tell from his music what he could bring to the table.

How has your production process changed over the years?
Everything starts with me doing a voice memo. Years ago, it would have been a tape recorder or a Dictaphone or a MiniDisc. Technically I don’t immerse myself too much; I don’t want to know how to do everything myself. I know my strengths and my faults so it’s better if I just try to be creative and work with people who are more technical than me.

Once COVID restrictions have lifted and the live industry reopens, how much of an impact will Brexit have on your ability to tour the record in Europe?
Financially speaking – unless promoters in Europe are willing to take a lot of the costs – it’s going to be unaffordable for somebody at my level. I hope that we will find a way, but it’s going to be very difficult and time consuming. Usually, if you have a seven-hour drive and you have to leave at 7am from one place and you’re crossing three countries in order to get to a soundcheck, I don’t know how you’re going to do that without having to stop for another night etc. I’m signed to a label that is really supportive but even so, it’s probably going to be more viable for people signed to major labels than independent artists.

Jane Weaver

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