Connect with us

Featured

Janita – Didn’t You, My Dear?

Published

on

janita-didnt-you-my-dear-ecr-music-groupJanita – Didn’t You, My Dear?
ECR Music Group – 2015

Janita slinks behind the piano in that awkward silence between songs. “This next one is about living with an asshole and not knowing you have choices. Anyway, Happy Valentines Day.”

The crowd breaks into laughter as she plays the opening phrase of “Won’t Make a Sound.” For a moment 2015 Rockwood feels like 1977 Rockpalast. Was it Tom Waits that implied a song may be fully formed in the pen just waiting to be set free? Like a timeless sculpture, this song seems to have existed in the stone way before Janita chiseled it free.

“I love the version on the new record,” I say to Janita over coffee in Brooklyn a few weeks later. “That piano sound is amazing.”
“Blake’s piano in the studio. I can play that all day,” she says.

Blake Morgan, ECR Music Group founder/owner, produced Didn’t You, My Dear? at his Manhattan studio. Aside from retouching and releasing Janita’s last record, 2010’s Haunted, this new album is the first the two have made from scratch together. Janita (pronounced “YA-nee-tuh”) workshoped tunes within a creative round-table that included Blake as well as famed feminist, poet, activist, and podcaster Robin Morgan.

I used to do tricks
used to run after sticks
I used to play ball
with all you pricks
– “Who’s Gonna Tell The Wolf She’s Not a Dog”

“Robin is doing her best work now, which is truly inspiring to me as an artist and a woman,” Janita explains, which somehow reminds me she’s spent about half her life in the states. “More than half,” she corrects me. Wow, was that first half a doozy; a childhood celebrity in her native Finland, a bonafide pop star thereafter, and all that that implies.

“Madonna’s Blonde Ambition was big, so of course they had me in red fishnets at 13,” Janita recalls knowingly, without the bitterness she may have once felt. That kind of mindfulness is the backbone of Didn’t You, My Dear? – this isn’t a woe-is-me record, this is an I-took-control record. It’s also a beautiful record.

“Some Serious Gravity” kicks things off, sexy and undulating, foreshadowing some treats the album has up its sleeve, like Janita’s voluptuous vocals and Blake’s song-serving production. Holding the wine glass to my nose, I get hints of Jeff Buckley, a little Radiohead, even some spicy Patti Smith, specifically in the stark “Who’s Gonna Tell The Wolf She’s Not a Dog.”

“I don’t mean to embarrass you by making comparisons,” I say.
“Oh no, go right ahead. I love it,” she beams.

Back at Rockwood, Blake and I are bobbing our heads slowly in unison to “Beautiful You Are.” Label-mate Melissa Giges, who recently released her best record Just When I Let Go, is on piano with Janita playing guitar and blowing the roof off Stage 3. I mention to Blake that this song reminds me of Massive Attack. “Right? Or Portishead,” he agrees. “Let yourself feel / Surrender to what is real,” Janita sings within a melody that has haunted me for weeks.

While this record is a game-changer for Janita, there are some nods to her previous life. “No Excuses,” could fit comfortably on her last record, and songs like “Traces Upon Your Face” and “They Call It Love” are plaintive exercises in deconstructed R&B – leaps and bounds more sophisticated than her early dance records.

janita-ecr-music-group-4

“She works very differently in the studio,” Blake mentions. “We hardly did any comps. She almost always takes it from the top.”

That kind of method performance explains why her take on Tom Waits’ “Clap Hands sounds authentic without aping it’s creator’s trademark growl – from the grinding marimbas to Andrea Longato‘s Marc Ribot inspired solo.

Every sound on this record serves the song. There isn’t a wasted note, perhaps best exemplified by some economical percussion and drums by Jonathan Ellinghaus (aka Miles East) – propelling the songs forward without ever diverting attention away from its themes or the main instrument; Janita’s elastic and soulful voice.

If it feels like a new beginning for Janita, that’s because it is. A freshly minted American citizen, she’s already been back and forth to Washington making her voice heard as part of the #irespectmusic campaign for artists’ rights.

“There’s probably people in Finland that will hear about this record and think ‘oh, she’s still at it?” Janita says, smiling and acknowledging something she can’t control. But as she sings on the defiant “No Excuses,” “I’m still here / I’m still standing / In your face / In your face.”

* * *

Janita’s new album, Didn’t You My Dear?  drops March 31st. Pre-order it on iTunes. Janita plays New York’s Webster Hall on March 26th.

Recording as Electronic Device, Brooklyn artist and writer Eric Curran releases his debut record "Two Dull Boys" in 2021.

Article

Writing Your First Book / Should I Self Publish?

Published

on

 

I had the distinct pleasure of  participating in a panel discussion on writing your first book, presented by the Harlem chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.  Alongside Jim St. Germain, Author – A Stone of Hope: A Memoir and Dr. Keneshia Nicole Grant, Author – The Great Migration and the Democratic Party: Black Voters and the Realignment of American Politics in the 20th Century.  We opined on pain points, benefits and strategies regarding our inaugural voyages into authorship. Feel free to watch for your self and I hope this provides some insight to all those looking to make the same voyage. Enjoy!

Alfred Obiesie is a writer with over 12 years of online content contribution (Onetrackmine.com, Cartermag.com, Essence.com) and author (You Made It a Hot Line; The most influential lines in hip hop.) The book chronicles hip hop lines from the genre’s most notable artists spanning almost 40 years. It is illustrated by Grammy award winning Illustrator Shah Wonders and has garnered praise from multiple media outlets (Sirius XM, Vibe, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, etc...)

Continue Reading

Featured

What the NFT is a BEEPLE?

Published

on

On March 11 this year, the digital artist Beeple sold a collage of digital images from his “Everydays” series for nearly 70 million dollars as an NFT, or non-fungible token. And if that sentence confuses you, you’re not alone.

A non-fungible token is a unit of data on a digital ledger called a blockchain, where each NFT can represent a unique digital item, and thus they are not interchangeable. NFTs can represent digital files such as art, audio, video, and other forms of creative work. While the digital files themselves are infinitely reproducible, the NFTs representing them are tracked on their underlying blockchains and provide buyers with proof of ownership.” – Wikipedia

Still confused? Let the artist himself explain it, and learn how he went from NFT newbie to making the third most expensive artwork by a living artist in three months. Not to suggest Beeple is an overnight success. The “Everydays” series alone involved creating a piece of art every day since May 1, 2007 – and he hasn’t missed a day.

Check out some of Beeple’s amazing and controversial work below.

Continue Reading

Featured

Comic Fans: Geek out with Cartoonist KAYFABE

Published

on

Cartoonist Kayfabe is a YouTube channel hosted by comic-book makers Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg.

Comics have come a long way since they were just for kids – and anyway, those kids have grown up and rightfully embrace it as  an artform. Cartoonish Kayfabe expertly walk you through the finer points of comic creation and appreciation, referencing some high quality images along the way.  If you’re a comic geek, you will dig it – especially if you’re into 90’s era and independent comics.

Recording as Electronic Device, Brooklyn artist and writer Eric Curran releases his debut record "Two Dull Boys" in 2021.

Continue Reading

Trending