Ok folks, here’s round 2 of the week’s #askjana questions. I have enjoyed this immensely and will make it a regular thing. I hope it imparts a tiny bit of not necessarily knowledge but more like a…knowing. Proceed.
What’s it like to be The Jpo? – K.C.
THIS is what it’s like.
What’s it like being a seminal folk star in Austin, TX – Kathy
K.C., it’s flattering you ask because I get up in the morning and put on my Lady Gaga 2011 Concert T-shirt just like everyone else. Actually, I believe from reading several female singer-songwriter biographies that as a 29-year old, it is completely ok for me to admit that being The Jpo is pretty fun although somewhat riddled with a constant and nagging anxiety about “doing it right” (“it” meaning: life, music, credit card payment, oil change schedule, writing, and coffee brewing). I have been told by many folks that the next decade and beyond does get easier, so being The Jpo right now means cruising along doing well at what I can while keeping in mind…it will all chill out in the future. In a good way. For now I will continue to consume mass quantities of caffeine, read one (and exactly and only ONE) celebrity gossip blog a day, work with people I love, and post pithy one-liners on Facebook. Amen.
First I had to look up the meaning of seminal: “Strongly influencing later developments.” Why thank you, Kathy. I imagine the future in Austin to be much like it is now except replace, “Back when Austin was REAL we had the Armadillo Palace and Stevie Ray Vaughan made me breakfast tacos,” with “Back when Austin was REAL Jana was just blogging instead of running a multimedia empire and she always asked me to make her breakfast tacos.” Oh sorry, I was daydreaming. It’s pretty cool. The folk star stuff is sorting itself out (and my thought there is “just keep writing!”) but one of my dearest friends does refer to me as “The Mayor of Facebook” so that’s a start in the stardom department, right?
When did you know you’d make a profession out of music? – Heidi
When did you decide that music was the career for you and what influenced that decision? – Krista
Heidi and Krista’s questions had the same vibe so I stuck them together. Heidi, meet Krista.
Well…I will say that I had the druthers to be a rock star (or in those days, a country star…gack) as early on as 11 when I started playing guitar. Perhaps even earlier if you go back to the days of my intricately but tastefully choreographed lip sync productions of “The Little Mermaid” in my room. I will tell you in the seventh grade we had a class discussion about “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and I said, “A musician!” and my teacher said, “…But they don’t make any money.” Ouch. Way to kill a dream and start a cycle of anti-abundance thinking all at once, Mr. 7th Grade. But I ramble.
I did move to Austin because of the music scene here and so that clearly means I had decided to give music a whirl by the age of 23. What I did not know is that the oddity and the beauty of the music business is that these days, you must be a jack of a lot of trades. This turned out to be a blessing, because I do like writing and playing songs, but I also like working/traveling with artists that I believe in like Susan, working at Rubicon with Dan because his business is so unique and useful, and booking artists like Elizabeth and Michael and Charlie because they are great artists and great people.
The truth is that most people you see who are making a living in independent music these days have multiple streams of income. This is not a secret so much as an overlooked fact. Stumbling on some awesome people who allow me to utilize my interests and skills in what is (I hope) a mutually beneficial business arrangement has been the thing that has made this music profession happen at all, and for them I am grateful! It takes a village, but it does not take The Village People.
Why didn’t you get the pie out of the vending machine? – Norma
Norma is referring to these videos where Elizabeth Wills and I stop at a place outside of Austin we refer to as “Pecania.” This tourist trap has a 24-hour pecan vending machine that actually sells a whole pie. Norma…to be honest, I’m not sure. Sometimes I wake up from a dead sleep thinking, “I should have tried that pie.” Sometimes I imagine what a pecan pie might taste like after sitting in a glass case for 24 hours in the Texas sun. It boils down to the fact that for $20, I am just not going to find out. Unless it’s someone else’s $20. I’ll try any pie on someone else’s tab.
How has music and culture in the past inspired you to bring you to the style you play now and where do you see yourself going musically in the future (1-2 yrs, 2-10 yrs, 10+ yrs) due to those and other current influences? – Mike
I wanted to print this because it’s such a good question but I am going to let the answer slow burn for a bit and address it in the next round. Also it gave me flashbacks to college paper writing prompts.
Favorite Austin restaurants and why? – Kathy
My Austin-based food criteria are usually comprised of a) is it wrapped in a tortilla, b) can I afford it and c) is it made of organic and free range and all that goodness. I don’t always find the trifecta, but I do love me some Torchy’s Tacos and some P. Terry’s. Taco Deli was also just introduced to me and I loved it. The tofu crack at Bouldin Coffee is greatness, too. Once I ate at Uchi and it was amazing, and Dan was buying so that was doubly amazing.
Name your Top Five Favorite Books / Albums / Movies – Jon
If you don’t know Jon, you know he has great (and sometimes pretty obscure) taste. I do not. I’m also not gonna front an answer to make me look cool or literary-snobby or super musical-hispter-educated.
1. Stones In the Road – Mary Chapin Carpenter. Always and forevs.
2. Buy 1 Get 11 Free – The Groobees. The first recording with Susan Gibson on it that I ever owned.
3. Rose Cousins – If You Were For Me. Gorgeous.
4. Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster. How I embraced pop music.
5. A Few Small Repairs – Shawn Colvin. Epic.
1. Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
2. Portrait of an Artist: Georgia O’Keeffe – Laurie Lisle
3. The War of Art – Stephen Pressfield
4. Bossypants – Tina Fey
5. Mere Christianity – C.S Lewis
A note here is that I can never remember movies after I have seen them and I really only have a direct interest in Christopher Guest, Alfred Hitchcock, and laughing at Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. Pedestrian? Maybe. Awesome? Yes.
1. A Mighty Wind
2. Best in Show
3. North by Northwest
5. I can never think of a 5th.
Do you ever hit a creative block and if so, how do you get past it? – Natalie
YES. I have arrived at the idea lately that people may get creatively blocked in one area, like…”I can’t possibly match words to any chords right now and may never again,” but that usually means I’m still cool with some other form of creativity like…making a ridiculous video or writing a blog post. So I go do that.
The other thing I have learned to tell myself is that the blocks always pass and there will be another song/video/blog/Facebook post. Panicking does no one any good, and probably prolongs the block. When blocked, sit back, relax, and doodle in a sketchbook or watch something funny. Blocks hate it when they are met with chillaxment. (Yes, I just made up the word “chillaxment.” You’re welcome).
Top 10 artist/band for a road-trip playlist? – Kelly
My favorites! Road trips and playlists! People I work with are exempt because I’d include them all anyway.
The Dixie Chicks, Terri Hendrix, Garrison Starr, Ryan Adams, Gregory Alan Isakov, Kathleen Edwards, Jason Isbell, Abra Moore, Florence + The Machine, and Imogen Heap.