I came across For Jane when I least expected to come across a new favourite band – in my Intermediate Audio Production lab. Our lab assistant, Julia Wittmann, graciously let our class use her band’s original tracks to learn how to mix, master, and record live. Believe me when I say that by the first time I heard Tom, their song about male predators, I was absolutely hooked.
For Jane was formed back in 2016 by guitarist/vocalist Julia Wittmann and vocalist Natalie Panacci in Steven Ehrlick’s Business of Music II course when they were given the task to manage a band. Julia and Natalie had been best friends since they met at Frosh Week, and this was the perfect opportunity to do what they’d wanted to do for a while. They two brought on Zach Stuckey on bass, Bradley Connor on drums, and Candice Ing as their keyboardist.
When asked about what genre they think the band fit into, Wittmann said that at the beginning the group was filled with pure angst, but after they took a brief hiatus and brought on Zach and Brad, they decided their goal was “just to have fun” and became a pop/pop-rock band. Their influences vary between the five members, but Julia’s and Natalie’s shine through the most since they’re the songwriters. Julia grew up listening to Elliot Smith, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard Cohen and later discovered Annie Clark of St. Vincent, Carrie Brownstein, Arcade Fire and Gorillaz. All in all, a well-balanced mix if I do say so myself. Natalie has jazz fuelling her soul and grew up listening to artists like Nat King Cole and Oscar Peterson but also happens to be the biggest Radio Head fan. The influences from their childhood are different, but their current favourites definitely overlap. Having those different influences brings a unique style and sound to For Jane that you can instantly recognize.
The songwriting process for For Jane is made of steps. The first for Julia is writing and deciding if it’s a song for her more angsty side project a song or for For Jane. Next, she workshops it with Natalie, and if it’s Natalie’s song, she workshops it with Julia and sometimes her partner Max. After they’re both happy, they bring the song to the rest of the band, and if there’s excitement with the whole group, they know it’s a song worth performing and recording.
When asked what her personal favourite song to perform is, Julia named the unreleased track Monster saying it’s “upbeat but still heartbroken.” The song was actually written by Max, Natalie’s partner, but is based on a breakup that Julia went through. Julia had read out texts she had sent her ex-girlfriend to Max and Natalie, and it resonated with Max so much that he went home and used Julia’s words to write the song. When discussing the song Max wrote, Julia said, “The lyrics [Julia] wouldn’t give [herself], they’re not mean, but they’re too honest..[Julia] usually writes with coded language..”, adding “It’s the most cathartic song I’ve ever sung.. [Max] gave me permission to sing how I actually feel.”
I had the pleasure of being able to see For Jane live at The Great Hall on December 7th, opening up for local pop artist Nyssa. The energy that For Jane bring to the stage is impeccable, and the chemistry between the two frontwomen is undeniable. The set included songs off their Married With Dogs EP like Dog and Car, unreleased slow jam Blue, and feel good pop jams like Monster, Ooyah! and Home. Although their original keyboardist and drummer weren’t with then (with Candice moving away, and Bradley being on tour with Said The Whale), that did anything but hold them back from putting on an electrifying performance.
Their debut album, consisting of approximately 10 songs, is planned to be released on April 17th, 2020. You can find the band on Instagram @forjanetheband and on Facebook at For Jane.