Me Jane interview with Katie Gallegos, Marites Velazquez, Kyla Denham, and Sarah Braunstein

January 20, 2015

Me Jane interview with Katie Gallegos, Marites Velazquez, Kyla Denham, and Sarah Braunstein

Me Jane are climbing their way out of the bustling Chicago scene to take their place among some of the most unique and interesting bands going on right now.  Their unique take on the post-punk sound is literally like a breath of fresh air!  Me Jane are at once extremely forceful, drawing from a primal energy that propels their music, and yet, they’re also perfectly restrained at the same time.  They don’t resort to blistering freak-outs of noise or walls of distortion.  Instead, they’ve created a tightly woven web of intricate vocal patterns and melodies, harmonies that float like spectral ghosts behind the sound of the instruments themselves, passing through the instrumentation and melody like spirits through walls.  If it weren’t for the digitally released d3mo, it would be almost impossible to image them without the limitless sounds of a synthesizer beneath them.  Sarah Braunstein’s subdued drums intermingle and flirt with Marites Velazquez ridiculously infectious bass, while Kyla Denham is brewing a stew of imperceptible synthesized electronic noise just beneath the surface that ripples and bubbles to the surface erupting in noise from time to time.  But it’s all led by Katie Gallegos’ perfectly sparse and jangling guitar, dosed and drenched in reverberation.  I constantly find myself tapping my toe and bobbing my head while listening to Me Jane’s debut album ISON, there’s something about the album that I just can’t shake, and I don’t really wanna, to be honest…  It’s nice to have something to put on that isn’t easy listening but won’t blow my speakers apart either, and there’s a million other reasons why you should be listening to ISON as well, but the vocals are probably reason enough to me though.  It’s been a long time since I heard something where I could just tell from the instant it started the band had spent as long working on the absolutely ridiculously vocal melodies, harmonies and back-up/background singing as they had on the meticulous instrumentation.  Not only does that fact drip from every pore of the album, but it really serves to accentuate the vocals as the “lead instrument” in the band, something you don’t hear a lot outside of the acoustic and singer/songwriter arenas.  Beautiful and haunting, infectious and intricate, carefree and absolutely enthralling, Me Jane have offered up an unbelievable debut album in the form of their ISON 12” and I’m really excited to be able to share their story with our lucky readers here.  There’s a link below to some music, make sure to stream it while you read so you don’t miss out and don’t worry – you can thank me later…
Listen while you read:  http://mejane.bandcamp.com/
© Jeremy Farmer

Now what’s the
lineup in Me Jane at this point?  I’ve
done some reading and it seems like the core of the band’s really built around
a friendship between several of you all. 
Have there been any changes in the lineup since you all formed or is
this the one and only lineup?
Katie:  The current
lineup is Sarah Braunstein (drums), Kyla Denham (synth), Katie Gallegos
(guitar) and Marites Velazquez (bass). 
Kyla joined the band roughly a year and a half ago.  We all met each other through mutual friends
and the band started organically.
Are any of you in
any other bands at this point, or do you have any side projects going on?
Katie:  For each of us
this is currently our only project.
Marites:  This is my
main project right now, but I sometimes write and record solo stuff on my own.
Have you released
any music with anyone in the past?  I
love playing musical connect the dots, but finding time can be a bit difficult,
especially when I can get answers directly from the source!
Marites:  I’ve been in
bands since high school, so there are probably lots of random recordings out
there.  Nothing signed, mostly released
locally/independently.  The most notable
would be Love Pentagon’s Bang! EP from 2007, I played synth, Action Cat’s
7-inch The Glasgow Sailor in 2008 where I played piano on one song and drums on
the other, Tremulants’ Bink! from 2010, I played bass…  Ha, weird, just noticed that name coincidence
with Bang!  I’m sure you can still find
some of this stuff on MySpace.  Good
How old are you
and where are you originally from?
Katie:  I’m thirty and
originally from Michigan, but moved around a lot growing up.  I’ve been in the Midwest the longest,
Sarah:  I’m twenty
nine, soon to be thirty, don’t remind me. 
Also from Michigan, metro Detroit; Farmington Hills, to be exact.
Kyla:  I’m twenty
nine, for fourteen more days eeek!  I’m
from Joplin, Missouri.  Country girl.
Marites:  I’m also twenty
nine, soon to be thirty.  Born and raised
in Las Vegas.  Total city girl.
What was the local
music scene like where you grew up?  Did
you see a lot of shows or get very involved in that scene?  Do you feel like it’s played a large or
important role in forming your musical tastes or shaping the way you perform at
this point?
Katie:  I was in Ann
Arbor for high school and college, but wasn’t very immersed in the local music
scene.  I don’t recall it being
particularly thriving, at least from what I remember.  Apart from the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, most
of the shows I saw were in Detroit; the Magic Stick, St. Andrew’s Hall, Masonic
Temple, etcetera.  I mostly saw bigger
touring bands, Guided by Voices, Yo La Tengo, Luna, Interpol, etcetera.
Sarah:  My high school
band played some local spots, mostly school events, fundraisers, and some
venues that did all-ages shows.  Our
friends were in a couple of bands, so we all supported each other.  Outside of local acts, my friends and I went
to shows all over southeastern Michigan once we were able to drive.  We were huge fans of some Detroit acts like
The Paybacks, Dirtbombs, and Hentchmen so we’d seek out all of their shows at
all ages venues – shout out to the no-longer-with-us Tower Records in
Marites:  The local
music scene in Las Vegas when I was in high school and college had a huge
impact on me.  I was super involved,
because I was in a band and there wasn’t much else to do, but it was the time
of my life.  It was pretty tight knit
when we were younger because, as you can imagine, Vegas does not cater to the
under-21 crowd, with virtually no all-ages music venues existing for more than
a year at a time; unless you got lucky enough to play a huge venue like the
House of Blues.  At that time, the
Huntridge, this awesome historic local theater, had just closed and the period
of those notorious desert shows had passed; as in, people would take generators
out into the middle of the desert and throw these huge shows with hundreds of
people.  We had to band together to forge
our own DIY music scene.  We played in
smoothie shops, parking lots, bowling alleys, and cafes.  Inevitably we played more bars when we got
older, but they definitely weren’t built to be music venues to begin with.  I met a lot of my best friends that I’m still
close with today at the time through the music scene.  And there were soooo many good local
bands.  I think Vegas gets underrated
because of the city’s image in the public mind and the Killers became so huge,
plus they played up that glitz and glam image of what people think Vegas
is.  But there was so much more local
music there that had a lot of depth and a lot of talent; still is.  The problem is, the city exists in its own
bubble and eventually you get sick of each other, break up and move on.  So, by the time you hear about a band,
they’ve probably already broken up and started three other ones.
Kyla:  Well, since I
grew up in a small town, the music scene was pretty nonexistent.  Lots of Christian and country bands since it
was the ‘buckle’ of the Bible Belt.  I
was only allowed to go to shows at my church… 
So I guess you could say I was a late bloomer as far as show-going goes.  When I went away to college I dove in head
first and became very involved in the music scene in Springfield,
Missouri.  There was a weekly event
called Black Box Revue that I went to every weekend.  It showcased dancier synth heavy bands.  We really worked hard to build up the scene
in that town.  And because we got so many
people to come out to the shows, we were able to eventually attract some great
bands to the event.  Because I didn’t
have a lot of opportunities to see good bands on a regular basis growing up I’m
constantly blown away by the amount of good bands coming through Chicago.  I could really see a band I like almost every
night; crazy.
What about your
home when you were a child?  Was there a
lot of music around?  Were either of your
parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested or
involved in music?
Katie:  The music I
heard via my siblings definitely influenced my musical tastes.  I’m the youngest of five and there’s over a
twelve year age gap between me and the oldest, so I heard a lot of stuff from
the late 70s and 80s growing up, mostly new wave and post-punk stuff; Joy
Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Cure. 
I acquired a lot of these bands’ cassette tapes in middle school after
my older siblings had left the house.  My
oldest brother, Shawn, played in bands and they’d practice in the bonus room at
the end of our house.  I think seeing him
play and practice around the house inspired me, in part, to pick up the guitar
in the fifth grade. 
Sarah:  My parents
made me take piano lessons starting at a very young age.  At the time, I felt like I was being forced
to play the piano, but I’m so grateful for that experience and wish I had
invested more energy into it.  They also
made my sisters and I each pick up an instrument in elementary school.  The sisters went with woodwinds so obviously
I chose the drums!  I stuck with it
through high school and did the whole shebang: drumline and marching band,
percussion ensemble, orchestra, steel drum band.  Neither of my parents have played instruments
since I’ve been alive, but they both did it in school and found it valuable
enough to force it on their kids!  
Marites:  My mom and
grandmother played the piano, but that was it. 
My family emigrated from the Philippines in the 70s, but they weren’t
huge on American rock ‘n roll.  Whenever
they had the radio on, it was whatever the easy listening channel was, and of
course as a kid I thought that was so boring and completely turned off to
artists like Bing Crobsy, [Frank] Sinatra, [Luther] Vandross, and Barbara.  I had to find rock music on my own, mostly
through friends and eventually the Internet. 
I came into playing music on my own, too.  It was something I was always interested
in.  Whenever my parents brought an
instrument into the house for my brother or I, I would just take it into my
room and tinker with it for hours.  At
least my family was supportive of my interest in playing music since my mom
took piano lessons as a kid.  I joined
the school orchestra and eventually started taking piano and violin lessons,
bought my first bass, and then I took off from there.
Kyla:  There were only
two records in my house growing up: The Beatles Help! and the soundtrack to
Xanadu.  I used to listen to them over
and over again.  I knew every word of
every song.  It really started off my
love for music.  My mother played violin
and piano, my sister played flute. 
Sometimes we would all play together; awful renditions of Little Mermaid
What do you
consider your first real exposure to music to be?
Katie:  If we’re
talking cassettes, CDs, etcetera, then technically my first real exposure was
Erasure’s POP! – 20 Hits on cassette tape. 
My sister gave it to me as a present in the forth grade.  I memorized all the lyrics and would sing the
songs to myself during recess.  “I Love
to Hate You” was a favorite.  To this day
if I hear Erasure it sends me into a frenzy of singing and dancing.  My first real exposure concert-wise was Moby
at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit, when I was in the sixth grade.  It’s not the safest place for a twelve-year
old but my mom dropped my brother, Danny, who’s just a year older, and I off
for the concert and picked us up after. 
We were definitively the freshest faces there.
Marites:  There would
be a record or a tape here or there around the house when I was a kid, where
I’d find a song and play it over and over again because I liked dancing to
it.  I remember doing that to Little
Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” and the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited”.  But my first favorite artist was Paula
Abdul.  No joke.  I had this Barbie Dance Club VHS (which ifyou can manage to find on YouTube today, do it, because it’s still amazing) and
the guest star was Paul Abdul teaching the kids how to do this dance she made
up.  I was a fan of hers for a long time.  I had all of her albums on cassette!  Everyone else had Janet or Madonna, I had
Paula.  And then I turned ten and started
watching MTV or something; went through this weird ska-punk phase.
Kyla:  The Xanadu
soundtrack is my first memory of music. 
Good ole ELO.
Sarah:  Oldies 104.3
When did you decide
that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music or was that just
sort of an outgrowth of being given an outlet to create something and expires
Katie:  As far as Me
Jane goes, we decided to play for friends at a house show in Chicago’s Logan
Square neighborhood after noodling for about seven or eight months.  It was a birthday show for Sarah and me,
whose birthdays are a day apart.  Beyond
celebrating, we wanted to test the waters and see how our music went over in
front of a crowd.  I think we had reached
the point where we figured that if we were going to keep practicing on a
semi-regular basis like this, we might as well share our music with a
public.  Also, the more we played out the
better we sounded as a band.  Since then,
we’ve played more and more shows, in part to promote and move our debut album
available on vinyl.  However, being that
we all have demanding careers and travel periodically, it makes playing out
challenging and exhausting to pull off sometimes, especially during a work
Marites:  I totally
remember this moment: I was fourteen.  I
had just gotten into writing poetry.  I
was a weird, angsty teen that wrote in notebooks all the time.  Then, I started thinking it would be fun to
try singing the words I was writing and put a melody to them.  I also remember walking through my middle
school around the end of the year and these boys in a band were playing in the
middle of campus.  They were
terrible.  I thought, “I could do that
way better”.  One day I told my dad I
wanted to be in a band, but he discouraged it because he thought bands “do
drugs all the time”.  I didn’t care and I
didn’t think that was necessarily true. 
Then, I went to a performing arts high school to play violin.  After school one day, my friend who was in
orchestra came up to me and asked if I knew how to play bass.  She wanted to put a band together to submit a
song to some random songwriting contest in a magazine.  I knew this was my chance to play in a band,
even though I had never touched a bass guitar in my life.  So, I lied and said that I did.  We played in a band together for the next six
or seven years after that.
If you were to
pick a moment, a moment that seemed to change everything for you and opened
your eyes to the infinite possibilities that music can present, what would it
Marites:  I think of
music as an inherent part of who I am and it always has been.  There wasn’t a singular moment.  I just knew from early on that was I always
going to play music.
Sarah:  Ditto, what
she said.
Kyla:  When I played
my Grandparents’ Casio; it had so many different sounds, so many different
beats.  It opened up so many more
possibilities than what I had on the piano. 
As a kid, I was just blown away by it. 
I found out I could record on the Casio and then layer another part
live.  I thought it was the coolest thing
What was your
first instrument?  When and how did you
get that?
Katie:  My first
instrument was an Ibanez electric in fifth grade, which my older brother graciously
shipped up to me from Atlanta.  Once my
parents saw I was serious and committed to learning guitar, they bought me my
first Spanish classical a year later. 
After learning some rock riffs on electric, I switched to classical,
because, I both loved the sound and wanted to be technically proficient.  I was exposed to a fair amount of Spanish
classical and Flamenco guitar growing up via my parents and found it
inspiring.  Guitar-wise, classical is
really my background more than rock, jazz, blues, or any other genre.  I love the feel of a classical; the wide
neck, the nylon strings, the woody smell of it. 
Me Jane is my first musical collaboration of any sort, which didn’t
start for me until my late twenties. 
Prior to that, music making was a solitary pursuit for me.  Picking up the electric later in life,
developing a guitar style and learning how to play and write with others was
kind of a hurtle at first, but with time, I found my groove.
Kyla:  My first
instrument was violin.  I hated it and
would cry every time I had to play it!  I
was like six years old.  I begged my
mother to stop making me play the violin. 
It was torture.  Then I tried
flute and finally settled on piano, which I loved.  Most of my childhood was spent playing on
cheapo Casios and Yamahas.  I still love
cheasy synth sounds.
Sarah:  Piano.  My mom made the executive decision to bring a
baby grand Kawai into the house.  I
started lessons when I was around seven.
Marites:  My first
instrument was an electric keyboard my parents got for me for Christmas one
year.  It was awesome because it had a CD
player in it.  I learned to play because
they bought a bunch of music books that came with CD accompaniments.  So, I sat in my room and learned all these
songs with a huge sounding orchestra playing with me.
How and when did
the members of Me Jane originally meet? 
I read something about a chance meeting at a park or something like
Marites:  Ha-ha.  Yes, a park. 
I was holding a sign that said “band mates wanted” in Humboldt
Park one day and then Sarah, Katie and Kyla happened to walk by…  Actually I was introduced to Sarah and Katie
by mutual friends at two different parties at Palmer Square Park.
Katie:  Ha-ha!  And I met Kyla at a neighbor’s barbecue,
invited her to jam with us and the rest is history.
Kyla:  I was covered
in barbecue sauce.
What led to the
formation of Me Jane and when would that have been?
Marites:  When I moved
to Chicago in 2010, one of the things I did right away was look for musicians
to jam with.
Sarah:  I also moved
to town in October 2010.  I think I met
Katie and Marites, or K1 and M, which is how they are referred to in shorthand,
in November of 2010.  We probably started
to get together a month or two later, but it was with a fourth person, we’ll
refer to her as “A”, who did vocals and messed around on her vocoder.  “A” wanted to slow-jam a Ke$ha song.  We practiced briefly in her basement and then
she got kicked out of her house by her roommates.  So, we went to grab all of our stuff, and her
house was completely unlocked and no one was home.  It was a very strange time for all of us.  After that, we started playing as a
Is there any sort
of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
Sarah:  Work hard and
pour yourself a drink!  Does that work?
Marites:  We can’t say
that because Katie works with young’ins. 
We’d have to say, “Work hard and pour yourself some water!”
Tell me a little
bit about the name.  Me Jane instantly
lodged itself in my brain, and I feel like it may be a play on the famous
Tarzan quote, but I don’t like to make assumptions when it comes to that kind
of thing as I tend to read into them a bit, ha-ha!  What does Me Jane mean or refer to in the
context of your band name?  Who came up
with it and how did you go about choosing it? 
Were there any close seconds that you can remember at this point?
Sarah:  We had been
playing around with names for awhile.  I
came up with LUNCH and that seemed to have some staying power.  “Everyone loves lunch!” and we just liked the
crunchy sound of it.  But now that
everything is search-able, we were able to see that there was a past band named
Lunch, so we didn’t feel right naming ourselves that.  I came up with Me Jane in the middle of
2012.  I have no idea where it came from
and it doesn’t really mean anything, but it definitely references or conjures
up some images.  Obviously, there’s the
Tarzan thing, and I think that gives the name its hook.  It’s a little bit cheeky and I guess it
alludes to the fact that we’re all women without being too cheesy or
obvious.  It’s also a PJ Harvey song,
which gets a lot of points in my book. 
Most importantly, it wasn’t taken yet.
Marites:  The list of
names we brainstormed before Me Jane is hilarious.  Power Lunch? 
Carpet?  Who thought of Carpet?!?
Sarah:  I love Power
Lunch.  I already have a name in mind for
another project, but I can’t tell anyone about it.  It’s so good, it’d definitely get stolen.
Where’s the band
located at this point?  How would you
describe the local music scene there?
Katie:  We’re a
Chicago-based band.  The music scene is
huge and there’s lots to choose from genre-wise; countless acts and plenty of
live music at venues throughout the city. 
On any night you can usually see a talented band or musician perform.
Kyla:  So many great
bands here! It is hard to keep up!
Do you feel like
you’re very involved in the local scene where you’re at?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or
anything like that?
Katie:  We book our
own shows and join lineups when other bands invite us to play their bills.  We’ve never had a company do booking for
us.  It’s easy enough booking on our
own.  We all frequent shows in the city
to varying degrees.  Some of my favorite
venues to see bands are Empty Bottle, Hideout and the Metro.
Marites:  Compared to
Vegas, the music scene in Chicago is a beast. 
It’s so huge.  I love it,
though.  I try to catch local bands when
I can.  I recently started working with
CHIRP Radio in order to be more involved in the local scene, so hopefully
that’ll open up my network.
Sarah:  We’re working
on building up our roster of band friends. 
In an ideal world, we’d go bowling with every band we meet or play a
show with.  We want to go on more “band
Kyla:  We’re also
wanting to branch out and go to some more DIY shows.  Recently, we played a show at a local record
shop with about twelve other local bands. 
We definitely want to become more involved in the local community.
Has the local
scene played an integral role in the sound, history, or formation of Me Jane,
or do you feel like you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound
basically like you do regardless of where you were at or what you were
surrounded by?
Katie:  I think our
sound is pretty independent of us being in Chicago.  It’s more of our own influences and musical
backgrounds that shape our sound, as well as how we gel when we come
together.  Plus, I can’t think of any
Chicago band that sounds quite like us.
You all have a
really sweet sound that’s a sort of amalgamation of different stuff.  I’m curious who would you cite as some of
your major musical influences?
Katie:  We don’t
necessarily sound like these bands and don’t try to consciously emulate them,
but bands that have been really influential for me are The Wipers, Wire, Joy
Division, Guided by Voices, and of late, Pylon and The Stranglers; mostly
post-punk, guitar-driven stuff.
Marites:  We get some
references to Gang of Four.  The funny
thing is, I had never listened to them in my life until a few months ago.  I listened to Entertainment! for the first
time in my life and it blew my mind.  I
ran into practice one day raving, “You guyyyyys, you have to listen to this!”
and they were like, “Yeah, we already know.” 
I like a lot of bands that were probably influenced by Gang of
Four.  I think what I listen to a lot of
at any point changes and evolves throughout my life.  When Me Jane first formed was probably around
the same time I became obsessed with Electrelane’s No Shouts, No Calls.
What about
influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?
Katie:  Not sure what
our whole group influences are, like specific bands.  Thoughts?
Marites:  We each have
strong individual influences, but I think the majority of us can say we like
the band Electrelane.
Kyla:  Yes!  Electrelane is one band we can all agree on!
Sarah:  I actually
don’t know if Katie cares about Electrelane. 
Katie:  Yeah, I don’t
really listen to them. 
Sarah:  I actually
can’t think of a band, past or present, that all four of us would be super
excited to see as a group.  We all respect
each other’s tastes, and there’s usually some overlap across two or three of
us, but we’re not into the same stuff.
How would you
describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before in
your own words?  Whenever I have to describe
how a band sounds I feel like I’m putting way too many of my own thoughts and
perceptions into there!
Marites:  Guitar,
bass, drums, synth.  Loud.  Fun. 
Katie:  Unique and
compelling.  Often driving and edgy, but
we also have some more subdued numbers.
Can you tell us a
little bit about what the songwriting process is like for Me Jane?  Is there someone who usually comes to the
rest of the band with a riff, or maybe a more finished idea for a song, to
share with the rest of you and work out as a group?  Or, do you all just get together and kick
ideas back and forth until you hit on something that you’re interested in
working on and refining together as a band?
Katie:  I do a lot of
songwriting and revising when practicing or noodling at home.  I usually come to the band with an idea,
often verses and some lyrics, and if it’s sounding good, we’ll work with it and
the song takes shape.  Everyone writes their
own parts and we come up with a lot of vocal harmonies together.  Some of the songs take longer to finish,
particularly the more nuanced ones, like “Silencer”.  I have a tendency to “hang upside
down,” as the band says, and rewrite things.  “Evasive”, for example, I revised again and
again.  I’m prone to taking a revisionist
approach to composition, maybe because of my classical background, but I’m
secretly envious of those that are adept at improvisation and whipping up
compelling stuff.  I think there’s value
to going back to the drawing board and perfecting songs, because in the end
ideally you have a stronger song.  At the
same time though, I recognize that some of the easiest songs to write are some
of our most catchy and crowd-pleasing ones, like “Warm Body”.  “Warm Body” we spontaneously came up with one
day at practice.  Within a couple
practices we nailed the song and it was a done deal.  
Marites:  Katie brings
the most complete ideas to the band, so a lot of our songs have been very
guitar driven, which explains why our music has that sound.  In general, most of our songs start with a
riff someone brings to the group and we build from there.  I think what makes playing in Me Jane really
fun is that everyone has a really good ear for arrangement.  We do a good job of giving each other
feedback and coming up with ideas for what direction a song could go or what
parts could fit where.  Sometimes, we can
be perfectionists with the parts we play. 
While writing, we tend to play a section of a song over and over until
we feel satisfied with what we’ve come up with.
Katie:  Yeah,
sometimes we’ll drill vocal harmonies till we’ve found the right blend.  Poor Kyla sits there and bears it.  We’ve got to get that girl a mic. 
What about
recording?  Do you all like to take a
more DIY approach to recording where you handle the technical aspects of things
mostly on your own so that you don’t have to work with or compromise on the
sound with anyone else, or do you all like to head into a studio and let someone
else handle that side of things so that you can just concentrate on the music
and getting the best possible performances out of yourselves?
Katie:  Because we
lack the gear, time, money, and technical know-how when it comes to recording,
we’ve only ever had someone handle it for us in the studio.  We focus on giving our best performance and
having fun with the process.  We’re also
present at the mixing sessions to give input and ensure the end product is an
accurate reflection of our sound.  We don’t
like it to sound too doctored up.  We
want it to reflect how we sound live, in our natural state.
Marites:  Although, it
would be cool to learn how to do that on our own.  If I ever get enough money, I’d be into
buying some basic gear so we can at least do some tracking on our own, maybe as
part of the songwriting process to better hear how things are coming together.
Katie:  Yeah, no doubt
we would grow immensely if we were to self-record.
Is there a lot of
time and effort that goes into meticulously working out every aspect of a
song’s arrangement and composition before you record?  Or, do you approach recording with a good
skeletal idea of what something’s going to sound like, while allowing for some
change and evolution where needed during the recording process?
Katie:  Overall, we
work on the meticulous side.  While we
may tweak small things in the studio after hearing everything more clearly, we
know what we want to accomplish and work out the kinks before going in.  Every day counts when you’re paying for
studio time so you want to go in prepared and maximize the number of songs you
can record.
Kyla:  Working in the
studio definitely helped some songs evolve. 
It was fun to experiment in the studio and see what worked and what
Do hallucinogenic
or psychoactive drugs play a large or important role in the songwriting,
recording or performance processes for Me Jane? 
I think a lot of people seem to take this question wrong, and take it as
some sort of persona affront or accusation. 
People have been tapping into the altered mind states that drugs produce
for the means of creating art for thousands of years and I’m simply always
curious about their usage and application when it comes to the art that I
personally enjoy and consume.
Katie:  No, it doesn’t
influence our songwriting.
I know that back
in 2012 you all recorded a three song demo which is still available on your
Bandcamp page, d3mo.  Can you share some
of your memories of recording that first material?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it and what kind of equipment
was used?  Was that a fun, pleasurable
experience for you all, or more of a nerve wracking and difficult proposition at
the time?  Was that ever physically
released or was that a digital only thing? 
If it was released at all, can you tell us about who put that out and
what it was released on?
Sarah:  We recorded
that in the summer of 2012 with Jamie Carter at Carter Co Recording.  I don’t know the exact equipment, but it was
a pretty simple setup.  We tracked all of
the music at once in a single room, followed by vocals.  It was definitely a fun and exciting
experience for us.  We were still a
three-piece, pre-Kyla so no synths are on that demo.  We had been working and re-working the three
songs on d3mo for so long that I think we just wanted to have something we
could start sharing.  We knew we’d have
to have some music to send venues in order to start booking shows, as
well.  d3mo was a digital-only release,
we just threw it up on Bandcamp when we were done.

Earlier this year
(2014), you followed up the d3mo demo with your first full-length album
ISON.    If I understand correctly you
all self-released the album through crowdsourcing?  Can you tell us a little bit about how that
came about and the recording of that album? 
Who recorded it and when would that have been?  What kind of equipment was used this time
around?  Now there’s a one song overlap
between d3mo and ISON, the song “Ghost”. 
Are those the same recording or mix of that song?
Sarah:  Actually, all
three songs from d3mo are on ISON as well. 
“Ghost” is the one that remained mostly unchanged from when we recorded
d3mo to when we recorded ISON.  We’d
reworked both “Back Row Watching” and “Evasive” pretty significantly by the
time we recorded ISON and of course we added synth to all of the songs when
Kyla joined.  We recorded ISON at the end
of 2013/early 2014, so about one and a half years after d3mo, and the mixing
and mastering of the album was finished in the spring.  We recorded at MINBAL studios in Chicago with
Benjamin Balcom.  Benjamin did all of the
recording and engineering, along with the mixing.  He was an amazing partner to work with and
really helped us fine tune some things while we were in the studio.  It’s pretty crazy to go from only ever
hearing your music when you’re actively playing it at practice, to sitting in
the booth and listening to a crystal clear version played back at you.  We’d never really heard our songs before,
even though we’d played them each hundreds of times!  I don’t know the first thing about equipment,
but we took some photos of MINBAL you can see here.  The console table that Benjamin works on is
massive and beautiful.  Once he mixed
each song, he put each of the songs on tape which I think adds some warmth and
helped us achieve more of the sound we were going for.  As for the crowdsourcing; we basically
decided that if we’re going to release an album, we might as well do it on
vinyl.  I mean, who doesn’t want a record
with your own music on it?!?  It’s also
more exciting than going the digital-only route.  And people buy records.  Since self-releasing your music on vinyl is
expensive if you’re not on a label, we decided to ask the people who support Me
Jane to help us put the record out.  The
Kickstarter functioned mostly as a way to pre-order the album, plus some other
fun prizes, like a potluck dinner party catered by Me Jane.  We funded the actual recording and mixing
ourselves, and the Kickstarter covered mastering for vinyl and the actual vinyl
pressing and printing the sleeves. 
Overall, crowdsourcing helped us accomplish something we would’ve never
been able to do on our own.

Does Me Jane have
any music that we haven’t talked about, maybe a single, song on a compilation
or another demo that I don’t know about?
Katie:  Nope!  We’re still writing stuff and once we have
another ten or so new songs, hopefully, we can record again.
With the release
of ISON earlier this year (2014), are there any other releases in the works or
on the horizon for Me Jane at this point?
Katie:  I think it
will be at least another year or more before a new release.  Our jobs keep us so busy, making it hard to
continuously crank out new material. 
Financing the release is also key, since we’re self-releasing we need to
make sure we have resources in place.
Now, where’s the
best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?  What about our international and overseas
readers to score some Me Jane music?
Katie:  The vinyl,
along with other essentials like Me Jane tees, bottle openers, koozies and
stickers, can be purchased on our website at mejaneyoulisten.com.  Digital download’s are available on our
Bandcamp page.  The vinyl is also
available at select record shops in Chicago, Permanent Records, Bric-a-Brac,
Logan Hardware, etcetera, and we’re also on Spotify.
And where would
the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news from
Me Jane, like upcoming shows, tours and album releases at?
Katie:  All updates
are posted at facebook.com/mejanemusic and mejaneyoulisten.com.
Marites:  We also have
a really fun Instagram account (mejaneband). 
We often go to shows, so we take a lot of concert photos of other bands
we like.
Are there any
major plans or goals that Me Jane is looking to accomplish in the last of 2014
or in 2015?
Kyla:  Overall, just
to become more involved in the Chicago music scene; there’s so much going on
here and so many great bands.
Sarah:  Sell more
What, if anything,
do you all have planned as far as touring goes right now?
Katie:  We did our
first tour last summer through the Midwest for eight days.  We haven’t planned any upcoming extended
tour, but we’d like to play some cities nearby for the occasional weekend
show.  We’re thinking Madison, Milwaukee,
Bloomington, Champaign, etcetera.
Do you all spend a
lot of time out on the road?  Do you
enjoy touring?  What’s life like on tour
for Me Jane?
Katie:  Our first and
only tour thus far was last summer.  We
played eight shows in eight nights, touring Minneapolis, Indianapolis,
Champaign, Bloomington, St. Louis, Nashville, Louisville, and ending in
Chicago.  We rented a fifteen passenger
Econo-line van through Bandago, all black with tinted windows and best of all,
a video game console.  Pretty sweet,
though none of us are gamers.  We did,
however, use the console to watch quality films like Josie and the Pussycats;
lots of funny stories along the way. 
Kyla:  We saw lots of
nice roadside attractions: The World’s Largest Rocking Chair, The World’s
Largest Golf Tee.  Time well spent.
Katie:  It should be
noted that the World’s Largest Rocking Chair is only ten-percent complete at
best.  Only the two curved bands at the
base of the chair are there. No frame, no seat, such a trap; but a worthwhile
trap.  We took a hilarious photo of us
all riding the rocker.
Do you remember
what the first song that Me Jane ever played live was?  When and where would that have been at?
Katie:  Was it
“Evasive”?  Yeah, that was probably
it.  That was the first song we ever
wrote.  We played it before a crowd of
friends at a house party in Logan Square.
Marites:  Our first
show was also a joint birthday house party for Katie and Sarah.  Their birthdays are one day apart at the end
of January.  Now their birthdays are an
anniversary of sorts for our band’s first show. 
Last year was when we did a double golden birthday party show and had
rainbow cake!
Katie:  And we all
dressed in gold!
Who are some of
your favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with so far?
Katie:  My tops would
have to be with Strange Relations in Minneapolis and with Bing Bong in
Madison.  Also, our “Double Golden
Birthday Show” when Sarah turned twenty nine on January 29th and I turned
thirty on January 30th was a blast.  We
played with Pamphleteers and Innkeepers, both solid bands.  Flesh Panthers (Interview here) are also a
ton of fun.
Sarah:  Strange
Relations from Minneapolis, and Ribbonhead, and Impulsive Hearts from
Chicago.  We also recently played
Cassette Store Day at Bric-A-Brac and I was wow-ed by Negative Scanner; such a
cool band.
Kyla:  Flesh Panthers
(Interview here): Our wonderful practice space neighbors.
Marites:  Ditto to all
of the above.
In your dreams,
who are you on tour with?
Sleater-Kinney.  Not so far
fetched since they’re touring next spring! 
I’ve been tweeting hints at Carrie Brownstein since they announced their
new album.  Carrie: call us any time,
Sleater-Kinney, Spiritualized, Courtney Barnett, or Cate Le Bon.
Do you have any
funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to
share here with our readers?
Marites:  Nothing too
crazy during the shows, but oh boy, do we have some tales from crazy adventures
after the shows…
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent,
stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, album covers and that kind of
thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or
message that you’re attempting to convey or get across with the visual aspects
of the band?
Sarah:  The main rule
of thumb is that we all have to approve the designs.  We spent a lot of time working with Timothy
Breen on our logo design and album artwork. 
We basically started at zero, with no idea of what kind of look we were
going for, but once we saw some of his ideas we were able to give feedback and
start to move toward a shared vision. 
The flyers and things like that happen faster.  It’s more about reappropriating images or
artwork and making something quickly that’s eye-catching.  Visually, I don’t think we have a strong
point of view yet, we just go with stuff that we like.
Do you have anyone
that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to the visual side
of things for the band?
Sarah:  Timothy Breen
did the artwork for ISON along with our logo, which is the best lookin’ logo
around.  Ian Dingman is a friend of the
band and he did our t-shirt design along with some of our flyers.
Katie:  For visuals on
stage, we joke that Marites is our pop-up salon, though really it’s no
joke.  On tour she gave us all fabulous,
wild bouffant hair and dramatic, smoky eyes. 
I try to do that stuff myself and I look like a rabid raccoon.  It’s just not the same.  I don’t have that magic touch.
With all of the
various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always
curious why artist choose and prefer the mediums of release that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for
your own music?  What about when you’re
listening to or purchasing music?
Marites:  Our goal is
to reach as many people as possible and cater to whatever medium they
prefer.  Most people today are online or
on their smart phones, so it makes sense to make sure everything is at least released
digitally to reach more people.  It’s
cool how platforms like Spotify or iTunes have made music more accessible to
people and we’ve gotten album orders from people as far away as Sweden!  Having some sort of physical product, like
vinyl, cassettes or CDs, is a must because people still enjoy listening to
music that way, or they just like the novelty of having it.  Personally, I like to listen to music on my
mobile device and buy vinyl records at shows to support the band.
I grew up around
my dad’s collection of music and I was always allowed to listen to anything
that I wanted to, but it was him taking me around to the local shops when I was
a kid and picking up random stuff that really left a lasting impact on me.  I developed this whole ritual for listening
to the music, I would rush home, snag a set of headphones, read the liner notes
over and over, stare at the cover artwork and just let the whole thing
transport me off on this trip!  Having
something physical to hold in my hands, something concretely connected to the
music, always makes for a much more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with
physically released music?
Sarah:  Personally,
I’m a sucker for packaging and holding a physical product.  Recent major record acquisitions are the new
Sleater Kinney and Breeders box sets.  We
play a lot of records at home on the weekends, but during the week, most of
what I listen to is streamed (bad quality, I know) or stored on one of my
devices.  But I only listen with nice
Shure earbuds.  Life’s too short for
shitty headphones.
Do you have a
music collection at all?  If so, can you
tell us just a little bit about that?
Sarah:  Yeah, it’s
boxes and boxes full of Me Jane’s ISON
Just kidding.  My music collection’s
mainly gigs and gigs of digital files. 
My boyfriend and I have a growing collection of vinyl, I think we’re up
to six of those Ikea cube-shelves worth of records.  It’s an eclectic mix of old and new
stuff.  We recently picked up a couple of
albums from Numero Group that we’re enjoying, i.e. Downriver Revival.

Marites:  I still have
a billion CDs from my college years. 
There was a local record store that my friends worked at I went to
almost every day.  Lots of indie rock,
punk, and new wave.  I need to digitalize
them all and put the files somewhere because my closet is a snow globe of
CDs.  I also have a pretty large vinyl
collection that I started in college as well.
Like it or not,
digital music is here in a big way at this point.  I really think it depends on how you look at,
and how you take things, as there are ups and downs to everything.  On one hand, people are being exposed to the
literal world of music that they’re surrounded by.  It’s also allowed for an unparalleled level
of communication between bands and their fans which has in turn basically
eliminated geographic boundaries that would have crippled bands even just a few
years ago.  On the other hand, it is
definitely harder to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle out there with
everyone being given a somewhat equal voice and while I don’ think independent
artists were ever getting “rich” off of selling their music, illegal piracy has
torn out the bottom end for a lot of sections of the industry.  I mean, while people are being exposed to all
this crazy new music, they’re not necessarily very interested in paying for it
right now.  As I said, I don’t think that
there’s any black and white answer here, but as an artist during the reign of
the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Marites:  Hear,
hear.  I think I addressed this question
earlier.  If you want to be heard, you
have to go where people are at.  We’re a
little band from Chicago where it’s already hard to get noticed because of the
huge talent pool here.  I think digital
music gives us more opportunities.
I try to keep up
with as much good music as I possibly can, but with all the crazy cool stuff
out there right now it’s hard to even know where to start sometimes.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area
that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?
Marites:  Divino Nino,
She Speaks In Tongues, and NE-HI released excellent albums this past year you
should check out.  They’re all from
Chicago.  Our friends Strange Relations
in Minneapolis shared with us their upcoming album they just recorded, but
haven’t released yet, and it’s so good
Definitely look out for them.
What about
nationally and internationally?
Marites:  I’m going to
throw a Vegas band out here; Kid Meets Cougar. 
It’s been a couple of years since their last record, and they still play
on and off, but I think only locally. 
They’re good friends of mine but two of the most talented musicians I
know.  Look up their two releases and
then look up any other band they’ve been a part of.  I think all their music projects basically
make up a good portion of the retrospective of Las Vegas local music in the
last ten years.
Katie:  Not a current
band, they’ve long since dissolved, but I discovered this awesome new-wave
sounding band from Madrid called Ataque de Caspa (Dandruff Attack) that
released one album back in the 80s which, oddly enough, can be found on
Spotify.  La Pesca and Nigeria are my
favorites.  Really worth checking out if
you like new wave, post-punk stuff. 
Thank you all so
much for taking the time to talk to me so in-depth about the band, it was
awesome getting to learn so much about you all and get a glimpse into Me Jane’s
creative process here!  As you were so
generous and kind with your time, while I don’t have any more questions for you
at this point, I’d like to open the floor to you for a moment.  Is there anything that I could have possibly
missed or that you may just want to take this opportunity to talk to me or the
readers about at this point?
Marites:  Support
local music.  There’s a lot of talent in
your own backyard.  Also, don’t call the
cops on house shows.  They’re good kids
trying to make art.
© Jeremy Farmer

(2012)  Me Jane – d3mo
– Digital – Self-Released
(2014)  Me Jane – ISON
– Digital, 12” – Self-Released, pressed at Gotta Groove Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015
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