Interview: Ian Janco
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Both my parents were involved in music, and their parents were creatives as well, so it was sort of in my blood. My mom was a recording engineer in New York and LA and my dad was a self-taught musician who made his own records. I spent a lot of time with my dad in the studio when I was a kid, watching him work and often jamming together. I started writing songs early on and eventually went on to play in local bands before ultimately starting my own journey as an artist when I was about 15. If I wasn’t a musician, I’d probably be a travel writer of some sort. Or maybe a professional scuba diver. Who knows.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love reading and writing, and occasionally play with visual arts like painting and collage. I just love making stuff. I find switching mediums gives me a fresh perspective on music. That said, I try to take time away from it all occasionally to just live life and “fill up the well” to actually have things to say in my art. This can be going on a walk in nature, chilling with friends, going to a museum or a gig… Ideas can come from anywhere, so I try to be present in my life and push outside my comfort zone where I can.
How long has your band been around?
I’m currently my own band, so I guess… 26 years?
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m currently based in London. But I grew up in Idaho and California, so I think everywhere that I’ve lived has helped shape my sound. I’ve got a bit of country from Idaho, a bit of chilled beachside vibes from Cali, and some jazz and pop flavors from my time in Liverpool and London.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
My middle name,“Janco” was my great grandfather’s last name. He was a painter and co-founder of Dadaism, so I wanted to use that as a stage name to honor his memory.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I was lucky enough to open for Emmylou Harris in my hometown a few years ago. There were thousands in the crowd, including a lot of people I’ve known my whole life. It was at the base of a beautiful mountain and the sun set as I was playing. Emmylou was extremely kind and it was just a great night overall. Very surreal.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
My favorite place I’ve played in London is probably when I supported Wildwood Kin at Omeara. So much character in that place! My dream is to one day play Red Rocks. I’m a long way off but that’s what dreams are for right?
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Great question. Bon Iver, Jose Gonzalez, Ray LaMontagne, Lucy Rose, and the Head and the Heart come to mind. A huge, vibes ambient folk festival. I’m here for it.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t get discouraged if your career doesn’t go how you expect it to. In fact, don’t expect anything. Prioritize your love and dedication to the craft of making music above anything else and you’ll never be disappointed. Sounds cliche, but “don’t ask what music can do for you, but what you can do for music”.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Chill out and enjoy the ride. Also, don’t quit those piano lessons!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I haven’t released it yet. Of the tracks I have out though, I think “Keep Out the Cold”. It’s about losing loved ones, and the difficulty of family life changing. It helped me come to terms with some tricky emotions and is one of my most vulnerable songs.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
There’s a song called Beautiful Mystery I’ve been playing live for years but still haven’t released properly. Everyone who’s seen me live knows it and its a really good closer, so I’ll have to get around to putting it out sometime!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Usually it’s just me sitting down jamming on the guitar or piano until a song emerges. The production is the part the takes me the longest as I’m still kind of new to it. I often do a bit then leave it and come back with fresh ears.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I believe I’m a pretty optimistic person, so that’s something I try to impart in my music. Even if it’s a melancholy song, I try to weave in a message of positivity. Music really helps me transform difficult situations and emotions in to something that I, and hopefully others, can learn from.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
I disagree with myself on a daily basis. I always think I’m right and that’s infuriating to me. ;)
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I just want to keep releasing music. I’ve had a lot of starts and stops but I feel like I’m in a good flow now, and ready to just keep it going. My new EP, Rapture is out at the end of Spring, hopefully followed by the Reverie EP later this year. I want to build a world with my music that people feel they can escape to and find solace there… I just love being able to make music every day and hope I get to do it for a very long time to come.