There must be something in the water in Orlando, Florida. This Disneyesque town in central Florida has produced the Backstreet Boys, NSync, Matchbox Twenty, C-Note, Katherine Rodriguez, and last week on Music FridayLive! talked with Alex Baugh, the founder of the fast-rising Crazy Carls. And then I discovered Janani, another Orlando-based band with fabulous musical chops and a kick-ass frontwoman/cofounder, Janani Vaidyanathan .
Relatively new on the scene, Janani didn’t release a full EP until last year, Three Step System EP,produced and partially co-written by Brett Hestla, formerly of Creed. But then they took off.
The EP’s single, “Where Was I?” took flight and the band was selected to compete in the Top 8 for the Hard Rock Rising Orlando competition. It has just been tapped to perform at the Cutting Edge Music Conference this August. Their new single “Hey! Mister” is getting spins on radio stations from Canada to Orlando and the song’s music video was aired by Comcast and the Indie Music Channel and featured in DIRECTTV's documentary, Gone Until December. “Run (Pick Up The Gun)” will be the theme song of an upcoming television series Hit Women starring Laura Gomez ofOrange Is The New Black.
Now, that is the kind of momentum every rising band dreams of.
I was able to talk with Janani, only days after she underwent emergency surgery, which did not slow her down -- she was only stage only five days later.
Patrick. You are a hard-workin’ woman. You had a gig last night, you have a show this weekend, you are doing radio interviews and you had surgery last weekend. You are tough…no wonder your music hits so hard, like “Run(Pick up the gun)”. Where did that song come from and the idea for a western video?
Janani: Yes it has been quite the week. On “Run”, I was approached by the show to write a song for the TV show Hit Woman. As I was talking to my guitarist and he said it sounded like a western and he ran with it. The show is about power and control and I put those ideas into a song and the western theme for the video just worked.
Patrick. It worked very well, but there are some lines in there that struck me.
Oh, it’s killing me /Every man is so deceiving
By now you oughta know that /I won that battle and I’m gonna win the war, man
Are we all so deceiving? And what was the battle and what is the war?
Janani: It is a metaphor. Even though I said all men are deceiving, I was talking about people, not just men – everyone can be deceiving. I was playing off the idea of power and control. I was also making fun of the idea of wanting power and control. Some people think they are always right and I don’t believe that is necessarily a good thing. Those lyrics talk about power and control but there is irony there too,
Patrick. That song will be the theme song for a new show Hit Woman. How were you approached, how did they find you?
Janani: Well, my mom is a screen writer and she wrote the script for the show. So it is a family thing, but I would not have done it if I didn’t think the show was really cool, which it is. I had some ideas for this theme and I used them for the show.
Patrick. In your other songwriting, do you usually write the music – do you divide duties between lyrics and music; how does it work?
Janani. It is an ongoing process. Some songs I will come up with melody and lyrics and my guitar player will come up with guitar parts and the other band members will write music. In other cases I have a small idea, like a line or a chorus and I will present that to my guitarist or they will present an idea to me and we will work on it. Sometime it doesn’t work, but usually it does. And we create really awesome music.
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Patrick. Your song, “Hey Mister” is very interesting musically, especially the repetitive downbeat and percussion with what sounds like a xylophone or a cowbell. It creates a mysterious kind of environment. And the lyrics seem to take us through the stages of an ultimately failed romance. Tell us about this song.
Janani. My producer, Jeremy Birdsall, had bought a sitar and since I am part Indian, we decided to experiment with it. That is what you call the downbeat. It is way different than our other songs. There is also a tabla in there. We really like to bring in different instruments. We like to experiment with different genre and different instruments.
Patrick. What about the lyrics?
Janani. I wanted to write the song about people not accepting the things they are about. It starts with how much I care about something but then shifts to since you don’t care, I will do my own thing.
Patrick. Do you have a blues background. You seem to be able to do blues quite well.
Janani. Not purposely. I have a lower singing range and it just comes naturally. It is not trained but I just do it.
Patrick. Do you play the sitar or the tabla or other instruments?
Janani. I don’t play the sitar or the tabla – that would take a lot of time to learn! I play guitar – I dabble in guitar, but I am not a professional guitar player good enough to play onstage. I am now playing piano. I write on piano with my guitarist and my bassist and then after that we transfer to guitar and finish on the guitar.
Patrick. You have been tapped to perform at the Cutting Edge Music Conference this year in New Orleans. That is a big deal. Can you tell us about the conference and your role there?
Janani. We are playing at the Festival part of the convention. We have not been given details yet, but we will be in downtown New Orleans on stage, so check us out if you will be there.
Patrick. Several of your songs have lines that are not complementary to men. What gives?
Janani. I am not anti-men…not at all!. But I do write from a female perspective and even though I am talking about men, it is bigger than male vs female. For anybody, it is not just about the males in society, it can be about anybody…not everyone knows how to treat people how they should be treated. I don’t think men are bad.
Patrick. Tell about your tour and music …where can people see you and buy your music?
Janani. We are on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon.com and on our mech store…including real CDS and t-shirts and all that. Come to my shows with a t-shirt and a gold metallic sharpie and I will autograph it. Our next show the West End trading Company on July 11.
Patrick. Janani, I love your music. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.
Janani. Your welcome, It was fun.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Host Music FridayLive!