"Venus Watching Over Me" cover art
Rather than shutting down due to the coronavirus crisis, Jane Siberry is continuing her remarkable creative spurt.
This week, it’s a new release from the singular Canadian singer-songwriter, the first, she says, in a novel “Song-At-A-Time” collection, and with it, a new means of compensation.
“Venus Watching Over Me” was produced and recorded by Richard Dunn in Cardiff, Wales, where Siberry wrote it during a stopover during her seven-month 2018 tour.
“I was passing through Wales, and he invited me to his studio,” says Siberry. “I recorded piano and voice and continued on my tour-y way, and Richard took it from there. Sarah Moody, of the Welsh music and storytelling performing company The Devil’s Violin, played cello, and Richard played everything else. He created it knowing my past works and trying to make something I could really appreciate.”
Siberry’s “Venus” cover art merges a photo of stars by award-winning photographer Sara Naomi and a photo by Jack Jarosz of the statue Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii in Rome, by American Neoclassical sculptor Randolph Rogers in 1856.
The song was released Friday (“Venus Day—vendredi--and the [day of the] new moon,” Siberry says), “so it was a perfect day to send new music out into the world!”
It can now be sampled and purchased at her website via her online “personal styling store” Magic-The-Dog, where she and her fellow artist/product suppliers are “artists who love style, design, dogs, all living things, beauty, quality and making people happy.”
“Song-At-A-Time releases will be ‘transactional’ as opposed to ‘gifts,’” says Siberry, a pioneer in the self-determined pricing policy whereby purchasers were allowed to buy her tracks digitally for the standard download price, or they could pay less or more according to their wish (most paid more, she says), or accept them for free as “a gift from Jane.”
Now embracing a “balanced pricing” model, Siberry is bestowing “Ambassador Rights” upon buyers of “Venus”: “This means, ‘Please share to others who may not have heard of my music. Up to your gut. Thank you.’”
The pricing, determined according to responses from numerous listeners through her social media, “is an experiment to see what feels right”: When the song is “less production/time/whatever-intensive,” she says, it will cost $3.
But, Siberry adds, “I have very expensive tastes, it seems, [in] wanting production to be as high level as I can ‘hear’ it. I hope people appreciate that, too!”
As for the song itself, Siberry says that “Venus Watching Over Me” “started as something that was really bothering me--having two minds about someone. The left hand says, ‘Yay,’ and the right hand says, ‘Nay.’ It’s the race between sleaziness and integrity, that happens in the song: She’s using every trick to get away from him and also using every trick to seduce him, then she dreams about him and they connect fully in the dream on a soul level and say goodbye. So she was lucky--if you think soul intimacy and physical intimacy can exist together.”
And as for the Song-At-A-Time release plan, she says that it jibes with her desire “to work faster and have songs more current with what is ‘in the air.’”
Such songs as “Venus,” she says, are “more like self-conversations than monologues,” and as such are important and time-sensitive (“in the air”), and therefore suffer when held back for inclusion in a traditional album release.
“I want to connect to the times, rather than release these songs a year after I’ve written and recorded them,” she explains.
A live version of “Venus Watching Over Me” was one of five previously unreleased tracks included in Siberry’s digital album A World Without Music, which came out in March and otherwise revisited such career classics as “Calling All Angels” and “Mimi On The Beach/Mimi Replies.” Recorded live last year at McCabe’s in Santa Monica, it was her first album since Angels Bend Closer, released in 2017.
Earlier during the quarantine, Siberry made Angels Bend Closer available online for free—along with her entire major label and independent album catalog.
“When I made my music a GIFT for the past month of quarantine, I was thrilled to see it fly out into the world with great enthusiasm,” she says on her website. “I have decided to keep this as an option [or you make a donation] if it suits your gut. I work with my gut as much as possible and I hope you will feel welcome to. All is Well.”
She now says that new works “will be transactional--$3-$5 depending on production intensity.” And while she’s not sure how frequent her Song-At-A-Time collection entries will surface, “hopefully it will mean more music released than before while doing full album recordings: Honestly, I don’t think people are that interested in [full albums]--and I’m hoping to not go into debt anymore, which is what happens without funding!”
Meanwhile, Siberry’s recent three-week songwriting course, entitled Song Garden, was “super-intense and productive, and people were quite astonished by the power of their own connection to inspiration,” she relates. “I was a bit of a logic police, scanning lyrics to catch any confusing thought process--of which we all have a lot! I felt that it was something I could offer of value, and it went far beyond just songwriting [to include] speaking real and true, the best you can, and without sentimentalism, anthropomorphism and false love. Again, ‘the best we can.’”
She was also leading a Facebook meditation group every evening “because it seemed people really needed it,” but now she’s cut it back to Sunday nights, which “feels right for now.”
And she’s ceased her Song-Unfurl Facebook series of interactive 10-minute songwriting sessions for the time being.
“I just have to go day-by-day--responding to what I sense,” says Siberry, trusting her tried-and-true artistic instincts.