INTERVIEW: Janey release new single 'Hurts Me Like Hell'
Brother and sister duo Janey - a.k.a. Sarah and Billy Otto - broke a three-year music drought back in April this year when they released the glorious, 1980s-inspired synth banger ‘L.A.’. After a sell-out comeback gig in Sydney also in April, Janey are well and truly back on the pop radar. To seal the deal, today they release the single ‘Hurts Me Like Hell’. A low key, electro ballad it is the antithesis of the powerhouse ‘L.A.’ but remains quintessential Janey, with it’s shuffling beat interspersed with synth riffs presided over by Sarah’s gorgeous, warm and emotive vocals. We recently caught up with Sarah to find out all about the new track and what it’s like to be back.
Hi Sarah! So good to chat to you again. We are superfans of your last single ‘L.A.’ which was something of a comeback single for Janey. What has it been like to be ‘back’?
Thank you kindly, Women in Pop! Ahh, it’s felt good. There’s nothing better than finally releasing a tune you’ve been sitting on for way too long (read: years). It’s good to be back.
Your new single ‘Hurts Me Like Hell’ is out on today, it is a beautiful track. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind the song?
Ah yes. This song is very close to home. It’s about how relationships can suffer when someone changes, or evolves. Both Billy and I have changed a lot over the past 10 years, particularly as far as faith goes, and how we see the world. That hasn’t been easy on a lot of our close relationships.
‘Hurts Me Like Hell’ was born right after I had had a moment with our beautiful Mum. We had just discussed something that we clearly weren’t aligned with each other on. I’d changed, and moved forward, and it pained her. She tried to be cheerful and carry on, I could see the deep sadness in her eyes, and it crushed me. It hurt me to hurt her. But I’ve had to learn to be okay to just do me, regardless of the circumstances.
I hope that others who hear the song can hear a message for them: it’s always okay to be yourself, even if it’s uncomfortable.
This obviously ties into the previous question, but the lyrics to the song are clearly very personal. Is it ever difficult to put your innermost emotions out there for everyone to hear - does it make you feel vulnerable?
Songwriting is very cathartic for me. When processing experiences, some people journal, some scream into their pillows, some punch a boxing-bag. Me? I write songs.
Once I get the words, melodies and chords out, I genuinely feel better and more at peace. ‘Hurts Me Like Hell’ was no exception to that.
That said, it can be a vulnerable process to put your innermost emotions out for any stranger to hear. When I was younger, I used to use a lot more metaphor in my lyrics. I felt like it was a veil or protective covering to the concepts I was actually expressing. Nowadays, I think I feel a lot more comfortable saying what I need to say. But it still doesn’t stop me from feeling like I’m naked when everybody else is fully dressed!
Can you tell me a little bit about the creative process behind the track. How did it come together?
‘Hurts Me Like Hell’ was one of those magical songs where everything came easy. I wrote the chorus alone and then brought the idea to Billy. We then sat down for an afternoon, and worked out the rest of the song. Billy was laying beats and sounds down, while I was playing piano and singing the new melodies and lyrics. We had a great flow.
We then brought it to our amazing producer-friend, Luke O’Dea, who pushed us to improve certain sections, like the bridge, and helped us write the post-chorus. He added his magic to the song, and added all the bits and pieces that made it feel complete.
The music video is amazing, what was it like to shoot – and how late were you up?!
Billy and I happen to have pretty incredible people within our friendship circles. Our friend, Ash Lim, was the videographer and director for the clip. We brought the idea to him, and his genius brain started ticking over. He was like, “I’ll need a van, some cellophane and a mirror”. He enlisted our other amazing artist/designer-friend, Dodge Pangburn, to do lighting, and the rest is history. We rocked up outside his house in Redfern, and the guys had the van gutted, and filled with flashing blue lights and smoke, looking like some sort of dystopian high-school science experiment. We really had a lot of fun. That is, until we got pretty tired. We wrapped at 3.30am. Haha!
You shot in some quite public places around Hyde Park in the middle of Sydney – were there any interesting encounters with members of the public?
Thankfully Sydney city is pretty quiet at 2am! But we did have some interesting encounters with the poor train station staff, who were trying to get us out as they were locking up for the night. We pleaded with them for a couple more minutes so we could grab some more shots, and were successful. That said, it was a little hard to ‘get in the zone’ character-wise, when we had staff staring at us and tapping their watches!
You have your debut EP coming soon - is everything complete and ready to go or are you still putting the finishing touches to it?
Ha! There’s always a million things to do! Not quite ready yet…
You had a sold out gig earlier in the year in Sydney which was the first Janey gig in a while, do you have any more live appearances on the cards?
Yes, we do! So stay tuned everyone!
There is a new single out now and an EP hopefully coming soon – is there anything else exciting coming up from Janey?
Yes! We may not have our full EP ready, but we do have another single ready to roll out very soon. It’s a more jovial tune that is more in line with what you’d expect to hear from us.