"It was cathartic and therapeutic..." - Janette King talks digging deep on her debut album What We Lost
After a series of stellar singles and two excellent EPs, Canadian soul singer Janette King finally unveils her debut album, What We Lost, this week.
An elegant collection of songs, which blend languid grooves, funky basslines and King's arresting vocals, it's a powerful and serene LP.
As the album arrives in stores, we spoke to King about how she put the record together and the catharsis it's given her...
You have, in theory, got your whole life to write your debut album, when were the songs for this album written? Do they date back a long way or are they quite recent?
"It’s interesting. Usually, people's first album is usually a culmination of years of writing, but, for me, I’ve had two EP come out before this album so it kind of feels like I’ve shared these more earlier written tracks already. However, some of the songs off this album were written years ago and some were written as early as a few months ago."
How was the experience of making the record? Was it fun, stressful, intense or all of the above?
"It was cathartic and therapeutic. It was a release of certain internal conflicts that I was dealing with at the time and a great way to reflect. Most of the recording process was fun as most of it was done in my bedroom."
You worked with a few different producers on the album, Jordan Esau, GRAY, Jonny Tobin, can you talk us through the record’s collaborators?
"Aside from those producers you already mentioned, I worked with DijahSB on ‘Cool Me Down’ and Maryze on ‘Mirror’ as featured artists. I also worked with producer Alex Dobson on the track, ‘Caught In Smoke’. We had BOHA do a mix on the tracks ‘Found a Way’, ‘What We Lost’ and ‘Airplane’. On one of the tracks, ‘Right Here’, the vocals were recorded at The Clinic with Patrick Watson of Watson Unlimited."
Do you like working with lots of different people or can you see yourself working with a single producer on your next record?
"I loved the experience of working with multiple producers. I felt like I have different parts of myself that I love expressing and it was easy to amplify those parts on the album because each producer kind of brought out different parts of me. On my next album, I think I would like to produce the whole thing myself or just work with one producer and co-produce the whole thing together."
It’s a 12-track record, how many songs did you have to choose from for the final tracklisting?
"I think there were 15 songs that we had to narrow down. We came down to 13 songs, but we were worried that having too many songs on the vinyl would lower the quality of the sound so we removed one more song."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"I think that lyrically the style is very quite literal. I’m not too poetic or subliminal with my lyrics."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"I think 'Airplane' probably took the longest to get right. We had been working on it for years trying to get the vocals recorded properly or trying to get the mix right and we stopped working on it for a long time and would get reinspired.
And which came together most quickly?
"The song that came together the fastest I think was 'You Don’t Love Me'. Jonny Tobin sent me the beat and I wrote the lyrics within a few hours and sent it back and he finessed it a few times and basically, it was finished. Sometimes it comes out like that."
When did you decide that What We Lost was the right fit for the album’s title?
"As soon as we finished recording that song I decided that if I was making an album, because I hadn’t decided if I was making an album at that point or not, that it would be called What We Lost. I love that the word 'We' could stand for we as a community or we as a relationship. I also recognised that loss was an important theme for me so it just felt like it would be the perfect title."
How are your live plans shaping up? How’s the rest of 2021 looking?
"So far it’s slim pickings because of COVID. At the moment I have my album release show on June 25th which will be a live show! I’m so excited because it will be my first live performance in 18 months."
When might we see you in the UK?
"I would love to play in the UK. We had some plans to travel to Europe and play in London last year before COVID hit and I still want to make that happen! Keep your eyes and ears open for Janette King in the near future!"
Janette King's debut album, What We Lost, is out now in hmv stores.