Nine Questions with Jane Gowan

photo: belinda bruce

Name: Jane Gowan

Birthplace: Vancouver, BC

Currently residing: Toronto, ON

Musical past and present in one rambling run-on sentence:

I was lucky to be born into a house with 2 pianos, so I learned piano before dropping it as a teen, then taking it up again and going to music school where I met many marvelous people and learned about jazz, world music, new music, improvisation and got my mind blown at the Glass Slipper, took up the trumpet, then got sidetracked by folk, and took up the accordion and joined a band called Fear of Drinking and had some great times but eventually got fired (oops), but by this time had met the lovely and talented Koralee Tonack at school who loved the same songs as me, and we formed Time Waits which became Spygirl which is a wonderful warm messed-up musical family of the dearest friends and most talented souls, but everyone’s having beautiful babies and doing their lives and I’m in Toronto now and I’m a happily married stepmom of 4, and I miss my Spygirls and also my bandmates from other Vancouver bands I inhabited (such as Belinda Bruce and the Tawny Stars, and The Neins Circa) and good people from places I’ve worked along the way (Coastal Jazz & Blues, The Vancouver Int’l Film Festival for example), but luckily out here in the humid summers and frigid winters the songs keep knocking on my door and wanting in, so to humour them I took up electric guitar and formed Shade (a pop/rock quartet); we recorded an album in 2010 called Highway, and then I made a new Shade EP (One Last Show of Hearts) with just me and my friend Tim Vesely, which will be released with minimal fanfare on Nov 22, and in the meantime I’ve formed a duo with my pal Llynn Kellman who is awesomely creative and gifted, and we’re called The Llynn and Jane Show and I consider myself very fortunate indeed to be able to do what I love.


1.  Who are some of your favourite composers, musicians and bands from the past and present?

Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith, Tom Waits, M Ward, Gillian Welch, Calexico, Los Lobos, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, The Pretenders, The Kinks, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Beethoven, Schubert, Glenn Gould, Nick Drake, Lyle Lovett, Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Karen Dalton, Johnny Cash, Paul Weller, Billy Bragg, Flight of the Conchords, Elvis Costello, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Amy Winehouse, Otis Redding, Beck, Marc Ribot, Francoise Hardy, The Lonely Island.

2. Is there a particular song or musical passage that never fails to move you emotionally?

“Holy Man and Holy Priest, 

this love of life makes me weak in my knees, 

so when we get there make your play, 

’cause soon I fear it’s gonna carry us away 

to a promised lie you made us believe, 

for so many men there is so much grief, 

and my mind is proud but it aches with rage, 

and if I live too long I’m afraid I’ll die. 

Strangers on this road we are on, we are not two, we are one”

from the song  “Strangers”, by Ray Davies and The Kinks

3. How would you describe your perfect day?

It would start with strong coffee and acoustic guitar in the kitchen; it would contain no deadlines, and would involve a lot of aimless puttering and abstract musing. A friend would drop by late morning and we’d laugh a lot. Then just as the friend departs, there would be a knock at the front door, and a man dressed smartly in a 3-piece suit with a wool cap tucked under his arm would hand me a letter, which would turn out to be an invitation from Tom Waits to open for him on his next tour. I’d hug the man, tip him $100, then watch him ride away on his bicycle. I’d go back into the house and resume puttering, but now with intent.

 4.  What would your friends say they appreciate the most about you?

my baking

 5. What is your most valued material possession?

A piece of jewellery that my Dad made for me.

 6.  Who were you, or would you be nervous to meet?

The Dalai Lama

7.  If you could blink your eyes and be in a favourite place right now, where would that place be?

On a bike, in the sun, on a flat dry road.

8.  Is there something you would like to do more of in the future?


9. Where would you like to find yourself in ten years?

Writing songs for the next Clint Eastwood or Wes Anderson film.

2 thoughts on “Nine Questions with Jane Gowan

  1. hola Jane, your cousin, Barbie here. A day off and some serious puttering and a little time in front of the computer where I came upon you. Sounds like your life is full and fun. 4 kids, wow!! Marko has written 2 very cool songs, 1 about our 2yr. old grandson,Elwood which is called “Guapito,” and the other is about a rock mountain near where we live in Mexico and is called,”Guawaton.” He has just recently taken up guitar playing and actually studying some music and maybe will have a couple of songs 1 fine day, but will need some help and encouragement to make a recording. I should give Denise a call. love Barbie

  2. Pingback: 9 Questions for Musicians «

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