Co-Mission Contributor: Janice Jo Lee

July 1, 2020

Meet Janice Jo Lee

I was on tour in British Columbia when events were getting cancelled due to the pandemic. All my April-June tour travel plans are no longer so now I’m at home in Toronto watching my plants grow, riding my bike, and hoping for the collapse of capitalism and the rise of a new world that prioritizes relationships and the earth.

A couple months in, I’ve acclimatized back into my home routine of time, space, and the slow living and listening I like to consider research. I consider myself a live performer primarily, and so this shutdown has given me space to record. The song for the compilation I wrote and recorded in May 2020 in my room. I’m not a professional engineer so I did my best with help from Clark at the radio station! The song is inspired by slowdown, reflection and self-recovery. I experimented with building my melody to match the natural cadence of my spoken word lyrics. Recording can take forever for me because I get stuck trying to make everything perfect. This recording is not “perfect”. Sometimes the bass and my vocal bass don’t match up or my sustained notes are pitchy. I like it. It’s what I could create with the capacity I have, and I prefer to be a human musical instrument and not a machine. What matters to me always is that I express my desired feeling and that the lyrical poetics are rich. I think I did that with this song, “Still of the Lake”. I’m so excited to release this song with Folkadelphia, which is my first release in the USA market. I met Fred at Folk Alliance when he came to our Groundings BIPOC artists concert room. That connection led to this project. Give thanks.

I don’t put my music on strictly streaming platforms, because I think these sites exploit the labour of artists. I am sticking to building audiences as I encounter them, and meet people, rather than hoping to go viral or become discovered from a playlist. As a folk artist, I am interested in directly connecting with my audience through live performances. Since shows are on hold indefinitely, the most direct way to interact with me is on Instagram @janjolee and buying my music or merch on my bandcamp. I’ve also just launched a Patreon! You can close concert halls but the music never dies!

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