Kindness, Softness, Happiness: A Q&A with Falcon Jane

Sara May is the lady behind Falcon Jane, a self-proclaimed 'plez rock' band from Orangeville, ON.  Falcon Jane takes all your anxieties and quarter life crises and spits out dreamy, groovy, calm vibes with fabulous lyrics.  Their upcoming album Feelin' Freaky is to be released this summer.  It was recorded at Wildlife Sanctuary Sound with the help of studio owners and engineers Lisa Conway and Andrew Collins (both fantastic musicians in their own right).  Falcon Jane's first single off the new album, "Go with the Flow", was released on February 15th alongside a stunning music video.  The video was directed by Sara May herself, and shot by Dominique van Olm.

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LC: First of all, “Go With the Flow” is getting a huge buzz.  Congratulations!  It is an amazing song and I’ve been watching the music video on repeat.  How did you come up with the vision for the video and how long did it take to put together?

SM: Thanks so much! The visuals for the video came fairly easily to me. I knew I wanted to make a video in that style, so I just listened to Go With The Flow over and over until certain images stuck. The whole shoot only took about a day. And the editing was pretty quick too, but it’s a pretty personal project, so I needed some time/space to breathe throughout the process.

LC: How have you been taking this great response to “Go With the Flow”?  It must have been quite the experience to hear yourself on CBC Radio One!

SM: It’s been pretty cool but also kind of freaky! I can get negative sometimes, so I’m trying to just enjoy it while it lasts. It’s so nice to hear people talk and write about my music, but there’s this feeling/fear of just being a flash in the pan, so I’m still navigating where to go from here. Overall though, everyone has been so kind and it’s so interesting to hear what the song means or feels like to other people.

LC: Falcon Jane is definitely a band with an image.  When I think of Falcon Jane, it’s more than just the music; it’s a combination of the songs and audio with ambient, colourful, eclectic visuals.  Can you describe the overall aesthetic of ‘plez rock’?

SM: ’Plez Rock’, like any other brand or genre, is always evolving. That being said, ‘plez’ has always been about pleasantness; kindness, softness, happiness. Pleasantness is going to look different to different people, but currently for me it’s very pink, turquoise, metallic, bright. Sonically, it’s smooth, groovy, chill, with an air of positivity or truthfulness in it. Whatever makes me feel good is my version of ‘plez’. 

 Photography by  Dominique van Olm

Photography by Dominique van Olm

LC: You’ve written so many beautiful, melodic, personal songs.  What advice can you give to songwriters and other artists on how to be open and honest in their craft?

SM: Don’t force it! I’ve tried to be like “I want to write a song today” and then I sit down with my guitar and write the most awful song to ever exist! You have to be very aware of when you’re channelling that raw, creative energy. I know that sounds kinda hippy-dippy, but I swear it’s real! It’s that feeling you get when you could stay up all night working on your project, when the creative juices are uncontrollably pouring right out of you, onto your notebook, your guitar, your canvas, your computer! And really trust in what you truly want to say. Get it out and edit it later if you need to. I go through dry spells where I don’t write songs for a while, but I trust that I’ll find that feeling again. Go With The Flow and a song called Pure Pain are the two newest songs on our new album, and I wrote them both in the same hour. It was an intensely emotional morning, but it was awesome. 

LC: How have your bandmates influenced your songwriting and previous albums?

SM: My bandmates are so amazing. And our band is constantly changing, but we’ve always had such great people in Falcon Jane. Andrew McArthur has been around the longest - he’s a pure musical genius, and also my best friend - so he’s definitely had a huge influence on my songwriting, and I trust everything he says. What I love about Falcon Jane is that everyone brings their own personal style to the music - I don’t dictate too much. Rocky Hardy is a freaky electronic musician, and she makes these cool alien-esque synth textures. Branson Giles is a rock n roll guitar lord and he so naturally creates gorgeous, juicy guitar riffs that blow my mind. 

LC: Your upcoming album, Feelin’ Freaky, was recorded near us here at Wildlife Sanctuary Sound in Grey County!  When did you first hear about the studio and when did you make the decision to record there?

SM: I actually first heard about the studio through Route 26! I believe you wrote an article about it a couple years ago. I was immediately intrigued, but then one of the owners (Andrew Collins) released an album called Northern Thirst and it floored me. It’s one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. So Andrew and I went up there to check it out and it was so quiet, peaceful and beautiful - it was like a dream. It was so easy to decide to record there, and I don’t ever want to record anywhere / with anyone else! 

 Falcon Jane at Wildlife Sanctuary Sound

Falcon Jane at Wildlife Sanctuary Sound

LC: How was it working with Lisa Conway and Andrew Collins?

SM: It was amazing. They are both so smart, talented and patient. They struck the perfect balance between sharing their very valuable opinions and allowing us to follow our creative vision, providing all of the necessary tools we needed. And they’re both such incredible musicians, it was sometimes hard to not be awe-struck. They worked so hard but were also very chill. We ate a lot of Oreos.

LC: You grew up, and still spend a lot of time, just outside of Orangeville.  What are your thoughts on music making in small towns in Ontario?

SM: I think it’s important to acknowledge where an artist is really from, instead of just grouping them into whatever big city is closest to them. When we were on tour last year, we were called a “Toronto band”, which isn’t true. We play in Toronto, but we write, create and practice our music in the country. I think rural communities can develop their own music scene, and it can be a lot easier for an artist to find their voice when they are connecting with their hometown and roots, instead of feeling like a small fish in a huge music scene like Toronto’s. 

LC: I know you’ve spent a lot of time on Manitoulin Island with family and friends, and you frequently travel and explore other parts of our province.  How has travel and exploration influenced your craft?

SM: When I was first starting to write songs, Manitoulin Island was my go-to spot for song-writing extravaganzas! I’d go up there for two weeks and come home with ten new songs. I think it was the silence. It’s hard for me to write authentically when other people are around, or when I think someone can hear me. I haven’t had a songwriting binge like that in a while, but I’d like to try writing my next album like that. I am easily amazed by the different landscapes within Ontario, and new settings give me different perspectives that can influence how I write. 

LC: Where do you turn to discover cool music?  Any current obsessions you can share?

SM: My bandmate, Andrew, is usually the one to show me new music. He almost never stops thinking about music, and is so good at navigating YouTube playlists. I’m pretty bad at finding new music to listen to, but I love hearing new stuff - it’s so inspiring. Lately I’ve been pretty into: Cass McCombs, Big Thief, Frazey Ford, Talking Heads, and a lot of my friends’ music, like the new album from SAGES. 

LC: When can we expect to hear Feelin’ Freaky and where can people go to follow Falcon Jane?

SM: Feelin’ Freaky will be out this summer! In the meantime, y’all can find us on social media, Spotify, iTunes, etc! Here’s some links:

www.facebook.com/FalconJane

www.instagram.com/falcon_jane

www.twitter.com/falconjanemusic

www.youtube.com/falconjane

www.falconjane.bandcamp.com

www.spotify.com/falconjane

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Thanks for the awesome insights, Sara.  Can. Not. Wait. for the full album!!