Interviews

Published on May 17th, 2019 | by Jerry Doby

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Exclusive: Rising Singer-songwriter Jane Handcock Handles the Industry with Style and Grace

Back Story – From Oakland, California, Jane Handcock earned her stripes as an artist by first writing for A-list celebrities such as Kelly Rowland, Tyrese, and Rick Ross. Now, Jane is stepping onto center stage by producing what she calls her “best work to date,” Where’s Jane? (Series 2). The new project is due out May 31st and is a showcase of powerhouse vocals and slick talk! Her latest single “Lil’ Daddy” is full ride adventure with some exciting cleverness and unexpected reveals in the lyrics:

About the upcoming project, Jane says, “‘Where’s Jane? Series 2’ is a look into the recent events of my life. Everything I wrote & sang about comes from an authentic and vulnerable place. With this series, I wanted to focus on doing exactly what felt good to my spirit. I wanted to musically match where I was in life at this very moment,” Jane explains.

I got a chance to speak with Jane about her journey from behind the scenes to the forefront as an artist, what most excites her and how she sees the growth from Where’s Jane (Series 1) and what we can expect on Series 2. Also, when discussing her dope new single “Lil’ Daddy” I got a bar of her “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy…hilarious!

From the outside looking in, let’s talk about Jane and explain to people about the Where’s Jane? series.

“Where’s Jane?” it just started with… First of all, I’m an Aquarius, so I’m an air sign, and air signs, we just go with the flow. We’re always going. I’m always going with the wind. I’m always out and about, and I just go with the beat of my own drum. So I’m always just gone, and everybody’s always asking, “Where’s Jane? Where’s Jane?” And I wanted to go with that theme, because basically I’m always gone somewhere, and everybody’s always trying to catch up with me.

But then I wanted to put it in a figurative sense of where I was just at a mental and emotional state as well, because I know I was gone for a minute, and I do unplug at times. I’m somebody who just likes to unplug, and I wanted to just show people I was… I started off songwriting, so I wanted to transition and just to be my own artist, so with that, I wanted to transition right into being my own artist to let people know where I actually was in that, to let people know just where Jane was in that so I wanted to break it up into series, and so just letting people know where I was at the moment, so each moment, every song, every word, every melody was just true from the heart and where I was at the time.

I just love to listen to the stories about where projects come from. And as you talk about… because I take it as this huge trust thing, where you’re sharing with people your innermost parts, because each song is a piece of you. Do you feel like it’s that? Am I on track?

Yeah. I feel like each… I don’t know. I feel like with my listeners, I do build that type of trust because I’m just… I wouldn’t say I was a loner because I definitely had my group of friends, but when it comes to me making music, I feel like I can be vulnerable to people. I feel like that’s when I can just open up and just truly be myself. I’ve always been that type of person, even when I was just little. I felt like I could just be vulnerable in my art. So yeah, I never was… For some reason, that’s where I can just be totally open, totally un-shy because sometimes I can be shy. When I sing, when I write, when I turn that mic on, that’s when I feel like I could just be myself. I can totally just be me, you know?

With all the music that you write and hear, are you still able to just love music as a consumer?

Absolutely. Absolutely. I have to. I have to dial into different genres, different artists, just to get that inspiration, and I always listen just to different sounds, and I have the artists that I just go to. I have my go-to artists from old to new. I’m an old-school type of gal, so I’m definitely nostalgic. It was crazy, because yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I literally listened… I was actually the cook. For the first time, I cooked the whole Mother’s Day meal, and I listened to nothing but ’70s music, so I’m definitely that type of person. I’ll listen to a lot of ’70s music. I listen to a lot of ’90s music, but there’s a lot of… There are a few artists that I just go to of today that I’m definitely dialed into, so I definitely have to listen… I love music, period. Music is like the soundtrack to my life, so I have to listen to it.

Will we experience that inspiration or that foundation in Where’s Jane Series 2?

Yeah, definitely. I feel like with Where’s Jane Series 2, people will definitely hear the more musical side of me, but just more chiller, because that’s where I was at the time. I was just more chill. I feel like there’s a time and a place for everything, and there’s a time to be super turnt up, there’s a time to just be chill and laid back, and Series 2, that’s really in a space where I just wanted to show people that… I definitely studied music in high school. I went to art school, so I wanted to just get back into my old roots and things, where I wasn’t so… I wasn’t always tracked out, and I wasn’t always just turnt up and partying all the time. I wanted to just get back to when I was just super vulnerable, and I feel like Series 2 is just definitely vulnerable. It’s my vulnerable side. I’m still talking my talk, still talking my mess, but I’m definitely vulnerable. I’m still vulnerable and musical at the same time and just chill.

You must have been fun to shoot the dozens with, though, because you’re slick … You ever get into those round tables and just destroy people just for fun… You remember doing that, and did that help? Did you feel like a cheater because you’re a songwriter?

Yeah, sometimes.

I ask goofy questions from time to time.

No. Look, I was… I literally… I used to say that all the time, and I always… Somebody told me there’s no such thing as a goofy question, so I never count out any question. I’m definitely a round table type of person. I’m a slick talker. I don’t know… I’ll say I get it from a few places. I hang around a lot of… I’m not going to say a lot, but I hang around my few trusting, slick-talking men, and then the women that I hang around are just very powerful and slick-talking too, but they’re just very independent. Something about them is just very strong, so I feel like the people that I’ve surrounded myself by and that raised me to have a sense of just pride about them. I feel like that’s where I get it from.

And I’m just into zodiac signs and stuff like that, so I feel like, with my sign, that’s just how I am. I’m just very good with my words, and then also, I think as a child, my mom really encouraged me early on to write. Everything was about writing. She always made me write things down. Anything that I was feeling, she made me write it down. Early on, she got me into writing poems, writing poetry, stuff like that, so she always made me write down my feelings, and I think that’s where my slick talk and my words came from. I would always if I got in trouble, I would write her forgiveness letters saying I was sorry, stuff like that.

I was always just into my slick talk, and then I would do cyphers in school to where we’d just be round-tabling, and you got to just think on the spot, and if you didn’t, you were wack, and I never wanted to be wack. I think that’s just where it comes from, always just being on the dome with it.

Now, I got to ask you about this, speaking of slick talk, this new joint called Lil’ Daddy, right? It was an acoustic set, and as I said earlier, you most definitely have one of the most magnificent voices I’ve heard on an acoustic piece.

Thank you.

But you definitely put your little slick talk in Lil’ Daddy, but I had a question. Has anyone ever asked you about the lyrics about the man snatching you by your arm and you liking that low-key? Has anyone ever expressed concern about that?

Nobody’s expressed concern, but I can see how it would be a concern. Sometimes it gets that real, unfortunately. I wouldn’t condone it, and like I… It’s crazy because sometimes I go back and I teach my old high school. I teach the students there, and I always tell them, “I’m definitely in my 20s so I wouldn’t call myself a role model. What I will tell you, though, is to do as I say. Don’t do as I do.”

“Do as I say. Don’t do as I do,” and I say that as… I’m not perfect. I’m not a perfect person. I’m not woke. I’m not conscious. I’m not any of that, and sometimes I don’t know if some people will get it misconstrued. I bump my head. I really do. I’m not somebody who’s super perfect and this. I live and I learn. In some relationships, I’ve gotten it totally wrong. In some relationships, I’ve gotten it totally right, and I’m brave enough to write about it. And sometimes I’ll be wrong, sometimes I’ll be right, and with my writing and with my projects, I think for me, it’s going to be cool to grow up and listen back and be like, “Damn, that’s where I was at the time? That’s crazy.” I know that I’m going to grow, and I know I’m not going to be the same, and that’s the beauty of it.

That’s the essence of Where’s Jane and these series, because I know I’m going to change, and that’s the point. We have to evolve, and I know I’m going to evolve, because I feel like I’ve evolved from series one, definitely. I know I’m going to evolve from Series 2 just in my life and where I’m headed. So yeah, Lil’ Daddy is very chill but intense, but it is what it is.

And it was definitely intense, but I enjoyed it. I just got to say I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed the roll call and all that good stuff. I was like, “I see you’re having fun with it.” Speaking of fun, what is the most fun right now of being Jane Handcock and stepping to center stage as the artist?

My process. Drake said it best, “On a song, I’m somewhere between ‘I want it’ and ‘I got it’,” and that’s where I am right now. I’m somewhere between “I want it” and “I got it,” and I’m enjoying my process. Every day is so spontaneous for me, and I like it. It’s definitely a journey, and I’m just a regular girl, and that’s the beauty of life for me right now. I’m enjoying life where it is, and I’m not rushing anything and life… I definitely could write a whole script, book, whatever you call it because there’s always something going on with me, funny, good, bad, whatever you want to call it. I’m just living. I’m living. I’m having fun. I write music. I live to write the songs that I do, and that’s the fun of it. I’m not afraid to live, and I’m not afraid to just do my thing. I handle my business, I’m focused, but I have fun. I have to have fun. I have to take time out to just have fun through my process.

I think right now the best part of my life is just the process, traveling… I love to travel… and yeah, the process of this, my artistry, me being an artist is fun for me right now.

Speaking of the business part, I know you said your writing’s spontaneous. You’ve obviously got a great team, but what was maybe the most shocking or interesting thing that you learned about the business part as you moved from songwriting to casual art? Was there something that stood out to you like, “Whoa, how did I miss that?”

I think what stood out for me is the fact that I had to really step up. For the longest, I started being comfortable kind of being invisible and playing this phantom role, as if I just sat in the studio, and I sat in the corner. And me being an artist, I had to show my face, and with that, it’s still new for me, because I’m so used to just being chill, and I’m not somebody who’s really extra in that sense. I’m totally okay with not being the tap-dancing, spotlight type of person. Even though I’m okay with it, I’m not somebody who [inaudible 00:18:17] for it.

Learning that balance, that is a process for me, so I think me becoming an artist for real, I think that was kind of like the kicker for me from transitioning from songwriter to an artist. In high school… It’s weird, though, because in high school I studied musical theater and vocal, so of course, I was onstage. I was performing. It was nothing new. It was nothing new to me, but when I became a songwriter I really went all the way into where I just got stuck in that, so it was kind of hard to get out. But now it’s becoming really… I feel like the old me again, so it’s fun. It’s fun, but it was a transition at first.

Speaking of transitions from high school to getting your first placement, tell us about that first placement and how that felt and how it happened.

It was fun. It was a really, really pivotal moment because I always… For one, I was a huge fan of Destiny’s Child, just as a little girl, and I always would say, “Man, I just want to meet them,” and stuff like that. And I remember when I was writing for my best friend Adrian Marcel, and just us doing that whole run for him, and him getting off the ground with his career was just dope. When his A&R hooked me up with Kelly Rowland, it was like a writing camp situation.

I didn’t really even think it was going to happen. They had a writing camp one day. They called me in. They were saying, “Hey, you want to do this writing camp?” And I said, “Yeah, sure,” and when I got there, nobody really wanted to work with me. No producers wanted to work with me because they didn’t know who I was, and they just had me sitting in the lobby for hours, and I was kind of like, “Am I going to get to work? Am I going to get to do anything?” Kelly wasn’t there yet, and they were stalling it out because I don’t think anybody wanted to just tell me nobody wanted to work with me. And they ended up saying, “Well, we can put you in a room, but can you record yourself?” I said, “Yeah, I can,” so they put me in a room, where I just recorded myself, and they just gave me some beats. I don’t even know where the beats came from, but they gave me some beats, and I just started writing, and I recorded myself, and she came in hours later, and she loved the song that I came up with. I’ll never forget. She came in, and she just sat with me and vibed with me, and she was just like, “I love this.” And literally weeks later, I found out that that was the song that she actually wanted, and I’ll never forget just how happy I was. I was like, “Wow, I can’t believe…” This was my first real placement for real, and ironically, this was one of my favorite artists ever, so that was so fun for me, so fun for me. And I felt like, “Man, if I could do this, I could do anything. Anything.”

From that, I started working with so many other people. It’s crazy because I forget how many people I’ve worked with, just living in Atlanta at the time. I touched so many studios. I worked with so many people, and it was a blessing. It was a blessing just to work with so many people, so many producers, so many writers, and so many artists. At the time, just that period of my life, being so young, just coming straight out of high school, I felt untouchable, unstoppable, like, “Wow, if I can do this, I can do anything.” That spirit in me, I take that with me, where I can just do anything. And Kelly is just always somebody that always encourages me, even still today. She’ll always just check up on me periodically on me like, “Keep going. Keep doing your thing.” She’s so sweet.

That’s such a cool story. I think, me being the knucklehead that I am, I would have had this crazy inside smile, like, “Yeah, yall just don’t know.” I probably would have been talking crazy in my head, like, “You had me sitting out here for hours, thinking I was nothing, and all of a sudden…” I might have taken an extra piece of satisfaction from the fact that nobody wanted to work with me initially… and I might not have stayed as humble as you, so shout out to you for maintaining your grounding, because you’re a better person than I am. I would have been talking trash. To me, that’s like this what the F moment, like, “Who does that to somebody?”

Yeah, that definitely was. I think at the moment, I don’t even know what it was like. I can’t even remember at the moment what I was thinking. I wasn’t surprised, really. I wasn’t mad. I just was like, “Wow. Okay.” Surprisingly, I wasn’t, and there are moments when I do get frustrated, but that wasn’t one of the moments where I was mad, I think because I was just so juiced at the time. I was just like, “Man, I just want to give it my best shot.” I kind of was like, “Okay, this is… All right.” But “where they do that at” moments… Man, for real over the years, it’s been a lot, just through the years, and as you just grind, you get so many of them, you just take them all on the chin. I’ve learned to just take them all on the chin. I was just literally… I was talking to my uncle the other day, and I was saying, “I’m sensitive, but with me being sensitive, I have to just literally train myself to just take stuff on the chin. That’s the type of business I’m in.” It’s just like I got to just take stuff on the chin and keep it pushing because if I really act out how I really want to act, they would think I was crazy.

I think that’s why I put so much in my music. I can’t even fake it in my music, so people be mad, whatever. Whatever. You’ll hear what I really got to say in my music, because… I think that’s where I release everything at. I try to stay graceful. I try to handle things with style and grace. That’s my motto, and that’s my mantra. Handle things with style and grace. That’s how all of the artists that I really, really, really admire and all of the artists that inspire me… Those are the artists that have lasted over the years, and they have long-lasting careers. They handle things with style and grace. Even when they were mad and even when they were real snooty and slick with it, they still handled it with a certain grace about it, that you’re just like, “Hmm.” You know That’s how I do it. I take it on the chin, but I just handle it with style and grace, like whatever.

Style and grace. And that’s how legends are born right there. They handle everything with style and grace.

 

Connect with Jane Handcock on IG/Twitter: @handcockjay


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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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