Radar: Jane Willow

The Dublin-based singer-songwriter chats to Cian Montague. For many students, post-college life can be daunting. Jane Willow, a singer-songwriter who graduated from IADT last year, knows all about the grind of pursuing a music career. Originally from the Netherlands, Willow, now 28, moved to Ireland some seven years ago and studied sound design in college. For her, the future must involve a dual career: “For most people in the creative industries, it’s not enough money, so you have to do a lot of things.” So currently, while recording and gigging, Willow is also searching for a sound design internship or assistant post.Willow cites Irish artists Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan, and Glen Hansard as key influences on her sound, as well as Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, and Joni Mitchell. In November, she managed to raise over €4,000 for the recording of her debut EP, through the crowdfunding site Fund It. The six-track project is due to be released this summer. “It’s a full band deal,” explains Willow, “It’s going to be centred on my voice in the songs, but then there’s going to be interesting textures.” She says it should “hopefully [have] a varied sound.”Willow’s single ‘On My Mind,’ released in November, seems a good indication of this. The track is lushly produced, with piano, cello and percussion, as well as Willow’s own guitar, but it is the tender vocals that demand the listener’s attention. It’s clear that Willow greatly values integrity in songwriting: “It has to be something that I believe, or feel, or think… and it has to move people. Just be real in what you do, and people will gravitate towards that.”
Last August, Willow opened for Glen Hansard in Vicar Street.
Booking gigs and raising her profile has been hard work, but she has had lucky breaks, too. Last August, Willow opened for Glen Hansard in Vicar Street. She had asked a well-connected friend if he could get her a ticket for the show. “And then he just called me and was like, ‘You’re opening for him,’” she laughs, “I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’”
Passion requires persistence.
A lot has happened since then, too. “I’ve had the fundraiser, two gigs with my band, about twenty gigs on my own… I’ve been doing this for quite a while now, but now I seem to be getting the reactions that I always wanted!” Willow offers some advice to young people attempting to follow a similar path: “Be honest with people about your dreams and your desires… Nine out of ten times, you will get a ‘no,’ but the one time you get a ‘yes’, that will push you to keep going.” Passion requires persistence. Jane Willow plays at the Purty Kitchen on 22 Feb. She plays at the Cobalt Café on 24 March.