20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.
NYC-based alternative pop group January Jane initially formed as a duo after Pat Via and Mitch Mitchell met by chance at an art gallery. The two hit it off so well that they decided to start writing music together, immediately. Their chemistry was instantly apparent as they had an outline for their first song sketched out in a mere ten minutes of their first session. The trio was rounded out by keyboardist Peter Scialla, who they met at a private party in NYC’s trendy Meatpacking District. Scialla was playing piano at the gathering and the two were immediately drawn in and decided to play with him on the spot. January Jane’s neon-drenched take on both modern and ‘80s-influenced pop/rock is on full display throughout their new EP Your Drug, due out later this summer, featuring uplifting tracks with big booming choruses. Its lead single, “Versions of You,” is available everywhere now.
“The recording process for ‘Versions of You’ is quite the story in itself,” says Via. “I started writing the lyrics a while ago when I saw a woman on the train looking at photos of herself. The images were all different in style and clothing and that helped spark the start of the story. She seemed sad with how they looked, and it made me think of how with so many versions of ourselves, it’s hard to find the one that makes us happy.” Speaking of the song, Mitchell adds, “There is this insane but true premise in Quantum Physics which states that by simply watching, the observer affects the reality of what is being observed. We are always changing and changing everything around us. So who do you want to be? Which version of yourself do you show others? That’s what the song is about.”
I had the pleasure of speaking with Pat and Mitch from January Jane all about their new music, how they got started, what inspires them the most, why they aren’t worried about whose going to write their obituaries, and lots more for this week’s edition of 20 Questions.
What’s one thing you love most about music?
Pat: The journey it takes you on and its ability to take you anywhere. Everyone needs a soundtrack to their lives.
Mitch: Music is a god. And I don’t necessarily mean Apollo, the god of music, I mean It’s always there for you; through sickness and health… wait, maybe music is more like the perfect wife, or husband? Who knows what music is, vibrations? I love good vibrations!
How did you guys come to be as a group?
Pat: We met each other at an art gallery exhibition that a mutual friend was having. I was there actually shooting a documentary for the artist and Mitch was attending the opening. We were introduced and decided to hang out a couple days later and write a song. That song took 10 minutes to write and when stuff like that happens, you kind of just know that there is a good working chemistry there. So we kept writing and recording and playing shows, then we met Peter a little later on through another friend that heard us play (that first song we had written coincidentally), and here we are now.
Mitch: NYC brought us together. It was serendipity + whiskey + Matt Pinfield.
Which artists did you grow up listening to?
Pat: Everything from Elvis and Sinatra to Beatles, Stones, Willie Nelson, Zeppelin to Depeche Mode, MJ and Prince to Van Halen, Nine Inch Nails to Daft Punk and Disclosure. Also both BBD’s — Bell Biv Devoe and Bach Beethoven Debussy.
Mitch: Van Halen, George Michael, Metallica, The Beatles, Bach, Michael Jackson, Morbid Angel, Mozart, Death, Depeche Mode, Debussy, Beethoven, Alice In Chains, DMX…
Favorite album of all-time?
Pat: Tough one, it’s a tie between Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Depeche Mode’s Violator, Prince’s Purple Rain, and Stevie Wonder’s Hotter Than July — maybe the Stones’ Some Girls, or Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. If I can listen to it front to back over and over, it’s a contender.
Mitch: Van Halen, 1984… Michael Jackson’s Thriller is up there, too… they both feature Eddie Van Halen, so it’s a win-win.
How would you characterize your new EP, Your Drug?
Pat: An adventure through a New York City night in an awesome limo from the ‘80s we built.
Mitch: All the party, none of the hangover!
The last book you finished?
Pat: Think and Grow Rich — great motivation! Keep your eye on the prize.
Mitch: I re-read American Psycho over the summer… It’s funny, but Patrick Bateman gives the best, most detailed, music reviews EVER!
Favorite song to get your blood moving?
Pat: “INXS” by New Sensation.
Mitch: “Jump” by Van Halen… or the Pointer Sisters.
The last series you binge-watched?
Pat: Halt and Catch Fire.
Mitch: John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise. Yikes! And Yellowstone… also, yikes!
One piece of advice you would give to your younger selves?
Pat: Drinking leads to McDonald’s, which is good and bad.
Mitch: Buy more Bitcoin!
If you could have one writer, dead or alive, to compose your obituary, who would it be and why?
Pat: Not worried about that. It’s 2021, I expect to be most robot parts in 10 years anyways.
Mitch: Luckily, I’ll never have to worry about that… part of the deal I struck with this charming fellow I met at the crossroads, was immortality.
Favorite movies of all-time?
Pat: Surprise me, keep me on the edge of my seat, or inspire me. Basically my criteria for favorite movies. We are a movie-based band that’s for sure. Le Samourai, The French Connection, Enter the Dragon, Deathwish, Rocky, Conan the Barbarian, Blade Runner, Rambo: First Blood Part 1, Terminator, Robocop, Batman (1989), Heat, Donnie Brasco, Vanilla Sky, Into the Wild, Drive, We Own the Night, Interstellar. This is just off the top of my head.
Mitch: I love feel-good movies: The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Alien, Blade Runner, Predator, Die Hard…
What’s one vice you wish you could give up?
Pat: Never relaxing. I’m definitely a workaholic. I forget sometimes to stop and smell the roses, so I’m trying to get better at that.
What is your favorite type of song to write?
Pat: Ones about experiences. When drawing a picture, my father would always say, “Draw what you see.” So I’m always working on drawing what I see, but also the feeling of those visions and moments.
Mitch: The kind that go on the radio… *insert prayer emoji here*
One artist you’d love to collaborate with one day?
Pat: I like Mansionair from Australia. Their lyrics are very cinematic. I think we would come up with some very interesting music.
Mitch: Elvis and Van Halen… unfortunately, as I previously stated, I’ll never get that opportunity.
What does the word “beauty” mean to you guys?
Pat: It can take so many forms, but happiness, if I could put it into a word.
Mitch: Work… beauty takes a LOT of hard work!
In three words, how would you describe your single “Versions of You”?
Pat: Our different faces.
Mitch: Learn Quantum Physics!
Who are your style icons?
Pat: When I think of style it’s not just clothes — it’s mood, it’s imagery. David Bowie would be a big one, but it’s because he was always evolving. Prince because he took chances and wasn’t afraid of reinvention, so it’s tough to make a list. Tarsem Singh is a director that has such a dreamlike way of stylizing his movies — so it can come from a lot of places for me.
Mitch: Whomever is currently sending us free clothes… those are the best clothes, FREE clothes!
Are you guys introverts or extroverts? Or both?
Pat: I’m more of an introvert, but on stage, extrovert for sure. That’s where I can let go.
Mitch: Both, and neither… depends on who’s paying us!
One thing that’s been keeping you sane throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
Pat: Sharpening other skills in life — I got into fitness and into cooking. You have to keep growing and I looked to take advantage of the time we were stuck inside.
Mitch: On a serious note, pizza! Really great pizza, which NYC is overflowing with… and of course, January Jane, the band, making music, blah blah blah… pizza!
What can we expect to hear next from January Jane?
Pat: Hopefully, an announcement for touring. We can’t wait to get out on the road! But we’re excited for the future and everything in it.
Mitch: Pat, when does our next single drop? Shit, I can’t remember, either… Let’s call BMG! In the meantime, be sure to check out “Versions of You” and our cover of “I Can’t Go For That,” available on all streaming services right now.