Jana Horn discusses the inspirations behind new album ‘The Window is the Dream’
Jana Horn released her new album The Window is The Dream today via No Quarter. (Read our review.) "The album was recorded in the breaths I could take away from school, over about a year," Jana says. "Once I had a number of songs, I drove to upstate New York where my friends Sarah and Jared warned me we could make something beautiful. I think I was the first, or one of them, to record in their barn, which is now a bonafide studio. The whole thing was a family affair. Jonathon, one of the guitarists, and I even have the same last name. I like the songs that we play together, how his guitar and my voice sound like they’re having a conversation, or arguing, or trust-falling into one another. There’s more of this, I think, a kind of dialogue throughout, between the voices in the room." It's a lovely album, light and airy with a little dreamy sunshine pop feel at times, and you can listen to the whole thing below.
We asked Jana to tell us more about the album, and she gave us a list of inspirations that includes The Fall, "esoteric literature," walking, running, dreams, and the guitar she wrote all the songs on. Read her list and commentary below.
Jana has a couple live dates lined up for June: Brooklyn's Union Pool on 6/15 and DC's Songbyrd on 6/17.
JANA HORN - INSPIRATIONS BEHIND 'THE WINDOW IS THE DREAM'
1. A class on esoteric lit— heavy with Jorge Luis Borges, Clarice Lispector, Henry Miller, Italo Calvino. Candlelit, potluck classes at our professor’s house. A kind of church.
2. Running along the Rivanna River— the way the river runs with you. The geese dunking their heads and whatnot. The tree that looks like it has a baby in its trunk. I would vacillate between sitting for long periods, and taking off on foot, it didn’t matter how far. I would walk or run everywhere.
3. Walking to school— walking the two miles from my house to Grounds, the two miles back, listening as a kind of writing (as I write this, I think of “Walking to Work” a favorite poem by Frank O’Hara… “It's going to be the sunny side / from now / on. Get out, all of you”).
4. Dreams— penning one morning the lines I’d dreamed, as a poem (I was taking a poetry class, so I had to have something to turn in), and eventually giving them a melody. It’s the only time I can recall doing it this way, lines on paper first. Or lines from dream.
5. The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)— always follows me, this one. I love its mischief, its quality of light. The little sisters. I might have a thing for movies starring children. My Life as a Dog is another. Something about the surreality that belies everything coming to the surface. As my friend’s child said, at the dinner table in between bites, “I never want to break my neck.”
6. 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong— the only CD I had, and what I’d listen to in the car, as my record player, phone and laptop were broken. I didn’t hurry to have them fixed. I could mark time by when I knew some, and then most, of the songs. When I knew them all. I have always loved to memorize. Once you memorize something, it’s yours.
7. My friend and roommate, Laura— who heard all the songs through the walls, as I was writing them in my room. She probably heard “After All This Time” two-hundred times, and still lives with me. My friend Sean, also— whose work of fiction I sang over the melody of this song to find the words. It’s because of him that I use the word “experience” (has taken me in to her arms, like a mother of my own making).
8. “Car Crash While Hitchhiking” by Denis Johnson— and while we’re at it, “Axolotl” by Julio Cortazar, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño. The Lover by Marguerite Duras! Etgar Keret, Amy Hempel, W.G. Sebald. I could make a list of just these, the stories and books that filled everyday, but I thought I’d use this list to remember myself, where I was within all that.
9. Camping in Virginia— in particular, a three-day backpacking trip with my friend Gahl to see wild ponies. How we spent Halloween. They looked like fashion models, the ponies. We had them to ourselves. We sang to each other to get down the mountain the last day, in the grey, sideways rain. Leonard Cohen.
10. I wrote all the songs on a cheap classical guitar — fingering the top two strings, like a bass. I like the freedom of the single note, the silence around it, the space. How it doesn’t tell my voice where to go. All but the last, “The Way it Was”— I wrote that in a diner, walking out of it. I haven’t learned it on an instrument yet.