Pat Via, Mitch Mitchell and Peter Scialla are the trio which form January Jane, the New York based alt-pop group whose song “Versions of You” appeared on Billboard’s Top 40 HOT AC charts. Last year January Jane was signed to legendary musicologist/KLOS DJ Matt Pinfield’s label Whiskey Vinyl/BMG. Lead vocalist Pat and guitarist Mitch spoke to us about their musical voice, their influences and their new EP Your Drug (out Sept. 17) which they promise audiences can expect to experience the sensations of a “late night party in New York City—champagne, Gray’s Papaya and all the fun, with none of the hangover.”
Jason: What inspired you guys to try your hands at music?
Mitch of January Jane: When you put it that way, you make it sound as if we should have second thoughts about it [laughs]. Well, you have to do what you love and the alternative is doing what you hate, and that doesn’t sound appealing.
Pat of January Jane: For me it was that I was in school to become a plastic surgeon and it was that or become a singer and I became a singer and here we are. It all worked out.
Jason: It was the two of you and then Peter joined. What was it about a trio which felt like it was the perfect fit?
Mitch of January Jane: I just heard on TV that a triangle is the strongest geometric shape, so we had to have the triangle [laughs]
Pat of January Jane: The way things work out is often the way they’re meant to be and us as a trio with our history, the way the universe brought us together is the reason we’re here and the reason we’re making such sweet music.
Jason: Can you describe the events which led to you being signed to Matt Pinfield’s label, Whiskey Vinyl, then BMG?
Pat of January Jane: How we met Matt was a funny story; we were playing a show in a converted, and I stress converted, adult theater in Times Square and someone had brought Matt to come check us out and by the end of the night we were back at Mitch’s place listening to demos, talking music and it was a serendipitous thing where we just all clicked together. He’s guided us on our entire journey to choose songs. Matt is an encyclopedia of music in human form and it was an advantage having that behind us. From there he signed us and then BMG came into the picture and it’s crazy that even with a pandemic we kept working hard and doing the best we could and somehow, someway, here we are.
Mitch of January Jane: It’s been quite the amazing journey and what we like to say about Matt is that if musical knowledge was currency, he would be the world’s richest man. It’s unbelievable what he’s brought to the table so we’re very blessed. He signed us to his label Whiskey Vinyl and from there to BMG in the summer of 2020.
Jason: To me it feels like the music of the ’80s and ’90s influences your music heavily, is there a decade you favor more so than others which influence your style?
Mitch of January Jane: Before we answer this, would they would consider us decade-ist by just choosing one? [everybody laughs]. I’m not sure we can answer such hard-hitting political questions.
Pat of January Jane: I was going to say the 1910s [laughs]. But I think with ’80s and ’90s, some bands and artists from that era influence us but for us it doesn’t stop there. You’ve got the Stones and the Beatles and with the Stones they’ve been crushing it throughout the eras. I wouldn’t say we’re just influenced by the ’80s and ’90s. We draw inspiration from artists that are all over the place, from Zeppelin to Beethoven and even Celine Dion [laughs]. Mitch and Pete and I all share a lot of overlap in terms of what we listen to.
Mitch of January Jane: When I listen to music when driving I tend to lean towards a lot of ’80s music as it was such a dense and diverse decade for music, where you have some of Van Halen’s best stuff and George Michael and Michael Jackson and INXS, you have everything in there and they had the luxury of listening to music in all the decades which came before them. It’s difficult to narrow it down but I’ll go for the ’80s.
Jason: Can you tell me the story of how “Versions of You” came about?
Pat of January Jane: This particular story started with a girl on a train, a model looking at her portfolio and she obviously wasn’t happy with her pictures. It’s an interesting thing to look at in life where we’re not always happy with who we are or where we are in life and the different versions that we could be of ourselves for different situations and different people. It really is about looking in the mirror and seeing who you are both as yourself and in relationships. The simple answer is seeing that girl was definitely the inspiration lyrically for the song.
Jason: I thought the video of “Versions of You” to be quite striking and reminded me of a title sequence in 007 movies. Are you conscious about marrying the right images to your music?
Pat of January Jane: I don’t think it’s so much about marrying an image as it’s more about finding the right visual for the sound. Every song is different and as we shoot more videos, including one we just did for “Your Drug”, all the fresh ideas come from different people. There are so many images that could be incorporated into a sound and as we do more videos, we’re learning that as we go.
Mitch of January Jane: We’ll talk about a concept until we stretch each other to the furthest extremes of absurdity, but then we’ll pull back on that and end up in a cool. balanced place. It has to feel good to the three of us and then we’ll take it to someone else who’ll then put it on camera.
Jason: A question about covering the Hall and Oates cover “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)”—why that song?
Mitch of January Jane: When we signed with BMG we gave them about 50 mastered songs we had done and that made them aware of how diverse our catalogue was and then they asked us to look at the catalogues of some of their other artists and Hall and Oates was one of them and we loved those guys, how can you not love the mustaches and the harmonies [laughs], so we looked at a bunch of their songs and this one felt so right. We had so much fun recording it and it just flowed. We didn’t think it was going to be released as quick as it was, but that’s half the fun in this industry. This one came out soon after we finished it, which is unique and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Jason: Are there any other artists you’d like to cover?
Pat of January Jane: We’ve done some songs by INXS, we’ve even played around by covering The Weeknd. We’re always looking for different angles and artists. We even covered “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order, which is one of our favorite songs. Every day we say to each other ‘hey, want to try this?’ When you hear something in a song and then suddenly there’s an arrangement in your head, we want to share that with everybody just to see where it goes.
Mitch of January Jane: We’re always trying out and adding new things to our live sets, so that’s where a lot of these came from is that we perform things live and put our own twist on it. We always enjoy doing that.
Jason: What do you enjoy most about being musicians?
Pat of January Jane: I think it goes back to what Mitch said earlier about just doing what you love. There can be a love/hate relationship with being a musician, but when it pays off it is something special. You’ve got to do what you love and right now the music is pouring out of us and we’re just trying to capture as much as we can. We just have a very fun job.
Jason: Do you feel the timing is right for the new album considering the past year and a half, now you’re releasing a free-spirited party album as things are returning to a sense of normalcy?
Mitch of January Jane: Oh more than ever, yeah. When SXSW was cancelled last year, just as things were being locked down, we were making sure people were buying refundable tickets. With things shut down, I doubled down and work harder than ever, which keeps you busy. It keeps your mind sharp and that kept us on the path to signing with BMG and we just kept writing and recording. Now regarding coming out of it all, people are champing at the bit to get out there and experience the fun that life offers and what better way than to create a soundtrack that fits with being in the club or to experience the New York city nightlife with none of the hangover this works. Also, if you’re stuck inside, then what better way to bring the party to yourself?
Pat of January Jane: This collection of songs represents our journey of our lives in New York City. You can hear the streets through the sound so for us it’s a moment in time we could capture and I think people are ready for new music, they’re ready for a new experience and when you’re stuck inside, that’s the best time to blast music.
Mitch of January Jane: Amen.