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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26

John & Jen Join Forces

Chris Morin
Published Thursday September 18, 05:49 pm
After years playing together, Lane and Antoniuk finally hit the studio

Friday 26
The Bassment

Jen Lane and John Antoniuk have long been known in their hometown of Saskatoon as an indie folk-roots power couple — they often perform shows together and accompany one another while on tour. So it seems a bit strange that they’ve never released music as one entity.

That’s all changed with the duo’s new seven-song EP. Titled Jen & John, the disc is a collection of songs that hum and pop with dual vocals and the strum of strolling acoustic guitar. Along with originals, there are some covers as well — including “Oh My Sweet Carolina” by Ryan Adams, the first song the musical couple sang together when they met and began jamming.

Lane says the project has been in the works for some time, and they’re happy to finally get it done.

“It’s the obvious thing for us to do,” she says. “John and I have been playing music together for 11 years now with our own projects, but always backing each other up. We do a lot of acoustic shows and house concerts, and people want to take away something from it. We each have our own albums, so you’re either forced to buy both or choose between them — so we figured it was about time to collaborate together.”

Currently wrapping up a tour that took them out to the west coast and back, including a stop at the Music On The Mountain Festival in Fort St. James, BC, and several shows on Salt Spring Island, Lane says their live shows together have started taking on a new form: the couple has started taking on residencies in venues as a new norm for their live performances.

Earlier this year, for example, Jen and John performed for several Tuesdays in a row at Saskatoon’s Bon Temps restaurant. This fall, they’ll be taking over the Monday night residency at Grumpy’s in Montréal, along with another stint at Cameron House in Toronto — a venue where Lane says the Jen & John album was conceived.

“We really built up a fanbase at [Cameron House] in the month of May,” she says. “They didn’t have enough room on the marquee to write ‘Jen Lane and John Antoniuk’ so we just became ‘Jen and John’ while we were there, and people really started to ask about taking that music home. It got to the point where we really had to do something. And the Cameron House asked us to come back, so we wanted to bring something that was that show.

“We’ve built up a really good network there, and we’ll keep going back because it’s become like a second family to us,” continues Lane. “[The residency] is a really great way to build an audience. In some ways you would think it would oversaturate an audience, but it actually gets people excited about the music when they know they can come back the next week to see you. It’s interesting seeing how it builds that way.”

While they’re both individually prolific songwriters — Antoniuk’s most recent album was Always With You while Lane’s For The Night LP was nominated for Roots Solo Recording of the Year from the 2011 Western Canadian Music Awards — the duo hopes to continue to explore the studio together on another forthcoming project.

“We’ve been doing a lot of collaborative writing together lately, but this is still a collection of our individual songs,” says Lane. “Our process has always been to go into the studio and record as much material as we can, and then to listen back and build an arc that way. But you’ll definitely see more of us writing together in the future.

“We may have to do a Jen & John 2.”

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