A universal theme of broken hearts and moving on is at the centre of the London-based/American songwriter’s new indie-folk song
Born and raised in Idaho, with his teenage years spent in California, Ian Janco subsequently studied at Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and now lives in London. His taste for new adventures is reflected in his music career; not just an artist in his own right, Janco also writes songs for acts like JP Cooper, has composed for film and television and worked on other collaborations within London’s dance scene.
For his solo career, Janco’s carefully crafted indie-folk style will appeal to fans of Ray Lamontagne and the early works of Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver. Elevated by his rich and expressive voice, there’s little room to hide in this uncluttered and unveiled sound. Thankfully so, as new single Something New is a personal tale of a relationship ending and life repairing that Janco is sharing to help others who are going through similar situations…
I wrote Something New, and much of my upcoming EP, at the end of a long and wonderful relationship. I can now look back and see that it had run its course, but at the time it was really difficult for me to come to terms with such a radical change. Everything in my life had sort of fallen apart. My career was on pause, so was my job (as a live musician) due to Covid and the lockdowns and my parents were splitting up at the same time. As a result, I was leaning on the relationship as the one thing that still made sense. So when it ended, I was truly lost.
Something New comes from this place of knowing that your time with someone is over, still cherishing the memories, but not quite being ready to move on, although the other person clearly is. There’s a sense of optimism in the song, which I couldn’t figure out for a while. Maybe it came from knowing that life goes on, and it would get better for me, too. In the end, it did.
The first line I wrote kind of outlined the entire song:
It’s been a while since we first locked eyes
It’s been a while, so it’s no surprise you’re looking for something new
It really shows you where the song is going, and the lyrics just flowed from there. Some of the imagery in the verse is a mixture of direct experiences, as well as a metaphor with larger scope. For example:
We used to dance with the rising ride
We used to hold hands, now we’re holding tight to nothing, for something new
This is a literal memory – dancing on the beach – but for me, the image of the rising tide lends itself to a metaphor about growing together in life, both “riding the same wave” as it were. But that can’t last forever, and eventually, you end up holding on to nothing in place of where the other person’s hand once was. In a way, it’s about growing up and learning to rely on yourself.
I re-wrote the middle eight like four times… It wasn’t right because my feeling about the situation kept changing. It finally landed on something oddly Biblical, a bit heavy-handed, but honest:
Our love had a touch of the heavens, but you left me in hell
I swore I heard you call out as I fell
Which then moves into the chorus:
You know I’d do anything for you
I can’t help it, I still adore you
I’ve got nothing left to lose
But still you say that you need something new
What initially intrigued me about this song was the contradiction of such a melancholy and wistful lyric with bouncy, upbeat chords. There was something about it that summed up how I felt about the relationship. Even though it’s hard to experience loss, it creates the conditions for change and growth, and maybe something better than you ever could have imagined will emerge from that dark time.
This song was a bit of a pain to arrange actually. I had a long pre-chorus initially, which later became the middle eight, which I then re-wrote completely. I left it on the shelf for a while because I couldn’t figure it out, but eventually, the arrangement clicked into place and it makes for a very tight pop song, which I’m pleased with. Some songs come out perfect and fully formed, but sometimes they need revising and time away to get a fresh perspective.
IN THE STUDIO
I wrote several songs a day in the weeks after this breakup, which was a great release, but I felt like I was just stuck in this cycle of dwelling on the past and being lost in my emotions. My mental health was suffering due to the lockdowns and various other things, and a friend had offered me to use their empty flat in Brighton as an escape from London. I took her up on it and used her home studio setup to record demos of that whole song cycle.
The guitars and the vocals you hear on Something New are from that week of recording in Brighton, and the same can be said with most of the songs on the upcoming EP. I wanted to keep the authenticity and the vulnerability of where I was at in the record. Everything aside from the strings (played by Elliot Kempton) was played/produced by me. This was really my first effort at fully self-producing and mixing one of my own records.
I recorded and produced the rest of the track in my home studio in South London. I had a nine-to-five job at the time, so I was doing this recording in the evenings mostly. It was a huge learning process for me, because I’ve always worked with a producer. It took a lot longer but I’m really happy with how it turned out. The mix doesn’t sound clinically perfect, but it feels warm and authentic, which is the vibe I wanted people to get when they listen.
Writing and producing Something New, and the whole Rapture EP was like therapy for me. It let me get my feelings out onto the page and into the air. It helped me heal. It’s the most personal music I’ve ever made, so part of me was hesitant to release it. But something told me that it might help other people heal as well. So if anyone reading this knows someone who is going through a hard time, consider sharing this song with them. Who knows, maybe it will help them find their Something New.