Alt-pop group January Jane—made up of Pat Via (vocals), Mitch Mitchell (guitar) and Peter Scialla (keyboard)—are gearing up to release their debut EP Your Drug with BMG records. The group came together through the magic and mystique of New York City, and their upcoming EP is an epic, driving ode to that same city. The group, which was supported and produced by music industry legend Matt Pinfield, is gearing up and excited to tour the new record. Read on for our interview with January Jane singer and guitarist Pat Via and Mitch Mitchell, where we break down their musical journey and dive into the upcoming EP.
January Jane seems to have come together under really interesting, chance circumstances—how did you guys come together and form into what you are now?
Mitch Mitchell: We actually met at a gallery opening in Manhattan. Pat was there doing something, I was there drinking, and we were introduced as Pat needed a band as a singer and I needed a singer as a guitar person putting a band together. We were just introduced as ‘hey, you guys get together and start writing.’ We chatted for a minute at the gallery opening and we realized that on the Venn diagram, the union of our musical influences was so vast it was like, ‘ok, let’s jump into this.’ I had a little studio in my West Village apartment. We met up there a day later and pumped out our first song in 15 minutes and we just never stopped.
We started the recording process where he would come over every day. We would record into the evening and then head out into the nightlife that New York City is famous for offering, hit up all our favorite little West Village bars and try to get people to come back to listen to whatever song we had just written. Through that, we ended up meeting a lot of the rest of the team. I think a lot of it is because we were out so much, it increased our chances for magical things to happen because we were open to the opportunities. It’s interesting to look back on it. We haven’t stopped. It’s kind of funny talking about something that has just never ended.
What drew you to music and songwriting that guided you to a position where you both were looking to start a band?
Pat Via: A lot of things came together at once. I was coming off of American Idol, I was doing production stuff at the time and Mitch is quite the interesting character. I always love writing with everybody. Just seeing him play guitar once or twice, I was like ‘I should be writing with this guy.’ Just seeing him play a couple licks and then we started writing—when you write a song with someone in 10 minutes, there’s obviously something there. It just flowed so well, we kind of said ‘let’s see what happens the next day, and the next day.’ It kept snowballing into this thing where I’m at his apartment and we’re recording all the time. It became my home away from home to the point where I would get out of my day job at the time and I’d be down there ‘til three in the morning and just did that for a while. You know pretty immediately if songwriting is gonna work with somebody.
Mitchell: It is that instant chemistry. Pat is so quick, especially with melodic ideas, you look back on it, it only would have stood out if it didn’t work. When things are flowing, you’re just riding that wave, you’re not thinking ‘oh, wow, this wave is so continuous.’ It is one of those funny things you have to stop and pause and force yourself to look back on. At the time, when things are going smoothly, you’re just along for the ride, so I’m glad that ride has not stopped yet.
What did those songwriting sessions look like? How do you combine melodies and lyrical ideas with guitar licks to create complete songs?
Via: A lot of the time, it would be on a bus or a train, something I saw, something that happened from the night before, things like that. I would come in with ideas and we just bounce ideas off each other and we end up with a full song. Sometimes, Mitch would have a little guitar lick that he was messing around with, and I’d be like ‘oh, play that again, what is that, I think I got something for that.’ It was really a joint effort. Sometimes it’d be guitar, sometimes it’d be lyrics, sometimes the guitar would help influence a thought lyrically. Any which way but loose is the way we write music.
Mitchell: Exactly, yeah, we’ve done it every way. The only thing that’s guaranteed when we go into the studio is that we don’t know what’s gonna happen, but we tend to leave smiling. These songs have been crafted in every imaginable way possible, which is half the fun. It’s never really routine. It’s the surprises that keep you going.
Is there an overriding theme or through-line that connects your upcoming EP, Your Drug?
Via: I think New York City as a whole. The lifeline of who we are and what brought us together and what kept us out that late at night and introduced us to all the people we needed to meet, New York City has paved the path for us. They’re all about experiences of being in New York. It’s cool to be fortunate enough to have such an interesting place to write about. New York City is running through all these tracks.
Mitchell: The city has been good to us, and I think we’ve been good to the city. We’re very excited to be a part of the rebirth if you will. You can’t take the city out of what we do. We couldn’t do it if we tried. Our studio is in midtown Manhattan; we hung out the windows with microphones to capture the actual sound of the city. New York City is literally in the music.
“Versions Of You” is the first single that was released off the upcoming record — what was the specific inspiration for this track and how did it come together?
Via: I saw a model on a train and she was looking through a portfolio. She looked so unhappy with these pictures. This girl was stunning. It was such a funny thing that no matter what version of herself she looked at, she just didn’t seem happy. I thought that was a really interesting thing to look at. It was that moment for me where I came up with the “versions of you” type of thing. Slowly, it started to build. It’s always easy to pull from relationships and versions of ourselves. It kind of came out of the air, from the F-train. Another song came from walking over the Brooklyn bridge. It’s endless with the City.
Mitchell: The great thing about “Versions of You”—and every song has its own unique history—but “Versions of You” we started in 2017. Then all the stuff is happening; record deals, all these other things. We ended up recording a bunch of new music, and then BMG kind of selected it as a potential single. We ended up finishing it right before the release. So “Versions of You” has pre-pandemic, during the pandemic, and now hopefully coming out of the post-pandemic, we hope, it’s all in that song. It has quite the history to it.
“Your Drug” is this big, anthemic, song that drives and uplifts—how did the track come together, musically?
Via: That’s another one that we started a while ago. Just working through it, there’s so many different iterations of it, it’s funny to think of.
Mitchell: It had a different intro for a while, and I think it was taking a little bit of time for people to get into it. I remember BMG first heard it—we ended up getting back in there and reworking some things. Once again, time has been another element that has been beneficial to us. We’ve been able to sit with things, play live — and that’s when things really come together. You can see people’s immediate reaction and feel the energy. Then you know it’s right. I cannot wait to play that one live again. We’re actually shooting a music video for that one very soon; very exciting.
Via: It’s basically what everyone in the world has felt. It’s that feeling of euphoria that you’re so head over heels. It’s a feeling of falling and floating at the same time.
At this point, you’re signed with BMG, you’ve got this debut EP on its way and live shows are coming back—what is coming up for you that you guys are most excited for?
Mitchell: Things are opening up again. We have a festival here in October. We’re doing a secret show in New York at a big festival here in just a couple weeks. There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on. Keep knocking on that wood, and yeah, we can’t wait to get back on stage. Most of what we do is really a vehicle, an excuse to be able to perform live.
Via: I think that once the live shows fully come back, we’re trying to plan as many live shows as possible, but for us, it’s really about getting more and more music out. We have some releases coming out. We actually have a video for “I Can’t Go For That,” coming out; we’ve got some more music coming out—the EP with “Your Drug” on it—super exciting time for us and we’re so humbled and fortunate, especially coming out of a crazy time like the pandemic. Can’t ask for more.
You can check out January Jane’s music here.