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Jana Fisher

October 1, 2012

Jana Fisher

The children of ministers are known to fall into two categories: the angels and the troublemakers. Jana Fisher is a good girl everywhere but the piano. “Music is my rebellion,” she says. “At least it’s better than setting things on fire and getting arrested.”

Jana’s music career began with performing at churches and corn festivals in rural Ohio, ministering by singing other people’s music. When the family business uprooted her Florida, she self-medicated by confessing her teenage angst to the piano. While scrambling to finish college and escape the Sunshine State, Jana wrote, produced, recorded, and self-released her first album, A History of Sleepwalking, just in time to pack up the family car and be uprooted again — this time by choice, to complete her evolution from naive choir girl to self-aware and articulate artist in New York City.

This fall, Jana will release her first EP since the transformation. Ideals & Deals is an intimate yet lively set of tracks constructed around piano, guitar, and light percussion, recorded over three hot summer days in Brooklyn.

The songs traverse diverse emotional landscapes in pinpointed detail. From obsessing over the “30k” that makes or breaks a big city transplant, to purposely undermining a relationship in “You Deserve Better,” to recording new open-hearted love for a woman in “If I Ever Break Your Heart”— all three spin tales of what we’ll do for our ideals, the shocking compromises of survival and the rewards reaped from a life richly lived.

1. What is your hometown?

This is more complicated to answer than it should be … I was in a small town in Ohio for the first half of my life and spent several years on the west coast of Florida. I’m now based in NYC.

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

This isn’t necessarily my favorite book, but I really identified with Patty Berglund in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, who is so busy trying to fake an easy-going attitude that she can’t even recognize her own desires until they ruin her life. That’s me at my worst.

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

Jena Malone.

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

The Idler Wheel… by Fiona Apple— she’s a hermit, and yet she obviously has so much going on in her rich and tormented inner life. I think we’re all like that, but we’re afraid to admit it to each other (or even ourselves).

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I’m a huge fan of Amanda Palmer so I figured it was time to meet her husband.

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

“The Bed Song” by Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra.

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?

Brave. Give me a swelling soundtrack and I’ll cry at anything.

8. Cat person or dog person?

Cats. Dogs are adorable but I like my companions to have lives outside of me.

9. What is more important, truth or kindness?

Growing up in the Midwest in the South, I’ve been overexposed to a certain kind of obligatory politeness. When everyone is nice to you, it’s hard to know which way is up. And there’s a certain kind of courtesy that is unkind. So I’ll say truth. Kindness on its own is empty and overrated.

10. How do you define sin?

Letting your ignorance about your own hangups cause you to hurt yourself or others.

11. How do you define virtue?

Being your best self, whatever that is.

12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

It’s simple and says the usual “Daughter/Sister” … maybe “Mother/Wife.” Hopefully the date range is long and I’m buried next to someone I love. If this is the cartoon version of my life it says “She tried always to live in her truth.”

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Mitt Romney— after the election, to see if he has a soul.

Jana Fisher

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