Sometimes a collaboration between two people can be like elements working together in nature, complementing each other in a perfectly symbiotic way pushing one another to become stronger. Such is the case for Austin based duo Jane Leo, made up of Jane Ellen Bryant and Daniel Leopold.
“It’s been awesome,” says Bryant of the tour. “They're really great people and they attract really great fans so we are honored to play in front of full rooms of great people every night and the biggest either of us has played consistently for sure.”
Jane Leo began as a project for the two right before COVID began when Bryant and Leopold were both recipients of artists grants in Austin and finally met after years of running in the same circles.
Bryant, originally from Austin, has made a name for herself as a singer songwriter with songs that seesaw between insightful stories of youth and more poppy, rocking bangers while Leopold, originally from Detroit, is the frontman for the dynamic rock and roll outfit Leopold and His Fiction.
After many years in the music business, both artists admit they were feeling a little stuck in a rut with their careers and creative direction until they met. Originally, the idea was for Leopold to work on some songs with Bryant for her albums but as the two got writing, the chemistry was palpable.
“It was kind of everything at once,” says Bryant. “Literally all the things.” The two not only hit it off creatively but also romantically. They had some songs mixed and ready to go but just as they were on the cusp of planning their next step as a band, COVID stopped all live shows.
“I’m really glad we didn't come out of our bubble because we had to dive even deeper even more and it was just a really creative and necessary time for us,” says Bryant.
With both artists coming from their own individual spaces and influences, this project allowed them to meet in the middle somewhere pushing each other’s imaginative boundaries to learn new approaches to songwriting. The two created a new, freeing sound brought on by exploring new perspectives.
“I was able to take the proverbial production bull by the horns and create the beats and really, I’d never done that before so that was step one of doing something that makes you a little nervous,” describes Leopold.
For her part, Bryant had to reimagine her singing style as she shifted away from her typical sound adding a bit more of a harder edge while Leopold found a way to soften his rock and roller approach. Both felt a mix of liberation and safety in taking the other's outlook during the songwriting process.
“We just had to push ourselves really hard to stop doing what we had been doing for decades and try something new. When you're capable of getting past that barrier that you create around yourself to being vulnerable, as soon as you can get past that, all of a sudden it starts pouring out.”
The team ended up with not only two albums of Jane Leo material but additional material for each one's solo projects along with the much needed reignition of the spark that burned their desires to make music in the first place.
As soon as they could, the duo planned shows, made videos and started a well received residency in their hometown at Hotel Vegas. This year they released their debut self titled album and recently released their latest single “Wow” off their upcoming sophomore effort. The band is also scheduled to play the Austin City Limits Festival this year.
“We had been working on the music for a while behind the scenes so when we opened the floodgates it really was a flood gate of, okay here's everything we are doing and we are not wasting any time. Here we go,” says Bryant.
In their debut album, the duo created a wonderful merge of moody, yet catchy synth-pop blended with rock while being filled with fun energy and a sexy vibe. As Jane Leo has now spent more time in front of live audiences, their performances have served as a jump off point for their next album.
“Wow” shows a glimpse of the band shift into a new and somewhat lighter direction complete with a silly and fun video of the two running around Austin as superheroes.
“We just kind of go with whatever inspires us,” describes Bryant. “The video right before this was “Our Love” and it has such a serious tone, which is also our personalities, and then running around in superhero suits is apparently also our personalities so we go with whatever were creatively inspired by in the moment.”
Jane Leo will perform on Monday, September 18, with Cannon at White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, 7 p.m, $35.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.