JANN ARDEN CHARMS HOWARD MANDSHEIN
INTERVIEW COMPILATION BY LINDA DROSDOWECH FOR SWISH MAGAZINE
Anyone who knows the multi-talented Jann Arden, Canada’s Juno award-winning singer/song writer, whose greatest hits include ‘Could I Be Your Girl’ and ‘Insensitive’, knows she does not shy away from witty upfront honesty.
Anyone who knows the legendary Howard Mandshein, Winnipeg’s beloved radio personality broadcasting from 92.1 Citi FM, knows he is the ultimate music lover, expert and consummate fan.
So when Howard interviews Jann, the entertaining questions and answers start to fly, revealing their quirky yet compatible personalities. From her down to earth pre-performance rituals, to the social media deluge inspiring the book on her mother’s Alzheimer’s, to finally discovering Jann’s ultimate dinner guests, it is like listening to two old friends banter in a secret language.
The end result is eight essential truths from the engaging, hilarious and always charming Jann Arden.
#1 ALWAYS BE YOURSELF
H: Thank you for the time. Thank you for the music. You put a smile on peoples’ faces. You put joy in their hearts and in their lives.
J: Thank you so much.
H: When I see you perform, you enter a magical world. Do you know that world you are entering? Do you know you’re on another plane? Am I making sense?!
J: I don’t know if it’s any different from the one we’re sitting in right now. I never take myself seriously. Usually the last thing I’m doing before I wander out on stage is putting a cracker in my mouth with a hunk of cheese on it, finishing up a phone call with my nutty mother, or trying to make the dog pee.
H: Is it tougher today to capture an audience because there are so many bells and whistles that acts have?
J: People know what they’re going to see when they come to see me. I don’t feel I have to get out there with a laser show!
#2 LAUGHTER INSPIRES
H: You take us on a wonderful, wonderful trip.
J: I don’t ever want to stand out there and present the audience with twenty heavy emotional songs about love and loss. Humor for me is such a reprieve. I love having people laugh! I love making them bend over and whack the person beside them in disbelief, and then starting the next song and seeing how the energy changes shape. I genuinely like people and I want to send them off inspired.
H: You do. You do.
#3 NOT EVERYTHING CREATED IS GREAT
H: You have some beautiful, beautiful melodies. Do we know where those melodies come from? Do you pick them out of the air?
J: I have no clue. I’ll hit a chord. A guitar or piano, and it starts stumbling along. It’s truly very mystical. The idea falls upon you. Songs take me about an hour. I don’t usually struggle. I don’t change the lyrics a lot. Not all are good though! For every hundred songs, ten are okay and two, I would consider great.
H: They come to life when they’re performed. That’s a talent.
#4 BE OPEN TO CHANGE
H: What do you think about the impact of technology today?
J: I think it’s pretty glorious. Every few thousand years we embark on a new and noble quest in art, architecture and politics.
When people look back on us and see the beginning of the technological age: “They actually put phones to their heads to talk! They didn’t have a clue.”
It has helped level the playing field in music and the arts. People can be craftsmen in their homes. They can put sculptures made of old buttons and what have you online. They can promote themselves on Etsy or Ebay or Itunes, and someone can download it in Finland or Ethiopia. There’s online bullying and all that shit, but people are standing up for themselves, and becoming more aware, like the “Me Too” movement uniting human beings. It’s an exciting time.
#5 KEEP TRYING NEW THINGS
H: Is it a goal to conquer all media?
J: I think you get better at what you do by trying new things. I love television as a medium. It’s still very important.
I think I’m still standing after twenty-five years because I’ve been willing to branch out! I feel like I’m going off to summer camp when I do something like ‘The Social’, or when I do a bit of acting or writing. It all stems from the creative process, and me expressing an opinion.
#6 DARKNESS IS A TEACHER
H: A lot of artists today are private with their lives. You’ve chosen to use your name as a platform. I respect you very deeply for that.
J: My mom has Alzheimer’s. When it first started happening, I was very ill-equipped, and scared, and then one day I sat down and scribbled something on Facebook. The next day my manager said: “You have a million impressions with 4400 comments”!
I realized how profoundly sad, frustrated and fear-riddled people were about memory loss diseases. I started writing regularly about the countless, endless mistakes I was making with my mom and my dad because I was ill-prepared.
I have full-time help for my mom now, and I’m about to put her into full-time assisted living. I don’t mind writing about it. I don’t modify it. It scares the life out of me, but I know it’s important.
H: Out of this particular darkness has come?
J: So many wondrous things have come! Sobriety. A lot of joy and self-discovery. I don’t know where I’d be without that melancholy, somber, dark part of my life. It’s been the greatest teaching tool I have ever, or will ever experience.
H: The book (Feeding My Mother) had to come out of you to fulfill something in your soul.
J: As I’m getting older, I realize it’s important to look at your thoughts on a page. They make a bit more sense. When we leave them in our heads, they tend to be too abstract.
#7 MISTAKES DEFINE YOU
H: You have no regrets do you?
J: I have lots of regrets! I drank way too much in my twenties. I didn’t treat my body very well. I treated people unfairly. I made mistakes in relationships. I have a lot of ‘I wishes’ but having said that, I wouldn’t be the person I am now.
#8 NEVER TURN DOWN AN INVITATION TO JANN'S
H: You are organizing a party in the arts community and can invite anyone you want, dead or alive. Who would you invite?
J: I’d give anything to have Liz Taylor sit in front of me! Bette Davis. Lucille Ball. Mary Tyler Moore. Those ground-breaking women. Olivia Newton-John. Cher. I would love to talk to Timothy Findley, who is no longer with us, about writing. Jackie Collins would be so fun! There are thousands of brilliant artists that have forged our path. Cleopatra. Marc Anthony. Julius Caesar. Herod. Biblical figures. I’d love to peek through a keyhole at their lives.
H: I was a fan coming in, and now I’m a major fan. You’re a class act, Jann!
J: Thank you for taking time for me. I appreciate it so much.
H: I love what you do, what you stand for and how you champion your family.
J: Look after yourself and we shall meet again.
H: We will meet again. God bless you, and thank you for everything.
“FEEDING MY MOTHER”, PUBLISHED BY RANDOM HOUSE OF CANADA. BASED ON HER HUGELY POPULAR FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM POSTS ON CARING FOR HER MOTHER WITH ALZHEIMER’S.
“THESE ARE THE DAYS”, PRODUCED BY BOB ROCK. CD UNIVERSAL MUSIC CANADA, WILL BE RELEASED IN MARCH 2018.
HOWARD MANDSHEIN, 92.1 CITI FM. LISTEN TO HIM WEEKDAYS 6:00 – 11:00 P.M.