Previously, in part 1 of my interview with Janet Robin, I asked the veteran guitarist about her days with the female band Precious Metal back in the mid-1980’s, as well as her experiences with many other great artists. Amongst those experiences, Janet mentioned how a link between Precious Metal and Air Supply resulted in her touring as a guitarist with the Australian soft-rock band in 2008 and ’09.
You can read about that and more from Part 1 by clicking here.
On to this, the second part, which starts with me asking Janet about her most recent album:
Steve: A couple of years ago, you released an album entitled “Everything Has Changed”, which was produced by John Carter Cash. Did working with the son of a legendary country music couple [Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash] give your album a feel that would have been different had anyone else produced it?
Janet: I chose John Carter Cash actually because we are similar in age and I actually grew up listening to a lot of the same bands…AC/DC, Zeppelin…he’s a huge Iron Maiden fan, and he even saw Precious Metal once back in the 80’s. He may have come from country royalty, but he’s also a major rocker. I was really intrigued by his versatile background in music and since my music is so eclectic, I just had a good feeling he would “get” me and what I wanted to have come across in the production and overall feel of the record.
Janet Robin at the Cash Cabin
I think it was the best recording experience I’ve ever had with my music and with a producer. He made me feel really comfortable from the get-go, assembled top notch Nashville rock guys, but also some legends like David Roe, who was Johnny’s bass player for 25 years. I liked mixing and matching all kinds of musicians together and making magic in the studio. If the songs are there and the talent is there, we’re going to create something special and unique to what I’m about with my music. Everyone was on board and I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and respectful crew.
Steve: Following up on that, what do you think of Jewel, a successful singer-songwriter-guitarist in her own right, playing June Carter Cash in a forthcoming made-for-TV movie about her [“The June Carter Cash Story” on Lifetime], which is based on a 2007 book that John Carter Cash wrote [“Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash”]?
Janet: I don’t know much about Jewel as an actress, but she’s a great musician and I’m sure can relate to June in many ways. I know a little bit about that book as John told me he wrote it about his mom but also for his mom. I’m sure it will be a great movie. The Cash family is really careful about correct portrayals about their family and their background, and I don’t think John would let anything get out there unless it was totally right on spot.
Steve: During your recent European tour, Janet, you paid a visit to the BalconyTV operation in Prague, Czech Republic, in which you sang, rather appropriately, “Everybody Falls in Love in Prague”, a beautiful song that rocks, and was featured on your aforementioned “Everything Has Changed” album. What do you think of BalconyTV, with setups around the world, as an online promotional tool?
Janet: I think whoever came up with that idea is a genius! 🙂 It’s really is a cool thing and they have so many great places they can feature musicians in. I really enjoyed filming that and I have gotten some new fans from all over the world since its release. Videos, you tube, etc. is now the way musicians promote. It’s absolutely necessary to have stuff out like this.
Steve: My mother used to watch “All My Children” from the day it premiered in 1970 all the way to its conclusion at the end of 2011. I noticed that a song of yours got played on that long-running daytime drama. Which song was it, and when did that happen?
Janet: I think it was a song called “Heaven.” I’m not actually singing on it – I hired a different style singer for it. I’m the writer and played on it. I’m a freelance writer for ABC-TV, so they called me up at the time asking for certain style of song and I wrote this one on request and it ended up being used in the soap. No complaints! 🙂
Steve: Following up on that, since you’ve had songs featured on various TV shows over the years, as well as recorded underscores for a short film [“Traces”] and a documentary [“Stories of Health”], what would you consider unique about licensing and scoring music for film and TV?
Janet: Well, let’s just start with the fact that they pay you for your work – and the royalties keep coming as long as it gets played. I feel like licensing is the new record deal. I also enjoy writing for specific things, like a scene or a score that needs to evoke a certain feeling. It’s a little different then writing for yourself. You really have to capture that moment on screen or be able to create the vibe for a film that the director is looking for.
I have an acting background, having attended UCLA Theater Arts for College, so I think combined with musical experience, it really comes in handy. I truly enjoy scoring and I’m looking forward to doing more. Someday, I would like to do a really big Hollywood film – with an orchestra and everything. I don’t really read music, but I can transpose it on guitar and come up with all the parts. I just think it would be an amazing experience and though I will always keep touring and performing, I can see doing scores as a future for me.
Steve: In addition to playing guitar, you’re also teaching guitar-playing. How has that been coming along?
Janet: I enjoy teaching a lot and have about 10 students at the moment. I teach when I’m not on tour and even sometimes when I am on tour via Skype. I’m quite dedicated to my students, as I’m sure I learned that from Randy Rhoads. I find that I actually “learn” myself from my students. They challenge me to teach them new songs I’ve never heard or very complicated finger-picking tunes that take a long time for me to actually learn! It’s been a real treasure being able to pass on any tricks or tips, get them ready for shows, etc. I don’t have children, so all my students no matter what age they are – are like my kids. I am so proud of each of them!
Steve: Finally, Janet, I saw this cool video on YouTube in which you demonstrated the RS-6 Deuce guitar by Renaissance, that you co-designed with company owner Rick Turner. It’s the kind of guitar that’s so unique as to reflect your versatility, but I was wondering if the RS-6 is the first guitar to have dual acoustic and electric plugins as well as volume controls?
Janet: I think there are other hybrids out there. I know there is a Music Man guitar that’s a hybrid, but I’m actually not sure it has two separate outputs. That’s something I thought would be really important and it was Rick’s suggestion as well.
My thanks to Janet for an enjoyable interview. You’ve got to admire her as both a musician who’s rocked it so well over the years, both by herself and with others, and as someone who enjoys sharing what she loves with those who want to create their own guitar magic.
Janet’s demonstration video of the Renaissance RS-6 Deuce guitar can be seen below.
You can also watch her BalconyTV visit to Prague on www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1UNGX_1bsM.
And to find out more about Janet, including her upcoming live shows, you can visit her website, http://www.janetrobin.com, as well as like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/janetrobin and follow her on Twitter @janetrobin.
Photo credits: JanetRobin.com