Janice Kirkwood
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Janice Kirkwood

Brooklyn, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

Brooklyn, NY | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Solo Pop Singer/Songwriter


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Debut EP, World of Should, released December 2010.
Single World of Should featured on VH1s Jump Start.


Feeling a bit camera shy


"I don't think I ever go about consciously writing a song about a specific subject. It's usually more in hindsight that I'll look back and go, 'Oh yeah, that's what that song is about.'"

Looking back on the period of time in which she wrote the songs that make up her EP World of Should, Janice Kirkwood knew just what inspired them.

Over the past few years, the singer/songwriter had much to deal with: her mother languishing in a Detroit hospital while she was living in New York, close friends going through break ups, and amid it all exploring her relationships, both familial and romantic.

The songs that came out of it all for World of Should aren't melancholic, though. They may be tinged with sadness, but prefer to revel in the highs and lows of life, appreciating the joy and pain through a lens that gently fuses the autobiographical and the universal.

Granted, considering the vast amount of experience Kirkwood has had in her short time on Earth would provide most artists with a wealth of inspiration.

Born and raised in Detroit, Kirkwood grew up alongside Interstate 96 ("I think of the soundtrack of my childhood as traffic," she says), the daughter of two emigres from Scotland. Her turbulent home life was tempered she says by getting lost in music. "Music was not only a shelter for me, but also a way to deal with my emotions. I think it was also a way to get attention, attention I wasn't getting from my parents."

Kirkwood spent her youth pursuing music in any facet she could get a hold of: singing at church, playing clarinet in the school orchestra and performing in musicals. Absorbing the eclectic musical styles, from The Smiths to The Beatles to Cole Porter, that would later influence her writing.

Following her graduation from Wayne State University, Kirkwood moved to New York to pursue musical theater and ended up getting involved in the emerging improv comedy scene there. She took classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, taught by Matt Walsh and future Parks & Recreation star Amy Poehler. While writing and performing in up to four shows a week at UCB, she was also singing covers in clubs and working slowly towards writing some original material.

When she finally stepped on stage on her own, debuting her songs at well-known venue The Living Room, Kirkwood had an immediate impact. "I didn't know how it would be received, and to have someone tell you that a song has affected him or her in some way is all I could have hoped for."

The next logical step was clear: get into the studio. For that, Kirkwood chose producer, Mark Ephraim, a fellow Detroiter who has worked with indie icons The New Pornographers and Dirty on Purpose. Kirkwood wrote the songs and handled all the vocals, and was joined by a variety of auxiliary players including drummer Chris Egan, Paul Leschen playing Hammond and piano, Kevin Thaxton on bass, and guitarist Chris Moore.

As for her first experience recording, Kirkwood says, "It was a relief. Coming from the improv world, where if there's a moment of dead air on stage, someone will jump in, having more than just myself in a room writing and recording was an eye opener. Watching these guys play parts I wrote and then Mark letting them loose to see what they would do on other songs was inspiring."

Kirkwood gave them some great material to work with. She gives "Black Sheep" a stately, sexy groove that counterpoints a plea to bring a long lost family member "back to the fold." And even as she sings that "the only sure thing is loneliness, you can feel her fighting it through a groovy shuffle beat that hearkens back to the worlds of rockabilly and glam rock.

But what pours out of these songs the strongest is the sense of how deeply felt the words and music were for its creator. This is art that inspires a visceral emotional reaction, which is just how Kirkwood wants it: "Writing for me is also about making the listener feel something. I want a song to reach my

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