If you ask the co-founding members, Pat Via and Mitch Mitchell, of the New York City-based pop group, January Jane, they’ll tell you their first session together was like an “arranged play date.” The two met at a gallery opening in the Big Apple, introduced by mutual friends. Via, who sang, was looking for a guitar player. And Mitchell, who played guitar, was looking for a singer. Kismet. From there, they hunkered down to work and, as Mitchell says, “write, write, write.” The two then took opportunity after opportunity, setting out to “say yes” to whatever chance came their way. From there, came a gig at a renovated adult theater and a friendship and partnership with famed music journalist, Matt Pinfield. Now, the pop outfit is poised to release its debut EP, Your Drug, on September 17 via BMG.
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“Pat and I were introduced at a gallery opening in Soho,” Mitchell says. “Pat was filming it and I was there because of the open bar.”
The two then ventured to Mitchell’s little home studio and began writing. They hit it off immediately. It was similar to how they hit it off with Pinfield, who became famous in the ‘90s in his roles with MTV. After meeting him at the converted movie house, they hung out backstage and went back to Mitchell’s to listen to demos.
“He’s been instrumental—no pun intended,” Mitchell says, “in terms of our careers and arranging for us to record an entire album out in L.A. We’re still inseparable.”
Between Via and Mitchell, they have about 50 or 60 songs written, recorded, and mastered. Their proverbial cup of songs is so full that they already have another album or two in the works, ranging potentially from acoustic music to metal. While January Jane dabbles in several genres, from disco to rock, on its new EP, they maintain a sense of movement and dance is paramount.
“For me,” Via says, “it’s about that dance-ability; there’s nothing like bobbing your head or dancing to a song.”
Both Via and Mitchell grew up in musical households. Via remembers first hearing R&B bands like the Commodores. He took piano lessons and tried to mimic and learn what he heard on the radio. Mitchell remembers listening to Thriller in his childhood house and their hairs on the back of his neck standing up. He also remembers hearing Van Halen on that record and sifting through his parents’ collection of original Beatles records.
“For me,” Via says, “music became very serious when I went to college. Originally, I went to school to study medicine, I was supposed to be a doctor. But I just knew what I wanted to do, so I set out and tried every which way but loose.”
The band’s new EP reflects their experiences in New York City. Via’s first time on stage came after he wrote his first song after a breakup. He performed it in the Village at a venue that’s now a coffee shop.
“Our upcoming EP,” Mitchell says, “is just revelations about lived experiences in New York. The city brought us together and gave us a lot of opportunities to seize upon to get us where we are now.”
January Jane’s new album is bright and energetic. The five-song EP includes a cover of Hall and Oates hit, “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” and their original romp, “Addicted to the Night.” The two songs are but two of the many that caught the eye of BMG and that fans now have in store.
“Releasing 60 songs at one time is not practical,” Mitchell says, with a laugh. “Pat and I keep writing. All we do is write! For the entire past year or two, we’ve doubled down. After shows were cancelled, we’d write more—write better and keep working.”
For the two collaborators and bandmates, music is an essential, important aspect of bother their lives and human life. It’s what they do, both because they love it and it’s essential, like breathing air.
“I love the feeling that it gives,” Via says. “It can highlight any emotion or any time in your life. Having that soundtrack to your life, that’s the key to it.”
“I feel we have this obligation,” Mitchell says, “to tell the truth and music is how we do that. It’s the mechanism we’ve found to enable us to tell our story.”