Canadian singer-songwriter Janel Rae has shared a music video for her newest single, “Sometimes.”
“Sometimes” begins with the sound of broken glass swept up off the floor. The sound of glass will become crucial throughout the song’s cascading narrative. ‘I spilled a jar of jam on the carpet/ And I can’t remove the stain/ Now when I look down, it reminds me of the fight we had that day,’ Rae sings.
The perspective shifts from the narrator alone in her home to the narrator in a relationship with someone. We hear a distorted voice abstractly representing one’s greater shadow in counter-harmony to Rae’s honeyed vocals. ‘I suppressed you for four years now/ And it’s making me anxious,’ she confesses in song, explaining that it’s “what happens to the voice as it’s suppressed and on the verge of breaking through.”
Suddenly, the song builds to a crescendo. ‘Sometimes I want to scream so loud/ People start running/ Punching beds to get it out/ Just to feel something.’ A glass breaks against a wall, and Rae repeats the line about wanting to scream so loud. The song slows again and meanders from solitude to relationship to solitude until the narrator is alone again, and we hear the sound from the beginning, the sweeping up of glass.
“Growing up, I found myself playing the peace-keeper, the listener, too busy to engage with the other sides of myself,” she recalls. “When I moved from Kelowna to
Toronto, to go to college, I met my anger for the first time, and I called this period of my life ‘my wreckage’… And I enjoyed it.”
It’s a song that’s much greater than the sum of its parts.
“’Sometimes’ is more than a broken love song,” Rae reveals. “It’s a mourning for my younger self, and a claiming of one’s discovered internal landscape.”
This is reflected in the wide array, as well as the cinematic nature, of the sounds that appear in the single.
“I wanted to twist the voices, smash the glass, and bend the instruments to capture a body of anxiety hovering in the singer’s shadow,” Rae explains. “The chorus comes in with a field of voices to join the singer: these feelings are not rare; these thoughts do not live in one life. I wanted anyone to feel like they could turn this on and yell these words.”
Twenty-three years ago I was given the name Janel and since I have picked up a series of nicknames that seem to follow my endless array of characters. I find myself riddled with songs, showing up when I least expect it, often when a pen is far from grasp or in the middle of teaching a voice lesson while a student sings their arpeggios.
Tarkovsky, sport, and feminist period movies inspire me most and often paint a layer for the next music video of mine. My body is very loud to me and continuously makes a point of my cloth, building deep wells for material, loud material that I hope resonates with some of you. I’m very proud of my friends and the art we have made together. I love what I do even when I hate it.
I was lucky enough to live on the side of a mountain facing Okanagan Lake, a beat outside the city centre which gave me ample space to explore and wonder. I spent most of my time at our family’s piano, writing and creating little worlds. I return to Kelowna with gentle fondness and find sanctuary in its landscapes. Along with some diamond childhood friends and my incredibly supportive family, what I miss most are the sounds of the birds, the smell of green springs, and the lake on my skin.
I recently flew back to Toronto and there came a feeling, a whisper of relief and comfort. The highway curves into a sea of tall arching buildings that seem to reflect the right amount of light. It’s littered with free memories like the warm night walks in a bath-like summer, the smell of Ethiopian veggie platters and Dim Sum next door, weird life-long friends who love their craft as much as I love mine, and always the humming of a city that breathes. I am very thankful for what Toronto has taught me.
Growing up my house was full of Queen, Bob Marley, and plenty of Supertramp, who all seemed to leave their mark.
Moving to Toronto, I found acceptance in my angrier parts and a hidden voice through Fiona Apple, whom I owe a solid chunk of my growth.
But my world cracked open when I was introduced to Joni Mitchell, two years ago, prior to writing my second album. You could say I found my music mother. A constant asking to write with thought, taking responsibility in lyrics and storytelling. She left me vibrating, itching to write and I felt completely free. I walked a lot with her, studying Blue and Hejira. She changed my perspective on what it means to be an artist, and what it means to be brave. I am forever grateful.
On March 19, 1968, Joni Mitchell played two sets, 22 tracks, four days before the release of her first album at Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa. Amongst the crowd sat a friendly face recording her show on a small tape recorder in the front row. That was Jimi Hendrix. I think I would have liked to be in that room with two of the most significant musicians of all time.
I’m Jenna, and I am the founder and editor of Canadian Beats. I have had a strong love for Canadian music, which started many years ago. I have a passion for promoting these talented Canadian bands and artists, and that’s how Canadian Beats came to be. I am so proud of what it has become over the last few years, with many talented music lovers and writers coming together to spread the word of Canada’s music.