“Soulful and emotive” are the two words that USC singer-songwriter and producer Jane Honor would use to describe her music. On Friday, Honor will release her debut album, “Spiraling In Central Park,” following the success of her first few singles.
Just 21-years-old, Honor, a junior majoring in music industry, already knows who she is as an artist. “Spiraling In Central Park” maintains a cohesive sound in its eight tracks, and its production highlights Honor’s soft vocals and ethereal head voice.
Album track “My Body” encapsulates the project’s tone. The ballad’s production is built around a slow piano riff and crescendos at its bridge, while its chorus becomes anthemic, “It’s my body and I want it back / Yeah, I hate it but it sure loves you.”
For Honor, “My Body” is one of the most important songs on “Spiraling In Central Park” and features some of her most introspective lyrics. Its streaming proceeds will be donated to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an organization cofounded by her biggest musical inspiration, Tori Amos, a ’90s alternative rock artist.
“She’s a woman that talks about a lot of hard topics, and she’s also a keyboard player,” Honor said. “She taught me that girls can be in rock music and girls in rock can play piano.”
Honor’s passion for music started long before she began recording. Before she fell in love with Amos’ music, she performed in her first musical at just eight years old.
“A lot of the songs that I was learning for theater, I would try to come up with little ways to change them or change the lyrics or the melodies to make them sound better to me,” Honor said. “That eventually led to one of my teachers being like, ‘You should write songs.’”
For Honor, it was the pandemic that spurred her artistry and inspired her to make her own music. Her first songwriting class at USC assigned homework every week. Here, Honor became more comfortable with herself as a songwriter and with sharing her work with professors, classes and peers.
“Things really kicked off when the pandemic hit because I felt like I had gained all these songwriting skills and could actually apply them on my own time,“ Honor said. “So I spent the lockdown writing and also recording most of this album.”
Honor said she got lucky with the success of her July 2021 single “There Won’t Be Any Music” and its performance on streaming platforms. The single’s success, in part due to the Public Relations firm TREND that Honor works with, caught the eye of Alethea Freidberg, social chair and member of the A&R team for 840 West, USC’s student-run record label.
“840 does a lot more of the marketing for the USC circle and then TREND PR also helps as well,” Freidberg said. “The combination of both 840 and TREND really have helped her get good playlist placements and really helped get Jane’s numbers to be where they are today.”
According to Freidberg, playlisting in the streaming age has become more and more important, especially for someone taking an alternative route to what has become more and more popular — post on TikTok and hope your music career takes off from there.
840 also provides their artists access to INgrooves, a site designed to provide independent artists audience insight and listening trends. According to 840 West President Jack Mangikyan, “The data that they give is remarkable. It’s more data than Spotify For Artists can give, and it gives artists a lot of information as to how their songs are doing.”
“For artists, it’s giving them an avenue of distribution that they could trust and also transparency, which every single artist, no matter how big or small, should have access to a very transparent distribution network,” Mangikyan said. “As for the team itself, having the ability to work in a team-like setting, working together and getting that experience as well.”
Honor’s single “Melt” was the first song released with 840’s help.
“[Working with 840] is such a great learning experience because you really don’t think of everything that needs to get done until you have a whole team of people thinking about everything that needs to get done,” Honor said. “I’ve definitely just learned for myself how to manage my workload and make sure that I actually check off all these steps that I maybe didn’t think were so important but actually are.”
Through working with 840 and taking classes for her music industry major, Honor began prepping for a career in songwriting outside of USC. Though she is working with 840 to promote her music, Honor is not signed in any official capacity and looks to continue to release music independent of major labels.
“I’ve learned about how the industry works and how being an independent artist works and how you can get people’s attention being an independent artist,” she said.
Along with her album release, Honor is recording new music and already has a four-song EP planned for release Fall 2023. Though this time, she will veer away from the indie, pop-rock sound on “Spiraling In Central Park” and include more dynamic vocals and production with more dramatics and theater, Honor said.
In the future, Honor said she wants to write and produce more, letting her own music take a back seat.
“I love writing for other artists and collaborating with people and really being on that creative side,” Honor said. “I would like to stay independent and just grow gradually. My goal has never been to be famous. I would just like to make music and get enough to maintain a stable living.”
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