Singer embraces her great big feelings


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Taylor Janzen sheds a tear on the cover of her debut album, I Live in Patterns.

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Taylor Janzen sheds a tear on the cover of her debut album, I Live in Patterns.

It’s a deliberate symbol of the emotions she’s addressed on the new collection of songs, which comes out Friday and receives a concert launch the same evening at the Good Will Social Club.

”People who have a bit more intense of an emotional range can often think that’s a bad thing and that their sensitivity can be a curse,” says Janzen, who grew up in St. Boniface. “The experience I’ve had with my emotions is that they are so big that I cannot hide them or shut them down. (For) my entire life, I’ve seen that as a weakness in myself and I’ve seen that as a character flaw.

“As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to embrace it a little bit more and let it allow me to be more tender and a better friend and a better partner and a better person overall and a better artist.”

Many of her songs on I Live in Patterns are weepers too. On the title track, for instance, Janzen sings about someone coping with the world spinning out of control and living within her sadness.

The 23-year-old, who released EPs in 2017 and 2018, says she’s using her strong emotions to her advantage as a songwriter, letting her feelings amplify what she’s getting across with her lyrics and melodies.

“At its core, how sensitive I am and how intensely I feel emotions is the reason why I’m able to make music, and I think that’s worth celebrating sometimes,” she says. “While it may suck to feel those emotions, I think ultimately it’s a gift in some ways.

“It’s fun to make music but at the same time, I don’t particularly make music about fun things, so it’s an interesting dichotomy.”

Janzen had written a batch of songs just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit three years ago, but the lockdown gave her solitary time to create again.

“Then throughout the pandemic I started writing more and I decided I liked those songs more so I pretty much scrapped the whole thing and started over,” she says.

I Live in Patterns is a step up, from a production standpoint, compared with her previous efforts, including the debut EP that she recorded in her parents’ basement.

The new songs have layers of instrumentation backing her guitar and vocals, creating a graceful and sophisticated sound.

Among those new tracks is one with a funny story behind it.

Designated Driver is a new wave/pop relationship tune rather than one that will have motorists putting the pedal to the metal — “I want to hold onto everything / but my God now who has the energy? / You put your trust in a daydream / cause you love this dying part of me,” the chorus goes, but its genesis begins with Janzen getting behind the wheel.

”I’m not the best driver,” she admits. “My friends will sometimes make fun of me for being a bad driver, but at the end of the day, they still trust me to be their designated driver and get them home safe.

“I think that as a metaphor for other aspects of my relationships with the people around me and how anxious I am to let people down all the time.”

She jokes that she could be lumped in with those who cry while trying to make a left-hand turn, and that Winnipeg’s wintry streets can often add to her worries.

“I’m not a reckless driver. I’ve never gotten into an accident. I’m a very anxious driver,” she says with a laugh. “I get very stressed out about accidentally killing people that I’m driving with. I’m very aware if I mess up there are big consequences.”

She recorded Designated Driver in Los Angeles, so don’t even get her started about the metropolis’s famous freeways.

“Sometimes I drive on tour and I am white-knuckling the entire time, so L.A. is a no for me.”

Twitter: @AlanDSmall

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Alan Small

Alan Small

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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