Anyway you cut it, Jillian Ann is one busy lady. The musician/model/actress has released a handful of independent records while maintaining a burgeoning career as a model. Take a look at her website and you'll see for yourself what her schedule is like. I managed to track her down in Toronto where she was doing a show. In typical Jillian fashion, she was cleaning up the house she was staying in, while doing the interview on a cell phone.
Here's what she had to say:
antiMUSIC: I cannot believe how busy you are. Your drive and determination is very inspiring. How close in the last year have you been to just crashing and shutting down for a while?
Jillian Ann: You know what? It usually only lasts a couple of hours. You know what I mean? When it gets crazy like that, I just have to lock myself in my room for half a day or go take a break for a couple of hours. I'm usually fine. I've learned not to completely push myself over the edge. When I start hitting the edge, I just you know, take a little time till I come back from that.
antiMUSIC: Guess it depends on whatever project you're working on at the time.
Jillian Ann: Yeah, that's right
antiMUSIC: I can't even fathom what your life is like. I realize it depends on whatever project you have on at the moment but do you have a loose daily schedule you follow?
Jillian Ann: It's impossible because it changes so much that every time I've tried to keep a sort of normal schedule….and a lot of times my schedule changes depending on what I'm doing and where I'm and who I'm working with and depending on what time they're working and you know. I'm shooting today but my call time is not till three but I'll shoot till midnight but then there are other days where I'll have to be there at 8 or 7 a.m.. So it's really…I gave up on trying to keep a schedule. It's not possible. And trying to do it…almost... Like I try to get everything done every day but trying to do it in any specific order or in certain ways is not going to work.
antiMUSIC: Or what would an average day be like in the life of Jillian Ann?
Jillian Ann: I'm usually up…I usually sleep between six, five….or between four and eight hours depending on what I'm doing and where I'm at. Sometimes I go to bed at five and get up at 10. Like today I went to bed at six a.m. and got up at ten to eight. Other times I go to bed at midnight and get up at six. It just depends on what I have to do. Some days it's recording. Some days it's shooting. Some days it's traveling. And all of those days include emails and editing all this other stuff so it's really just, it can't be crammed into a typical day. Laughs--- I've been asked that question before and I've been like...whaaaat?
I try to sleep, eat and go to the gym. And rehearse and work on my music and take care of emails, and sometimes there's a shoot. Sometimes there's a lot of phone calls. There's not…the only rhythm to it is that is kinda not the same. (laughs)
antiMUSIC: How did your show in Toronto go? Is this your first time in Canada?
Jillian Ann: It went pretty well. The crowd was really receptive and positive. Toronto is a really nice town and I really like the city. When I look at the prices I go "My god I could get a house here for what I pay for my apartment in New York" and it was really fun. I really like Toronto…a lot.
antiMUSIC: Is this your first time to Canada?
Jillian Ann: Yes.
antiMUSIC: What kind of set did you do here? How many songs and all that?
Jillian Ann: I did five songs off the upcoming EP. And you know, basically I did it with the DJ because it was Toronto and it was a benefit for the Food Bank. So whenever it's a situation like that and they're taking most of the proceeds and putting it back into donations, I usually do it with a DJ instead of a full band. A full band can be pretty hefty. Just for transportation and hotel and food…five people can be expensive. So I worked with a DJ named Howie who's a local Toronto DJ who's awesome. Really nice guy. And it went really well. Definitely I could have some new Toronto fans. Everyone was really nice. There were a lot of other bands that played before me as well.
antiMUSIC: What can you tell us about your new upcoming record?
Jillian Ann: I'm in the final stages at last. I'm kinda in the mastering and mixing. Basically I started the project with myself and then I started working with this guy Andres Karu who was once a member of the band called Love In Reverse that used to be on Warner Brothers and he produced their albums. Then I still wanted to take it to another level so I sought out…I don't know if I sought out. I still seeking out trying to figure out how to get it to the next level and a friend of mine, Meredith Chinn, who was…actually her and I were meditating in L.A. and she was like "Hey, I've got this great idea. Maybe I could Executive Produce…help you finish your EP". And I was like "That would be great. Because Meredith Chin's former jobs were, she was Senior VP of A&R at Warner Music for 10 years. She's extremely tied-in, you know and respected in the music industry. And she came on board just to basically help me get to the people I wanted to get to and work with the mixers and find the people who could kinda add the finishing touches to my music. Which was really amazing because the one thing the label system kinda had over my head was all the top producers and mixers tend to work first with label people and if they work with independents it's only if they really, really, really, really love your stuff or they really, really have a reason or believe the project is going to get further. So she came on board to finish the EP and she's gonna… I believe we're going to do the entire album with me and her and she introduced me to John O, John X and Graham Shrimpton who came on and they're basically doing final mixing and a little production here and there and you know we're kinda just sculpting the last bits of the clay.
Then at the winter music conference I met a lot of djs and artists and met a lot of great people, and I'm going to work with some of them probably. And one guy I met was Tommy Dorsey from Masterfonics. Which is one of the top notch mastering places. And he's mastering my project now which is awesome, he seems amazing. So I've got a great team finishing it and I'm starting to work on the album cover design and planning the video. I'm hoping that as soon as I have it done and all the pieces together, I'm going to release it initially directly myself through the Internet, through i-Tunes, through my website and allow it to kinda breathe from there because it's an EP. Oh yeah, we're doing remixes on it, I forgot about that. I'm getting remixes done for it, and I'm actually collaborating with Deepsky. Scott from Deepsky and another pretty big break guy, Burufunk. And I don't know if that track will be on this EP or not, it depends. We're doing it in a few weeks, so it depends how everything sort of comes together. I definitely will put some remixes and some bonus tracks from some of the other projects I'm working on. The goal would be probably May…worse case scenario June, but it would be out within that kind of May-June period. With i-Tunes, it could be two weeks. It could be six weeks depending on the waiting list.
It's going five tracks, and remixes, and bonus tracks and other stuff. Just because I continue making tracks and waiting for ever, but five tracks and remixes and bonus tracks is perfect for live shows. It's a 25-minute set. So it's perfect to do it for live shows, and it's going to be a pre-cursor to the album. I wanted to put something out there that I could
kind of…originally I was aiming for it to be a whole record, but then it became do I want to cut corners or do I really want to spend my time on the record an make sure it's going to be everything it can be? So I decided I'll put out an EP and that way there's something out there that can circulate. And start creating its own little world while I finish the album and do shows.
antiMUSIC: Will "King of Solitude" will be on there?
Jillian Ann: "King of Solitude" will be on there. And it's so funny because some people are like "Well we really hope you can write a bunch great…" I've written a bunch of songs that are already in the works and they're like "Hey these songs are really good. Are you really sure you want to give them all away on an EP?" I'm like I wrote all the songs in a row pretty much. There were a few in between it? I'm not worried about it. "King of Solitude" will be on there. "Know Us" will be on there, "Prison" will be on there, "Somewhere" will be on there and probably "Confess". I'm trying to put that one on there too. They're all very special. Special to me at least. Which is why, the mixing and mastering process, is kinda like to me the most vital place of making sure everything is perfect and spending a lot of time on it. Because if feel once it's out there you can't take it back. I want to make sure I put it out with its best foot forward.
antiMUSIC: Do you consider yourself a musician first or a model/actor?
Jillian Ann: I was actually a musician first but I was really shy with my music, (laughs) because people would…it was kinda weird to play piano and see people get so affected and it really actually made me kinda shy when I was younger. So I played piano since I was 11 but I was still kinda getting used to when you perform you're connecting one-on-one. It's like a really kinda intense experience. I also felt I had to be responsible with it, because I watched a bunch of my favorite people kill themselves and I thought I don't want to that…I don't want to be that person. Not that I…I understand why they killed themselves. It's very intense being a performer and being in the music industry and it can be very difficult on a sensitive person. I kinda took my time with it even though music was my first thing. Modeling came later when I was sitting around thinking how am I going to pay for this. That's how actually how modeling came in. I didn't want to take a bad deal just because I needed money
antiMUSIC: Neverland, your first record got you a pre-Grammy nomination. How did that come about, in terms of getting the industry to hear it and what was your reaction when you found out?
Jillian Ann: I don't really know. Record label called me and said "Guess what? I don't know how that stuff really works. I was at the Grammy's this year with a friend of mine because he was nominated. You know that whole proper nomination/non-nominations I don't really know how that works. I just know my record label…it was great, it's definitely a legitimizing factor in my career, and it's given me a nice sound bite. I didn't have anything to do with it. It's like they really do appreciate artists, but I really don't know how it came about
antiMUSIC: How has your music evolved from your first record?
Jillian Ann: How evolved from first?
Oh my gosh, sometimes I think, did I really….laughs. well the fallen was my first record with my friend David Kirby. Much more you know instrumental based. Much more beat driven, less rock and roll kinda pop influenced, definitely more experimental. The first two albums I collaborated with my friend and partner in crime in Atlanta, David Kirby. They were really cool but definitely kinda just pure creative. Me and him didn't really care about the industry at all. Not in a bad sense, but I write how I feel, so we'd write these 12 minute songs. I've learned now that a 12 minute song is tragically only going to get played on an album. We'll never make it on the radio. We'll be lucky if they play a snippet of it in a soundtrack. But when we were 18 and 19 that wasn't a reality to us so David was a much more intelligent and , me and him had an intention of making a record that didn't sound like anyone else, kinda like saying we're going to paint something no one has ever seen before , so David, we experimented a lot with sound and layering ambience and trying to create something that's more unique and still had a lot of personality and soul and kinda meditative well, energetically meditative record, if that makes any sense, it was definitely written from that kind of spiritual slash, not like boring, kinda like. I used to love making music until I felt it was really cheesy so then I thought well maybe you can make music that has the same effect but not make it cheesy.
So those two record, when Neverland happened and that was really my first really solo record where I wrote everything and there was no collaboration at all, my friend David mixed it and engineered some beats but that was pretty much it. And that was the record where I got that feel because I put my stuff on mp3.com and someone said "can I put out a record" and I was like "yeah sure". And I hadn't ever written a vocal, a record or a vocal line, so it was definitely an experiment and I learned a lot from it. (laughs) Like about my voice. Like I think I was a lot shyer and I didn't know how to use my voice completely and I was really just winging it with that record. It got lots of positive feedback and also the critics ripped apart anything they could find, so it was a learning experience. But with this record I was determined to overcome any weaknesses or develop things that I hadn't really developed like my voice. I spent so much time with top vocal people in New York
And the label really spent a lot of time developing me and working on the vocal and the strings and the songwriting for this record. So this record feels like it's like the first record…I feel like I'm really talking a lot (laughs) ---it's not just me, it's everybody involved including Meredith Chinn, and one of the reason she got involved --- was it's unique sounding. With this record I felt okay, can I make a record that doesn't quite sound like anything else, but have it written in the pop format as the structure, but yet not have it not sound like anything else, again, trying to paint a picture that no one has ever seen. That's kinda what I've been attempting, working on, and blending what I learned from the ambient world and what I learned from the dance world and the rock and roll world. I even hung out with the hip hop cats and the R&B cats. I've done a lot of experimenting on tracks with producers that I haven't released cause they own them, to kind a figure out my sound for this album. It's the first record that I feel has radio capacity. Definitely live show capacity. That was the other thing I didn't want to make a pure electronic record because sometimes it's just a bunch of people up on stage and it's boring. I mean people do it all the time but for me I felt it was boring. It's cool for them. With this record it's got bass and drums and guitar and piano and synthesizer so the live shows in different forms would reflect that.
antiMUSIC: Is it getting easier to make records now that you're a studio veteran?
Jillian Ann: I think to me it's about finding the right people to collaborate with and mix with. It's getting easier now, but I'm one of those people who constantly keeps pushing my standards, I have to outdo everything I've done before. I have to find a way to make it equal or better than what I've done and that can be a challenge with music because it's like I'm always pushing to the next level, so I don't' know if it gets easier because I'm always pushing to what can I do next, where can I go next, who or what can I do to make it better. It's easier because I now have people if I want to do something I can go to Meredith and say this is the sound I want. Which producer or mixer or who should we talk to. I'm not alone in it as much as I was before. Because for a while I was blending in a sea of producers, and I was like, "oh boy". When you're trying to dig through thousands of producers it's really overwhelming and working with Meredith has just made it easier. Because if I come to Meredith with an idea, her job is to actualise it as efficiently as possible. Which is great, I have my own personal A&R person. I think A&R people -the good ones---are what really what made labels. It's like she's the reason we have Beck. She was one of the really good ones, it's just that Warner Brothers got taken over and the new guy fired the entire staff. So she may be one of the reasons we have some of the music that we have now, instead of more Becks. Cuz the A&R people are really the ones that help bring us the great artists. I felt that in the early '90s we had a lot of great artists kinda pop up, and 2000 was saturated with boy bands and hip hop and pop queens. Nothing against that but I miss my Becks and early Garbage. Is it getting easier? I guess it is in a way but it's also becoming more of a challenge.
antiMUSIC: Your websites are so creative. Do you find it a problem with trying to shut off all your ideas or trying to find time to incorporate all of them?
Jillian Ann: I don't have a life. All of my friends know it, and are some how or another involved in my art. If they're not involved in my art, unfortunately I don't get to see people very much so my collaborators have become my best friends and the people that don't fall into the categories of people I can create with, I don't really get to stay in touch with. Which you know it's the conscious choice I made to put my art first in my life. Of course that's sad but…I'm entertaining myself…the only way to entertain myself is to expand my creative vision. I'm going to go see all the Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group and all the stuff with my friends to input a bunch of visual ideas, but everything I do revolves around my art and the creation of it so I'm definitely obsessed with my art .it's all that matter tome. I don't really go out unless it has something to do with my art. Everything I do has to have something to do with my art or I don't do it.
antiMUSIC: Well it was a pleasure to speak with you. Perhaps we'll talk later when the record is out.
Jillian Ann: OK, thanks a lot for the interview.
Morley Seaver and antiMUSIC thank Jillian Ann for taking time out of her schedule to do this interview.