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Janis Ian

Photo of Janis Iancourtesy of the artist

How would you describe your music?

Folk and jazz

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

I'm a solo artist. CEO of all the above. Producer, arranger, manager, publisher, and indie record company. A lot of work...

Describe your gear.

"On stage: Two ""Janis Ian model"" Santa Cruz guitars, one in standard tuning, one detuned, each with D'Addario strings and Planet Waves headstock tuner. Pedal Board - Boss PS-2 A/B pedal, Boss delay pedal (old), original Dunlop Wah-Wah pedal, Boss phaser, occasional Boss chorus, TU-12 tuner, Baggs DI, Planet Waves cables. Shure KSM-9 or Shure Beta 87-C microphone; tripod mic stand with double-telescoping boom; bar stool to hold flowers, water, tea, picks. D'Addario/Planet Waves flatpicks (custom); Yamaha Japan thumbpicks (custom).

At home/in storage: Numerous guitars, including 1975 Les Paul, D'Aquisto, Bozo, Martin, Kevin Ryans Yamaha electric keyboard Old Steinway upright piano Various other pieces of gear for studio use (inc. percussion, banjo, bowed psaltery, Evo autoharp, mandolin, National Steel, harmonicas) "

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

How could it not be? For starts, we deal with breasts, which when big look really clumsy against a guitar. For seconds, if there's no bathroom available we can't just pee outside against a wall or tree. For thirds, men still hold most of the power, though I've been encouraged, these past 15+ years, to see more and more women taking over the tech roles in theatre. Still, there are next to no female sound engineers, even though physically we have better hearing. Still no female president of a major label or publishing house. It was clear to me the first time someone in TV asked if I really needed to play guitar on my song. I was 15 and it was 1966.

Related Themes: Behind The Music She's Got The Look

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

Mmm... I'm on the cusp, straddling between the Ella/Sarah/Nina and Baez era and the Ani/Catie/Madonna era. Hard for me to say, knowing people from both so well. I do think the younger females take their right to be musicians more lightly than we did, but then again, that's what we fought for, isn't it?!

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

"Ellie Greenwich, 1967: “Kid, this business is about hard work, and don’t you ever forget it. It’s about getting your period, having cramps that are killing you, then walking onstage to do the show anyhow – and never letting the crowd know it. If you don’t have the guts for that, don’t even start.” Odetta, 1967: ""Never forget - they work for YOU. You do not work for them."" Stella Adler, 1984: ""Trust your talent."" The X-Files: ""Trust no one."""

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

"Started on piano and moved to whatever I could get my hands on. You can carry a guitar; you can't carry a concert grand piano."

Related Themes: The First Time