“I just wanted to do something non-conceptual and that didn’t lend itself to a film or an ambient subject or a space-rock album,” she explains. “I decided that I wanted to do a pop album, a selection of 10 tracks of which the majority would be more like singles, like immediate, rather than 10-minute jams or something a bit more out-there, that’s what I set out to do.”
It’s not that she has turned her back completely on the sound with which she made her name on albums such as The Silver Globe and Modern Kosmology – “It’s still something that I love,” she points out – but more that she wanted to “challenge” herself.
“I still used those instruments, those keyboards, the synths and the Moog, but just used them in a more pop way. I listened to more Glam and late 70s/early 80s pop stuff like Tom Tom Club, different kinds of production sounds.
“I did do a lot of listening and thinking, came up with 25 to 30 ideas and the ones that sat together the best I just went with them in the end.”
A child of the 70s, Weaver has long been a fan of pop music. She recalls playing along to the likes of Gary Numan and Tubeway Army on her Bontempi keyboard. “And when I DJ I always play a mix of rock and pop, I never go away from that,” she says. “(This time) I just had this burning desire to do a pop record (myself).”
The song structures might be tighter this time around but Weaver, who was previously in the bands Kill Laura and Misty Dixon, left scope for experimentation. “I was using similar equipment in different ways but I was also using an early sampler like they used in 90s R&B stuff, Neptunes/Pharrell (Williams)-produced stuff. It’s just this bank of noises, I was playing a lot with that as well.”
She says she wanted to “explore what I can do technically, finding a different way to present yourself”. “It was not a comfortable thing to do sometimes because it was barer, more exposed.”
There were esoteric influences too. “I was listening to Russian aerobics music, which is exactly like it sounds,” she says. “It was that thing in the 80s, coming over from America to the East, it was their version of Western pop music and that 80s aerobic sound. It was one of those YouTube wormholes that you go down. I don’t even write it down, I just let my brain go, seeing where the algorithm takes me.
“I did also watch a lot of Eric Rohmer films, he did a series called Comedies and Proverbs. There’s certain soundtrack music in that, there’s a French party in 1983 and I did find the writer of that, it’s such an 80s French pop song.”
The songs Weaver created, however, are intended to be forward-looking. “I did want to create something modern-sounding, not just purely retro influenced,” she says.
Completing the vocals and mixing of Flock during lockdown was a welcome distraction “amidst the multitude of emotions involved in the first lockdown, and not knowing what the heck was going on”. “We’re sick of it now, but we’re used to it, we know how to occupy ourselves and that your moods can be ever-changing, it can be positive one day and negative the next, so I guess it’s managing your work around it,” Weaver says. “I used to watch the news a lot initially but now I don’t, I just think I can’t allow myself to go down that wormhole, I try and level myself and get on with my work – all the stuff involved in finishing a record and promoting it, even though emotionally for me it feels c**p. I’m just literally doing my job because I work with a record label who are really good and they really want to put this record out, we planned it before we knew there was going to be a pandemic this year, so I’m just trying to be positive.
“Because it’s a pop record, even though it feels wrong releasing something, it kind of feels right in a way, because pop music is joyful.”
Weaver is now hankering to take these songs on the road. A tour originally slated for June has now been moved to November. “I’m hoping that I will be able to promote this record with a band this year, because I can’t do it on my own in my studio in front of a camera doing karaoke. Well I could, but it wouldn’t be a full representation of the music,” she says.
In the meantime, she is also due to release a track on Golden Lion Sounds, the new record label raising funds to support the Todmorden venue The Golden Lion. Others contributing to a forthcoming series of 7in vinyl releases include Working Men’s Club, Jarvis Cocker and David Holmes.
“They have a huge community spirit and they’re always wanting to invest locally in people, so as they’re doing a fundraising thing I wanted to support them in that, so I’m giving them a track to put on their label. It’s just giving back for their kindness,” Weaver says. “We all understand how it is, the whole entertainment industry and hospitality, we all understand how it works, and not having the support they need is devastating.”
Flock is out now. Jane Weaver plays at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on November 3, 2021 and Hebden Bridge Trades Club on February 12, 2022. janeweavermusic.com