Neia Jane is the solo psychedelic rock project of Chloe Jane, who graduated from Berklee in 2017. After a few years of making folk music under her own name, Jane decided she wanted to switch. Chloe changed to Neia—after her grandmother—and started writing rock music for her full band. Since 2018, they have released two music videos for the songs “Sad Girl” and “Auburn Cemetery” and a debut album Magic & Honey. WERS's Owen Murray got the chance to speak Neia and her band, after a performance on WERS, about her writing process, her favorite music, and how her band came together.
Could you start by introducing yourselves and what you do in the band?
Neia Jane: I’m Chloe... or should I say I’m Neia? I’m getting used to the pseudonym. I’m a songwriter, singer, and rhythm guitarist in the band.
Claire Gohst: I ’m Claire Gohst and I play electric guitar and sing backup.
Jacob Harelick: I ’m Jacob and I play drums.
Nick Thorpe: I ’m Nick and I play bass.
NJ: And missing today is Rozie Baker who plays synths.
Tell me about how you got started as Neia Jane.
NJ: I launched the name and the first single in April 2018. So it’s been my project essentially for the past two and a half years, but the name change officially happened last year. That process was definitely pretty extensive, but it definitely feels more settled in. And since then we’ve come out with two videos, three singles, and an album!
What made you want to switch to a pseudonym?
NJ: I wanted to have a fresh start. I wanted to have a project I could explore without it being attached to my first name just because I think it gave me some room to play without it being so attached to me as a person. It was liberating.
And it was a chance for me to launch a project again rather than just continue going forward because I felt like what I wanted to do was pretty significantly different than what I had been doing in the past.
You were doing folk before right, now you’ve made the switch to rock.
What do you think some of your major influences are with the new music?
NJ: The new sound is sort of like the aggregate of all the music I’ve loved and listened to for the past few years. Even when I was doing folk music I still loved and listened to a lot of rock. That’s always kind of been my home base. Right now the bands that I’m listening to the most are Metric, The War on Drugs, a lot of Tom Petty. I really love all different facets of music and I think the main thing I’m always drawn to is songwriting first and foremost.
If the melody really surprises me and gets stuck in my head in a way that’s new and not cliche, I love it so I think I’m really drawn to beautiful and surprising melodies, interesting phrasing. I draw from a lot of aspects of songs that I love. I have a joke to myself that every time I hear a song and I’m like “wow I love this!” I figure out it’s the same tempo and groove as every other song that does that to me. I’m definitely drawn to a sound.
Could you tell me a bit about how you write songs yourself? Do you write together or do you do most of the writing on your own?
NJ: I write in solitude for the most part. I feel most comfortable writing by myself. I like co-writing kind of but I love writing by myself. I think I come up with my best ideas when nobody’s watching me. It’s definitely something to practice, co-writing. But I always feel like I want to come into a co-write with an idea of my own.
I start out just kind of improvising, I honestly have a lot of kind of spontaneous, creative thoughts that start it out for me. And it’s usually not when I sit down to write when that happens, it’s usually when I’m doing the dishes, or doing my laundry, or on the train it something and some melody will come into my head.
I used to write a lot on my acoustic guitar. I’ve been trying to branch out a bit more by writing on a keyboard or on my electric guitar with some cool sounds on it or even in the production universe like creating a little beat and then writing off of that. I’m trying to branch off in my songwriting as I go forward because I started writing a lot of... the same songs. I wanted to branch into a new medium to kind of get inspired again.
So, when you guys play is it always the same five people?
NJ: Yeah, I really like to have my people.
How did you guys start playing together?
JH: August of last year Neia had a gig and was looking for a drummer and posted online. I played with Rozie Baker as well who plays synths with is and is also a solo artist. I played then and I’ve been in the band ever since.
NJ: Jacob and Rozie have been in the band the longest, then Claire and Nick came on around the same time. We had another bassist and guitarist and both of them moved to LA around the same time. I found Nick on Facebook. Honestly, I’ve gotten so many things that I’ve needed through Facebook. I think the only thing I ever post is “Hey! I need this!” and honestly, it’s worked.
I met Claire through a mutual friend. I heard her name and knew that she played and checked her out on Instagram and I was like “this girl seems really cool!” I knew I wanted a female guitarist because I never worked with another--well I had when I was very young, but after that I never really worked with many other women. I kind of found myself in spaces where I was with a lot of dudes all the time. So when I was creating this iteration of this band and reaching out to players and figuring out who I wanted to have I had an idea that I wanted to work with a female guitarist. I had Rozie already so I was like “hell yeah, let’s add another badass woman into the mix!” Claire was like, instantly in the band.
I didn’t even hear her play and I was already excited. I was like “She’s so cool!” And then she played and I was like “She’s in!” Same thing with Nick. I heard him play and he was in instantly.
It was stiff competition, and I’m so glad I did pick these guys! It’s been so much fun. I’ve had like three or four different iterations of bands that I’ve worked with for my solo stuff and this has been really fun for me.
Tell me about some of the best shows that you guys have played.
NU: The Red Room.
NJ: Yeah! That was my favorite too. We were opening for Tor Miller at the Red Room, it’s a Berklee venue. Well, it’s a real venue but it’s a Berklee Building. You don’t have to be a Berklee kid to play it.
JH: It’s a real venue, but a lot of the groups will reach out to the people who run it and say “do you have any openers?” and they always pick Berklee kids, which is great because then we get to have the experience of playing a real venue opening up for people who are touring musicians outside the Berklee world. It was really cool because Tor Miller actually had a big Boston fanbase, a lot of kids from Emerson came through. And for us to have 5 or 10 people come up and have 40-50 of Tor Miller’s fans come up was really cool because then those people became fans of Neia Jane.
NJ: Plus it’s always great to play in a packed room, and everybody was having a good time. The lights are good, the sound is good. We played well. It was really fun.
Another one we had that I really loved was the second show we did in New York at the Math Room at the Bowery. It was really fun. And Claire also plays violin and she surprised us all with an incredible, shredding, violin solo at the end of a song called “Home.” Usually she plays an incredible guitar solo but that day she surprised us and the audience. It was awesome! I’ll never forget that.
Do you guys have any other Boston bands that you collaborate with?
NJ: Paper Citizen is Claire’s project and we played a few shows together... who else have we played with?
NJ: Bean! We did a show with Bean, that was awesome. It’s fun, I would love to play with more local bands.
And where can people find your music?
NJ: All streaming platforms! There are music videos on YouTube, very exciting stuff!