Janita Foley is a Wonder Woman.
Maker of radically unique music and sound, Janita Foley is deeply entrenched in Melbourne’s music scape.
Performing under the name of Denim Owl, Janita welcomed us into her studio for a shoot before her performance at our Queen Vic Pop-Up store in November. In possession of balanced energy and beautiful character, we talked inspiration, Melbourne’s international music influence and forthcoming projects.
Tell us about your musical journey? Have you always been focused on making music?
I had always wanted to do my own music project, and so when I came to Melbourne in 2005 I started doing Denim Owl pretty much straight away. I learned a lot from making my first EP in 2009, and since then the music has changed and evolved.
What sort of processes do you undertake when writing and assembling your tracks? Where does your inspiration come from?
I think inspiration for music comes from anywhere; memories, things people have said to me, quietness, nature, love. And other music. I tend to work separately on words, chords and melodies and then try to marry them. It’s a lot of happy accidents.
You’re quite immersed in the Melbourne music scene. What about it appeals to you and how does it compare to similar communities you may have experienced abroad or elsewhere in Australia?
I have played music in the UK, Canada, Japan and New Zealand. The audiences in Canada and Japan especially, were really appreciative. Melbourne is wonderful because so many people are out there doing it. Even when I lived in the UK back in 2001 everyone was talking about Melbourne’s rich music community. I think it’s a world class scene due to there being a lot of active artists.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals or habits that you tend to practice?
I usually do vocal warmups in the car on the way to a show. On stage I like to talk about everyday things that have happened during the week, so I pick a few themes from which to improvise. If I haven’t rehearsed I try to visualise the songs, play them in my head.
Are you working on any new music at the moment? Any new releases on their way?
I have another batch of songs for a new EP that a friend is helping me record, which are coming along. It should be done by early next year.
How did the name Denim Owl come about?
I think it was around the time everyone was making fun of wolf bands, and I think someone had said Denim Wolf. So when Denim Owl popped into my head it wasn’t completely out of nowhere. But I knew it was the one!
What does being radical mean to you?
To me it’s about doing what you love, and making it a priority in your life. Allowing yourself to be strong in your creative endeavours, and not being ashamed of that.
Photography by Breeana Dunbar.