Jane Siberry:
This singer/songwriter has nothing to lose.

The Edmonton Sunday Sun, 1 Aug 1993
by Mike Ross

[With color photos: "Jane Siberry's newest CD, When I Was A Boy" ; "Jane Siberry has always been fond of trying new things -- they just don't always work out."]

Jane Siberry is conducting an experiment.

This is no great surprise; the quirky singer/songwriter has always been fond of trying new things, it seems. They might not always work out, but hey -- that's art.

This particular experiment, while having obvious effects on her music, is more of a personal one. Siberry says she's listening only to what she calls her "first voice," her instinct, or (depending on whether you follow Freud's psychological model or not), her "id," completely blocking out the nattering inner voices (Freud called it the super-ego) which plague people's thoughts, interfering with and second-guessing almost every action you take.

"I now have a fast rule that I will trust my instincts more than anything else, even though I can't explain it," Siberry said in a recent phone interview. "It's curious how smart we are without knowing it. As soon as you commit yourself to listening to your first voice, it's shocking how the universe starts supplying you with tons of information, energy, challenges and gifts. It's quite bizarre. I'm quite curious about this whole thing.

"I've made mistakes," she admits. "Sometimes I only think I heard my intuition when perhaps I tricked myself. It makes one a very unreliable dinner guest."

Or interview. When asked questions like why she named her album When I Was A Boy, she simply says "That I can't tell you; it just felt right."

Or -- why did she spend months recording a first version of the record, only to throw it all out?

"I had a funny feeling that it wasn't right," she said. "It just didn't feel like it was supposed to be the next record, I don't know why. I felt a huge sense of relief after throwing it out, so I knew I was right."

Another thing that wasn't right with Siberry was a traumatic gig last November opening for Mike "Tubular Bells" Oldfield in Edinburgh, Scotland. But the "worst show of my life" may have been the catalyst for her new found freedom of thought.

"I didn't actually get booed off the stage; the crowd was talking and lighting fireworks, so I left -- then they booed," she said.

"That was bad, but the part that really killed me was how the record company acted afterward. They were embarrassed for me. They thought that I'd deliberately sabotaged this gift of opening for Mr. Boob-ular Bells and that I should've been grateful. It shocked me how much weight their opinion carried.

"I realized later that I should've rang that bell; that's all the audience was waiting for when (Oldfield) was playing. Everyone went wild when he went up and banged that damn bell.

"It became like the best-worst show of my life; more valuable to me than any other, not that I want to repeat it. After that, I felt that I had nothing to lose. I realized then that not having anything to lose is the most free state a human being could find themselves in: Not caring -- so then you can really hear what you really want to do."

As well as k.d. lang (she's featured on a duet with the song Calling All Angels), the people sharing in Siberry's vision on this album include none other than superstar producer and Siberry fan Brian Eno, whom siberry describes as "very fatherly."

"He was a lot of fun to work with," she said. "It took him a while to understand that I had a very dry sense of humor. He'd lecture me for not being up on current events, and I argued that I was as much as I should be and that he should $#@!! Off."

Dry humor, having nothing to lose, and an attitude too -- it's a very interesting combination, making Siberry a decidedly interesting artist and, actually, quite an interesting interview.

At one point, she complained that journalists on this promo grind haven't been asking her enough controversial questions.

"You should ask me if I'm gay," she deadpanned.

"Are you gay?" I ventured carefully.

"That's nobody's business."

"How old are you?"

"Again: none of your business. . . click!" she laughed.

All in fun, of course.

When I was a Boy is due for release this coming Tuesday. Siberry will also be featured on MuchMusic's Intimate and Interactive (the Canadian video channel's version of MTV Unplugged) on Aug. 18, along with the equally quirky Rheostatics. Included in the show will be a self-produced 2 1/2 minute version of Siberry's record "for people who don't like long songs," she explained. "It's like some kind of strange drug trip."