By Jerome Stuart Nichols
In every musician’s life, there comes a time when they have to decide what kind of career they want for themselves: Do they shoot for the stars and see what happens, or do they resign themselves to the life of local notoriety? For the ambitious and determined Ferndale-based all-lesbian indie-pop trio Jane of Arc, performing at Como’s on Aug. 10, they went for the stars.
But first, they started like most bands of the 2000s did: on MySpace. Back in 2007, Jane guitarist and drummer Elida Quesada stumbled across the music profile for then-fellow solo singer-songwriter Chelsea Carter. She was floored.
“I met Chelsea over the Internet when I stumbled across her music page on MySpace; we were both doing singer-songwriter-y things at the time,” Quesada says. “I heard her voice – I mean, just a measure – and I got chills. I thought, ‘Holy crap, this girl’s amazing.'”
Once Quesada was able to finally hoist her jaw from the floor, she reached out to Carter and the two became instant friends.
“The first time we actually sat down, we just talked for hours and hours and hours,” Quesada recalls. “We just had an instant friend connection.”
That friend connection led to a casual music-making partnership before bringing on a drummer who introduced them to current lead guitarist Kelly Rons. Eventually, the drummer departed, turning their quartet into a trio, with Carter singing lead.
From there, they began playing small gigs at hole-in-the-wall dive bars, earning no more than 10 bucks for a 45-minute set. It didn’t matter. They make music purely for the love of the art.
“It’s another one of our involuntary reflex things,” Quesada says. “You just breathe because you breathe; we make music because we have to make music.”
“That’s why it works between the three of us, because we all have that drive individually,” Rons adds. “When we come together, we have that great dynamic and it gives us the ability to express our individual talents and make something that’s bigger than ourselves.”
Things continued that way until 2011 when they took a hiatus while Rons explored a career opportunity in Chicago. In February 2013, after about a year-and-a-half apart, they reached a fork in the road.
With all three women leading hectic lives outside the band, finding time to chase their passions was a luxury. They knew that if they were ever going to make anything out this music thing, they had to move now and hit hard.
“Our lives are crazy. My job is incredibly demanding; I work at least 50 hours a week,” Quesada says. “For us to come back around and be like, ‘Yes, this is still something that lights a fire inside of us,’ to even address the idea of going forward, it had to be do-or-die because we have so much on the line. It has to be that way, or it doesn’t get done at all.”
The decision to make the most of their talent didn’t just come from passion and drive; they truly believe in themselves.
“I think we really, really believe that we can make it and that we can make a career for ourselves,” Quesada says. “I’ve always felt that way… and I’ve never felt it more strongly than when we got back together in February.”
Refreshed and revitalized, Quesada, Rons and Carter have poured themselves back into music. They’ve spent the last few months polishing old material as well as writing and recording brand new material for their debut album.
This new album will serve as the launching pad for the better, faster, stronger Jane of Arc. They’re pouring their hearts and souls into the project and putting their livelihoods on the line to make their dream a reality. At this point, there’s no turning back.
“I feel emotionally so connected to this project,” Quesada says, “that failing, to me, is not an option.”
Jane of Arc
8 p.m. Aug. 10
22812 Woodward Ave., Ferndale