By Jerome Stuart Nichols
A lot can change in a year. For all-lesbian folk-rock duo Jane of Arc the past year has been one of departure, resurrection and release. Although many bands would falter under all the changes, Chelsea Carter and Elida Quesada are refreshed and ready to storm the world with their brand new debut album and a live performance at 6:25 p.m. May 31 on the Ferndale Pride stage.
A little Tracy Chapman, a pinch of Stevie Nicks and a smidge of Vanessa Carlton, their recently released debut, “Freedom in Falling,” represents the culmination of months of hard work. Before they even set foot in the studio they’d worked on the album over several months, finessing each layer until it was just right. Then, they really got to work, recording the album in a proper studio at a breakneck pace.
“Most of the album was recorded live over the course of three weekends, and it went really, really well,” Quesada says. “For the album, we approached it pretty meticulously. We brought on some other musicians and friends of ours that have played with us previously so we could record our album in a live setting. I think that we ended up with a product that was consistent and cohesive and – in essence – the fullest realization of all the songs.”
Carter adds: “The album is a journey. We tried to take people on a journey of love, loss and all the different emotions that come with those fundamental things in life.”
While the product is a point of pride, it wasn’t easy to get there.
“It’s been a little bit of a difficult journey,” Carter says. “We finished the Indiegogo campaign a little bit shy of our goal but we were able to head into the studio and make a product that we’re really proud of and happy with.”
They also had to deal with the departure of longtime Jane member Kelly Rons.
“We decided after some conflicting future goals and future plans that it was best to part ways. The split was pretty amicable,” Quesada says.
“It all sort of happened at the same time.” Carter says. “It was a little bit difficult, but we’re doing really good right now.”
While their Indiegogo campaign didn’t reach its funding goal, they still see it as a great resource for other queer artists.
“The beauty of doing Indiegogo and Kickstarter is that it allows the artist to keep a level of control that has been missing in the music industry for a long time,” Quesada says. “These crowd funding platforms allow us to pool all our resources together and then go into the studio with complete creative control. In our case it was absolutely paramount that we had that.”
Now that “Falling” has been released, they’re spending their energy on getting the word out. Their 30-minute set at Ferndale Pride will serve as a launching pad. For the performance, they plan to bring almost all musicians they worked with for the album.
A time of celebration for the queer community, Pride season also allows for reflecting on the progress made and to come in the gay community. For Quesada and Carter, the recent marriage rulings in Michigan are at the front of their minds.
“I think both of us are really hopeful that the tides are turning in a permanent way,” Quesada says. “The trial in February was a roller coaster, for sure. It took an unexpected turn; we thought the state would have better evidence, but it just didn’t. That was really promising because, from what I’ve gathered, the trial was a great way to build a foundation for the rest of the process.”
Although the legal up and down with gay marriage laws have been tiring, they find hope in the great leaps made regarding queer acceptance.
“People just don’t think to care anymore … it’s not really a big deal,” Quesada says. “There’s obviously a lot of big-picture things going on, but I’m proud of the fact that the people I’ve met in my life have been really wonderful.”
Carter says she’s proud of how sexuality isn’t as big of a deal these days. “Most people don’t give a shit whether we’re gay. They wanna hear the music.”
Jane of Arc
6:25 p.m. May 31
Woodward and Nine Mile, Ferndale