“Messages” by Jane Penny

Jane Penny – vocalist, keyboardist and co-founder of Montreal’s TOPS has announced her solo debut EP. Surfacing will be released via Luminelle Recordings on April 5th, and today she has shared the record’s first single entitled “Messages.” While a solo endeavor had been ruminating for Penny for a few years already, it was after TOPS’ European tour in March 2020 – when Penny and her then-partner, musician Adam Byczkowski (Better Person), found themselves ill with long COVID – that Surfacing came to materialize. Written, produced and recorded by the classically-trained Penny between Berlin and Montreal, Surfacing was made over the course of mostly-isolated years as Penny acted as caretaker for her bed-ridden partner. Whereas all of TOPS’ music – crafted as a cohesive unit – consists of fleshed-out instrumentation like drums, bass, guitar and keyboard, Surfacing is an exploration of creating one’s own world, through electronic music, samples and production, with the only “organic” sounds being Penny’s voice, her flute and the occasional wind chime.

“Messages,” Jane Penny’s debut track out today, is a delightfully paranoid pop song and a strong introduction to Penny’s own sonic world. “It’s a pop song about getting notifications from everyone except the one person you want to hear from, which was happening to me at the time. The opening sample – ‘there is a message for you’ is a strange message that the credit card machines in Montreal cabs make.” Performance art is a guiding principle of Penny’s, with the visuals an essential part of understanding Surfacing. As such, the cinematic music video for “Messages” inspired by Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) that finds a detective trails a woman at nighttime, a pursuit that culminates in their conflation and asks the viewer to question who is following who. “The concept came from a meditation on the journey which led me to have a solo project, a journey which involved searching for myself, striving for some true essence, and realizing that this will naturally happen and isn’t something I need to force.”

Pre-order Surfacing HERE.


Looking for something new to listen to?

Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.