TOPS girl in charge possesses Her experiences and isn't getting stepped on
by Jessica Simps and June Moon
Jane Penny’s vocation is supreme. It is esoteric in its nature. When She sings, the virility of Her tonality remains mystical, representing to me a freedom of subjectivity. As the lead singer of TOPS, Jane re-enters conversations that girls have been left out of, acquiring authentic metamorphosis in the process.
My destiny is no longer paralyzed by caution because women like Jane Penny exist. My admiration for Her musicality and intelligence is boundless. She’s so bad.
June Moon: You’re working on a new album right now. A lot of your past lyrics were really heartbreakingly sad, despite the “fun” of videos like “Change of Heart”, “Double Vision”, and “Way to be Loved”.
Jane Penny: I’m inspired by the strength of negative emotions more than positive ones, even though I feel the range of them . . . I like to work in pop as a form, [but] there needs to be some meat . . . as a female artist, I feel this urgency to address certain things. So the new record definitely has a lot of that in it, too. Some of it is even unconscious . . . like a meditation on certain ideas of womanhood and youth, the struggle of having a perspective as a girl.
Jessica Simps: You’ve mentioned that finding the Montreal community was important to you, and how a communal connection with an audience is important to you. How do you resonate with Girl’s Club?
JP: I’ve been in Montreal since 2007, and there was a time when something really exciting was going on in this city. There was no doubt that there was almost this galactic energy around; it was undeniable that something was happening here. But there was a straightness and a whiteness and a certain privileged access to things that I feel put all of us in those situations where we could pursue art. As much as I do think it’s really cool what was happening then, even in that moment I remember feeling like, “If this is progressive, then where are we?”
JP: This shouldn’t really be the most applauded thing out there. Growth and evolution of human beings, to me, that’s truly inspiring. Girl’s Club and The Editorial Magazine, if you compare them to something like Vice, are coming so far in terms of quality and having other voices represented. The people here now — it’s a lot more diverse. Sexually, the idea of being a super-straight, monogamous person doesn’t even make sense to people in their 20s now. Girl’s Club represents an evolution, and Montreal containing all of that is really inspiring to me.
JS: What are the things you want to talk about with the album you’re currently working on?
JP: The way women’s bodies are policed, teen girls, the idea of perversion or objectification or violation of women. There’s this idea of these predators capable of acts of violence, and that they hold the knowledge of that act, or the understanding of what that is and then girls are just these beautiful flowers in a field being stepped on. I feel like women actually understand and possess those experiences way beyond the perpetrators of them. [With] all of these experiences that women understand, there’s a constant conversation about them that we’re not a part of.
JS: How can you say what you want to say and make it palatable enough to be received and sold?
JP: The pleasure aspect of music is really forefront to me, and certain . . . My experience has been that a lot of girls resonate with the music, and girls will thank me just for doing it and being out there. That’s the best thing. That's enough for me.