Raining Jane showcased an outpouring of beautiful musicality as the opener at their good friend Sara Bareilles‘ sold-out show at The Warfield this past December. On March 8th, they’ll be back in San Francisco to play a gig at Cafe du Nord with The Makepeace Brothers.
“They’re so rich in harmony and that’s what Raining Jane is known for too, so it’ll be a night of harmonious gloriousness,” said vocalist and guitarist Chaska Potter in a phone interview on Thursday. “And they’re probably going to have to strap me down to keep me off stage because I’ve been loving their new album and I’ll probably just jump up there.”
And then there’s also the fact that the Bay Area is home turf for Potter and percussionist/Cajon player/vocalist Mona Tavakoli, who hail from Santa Cruz and San Jose, respectively.
“It’s always so exciting to play for the crowd that has known us since the start, and my family is really big and loud and so is Mona’s,” said Potter. “It’s a celebration of life whenever we get to come up here.”
The Los Angeles-based band, which also consists of vocalist/guitarist/cello player Mai Bloomfield and bassist/guitarist/sitar player Becky Gebhardt, have been at work writing and recording new music, collaborating with Jason Mraz (They co-wrote “A Beautiful Mess” with him for his 2007 platinum-selling album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.), and working with Rock Camp for Girls Los Angeles, which they helped establish for young aspiring female musicians. Potter talked more about these latest ventures by Raining Jane, plus their next moves, the joy and inspiration of being part of a musical community, how others can get involved with the Rock Camp, and what they hope to do in the future with Bareilles.
Firstly, if you’re wondering exactly what kind of music these ladies play, it’s difficult to classify—in fact, there is probably no classification for it. “There’s elements of rock and folk because there’s harmonies of guitar and cello, which can also be considered classical, but it’s not,” said Potter. “Becky whips out the sitar so we have the Eastern Indian influences and Mona on the Cajon gives a flamenco vibe. It really crosses so many borders, musically and geographically, but I think you just gotta hear it.” And you can, on their official website.
Since their last performance with Bareilles in December, the ladies of Raining Jane have been mainly focusing on writing and “nurturing different relationships and collaborative efforts.” Most of the writing they’ve been doing has been for Mraz’s next album. “It’s a very reciprocal relationship and we get so much inspiration,” said Potter. “It gets us in a room talking about ideas and flushing out songs.”
As for their own music, they take an approach of recording a few songs as soon as they can, not waiting for the amount needed for a full album. “We’re our own label, essentially. We funded our own albums through touring and since we’re not touring, it makes more sense to just go back to the studio and do three songs, and then go back to more writing,” said Potter.
Aside from Mraz, the group also continuously feels inspired by other indie musicians in their circle. Potter cited Bushwalla as one of them, and of course, The Makepeace Brothers. “The more tours we go to, the more collaborations we do, it feels like [our community is] getting bigger and broader but tightening at the same time, like we’re developing different aspects of ourselves through these different relationships,” said Potter. “It’s great to feel that support by the community and be surrounded by awesomeness!”
Does that awesomeness include Sara Bareilles? “Constantly and always,” marveled Potter, who said that the band has been friends with her on-and-off-stage since college. “The music part’s been icing. It’s something that we all love to do,” she added.
Will they be playing more shows together in the future? “I think we’re going to have a European tour, but I’m just manifesting it,” said Potter. “It’s not on the calendar, but that’s how it works–first you see it and then it happens. Right now, there’s nothing in the books… but a lot in the stars.”
For now, there is one other thing that’s in the books for the ladies of Raining Jane, and that is their continued involvement in Rock Camp for Girls LA. They volunteered at the camps in Portland and Seattle before helping get a Los Angeles camp off the ground last year. This year’s Rock Camp will take place for a week-long session later this year, and Potter said that they are adding a Ladies Rock Camp for women 21 and over. All of the tuition for the Ladies Rock Camp goes directly to the girls program and will help give a scholarship to a girl in need.
“I think it’s great experience for women who ever wanted to have a band, get up on stage, and sing a song,” she added.
Last year, 60 women volunteered their time to teach the girls at the Rock Camp. There are also plenty of volunteer opportunities for those who aren’t as musically inclined, such as serving as band counselors, band managers, roadies, and merchandise designers. “It’s a great reminder that calling on your community is a good thing, to allow people the opportunity to show up and give back and how much that really feeds all of us individually and as a group collectively,” said Potter.
And it’s seeing people’s involvement in these types of projects that makes Potter feel inspired to be a part of a band like Raining Jane. She says, “When you come together as a group the way we have, you can really accomplish some cool things.”