Jane Asylum

Jane Asylum

I’ve set-off around the world a few times as a digital nomad. My favorite places are off-the-beaten-path spaces. I enjoy good food, although I’m a sucker for trying anything once. Discovering new music and artists is a passion, but I adore retro tracks and nostalgic songs. Whether fueled by imagination, or anchored in the real world, I live for adventure, especially when set to the beat of diverse and eclectic playlists.

Ready. Set. Join me on a sonic adventure!

French Girl Nigerian Boy

22 September 2021

About this playlist

French Girl Nigerian Boy

The French girl releases her legs from the Nigerian boy’s hips. The hem of her black mini-skirt slides down her thighs as her suede ankle boots graze the floor of the passenger train’s toilet. He tosses the condom into the metal bin and pulls up his zipper. Breathless, eyes glossy and sparkling, they embrace. He rests his forehead against hers. She smiles.

“Did we just join the loose caboose club?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s mile long,” he chuckles. As the exertion—not the passion—fades from his breath, he kisses her. Their lips linger. “What now?”

“Your name would be a start.”

He steps back with a laugh and places his right hand on his chest. “I’m Ibrahim.”

“Nice to meet you, Ibrahim. I’m Julie. Juju.”

We met on the overnight train from Naples to Venice. She didn’t wait for me to stand. Instead, she fumbled across me to the window seat, fell into my lap and awkwardly apologized in her best Italian. She smelled of wild roses and cedar, seduction and freedom. She would later tell me that was the intended effect of her perfume, according to the advertisement.

We talked for hours. We talked about everything under the sun and the moon, until just before dawn, when she turned toward the window. She stared in silence for a few seconds that seemed to stretch for hours, and then turned back to me. “L’heure bleue!” she said, standing and stepping into the aisle. “Do you want to get lost in a moment?”

I did.

He wore a black turtleneck and trousers and exuded confidence and strength. My body began to shake. Was it excitement, fear, madness? I felt lost. I was at a loss to move my feet and betray my sudden intoxication. He was so handsome. No, he was beautiful. Maybe I wouldn’t have to walk past him. I looked at my ticket and then at the seat numbers and saw that my seat was next to his. I didn’t wait for him to stand, couldn’t. I was too nervous. I hurried over him when the train jerked and I fell into his lap.

“Mi scusi.” My heart raced and my entire body felt flush as he helped me off his lap and into my seat.

He smiled. “No problem.”

“You’re English?”

“From Nigeria. You?”

“French,” I paused and added, “From France.” Why did I do that?

“I suspected,” he chuckled. “Are you travelling home?”

“No,” I said, removing my purse and setting it beside me. “I’m a writer. Digital nomad. I transfer to Zagreb in Venice and then on to Dubrovnik. Huge Game of Thrones fan.”

We talked into the night about everything from his newfound spumoni ice-cream addiction and my guilty pleasure for Brazilian soap operas to his love of Afrobeat artists and my fascination with Daniel Nakamura and yé-yé. I didn’t want the night to end, but as the darkness gave way to twilight, I realized it would.

I stood and moved over him, less nervously this time, bent down and whispered, “Do you want to get lost in a moment?”

Juju and Ibrahim gather their luggage and leave the train in Venice. They put down their bags and stand on the platform unable to take their eyes away from each other, unable to say goodbye. Finally, she moves to kiss him adieu, but before she reaches him, he asks, “Do you want to go on an adventure?”

She did.

Follow the rest of Juju and Ibrahim’s whirlwind European romance by listening to this playlist:

Strangers on a Train

Confident

Ah bah d’accord

Again

Que Sera

Sere

Sun Is Shining

Ginger

Pleasant

Nasty

Le temps est bon

Fall

Yes/No

Come Meh Way

love nwantiti (ah ah ah)

Je t’aime moi non plus

Boys Are Bad

Partir Ensemble

Nobody

Sur la piste de danse

Fool

Did We Live Too Fast

Slow Down

Va

Sinner

Old Downtown

Understand

Homme

LV N ATTN

Vertigo

Hopeless Romantic

Still Think of You

Bonus Track: Shadow of a Doubt

Link to the Unsplash image

Tracks to Take you to Europe

17 September 2021

About this playlist

Why do people paint themselves in their national flag and roar in unison with others as they connect over their place of birth? What does it mean to be “English,” to be “French,” to look at a stranger and connect because you come from within a few hundred miles of each other inside an imaginary border that no one can see?

I struggle with nationality. I mean, I get it—I guess it made sense over the years—but as time goes on and we get to learn more about each other, it just seems so primitive, so unnecessary when really, at the end of the day, and from the very beginning, we have a far deeper unifier than where we live or come from, which is that we’re all human, we’re all brothers and sisters, and why can’t we just work with that?

In a digitally divided world where facts reflect the channel you choose, the only way we’re going to make the underlying human connections is if we meet each other—not as traveling packs of alcohol-fueled testosterone, but as individuals, as families, as curious entities in search of something different.

There’s a million places on the planet to travel to—from the Americas to Asia, Australasia and beyond—but I come from Europe; and while I moved to the Americas, Jane did the opposite. We love this continent and are stoked to share it with you.

This is no travelogue, it’s not a reflection of our experiences. This playlist is an invitation. It’s here to tempt you, to intrigue you, to pique your curiosity: The Stranglers don’t come from Sweden or Toulouse for that matter, Neutral Milk Hotel is about as Dutch as Beach House is Norwegian. Ultravox’s “Vienna,” Parquet Court’s “Berlin,” Fleet Foxes’ “Mykonos” or Muse’s “Prague”—what is so amazing about these places that they inspire such soaring works of art?

We hope you are inspired to come and find out.

Link to the Unsplash image and here

Lying Eyes – Monophonics

13 September 2021

Today I’m adding the track “Lying Eyes” to Music to Play in Your Vintage Mustang. If I were still living in Canada, I might be tempted to add Green Days’ “Wake Me Up When September Ends” to my playlist. Fortunately, I’m in Portugal where trees remain green, the wind has shifted from the north (brrr) to the south, and the sun continues to entice people to the beach, at least for another month. With this in mind, a sunny and smooth upbeat track might be ideal right about now. California psychedelic soul band the Monophonics certainly offers a few of those on their 2020 album It’s Only Us, as well as the instrumental version of the same, which came out this year.

Nevertheless, I’m hooked on “Lying Eyes,” from 2015’s Sounds of Sinning. While just about any track from this band would pair well with Chuck Berry’s “My Mustang Ford,” I want to drive into a more or less psychedelic blues and garage rock direction. This makes “Lying Eyes” the perfect fit for Music to Play in Your Vintage Mustang. It’s a great track and the entire album has a fantastic sound that both traverses the 60s and transcends it, so do check it out if you haven’t already!

You can learn more about Monophonics here

My Mustang Ford – Chuck Berry

19 August 2021

When I started curating Music to Play in Your Vintage Mustang, I had a very specific trajectory in mind. In fact, the initial name of the playlist was Music to Play in Your 60s Mustang. Yet, at some point between submitting my curator form and chatting with Music To founder Andrew McCluskey, I felt I was limiting myself and made the decision to include 70s era-defining and -inspired music to add to my renamed Vintage playlist.

This made perfect sense at the time. After all, my mother drove a 1972 Mustang Grande until she replaced it with an MGB in or around 1980. Almost all of the music that passed through those pony stereo speakers were 70s songs, even if I better associate my mom with the 60s. Besides, as a new Music To curator, I was eager to receive artist submissions, and being able to draw from two decades is better than one, right?

Not quite. It became a bit overwhelming. Add a pandemic and some major life changes, and I guess you could say that I geared down until finally I had to stop at the side of the road, take a look at the map, and revisit the route I originally intended to take with this playlist.

Today, I’m celebrating being back on the road with Chuck Berry’s 1965 “My Mustang Ford,” which is an ideal song to relaunch this little playlist called Music to Play in Your Vintage Mustang.

Enjoy!

You can learn more about Chuck Berry here

What the Frug!

1 July 2021

Mod. Fun. Hedonistic. These are just a few of the words people use to describe the Swinging Sixties. They’re also words I’m keeping in mind while curating What the Frug!

To give fair warning, this is an atypical Swinging Sixties playlist. I won’t say it’s unconventional, though. Many of the tracks on this playlist fit perfectly into the Swinging London scene. However, I’m adding a greater international flavor and mixing in a big splash of modern bands and music genres, too.

This playlist is inspired, at least in part, by my formative years. While I wasn’t exactly born when London swung into 1965, I grew up on a steady diet of variety and sketch shows like “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in,” Beatles and Godzilla movie reruns on TV, and age-inappropriate cinema adventures like “Barbarella.” My mother swears they advertised it as a children’s film.

My other influence (my main inspiration) for this groovy playlist is the Messer Chups 2020 album, “Lost Tracks.” Even before listening to it, I enthusiastically laughed over brilliant track titles like “Catherine Deneuve Gets Pricked by an Umbrella” — a play on French New Wave director Jacques Demy ’s 1964 Palme d’Or-winning film “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.”

This is a fun project for me, although I’m not sure how much of the hedonistic I’ll be able to add. Nevertheless, What the Frug! is a playlist full of colorful movie tracks, retro songs for modern tastes, a touch of yéyé and tropicália-inspired music and plenty of vintage tunes from Swinging London, Europe, the Americas, and beyond.

People – Les Bods

16 March 2021

I can’t believe that it has been just short of a year since Les Bods, a band out of Brighton, England, sent me their first single, “People.” I also can’t believe it has been a year since this COVID-19 shitshow began. It has been a tough one for so many people on so many levels, which is why the band’s song title (lyrics aside) seems apropos for me right now.

My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, whether to COVID or not. My thanks go out to all essential workers. And, to lighten things up, I’m especially grateful to my local grocers who’ve ensured that toilet paper is never scarce and hand sanitizer stays well below €1,00 per ounce. More surprisingly, I’m appreciative that having to switch gears from tourism writing introduced me to Kate Beckinsale’s pussy (nothing wrong with that), which always makes me laugh.

More seriously, though, I’m indebted to artists like Les Bod who send me tracks. The explosion of creativity this year has been overwhelming, and the number of songs submitted to me even more so. I have a hell of a lot to catch up to play, and work to do.

Thanks out to artists and listeners for your patience!

You can learn more about Les Bods here

Beam Me Up – Gloria

15 February 2021


It finally seems like the right time to add the psychedelic track “Beam Me Up” by French band Gloria to my playlist. It’s not that there haven’t been other “right” times, but I thought I’d be lingering in a bluesier rock mode for longer. However, a wonderful thing happened this weekend: clouds parted, the sun came out, and I got to wear my cut-offs.

While the band is on the verge of releasing a new LP, Sabbat Matters on March 5, 2021, this track is off of In Excelsis Stereo (2016). And if their new album is as great as this one, then we all have some fantastic tunes to look forward to in our near future.

For now, “Beam Me Up” is a mellow track to ease into your Monday. I did — along with a morning walk and a breathtaking sunrise.

You can learn more about Gloria here


About the Curator - Jane Asylum

When my mother wasn’t walking around the house belting out early 60s’ girl-band lyrics, she was collecting compilation albums, specifically from K-Tel. She may not have had the most refined taste, but she enjoyed variety, or at least that’s what I recall. I poured over them all, preferring some sounds to others. And when I found the perfect song, I’d play it over and over until ready to perform my latest theatrical dance incarnation.

With my family all gathered on floral grey sofas in our basement apartment, I’d set the vinyl on the turntable of a brown fibreboard stereo and not-so-carefully lower the needle. It would pop, screech, and crackle before any music spilled from the weaved-wheat speakers. My toes would press, lift, and sweep through the blue-green shag carpet, my arms would flail, and the music would bass and treble through my soul.

I’m no longer that 6-year-old doing private-audience interpretive dance routines, but my passion remains just as intense. I have no special superpowers as a curator — just my love of sounds and lyrics that transport, transform, move, and make your body groove.

Jane recently curated the musicto community playlist: “What is Alternative Music” - well worth checking out along with her three part article on her favorite “Alternative” artist: “My Ultimately Alternative Relationship With PJ Harvey - Part 1

   

My Ultimately Alternative Relationship with PJ Harvey – Part 3

16 January 2021

I slip out of bed, stagger in the dark, bounce off the door frame to my office, power-up my laptop, stumble to the kitchen, turn on the coffee machine, quickly turn it off, grab a mug from the cupboard, try again.

As much as I’d love to be the kind of person who wakes up beating my chest and singing PJ Harvey’s “Me Jane” to start the day, all I’ve got to motivate me this morning is, “Ahh, coffee.” Which is more than most mornings, at least.

Although we both get four to six hours of sleep every night, I’m not nearly as functional as Polly Jean. She often wakes from vivid dreams, scrambles for her notebook, and scribbles down her subconscious visions.

Kitchen. Coffee. Terrace.

I used to be able to write in school halls swirling with students, on packed subway cars and noisy cafés, or at home with music blaring.

Similarly, there was a time when Polly Jean wrote music anywhere. Throughout the 90s and into the 2000s, she’d write songs in hotel rooms and tour buses, and she’d write lyrics and music simultaneously – as she told Irish poet Paul Muldoon at the launch of the Lancaster Words literary event in 2017:

“I’d just make rhythmical noises as I was playing the guitar, and then they would become words, so songs like ‘Sheela Na Gig’ would have been a me-meh-ne-yey, until I found the right thing”

— PJ Harvey

Her entire process changed for Let England Shake, though. Perhaps, in part, as a result of her collaborative work with John Parish, writing the lyrics for his music on A Woman a Man Walked By; or maybe because of an inspiring poetry workshop she attended in Dorset, which opened her mind to the power of words. Whatever the event or series of events, only after months or years of thorough research of British conflicts throughout the twentieth century, did she start thinking about the words — and when she did, she sat at a desk, with notes, war songs, and poems pinned to her wall, and crafted the lyrics as strong standalone pieces before walking the countryside and beating the melodies out with her feet.

The result earned PJ Harvey a second Mercury Prize. Being the only artist to have ever received two should automatically earn her the title of ultimate alternative artist, but I have never used the word ultimate to describe anything, let alone a musician.


“No, I distinctly remember you used the word ultimate to describe an orgasm.”

Lauren was right. “I’d forgotten about that!” It was so long ago that I can’t recall the entire title of that piece, but I do remember that it was for the sole purpose of enticing click- and other ‘bates.

“I once told my grandmother that the Bay City Rollers were the ultimate band,” Adam starts. “I was seven. She didn’t stop buying me their albums until sometime in the mid ‘80s.”

“Did you get a tartan skirt?” Lauren asks.

“Didn’t everyone?”

We laugh and exchange stories about Donny Osmond fans’ obsession with purple socks and Lauren’s intense desire for an eye-patch during her Ziggy Stardust phase, which starts our trip down the rabbit hole of first albums bought with our own money and concerts with and without our parents at the long-gone original Ontario Place Forum, which almost everyone growing up in the province during the 70s and 80s experienced.

“My first PJ Harvey concert was at the Opera House,” Adam says, referring to the historic music venue in downtown Toronto.

I’ve almost always been in the wrong place at the wrong time to see PJ Harvey live: as she toured down the Pacific Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles, I had been driving up from Seattle to Vancouver; as she played in Porto, I was learning about Viking ships in the Roskilde Fjord in Denmark — and, ten days later, flying back to Porto just as she arrived in Copenhagen.

 “I might need to reconsider hanging out with you if I hope to ever see her in concert again.” says Lauren.

The only time I finally got to see Polly Jean in concert, I didn’t plan for it. I didn’t even know about it.

It was my birthday and Miguel suggested we enjoy a few days in Lisbon. I hoped to sip great wine and sample amazing food over the course of a few romantic hours at a restaurant I’d read about. Instead, we rushed through an unremarkable meal near our hotel, before a brisk walk to the Aula Magna auditorium at the University of Lisbon, where the night would prove much more remarkable.

“No fucking way,” I laughed. “When did you get these tickets?!”

I had half-expected the frenetic energy of a stadium concert because of that instant explosion of anticipation and excitement, but I knew that Let England Shake was unlike any of her previous work. In fact, the setting was intimate and calm, more like an evening at the theater than a concert, which affected my behavior, but not my giddy fan-girl thrill.

The audience settled. Lights flooded the band as they opened with a riff inspired by “Istanbul (Not Constantinople),” before PJ Harvey materialized, stage right, like a ghostly widow in black with a willowing feathered headdress, strumming her autoharp as she floated into the spotlight singing the title song, “Let England Shake”. There was nothing but me and her in that initial moment. She transported me from present to past, from the modern concert hall to the English countryside with waves of sound and story, until claps and whistles brought me out from under her influence into the exuberantly shared sing-a-long encore of “Big Exit” and the appropriate “Silence,” before the theatre lights came back on. It was everything I’d hoped it would be.


Kitchen. Coffee. Office. Google.

If you research enough, you can sketch a picture of almost anything, and the internet is loaded with information about PJ Harvey. No matter how many books you read, though, no matter how many interviews and songs you listen to or documentaries you watch, the complete picture of a person, place or time always remains elusive.

I wonder if this thought crossed Polly Jean’s mind in the years that followed, when she decided that research from her comfortable Dorset home was no longer enough; that she needed to push it further and share the experiences of her subjects for herself, document their lives, walk the same paths, breathe the same air. As she traveled with war photographer Seamus Murphy — to Kosovo, to Afghanistan, to the housing projects of Washington, DC — she wrote a poetry book, The Hollow of the Hand, and started to create her next album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, along with the documentary, A Dog Called Money.

PJ Harvey - Photo Credit: The Author

PJ Harvey – Photo Credit: The Author

It’s easy to create lists of the greatest bands or best musicians, alternative or otherwise, but to choose a single representative of an entire genre? Not so simple. Or at least not for me, even if it might have seemed that way as I edited my initial ultimate alternative artist list.

I haven’t chosen PJ Harvey simply because of how many albums I’ve owned. If that were the case, I could just list her output and achievements, and then be done with a 600-word article. Or maybe I’d write 1,200 words using the Grammy definition to make an argument. After all, PJ Harvey is a progressive musician, constantly experimenting and innovating, redefining herself again and again. She may be adamant about never wanting to repeat herself, but it’s this constant determination to progress as a musician, to innovate as an artist, to change and to evolve from one album or project to the next that I truly admire, and which has kept me on the journey with her.

And just as PJ Harvey isn’t trying to persuade listeners to form an opinion about subjects on any of her albums, I’m not trying to convince anyone that PJ Harvey is the ultimate alternative artist. My choice is ultimately very personal, as your own choice for an ultimate musician might be.

One of the most interesting things I’ve known Polly Jean to say in the last decade, and which might surprise some fans, was to BBC2’s Miranda Sawyer:

“I have found over the years that I’m not — I don’t think I’m really a musician. I’m much more interested in the words”

— PJ Harvey

It’s a quote that has stayed with me; and when I play it back in my head, hearing her confess her newfound love of words, I can’t help but imagine that our paths might one day cross again. Perhaps it will be at a book reading or signing — will she be signing my book or will I hers? — but if I’ve learned anything from my ultimately alternative relationship with PJ Harvey, it’s that I best not make any plans.


Interested in Alternative Music?

The musicto curators recently came together to answer the question: “What Is Alternative Music” and Jane curated a playlist to go with the answers.


Sympathy For The Devil – The Rolling Stones

11 January 2021


It’s unlikely that anyone needs to be introduced to the Rolling Stones, or to “Sympathy for the Devil,” for that matter. This specific version is from the 50th anniversary edition of Beggars Banquet, originally released in 1968. Rather do a big write-up filled with information you probably already know, I thought I’d just invite you to listen to the story, sing along with the lyrics, and maybe let go of the wheel (but don’t!) for a brief air guitar session, because when Keith Richards guitar solo kicks in, it’s nearly impossible to resist.

Cover image credit: "The Rolling Stones Summerfest in Milwaukee - 2015" by Jim Pietryga is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

You can learn more about The Rolling Stones here


About the Curator - Jane Asylum

When my mother wasn’t walking around the house belting out early 60s’ girl-band lyrics, she was collecting compilation albums, specifically from K-Tel. She may not have had the most refined taste, but she enjoyed variety, or at least that’s what I recall. I poured over them all, preferring some sounds to others. And when I found the perfect song, I’d play it over and over until ready to perform my latest theatrical dance incarnation.

With my family all gathered on floral grey sofas in our basement apartment, I’d set the vinyl on the turntable of a brown fibreboard stereo and not-so-carefully lower the needle. It would pop, screech, and crackle before any music spilled from the weaved-wheat speakers. My toes would press, lift, and sweep through the blue-green shag carpet, my arms would flail, and the music would bass and treble through my soul.

I’m no longer that 6-year-old doing private-audience interpretive dance routines, but my passion remains just as intense. I have no special superpowers as a curator — just my love of sounds and lyrics that transport, transform, move, and make your body groove.

Jane recently curated the musicto community playlist: “What is Alternative Music” - well worth checking out along with her three part article on her favorite “Alternative” artist: “My Ultimately Alternative Relationship With PJ Harvey - Part 1

   

Woman – Down Dirty Shake

4 January 2021


If 2020 were a woman, this blues-rock track — also called “Woman,” from San Francisco-based band Down Dirty Shake — would undoubtedly make for a more than appropriate theme song. Fortunately, as vocalist/keyboardist AJ Ayez sings, “it’s over” now, and I think we can take a cue from those lyrics, adapt, and move into the future.

Kyle DeMartini (guitar/vocals), Aaron Grimes (drums/vocals), and Tommy Anderson (bass) join Ayez to round out Down Dirty Shake. They’ve been a mainstay of the Bay Area music scene for a few years now. “Woman,” along with a number of great tracks like “Sun Cheyenne,” appears on their 2018 self-titled debut album.

Although they haven’t released a new LP since, the band has been working on new tunes. I’ve recently been grooving to their funk-infused, “No Ordinary Love,” which they recorded during a live session on KXSF 102.5 FM in October 2020. But hey, don’t stop there. I didn’t, and still haven’t had my fill of Down Dirty Shake.

You can learn more about Down Dirty Shake here


About the Curator - Jane Asylum

When my mother wasn’t walking around the house belting out early 60s’ girl-band lyrics, she was collecting compilation albums, specifically from K-Tel. She may not have had the most refined taste, but she enjoyed variety, or at least that’s what I recall. I poured over them all, preferring some sounds to others. And when I found the perfect song, I’d play it over and over until ready to perform my latest theatrical dance incarnation.

With my family all gathered on floral grey sofas in our basement apartment, I’d set the vinyl on the turntable of a brown fibreboard stereo and not-so-carefully lower the needle. It would pop, screech, and crackle before any music spilled from the weaved-wheat speakers. My toes would press, lift, and sweep through the blue-green shag carpet, my arms would flail, and the music would bass and treble through my soul.

I’m no longer that 6-year-old doing private-audience interpretive dance routines, but my passion remains just as intense. I have no special superpowers as a curator — just my love of sounds and lyrics that transport, transform, move, and make your body groove.

Jane recently curated the musicto community playlist: “What is Alternative Music” - well worth checking out along with her three part article on her favorite “Alternative” artist: “My Ultimately Alternative Relationship With PJ Harvey - Part 1