Poor Eliza Interview

Jane Park is a Boston based musician in Poor Eliza and previously Bitch Trifecta. She played in All Together Now (ATN) in 2016 and has been involved in ATN since. ATN is a multidisciplinary event that seeks to promote a diverse set of performances. Poor Eliza will be performing at ATN #5 on May 27. WHRB recently had the chance to catch up with Jane. Check out her music and the full interview below:

When/why did you start making music?

I started writing my own music around the year 2008. Before I started writing my own songs, I played violin for many local bands. That was kind of like dipping my toe in the water, because I was surrounded by songwriters and got the opportunity to write my own violin parts. After doing that for a while a lot of the bands I played with broke up, and I became less satisfied with being a rock violinist.

I wanted to be in charge of what I was doing, and I thought songwriting would grant me that control. Now that I write my own songs, I can add elaborate string arrangements if I want to. I can add layers of vocal harmonies to whatever I want. I love having that freedom.

Do you think your music represents you well as a person?

I’m not sure if my music represents me well as a person. I think I’m funnier? Also, I come from a classical music background, and I consume huuuge amounts of online media - like youtube videos and podcasts - I would love to find a way to incorporate more aspects of my life into my songwriting.

Can you tell us more about your classical music background?

My mother is a pianist, so I grew up listening to classical music. She enrolled me in the Suzuki Violin Program when I was 4 years old. Being immersed in classical music and playing violin has given me a strong melodic ear. This has certainly influenced my songwriting, because I write everything from the top down, or melody first. Then I figure out what chords fit under there. Also my initial motivations for writing songs was so that I could write my own string arrangements for them.

Growing up, I mostly listened to classical music, because that's what my mom listened to, with a sprinkling of whatever indie pop/rock my brothers listened to. But I didn't grow up hearing any classic rock like a lot of my friends did. While my brothers introduced me to Tori Amos, Jeff Buckley, and Sarah McLachlan, I didn't listen to the Beatles until I was 17. So there are large gaps in my music knowledge.

It was in high school that I heard Elliott Smith's "Waltz #2 (XO)," and it was like smashing my head into concrete, love at first sight. His music opened a new wound, created a new need, and it took me a long time to figure out what that was. He was a new beginning for me. I never thought it would lead to me playing the guitar, writing songs, and performing.

Tell me about a time when you realized how much music meant to you.

This will sound super pretentious, but it’s a true story. Several years ago my mother and I saw the Budapest Festival Orchestra in the Goldenessalle at the Musikverein in Vienna. The Goldenssalle is historically famous for having perfect acoustics. Being in that room almost sounds like you are hearing music through perfectly mixed, $500 headphones. I can’t explain it very well, because I’ve never heard anything like it. Josef Lendvay started to play the 2nd Paganini Violin Concerto. I started crying. I looked over to my mother, she’s crying. I looked around the Music Hall, and about one-third of the room was crying! I just felt like there was a reason why we were all there that night. And I felt so grateful to know I was experiencing something really special and inexplicable. We were hearing perfection, and it caught us all off guard.

How has your music changed over time? Do you see any unifying themes in your music?

God, I hope my music has changed over time. Yes, I’ve certainly felt a need to edit, edit, edit more and more over time. I used to write like ten super long, rambly verses with no real chorus, and now my songs are a lot more structured and adventurous musically. I’m obsessed with the topics of disappointment, self-identity, and leaving home, and I still write about those topics.

How did you get involved with All Together Now?

I got involved with All Together Now after Anna Rae booked me on ATN #2 (June 26, 2016). I helped her promote that show, and I was so impressed by her vision, social media engagement, and how she interacted with performers. I loved working with her and learned so much! So I just kept working with her for ATN #3.

What was your experience like playing in All Together Now last year? How is it different from other shows you've played?

Playing All Together Now last year was incredible for me! Anna booked me on a show with two other incredibly exciting Korean American performers, and I loved not being the only woman or minority performer. It’s hard for me to describe, but I guess I felt like I belonged there. I didn’t realize how alienating it feels to be the only Korean American on stage until I wasn’t anymore. I got a rush of confidence and pride in both my artistry and ethnicity.

It was also different in that it was multidisciplinary. While Anna and I play in traditional rock bands, Hye Yun Park put together her performance art, comedy, and video, and Diana Oh performed {my lingerie play}, a combination of personal narrative and music. I typically play traditional 3-4 band bills, so this variety show was a new format for me.


Don't miss seeing Poor Eliza and others at All Together Now #5 this upcoming Saturday, May 27 at the Lilypad in Cambridge!

Amanda Glazer is a DJ and Online Content Director for Record Hospital