The JaneDear Girls have bloomed with their debut single, "Wildflower." The catchy song has led to late night TV appearances, steady airplay at country radio and a pair of ACM nominations for top vocal duo and top new duo or group. They also enlisted longtime supporter John Rich to produce their lively self-titled debut album, which was released in early February. During their recent visit to CMT, fashionable friends Susie Brown and Danelle Leverett chatted about filming their first music video, their fondness for Shania Twain and Keith Urban and finding a connection with their fans.
CMT: What do you remember the most about shooting the video for "Wildflower"?
Leverett: First off, when I was driving out to Adams, Tenn., the sun was rising because it was very, very early, and it was so, so beautiful. I remember seeing that sunrise and being like, "That is so beautiful and amazing, and we are the luckiest people in the world to be doing what we're doing." Sunrises are one of my favorite things in the world, so I just had a moment, took a breath and thought, "Whew, wow, this is really happening." And the other part I loved was when we were on the trampoline. We were both doing flips and crazy moves. As you could see, they used the splits, so it's kind of funny. My mom didn't like that part, but I thought it was funny anyways!
What were you hoping to capture when you wrote the song?
Brown: I wrote it two summers ago. I just wanted it to be something really fun and like a female anthem -- something that described me. I wrote it on a little vintage Mandocaster, which is like an electric mandolin. It was the first time I ever played it. I'd gotten it out of the closet and went to Guitar Center and got a little amp and I just started rockin' out on something. I had a little flower in my hair that I just bought at Claire's, and my co-writer was like, "Whoa, that's kind of a crazy wild beat! And you have that little flower in your hair. Why don't we write a song called 'Wildflower' and make it about how you grew up?" It's been really fun.
Susie, you were in a family band while growing up in Utah. Was it a bluegrass band?
Brown: It was pretty much bluegrass. I started violin when I was 4, then I switched over to fiddling when I was 8. I started doing a bunch of contests and really learned bluegrass. It was so much fun because I didn't have to stick to the notes on the page. I could make it my own interpretation, and I've always loved being able to do that. I played with my family band for about 10 years or so. We played all kinds of music, and it was really fun. It kept me playing until I moved out here and met Danelle.
Danelle, being from Amarillo, do you hear that Texas influence in your music?
Leverett: Honestly, I'd say no, only because I wasn't as influenced by Texas country music as much as other people were. I grew up on the Beatles, first and foremost, and then went through a Jewel/Nirvana/Green Day phase. And then I really got into country when I heard Keith Urban and Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. I love all kinds of different music, and I think if you listen to our album ... you're going to hear a variety of influences.
On your website, both of you cited Keith Urban and Shania Twain as influences. How did those artists contribute to your musical vision?
Leverett: Keith Urban really is the reason that I first fell in love with country music -- like really fell in love. I loved how he took kinda rockin' music and played it with the ganjo [a banjo with a guitar neck] and had these innovative melodies but with lyrics that related to the country demographic -- and also to just really anyone. I take pride in being part of a genre that cares so much about their lyrical content. The songs that we sing make sense and they're thought-out and sometimes they're even pretty brilliant lyrically. I think Keith was the best of both worlds, musically and lyrically. He really spoke to me.
Brown: I've always been a big fan of Shania Twain. She put out a lot of songs that were really empowering to women and made them feel good about themselves. I think as female artists as well, that is something that is important to us -- to speak to our audience like that and make them feel good about themselves.
Do you feel like you're singing for the female audience?
Leverett: Yes and no. Anyone that wants to listen to our music, we will embrace them. I think that our first single obviously was really driven toward females, but the funny thing about it is that we have a lot of guys showing up to our shows singing, "I'm a wildflower." ... It's like, "Wow, that's really cool, I think." ... And the next single, "Shotgun Girl," I hope will really appeal to males and females in a sense that a lot of girls will say, "Well, I've been a shotgun girl before. I've ridden in the middle of some dude's truck." And I hope that guys will think, "I want a shotgun girl" or "I have one" -- or had one. If you're my ex, you're probably saying "had." (laughs) We like to do all kinds of songs that can relate to all different demographics.
What do you hope fans can take away from seeing you in concert?
Leverett: Hopefully, they will feel really happy and energized. We love to rock out onstage and just have a really good time. We love to just dance and go crazy.
Brown: We put off a very positive energy that people can feed off of.
What has been the response to "Wildflower" on tour?
Leverett: Sometimes they all sing it back to us in markets where they've been playing the song pretty heavily. It's exciting and encouraging to hear people singing our song back to us regularly.
Brown: It's one of the most rewarding things as artists to have the fans say, "I love what you do." That's what that means when they sing your song -- "I love what you're doing -- and rock on!"