Jane Penny (TOPS) tells us about her favorite watery songs

TOPS singer Jane Penny just released her debut solo EP, which is titled Surfacing. “There are things I wanted to explore sonically and creatively, which would be impossible in the context of TOPS,” Penny says. “I wanted to challenge myself to create a whole world of my own, to write all of the parts, program the drums, choose every sample, write the bass line. When I took control over the entire world of music that I was creating I felt that it also opened up a lot of emotional space, sensuality and intuition that comes through solitude. It took a while to reach a point where I feel it’s ready to share, but now the gates are open and I’ll definitely be continuing on this path.“ You can listen to the whole thing below.

To go along with the EP, Jane put together a companion playlist for us. She says, “Since there are quite a few water themes going on with my debut EP Surfacing I thought I’d prepare a mix of watery music! Enjoy :)” It includes songs by Everything But the Girl, Anna Domino, Janet Jackson, Suzanne Ciani, and more. Check out the list and her commentary, and listen to a playlist of all the songs, below.

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Anna Domino – Lake
Anna Domino has been a massive influence on me as an artist since I started making music. I love the mood of this song and all the synth production is very inspiring as well. Feels like standing at the edge of a lake on a cloudy day.

Hiroshi Yoshimura – Time After Time
This album was one of the inspirations for my own album cover. In general with my solo stuff I’ve been having a lot of fun incorporating the sound palettes that you often find in Japanese ambient music from the 80s.

Sally Oldfield – Waterbearer
Sally’s music is like rain in the desert!

Hikaru Utada – Not in the Mood
I really love the production on this song, it sounds like it’s raining outside when you listen to it. There’s a nostalgia to it even though it’s a relatively new song referencing 2000s prod from not too long ago. I feel like there were a lot of water themes during that time? Cry me a River!

Janet Jackson – Anytime, Anyplace
A sexy rainy song by one of the best to ever make sexy rainy songs.

Everything but the Girl – Missing
Another song about rain in the desert, a fairly powerful image I guess! Mainly throwing this in the mix because I worship Tracey Thorn’s voice and lyrics and will forever be attempting to capture a similar energy in my own songs.

Marine Girls – Shell Island
Here we have a song about being on the beach by Tracey Thorn’s first group, who also have an aquatic name so this song is extra appropriate to include here 😉 I love that such an early project from her is out there in the world.

Deux Filles – Drinking at a Stream
There’s a common atmospheric thread on the album that this song is from, despite a ton of variation in instrumentation throughout. Their spotify bio details the pretty unique backstory of the project.

Suzanne Ciani – The Sixth Wave: Deep in the Sea
Suzanne Ciani inspired my new EP more than anyone. I saw her perform a live set once and it was life changing. The instrumental song on my EP (“Stream”) was even named Suzanne for quite a while.

Clifford White – April Showers
My friend Kari from the excellent group Ultraflex showed me Clifford White’s music. It’s the kind of New Age music that sounds like it was made by a bedroom producer recently even though this album came out the day after I was born.

Jane has a few solo shows lined up for later this spring, including NYC’s Joe’s Pub on June 1. All dates…

Jane Penny – 2023 Tour Dates
Wednesday, 5/29 – Toronto, ON – The Baby G
Saturday, 6/1 – New York, NY – Joe’s Pub
Thursday, 6/6 – Montreal, QC – Casa del Popolo
Thursday, 6/13 – Los Angeles, CA – Gold Diggers