Interview: Jane Bruckner

Jane Bruckner is a Nova Scotian ambient musician and visual artist whose economic sense of environment imbues her work with a refined edge. Inspired by the artist Agnes Martin, her debut collection Agnes was released in March 2022 and features five blissfully compelling tracks. There's an elegant charm to Bruckners' minimalism and simplicity, and when it was featured on Bandcamp's homepage, it immediately spoke out to me (as did the gorgeous cover art which Bruckner created). There's little to no information about Bruckner online and ostensibly no social media presence. I wanted to know more about this discreet artist, and if there were other musical projects or releases to discover, so I reached out for an interview. 


Congratulations on the Agnes EP, it's really beautiful! Where and how did you record it? 


I was going through my Mom’s basement and discovered my elementary school recorder. The idea of making something out of this relic from my past seemed interesting. So that was the starting point.

I make everything on my own, at home. I just recorded a bunch of notes off the recorder. It sounded pretty shrill, so I pitched it down and filtered it to coax it into calmer directions.

So I made a few loopy soundbites out of that. I liked them a lot, but didn’t consider it anything serious. I didn’t think it was a “real song”. But in the process of making these loopy things I started thinking of Agnes Martin. I guess I associate her with small imperfections found within repetition.

So I read a bunch of Agnes Martin’s interviews. She was an incredibly insightful human being. She said one thing in particular, to paraphrase, about how in art you need to follow your inspirations, and that bad artists end up falling back on cognitive ideas, rather than gut inspirations.

So I got rid of the cognitive idea of a “real song”. I’m fairly happy with the results.

This EP was inspired by the abstract artist Agnes Martin, what connection do you think visual art has with music? 

Well I think all art mediums are trying to do the same thing, and that is basically to affect the soul. People can stray from this, but I think it usually doesn’t turn out well. I love visual art, but I think music has more appeal to me in this regard. It’s more affecting.

Interestingly, Martin said that music was the highest form of art. She said it impacts people about eight times as much as painting.

But the subtlety of visual art can be nice sometimes, too. It requires a still mind.

You're from Nova Scotia, what's that like? I imagine it to be cold, but also ruggedly beautiful. 

It is cold and gloomy a lot of the time. I hated it growing up. I moved away for a bit and actually ended up missing it. Now I find the gloominess very beautiful. It’s very inspiring. Especially cold and gloomy days by the ocean.

Is this your first release? What is your musical / artistic background? 

Yes, it’s the first thing I’ve openly shared with anyone. But I’ve made maybe about 5 or 6 albums before. I’ve just kept them to myself. A lot of it isn’t very good…

When I made this it felt like it had an empathetic quality to it. Or I felt like maybe it could have a positive impact on whoever heard it. That kind of tipped the balance towards releasing it publicly. I would never put out anything that I thought would have a negative impact on someone’s emotions.

What's a typical day for you?

Pretty boring, honestly. I’m working from home right now.

Everyday I like to walk a lot. At least one or two hours a day. Usually near the ocean, which is very inspiring to me. It’s also my main time for listening to music. It’s probably my favorite part of the day.

I don’t do too much honestly. I don’t like TV or most movies. I try to only get on the internet when I have to. I’m a bit of a recluse really. I’m pretty similar to Agnes in that sense. 

If you had to recommend one album, one movie, and one book to someone, what would they be? 

Very hard to just pick one album! I might go with One Life by a French ambient musician named Malibu. I’ve really been connecting with her music a lot lately.

My favorite movie is Breaking the Waves by Lars von Trier. It’s extremely sad, but very beautiful.

In keeping with my theme, I’d have to recommend Agnes Martin: Writings for the book. It’s currently something of a bible to me.

Agnes Martin at MoMA, from Wikimedia Commons

Do you have any ambitions for the future?

Well I’m not trying to be a professional musician. I want to keep money and music separate. 

But I am trying to make the most beautiful music I can. That’s it.