Under the name Juniper Vale, Sarah Jane has created an artistic adventure. She combines her love of electronic and indie-pop music with her talents as a professionally trained opera singer and banjo player. She has even created stories to accompany her music, through illustrations, comics, and more.
Her unique ingenuity has attracted tens of thousands of fans online yearning to follow her adventures. She has been releasing music since 2016; recently, she teamed up with Christian contemporary artist Jason Gray for the new single, “Something True.” We spoke with this up-and-coming artist about her single, her musical and artistic inspirations, and her hopes for the future.
Your artistry is not just your music. You also use comic art and multimedia in everything you do. Can you talk about how you’ve incorporated these into your career and why you’ve gone that direction?
Growing up, the art that captivated me the most was art that created a space where I could reflect, wonder, create, and let my imagination run wild.
As I was writing songs and figuring out what I wanted this project to look like, I stumbled upon the art of Hein Zaayman, an incredible illustrator who has worked with companies like Lifeway and Disney. His artwork transported me to another world.
I’ve always hoped that my music could do that, bring people to another place that, in turn, brought them closer to themselves, closer to others, and closer to God. So, I teamed up with Hein and we created the world of Juniper Vale.
The album artwork for the music follows the story of two characters, Sarah Jane and her giant pet turtle Senelala, as they travel through the world of Juniper Vale in search of the meaning of home.
The comic-style storytelling has been such a fun facet of the project that not only keeps it lighthearted and fun but also acts as an open invitation to the listener to join us as we chase after true belonging.
Your new single, “Something True,” features Jason Gray. How did you and Jason wind up working together?
Jason and I played a couple of shows together a few years ago. After cracking a couple of nerdy jokes backstage, we set up a co-write and the rest is history. I have been a Jason Gray fan for quite a long time. His songwriting shaped the way that I create music, so it has been a dream come true working alongside him to craft this sweet song.
The line “The sky must break for the rain to fall, from broken seeds the flowers bloom” is so beautiful. What is it about being broken that we hate if that’s what we need to be made whole?
I love this line as well, and doesn’t it just fit Jason’s voice so perfectly. This line was inspired by a book written by author Ann Voskamp called The Broken Way.
In the book, Ann writes that we don’t have to be afraid of our brokenness because Christ redeems all things. He takes brokenness and out of it brings forth abundance.
The full line goes, “The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread.”
Community with one another happens when we break down our walls and come together amidst the brokenness. Communion with God takes place when we break away from our ego and surrender our brokenness to Him.
This past year was so long for all of us. What do you want this track to speak into that space?
Last year definitely shifted reality for all of us and forced us into a state of uncertainty, isolation, and complete loss of control. 2020 brought a lot of emotions out of me that I never experienced before, struggles that I never anticipated facing, and fear that I had no words to define.
And, in that dark and hazy time, it was the hope that Christ was working behind the scenes, mending all the broken in ways that I couldn’t see, that got me through. This song keys in on that hope and the truth that even in the darkest of times we are never alone. Even in times of unprecedented unknown, love creates a space where we can live in the light and know that the sun will rise again tomorrow.
What’s next for you?
A lot more music. I am planning on releasing a brand-new song every month of 2021 and a full-length album in 2022. I have also been creating YouTube vlogs every month that have been such a blast to make. The vlogs have been inspiring me to try new things and explore new places. So, I’m so excited to see what new adventures all of this art will bring.
How can we be praying for you?
My husband and I create this music together. We write all of the songs together and he produces all of the tracks that I release.
This music is the core of who we are. It has been such a blessing to get to create this art out of a place of love and then to share it with the world.
Every day, I pray that Christ uses this music that we create together to bring love, peace, and hope to the hearts of those who listen. Join the Juniper Vale adventure at www.thejunipervale.com
Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
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