Posts filed under from jess-

oh hey there, celebratory giveaway.

As a thank you for following along with the #aprilwordproject, 
I'm giving away a poem to two people about whatever they want!
Here's how to enter:

ON INSTAGRAM:  just tag a friend on any of the
#aprilwordproject poems, that's it!

ON FACEBOOK / TWITTER: go to and pick your favourite
#aprilwordproject poem and share it to your facebook or twitter page and
MAKE SURE YOU TAG ME so I can see that you've entered! 

I'll be doing the draw on Tuesday night! 
Thank you all for cheering me on during the #aprilwordproject!
xo jess. 

give a word project poem for christmas.

It's six days from Christmas and it feels like October in Toronto. This is a glorious thing, but you may have your holiday clock out of whack as a result and have postponed Christmas shopping until the last minute. Sound familiar? Have no fear! I am here for you. 

I am accepting commissions for Word Project poems for someone you love with all funds raised going to someone oh so very treasured in my heart.

My friend (mentor, cheerleader, first-draft-of-a-song-tolerator, guitar teacher, movie partner, advice giver, encourager, etc, etc) Daphne, has found cancer in her body this year, and I as part of her tribe am bidding to raise $40,000 to go towards her post-surgery treatment, as well as cost of living. Daphne is a single mother of four college aged children, and shouldn't have to think about paying for paper towel or electricity bills when she's working on healing her body. I've committed to raising $1300 to the campaign, so I think with your help we can get there pretty quick. 

Here's how it works: you go to, donate what you can ($10? toilet paper! $50? A phone bill! $20? Organic veggies for the week!) to Daphne, and then message me here, letting me know who you the poem is for, and maybe a little about that person, what you like about them, what they like, or a story to give me a tidbit to go on. I will post within 24 hours. Easy peasy. 

Thanks for supporting Visit Jess Janz and thanks for supporting our Daph. 

we released an album today.

My band Fitness Club Fiasco released our album MODERN THOUGHT today. This project has taken a few years to make, interrupted and influenced by falling in love and then a wedding, two babies, a heart surgery, a brain tumour, a successful mayoral campaign, a few break ups (oops), the evolution of Hendo's beard, a spoiled Led Zeppelin t-shirt frozen on a driveway, a lot of pizza, one kick of the can at a radio competition, perfect and fitting artwork from our pal and expert woodsman Scott Hunt, and tireless and magical work from our secret weapon Mark Underdown that have made this album what it is. 

We all feel so proud of this album, what it represents, and what it's become. We are so grateful to everyone who has cheered us on, supported us through our indiegogo campaign, voted for us during Searchlight, paid cover at one of our shows (and attended overandoverandover again), paid for one of those robot t-shirts, shared our music with their friends - MODERN THOUGHT wouldn't be what it is without you.

You can stream (and purchase, WINK) our album here.  

[Album art for MODERN THOUGHT by Scott Hunt. Photo of FCF by Jan Douma].


FullSizeRender (2).jpg

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Space. What takes up my space, meaning apartment, meaning thoughts, feelings, time (schedule, work, time off, people). I've been thinking about what I want all of those spaces to feel like. I've been a madwoman spring cleaning all figurative and literal corners and closets. Obsessively fixing the couch cushions, adjusting the lighting, examining my schedule and what I give my energy and focus to (I'll give you a hint, it's pretty lopsided right now).

I've been thinking about the space I take up, my posture and shadow, my fingerprint and echo. What is it I want to do with this plot of land? What is it I want to do with the light I have?

Maybe it's that it's September. Or just that it's time. 

The summer has been spent at beaches watching the dog swim and playing entourage at rock shows, festivals and horse racetracks, following around a certain band. It's been spent in rehearsal for FCF and starting an unusual side business and at weddings and around dinner tables, everywhere and nowhere in particular, that regular summertime blur that takes over. I don't know if it's the heat or longer days or what but I don't get a lot of creative work done in summer. I've done a tiny bit of writing, but it eeks out of me so slowly it barely feels like I have a pulse. I've realized that's just how summer feels and I like it that way, simple and bright and quiet. 

I've decided to take a year off of school (enter huge sigh of relief). I've started to play around with my word project collection and try to turn some of them into songs as a writing exercise, and to trick myself into getting back to songwriting (does anyone else have to do that? Why does it feel so scary? Maybe we can continue to talk about that). 

Lots of exciting stuff is on the way (like, tomorrow, my band's album is released. Not bad for starters). Thanks for joining along. 



Nearly a week late, but alas, here are a few reflections after toasting a quarter-century of being alive and well:

Other than The Word Project I myself have been pretty quiet on this little blog. Trying to think of the milestones of this past year is difficult; there feels like there is little to report as far as anything flashy or news-worthy goes, but it was such a significant year in the deep, deep part of me, which is trickier to talk about. I get impossibly insecure lately about the question, "how are you?" because I find it complicated to answer, especially when the lovely people in my life really want to know the true response. The most succinct answer, most honestly, and especially over this past year, is, "I am so many things." I feel gawky and feely and complicated and awkward like a kid who cut their own bangs and is waiting for them to grow out; I feel empty and hopeful and bored and busy and hungry and numb from spending so much time per week on public transit. I am twenty-five and still don't know how to properly blow dry my hair or go through a day without my mascara smudging or drink water without spilling it down my shirt. Cool. I feel unsure about pretty much everything except that I want to start my day with a cup of coffee.

This has been a year of closing into myself to take a look around at my head and heart. This was the year my chest caught on fire, enflamed with pain and sickness, urging me to listen.This is a metaphor and it is also not a metaphor. I've taken inventory and thrown a lot of things out and I am getting used to all of the space and all of the echoing and all of the light. It was a decade of lessons, blow upon blow, grace upon grace. This was the year that felt like a coal mine, dark and deep and ashy, and sifting, so much sifting. There was so much monotony and so much stirring. This was the year that turned me into sand. I have felt myself age. I have felt myself surrender and bellow and call out to the heavens and lost hope and look for the good in the quietest of days and admit to my weaknesses and sink into the depths of loneliness and, on more and more days, I have been able to pull myself out. 

I am humbled by the intensity of this last year, how eloquently it was written, even the brutal barrenness, even the days of hollow eyes and empty hands. I feel bewildered by it all, all that has happened and all that hasn't. And mostly I am humbled by the kindness of others, the friends and loved ones who have fed me and encouraged me and reminded me of my name when I forgot it, who have scooped me up and held me close and listened and most of all laughed so brightly that the silly impossibility I so often feel melted away. 

Cheers to being young and silly and bewildered by this complex and brilliant world, and to lightness, which I wish more than anything for all of you. 

xo j.  

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under from jess-.

the word project recap part four: fear // courage.

88a231100a7b90cf1e347372c6337875What I am hungry for is to be wild and free, courageous and bold, and I get so scared of all that is included in seeking that kind of living that I want so badly to just stay home. Here's how that plays out: excavate (v). "What courage to bring shovel to earth and break ground, to commit to the dust and clay, to lay in the dirt for decades in hopes of recovering..."

brink (n). "And how the caution has translated into my life, how I estimate with a huge margin for chance mishaps, thinking what could go wrong, or at the very least, how many red lights I could hit on the way. It brings me too often to say, “why bother?”, it keeps me from going all chips in."

churn (v). "It all seems to come to a boil at once...the sudden necessity for the stormy waves when all you see is glass waters."

vow (n). "I can promise few things; there is much that is unknown and much that has yet to be shaped. There is little I own or have acquired that I can bestow to you."

project (v). "I hope I was more mindful of my wild heart, and all its musings. I hope I was more available and less doubtful to the possibility that my life can be richer and more full than I could ever even consume."

the word project recap part three: the muse.

af4d5a4f1adb05b0b19d6cbae3bc65edLove, not-love, heart-swoon and heartache. sweep (v). "but tell me all of the truths about your wild and beating heart, and I will tell you all of the stories I could ever think to keep you smiling and keep you near."

boundless (adj). "You are not mine to bottle, you are no one's, not even hers."

timber (n). "I’ll pitch the tent and you make the fire, I’ll meet you here in the wild mountain landing of your heart."

contagious (adj). "Your spontaneity sets me off-guard, it is alarming, and I get nervous, but the spark and the heat that rolls on my skin, the ignition I feel in my chest, the rising of the hair on the back of my neck when I’m around you, it makes me want to follow your abandon all over this town."

radical (adj). "You make me want to make a print and leave a mark, you make me want to colour the earth and fill it with song. After talking to you it’s like everything sings, and I like the world like that."

composition (n). "Then again, you are in every page and every piece  - sometimes about you, sometimes in your honour, sometimes a rebuttal to a previous conversation with you - but you’re always there, even if regrettably, because, if not the hero, you are at least always the muse."

youth (n). "We were just / Two kids, we were/ amazed to be in love, it was/ sweet and light, pure, it won't/ happen again, that kind.."

vary (v) "We are different and not the same, we are from far apart and we have gathered, glued and fused just the same."

fused (v). "I want to be leashed to your wandering, where we are free and full and light."

hush (v). "I want to climb inside your quiet. It threw me off, that’s certain, the quiet in even your hands and your ease in the silent moments that drift in and out of our conversation."

the word project recap part two: tension.

a6c1d1a041c8f23948b82a2f23527485In my thoughts and feelings I can often feel so binary: being an extrovert but needing space to mull things over, needing to share but needing to burrow, being afraid of everything but being afraid of becoming nothing. Craving wild adventures but loving the comfort of routine. Here are some insights into the wrestling of our hearts: stubborn (adj). "I was a child and wanted to prove to the world - anything."

scale (n) "There is so much to think on and decide, there is so much to weigh and sift, my love, so much flashing in front of my eyes, that is what is distracting me: everything and all of it weighs heavy, and that is why for me it all takes time."

churn (v). "It all seems to come to a boil at once...the sudden necessity for the stormy waves when all you see is glass waters."

revelation (n). "And the strange grooves all form a funny track in the middle of your chest, either etching toward What You Choose Because Of Fear, or, Where You Go Because It Sets Your Heart on Fire.| "And I want to be a girl ablaze."

contention (n).  "I need stillness, and silence for miles... I want the whole world and I want just here."

resolution (n). "...and to find treasure even in these simple days that are building into so much, and so tall a tower."

the word project recap part one: matters of the heart.

8591ccc2792cf31be75e09472da6317bI've been a little preoccupied in my little corner of the world - I started school a few weeks ago and I'm still getting used to the new routine (or rather, getting used to having no time at all). Also, and more specifically, I feel in many ways I am in a cloud of my own thoughts; there is lots going on up there but I haven't quite been able to put it into words for all of you, hence the radio silence. I've found myself going into the archives of my little blog, looking for clues, remembering what I was going through or thinking about when I wrote different entries, surprised (and pleased!) to see such movement in my writing and also in my thinking; the things that used to encompass me maybe not so heavy these days.

I thought I'd do a few roundups in the meantime while I sort myself out, of different themes I've seen present themselves. First up, Matters Of The Heart. Because that's what this whole year keeps circling back to. Probably still more on the heart to come.

vital signs (n). "In this time I have realized that I am so slow to give my heart concern. This is a metaphor, and it is also not a metaphor. It is the most important thing we could ever learn to do."

palpable (adj). "I want few things, but they are all unlikely [to make manifest my songs, my writing, your heart, to summarize]. And I am wondering if that makes me irresponsible to go after one or most of them."

ventricular (adj). "The heart wants what it wants, and it manifests with such funny persistence."

tachycardia (n). "It has shown me that its voice is one to trust, always, always. In all things, the heart is fighting to keep us alive."

Thanks, as always, for visiting, and for cheering me on. It honestly makes my whole world.



Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset 1404669306.005798.53 Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset


I snuck home to BC for a little visit last week to soak up the scenery and get hugs from so many sweet and dear people. Man that coast has my heart.

Thanks, BC, for your stunning views, your soft breezes, your quiet shores and your lovely people.

Posted on July 14, 2014 and filed under from jess-.


Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetLately has been filled with this and that, including but not limited to walks along the lakeshore waiting for summer to come, stocking up on books and hosting brunch at my little house for friends. My blog is usually an indication of the buzzing or not-buzzing of my head, but now is not the case. Sometimes there is so much to listen to that it takes a second to get all my thoughts and feelings sorted out, causing a standstill while I sit quietly until at least a part of it settles. Spring (it still feels like spring) is filled with such wild growth and rebirth. Growing pains. That twelve year-old ache in your knees because you are three inches taller than you were yesterday.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 preset10313954_10152405657111692_6751328444898592980_nWe at Fitness Club Fiasco have been extra busy in the last few months, which has been really fun and every once in a while for about ten seconds we feel like legit rock stars. We were runners-up in the CBC Searchlight competition, played Canadian Music Week in Toronto (one of a few sweet reviews here), and released our second single from our upcoming album, Hades, which is available for FREE download here. I even had someone stop me on the street a few weeks ago and say "hey you're that girl from Fitness Club Fiasco!" so basically I'm famous (he's friends with our drummer but so what, we've never met before! That counts right?).

On the solo music front (which rarely has news lately!) I recorded two mini sessions with my friend Roydin Monteath on his roof! You can see an original song here and a cover of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" here.


a sweet visit from mum.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetI have the rare treat of celebrating (the week before) Mother's Day with my sweet mum - she's visiting for the week! We've been drinking lots of coffee and wine and I've been getting spoiled with groceries and washed dishes and long lovely talks. Nothing like a week with her to straighten everything out and take care of my heart. Hope you're having a great week!



Posted on May 1, 2014 and filed under from jess-.

cbc searchlight top ten.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetA few weeks ago I blogged that my band Fitness Club Fiasco was participating in CBC's Searchlight Competition. Well, to update you, we have been voted winners of the Toronto region (!!!!) and are now one of the top ten finalists! We are so blown away and no one is more surprised than us, and we are just thrilled. It's been a crazy month and has been such a blast - it's especially surreal to hear our single played on CBC Radio. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset[This is us eating donuts, obviously].

We are holding our breath and crossing our fingers and toes now - this is the last week of votes before the final round; four people move on from here, three judges picks and the top voted band, and then the judges select the final winner. The winner receives $20 000 of equipment from Yamaha Canada, an opening slot in the CBC Music Festival in BC, and professional recording with CBC Music.

If you'd like, you can view our competition profile and vote for us here.

Also, if you're in the Toronto region, we are playing Canadian Music Week next week and we'd love to have you at our show! We're playing at Baltic Avenue at 10pm and we are so, so, so excited to play! You can see the event details here.

cbc searchlight competition.

10001344_10152307340456692_1060687596_nIt's been a busy behind-the-scenes month for us in Fitness Club Fiasco - independent of the band, Mike, Matt and I have been finishing up another semester at school, Jess Underdown took off to Singapore for vacation, and Cam added an insurmountable list of items to his Aquired-On-Kijiji collection. In between all of that our new single Hades is getting polished up and ready to release, we are booking shows for late spring, we have some new thank-you songs being written (you can hear our previous Thank-You Sessions here: Marisol, Legoland, No Words For YouJanette and Homer, Matt Legg-Bagg), and our single Goldmine is being played on Mix 106.5 in Owen Sound, Ontario, for the next few weeks. So exciting!

Some other exciting news: we are currently in the semi-finals of CBC Music's Searchlight Competition. We're in the running to win $20,000 worth of music equipment from Yamaha Canada Music, a professional recording with CBC Music, and a spot on the bill with Tegan and Sara, and Spoon at the Festival in Vancouver. We are thrilled to have made it to the semi-finals, especially in the Toronto region. It's one of those pesky vote-every-day contests, and we have been so blown away with our dear friends being good sports about the whole thing (and my parents' daily posts about the whole thing). If you'd like to hear our single "Goldmine" and take a look at our Searchlight page, you can find it here. This stage of voting is open until this Sunday, April 13th. 

Just another round of serious thank-yous to our friends and supporters who have been really cheering us on this year, investing in our music, attending our shows over and over (especially when there has been insane weather this winter!), being patient as we work hard to get stuff out to you, and just being objectively awesome.




Today it felt like spring in the city. I was able to go for a big bike ride and then a big walk, coffee in hand and friend by side, by the lake. I took off my jacket and could feel the sun seeping through my clothes.

I've been thinking how I feel like I am literally living "spring", how our hearts attune themselves to the seasons, and the budding questions bursting through and zipping across my mind. I like this season of tending to the dust and the softening of the soil. I am so very, very ready for spring.

[Photograph by Horst Keichle].

Posted on April 8, 2014 and filed under from jess-.

hello, friends.

c06a6a7afe9d9442bbc65eab445b36d4 How is everyone? I just wrote a huge final exam, and now I am trudging through one of three more papers that I need to finish before I'm officially done for the semester. Phewf! Who wants to talk about gender roles in satirical dystopias? Not me!

It feels (and I say this tentatively) like hints of spring might be popping through... I've fully committed to ditching my parka even though it's only a meager few degrees above zero, and I've pretty much kicked sock-wearing to the curb too. I might be a little cold here and there, but I am infinitely happy to not be in winter gear. I've ushered in spring with multiple bushels of tulips spread around my apartment, and I even took my bike to my dentist appointment on Monday! The glory!

I can't say how excited I am to get through the next 48 hours and finish the rest of my classes for the semester, which translates to returning to regular blog posts.

For those similarly in paper/exam mode, keep focused (unlike me) and give yourself a hug! It's almost over! And those with friends in this position, go bring them a salad, they've probably been eating strictly comfort food for the last three weeks.

see you soon.


Posted on April 2, 2014 and filed under from jess-.

a wee dose of encouragement.

33a30cc062233be3e2c712ba3bf97af7I'm just taking the shortest break from manic paper writing to eat a scoop of chocolate fro-yo and to read this over a few times. I need to develop some healthier coping methods other than eating ice cream and moping to everyone about the crumminess of last-two-weeks-of-university assignment mayhem. Happy Monday. xo

a very special visit.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetI had the very special treat of hosting my dear friend Stef for the weekend; Stef and I met when we did The Camino De Santiago last April. We also happen to be from the same hometown, and I went to highschool with her two best friends, but didn't meet until we were both waiting for the train to St. Jean Pied Au Port half way across the world. We became fast friends and ended up walking the whole pilgrimage together.Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetA few choice memories: eating a whole loaf of bread each on our very first day, crossing the Pyrenees; trying pig snout for the first time in Logrono; showing off our rainy day gear on our way into Astorga; elated, exhausted faces (with our friend Reed!) after arriving in Santiago. [It was really fun to go through all those posts to link back to them; I also realized that I hadn't seen most of the comments people left for me... couldn't get to them through my phone while on the road. Thank you to all of you, family and strangers, for cheering me on along the way].Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetBack to this weekend, Stef and I had a super late brunch and then went up the Royal Ontario Museum, which I haven't been to in a while, so it was great to go back! They have an incredible permanent Gems & Stones exhibit, and of course there are all the crazy dinosaur fossils that are so cool! The feature exhibit we went to was a gallery of the winners of the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition. It was SO FASCINATING. And stunning! Each photograph comes with an explanation of how the photographer came about capturing their image (one photographer spent 74 days in a hole in the snow in the Russian mountains to take ONE picture of a tiger!!!!!) as well as some background on each species captured. I would suggest it to anyone when it comes through your city. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetStef came with me to see Foy Vance on Friday night. I've been a huge fan of him for years and years and was so happy to finally see him live. He has that undeniable Irish charm and soul, and pretty much stole the encore from the headliner when they dueted on James Taylor's "You've Got A Friend."

Something I took note of this weekend is that, when you have limitless time to talk to someone, you start to tell stories in a different way; when I chat with Stef, there is no pressure to get to the punchline of a story. We just talk and ramble and give as much detail and background as we feel because, on the road, we had the time to do so. In the five and a half weeks we walked together, we became life long friends, and it was so nice to get to spend some time with her this weekend. Thanks so much for visiting, Stefi!

[PS Stef is doing an even CRAZIER hike, starting in May; she's walking the Appalachian Trail, which is a 3500km hike to raise money for Inspiraction, which is a humanitarian initiative to help rebuild Haiti. Check out her blog to learn more HERE].


weekend in chicago.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetLast Thursday I snuck away to the tropical city of... Chicago. Seriously! It would have been nice to go on a sunny vacation to Bora Bora or something, but in comparison to the freezing weather of Toronto, Chicago was almost balmy. I have a few dear friends in the windy city so the whole weekend was full of cheese, wine, food, wine, howling with laughter and cheese.Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetOn Friday morning, locals Joe and Topher took my friend Natasha and I to Southport Grocery (ironically not a grocery store) for brunch, where I had the most magical bread pudding pancakes I've ever had (to be completely honest I've never had bread pudding pancakes anywhere else, but I'm fairly confident these were the best anyway). Then the boys took us to Anthropologie, which is arguably the girliest store ever, and they each came out with a book purchased, and we girls came out with zilch. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcamMy oldest and dearest friend Lynsey lives in Chicago, and we got some serious catch up time, which was so glorious and precious. Also of note, if you're looking for delicious brunch places in Chicago, we ate at Little Goat and it was fantastic. Their hash and their breakfast burrito (of which I am a self-proclaimed connoisseur) was on a whole other level of amazing. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with t1 presetWe didn't do too much touristy things, but just before our flight, Joe took us to The Bean. Because I guess no trip would be complete without it. Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetThanks Chicago for your bright skies, great architecture and beautiful people.