Canadian singer Jane Siberry, who briefly went by the name Issa, decided a few years ago to get rid of almost all of her possessions — and recently decided to free her music, too. She had been using a “pay what you think it’s worth” price structure since 2005, but recently ended that method because of her frustrations with the payment system. From her website:
i have let paypal go. old-fashioned wheezy paranoid beast. and i can’t find a simple enough new solution. so, all music is pay-it-forward.
All 16 of Siberry’s albums can be downloaded for free from her website, if you’re interested. What interests me, however, is the unique story behind the woman and her dedication to simple and minimalist living.
From “Jane Siberry makes real lounge music” in the London Times:
Siberry travels lightly through life. In 2006 she closed her office and gave away almost all her possessions. Insofar as she has a home now, it is a log cabin in northern Ontario that’s inaccessible in the winter. “It was about removing everything that was at odds with my concept of music,” she says.”
More about her minimalist life from a May 3 article about her in The Scotsman:
There is, arguably, no performer in the world quite like Jane Siberry. Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom and PJ Harvey all show a similar fearlessness, individuality, and defiance of the usual rules in the way they approach what they do. But what other Western performer has gone quite as far as Siberry in paring back their creativity to its absolute essentials? Most people, as they get older, cling on to material possessions – letters, photos, clothes – for dear life. It’s proof that you’ve lived, that you’ve had relationships, that you’ve had some success, that you exist. Siberry, now 54, has discarded it all, in a bid “to find a new way of doing things”.
Some people, of course, may cynically regard all this as rather self-indulgent and hippyish, and may feel like repeating John Travolta’s quip in Pulp Fiction, after Samuel L Jackson tells him he’s going to give up his hitman ways to “walk the earth”. “So you decided to be a bum?” says Travolta dismissively. It’s a good joke, but an easy, cheap shot, the kind designed to keep someone in their place. Siberry, though, has never seemed very interested in doing what’s expected of her. In a society obsessed by material things, in which art has become a commodity, a lifestyle statement or just background noise, she embodies a different approach to living.
Learn more about her in her eye on jane section of her website.