Jarboe (/ˈdʒɑːrboʊ/; also known as Jane Jarboe, and the Living Jarboe; born Jarboe La Salle Devereaux) is an American singer-songwriter and keyboardist who came to prominence as a member of the New York City-based band Swans in 1985. Having played the organ since childhood and had years of professional vocal training, she, with founder Michael Gira, were the two constant members of Swans until the group broke up in 1998.
Although she was absent from the group's lineup when the band reformed in 2010, she contributed background vocals and voice collage for the band's 2012 album, The Seer. She has released numerous solo albums and collaborations, many of which have been self-published. She also co-composed the soundtrack of a horror game titled The Path.
Life and career:
Though Jarboe has kept many details of her life private, she has divulged bits of information in interviews over the years. She was raised in New Orleans, and as a child learned to play a Hammond organ and studied opera at the insistence of her father, who hoped for her to have a career as a singer. She has described her father, an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, as "the ultimate law-enforcement man".
Jarboe describes herself as "obsessed" with Swans since hearing their first album, Filth (1983). She came into contact with Michael Gira and attended the band's practice sessions before, after several auditions, joining as a vocalist and keyboardist and debuting on Greed (1986). Prior to Swans, Jarboe's musical background had consisted of training as a jazz and choral vocalist.
I had to unlearn proper singing technique and pronunciation. There is a tremendous difference between the vernacular of jazz and choral work and the way Michael Gira molded me. I think Michael Gira is the one who made me a 'rock' singer. He told me, 'Drop your g's.' It's not 'going into,' it's 'gonna go.' 'Drop your consonants and relax.' He said to me, 'You're an American, sing like an American.' He really ripped into my singing style and changed it around for me.
Between 1985 and 1996, she worked as a vocalist and keyboardist in the band, appearing on albums including Children of God (1987), The Burning World (1989), and Soundtracks for the Blind (1996). Jarboe's inclusion in the band marked a departure from their previous noise rock sound to a more melodic industrial and even folk rock sound. She also collaborated with frontman Gira, forming their side project, The World of Skin in 1987, releasing several albums and singles.
Jarboe left Swans in 1997 as the band broke up, and she embarked on a solo career, releasing various experimental records (many of which she has self-released and distributed over the internet) including Sacrificial Cake (1991) and Anhedoniac (1998). She has continued to self-release solo albums, and, despite not returning to the group, recorded vocals for two tracks on the re-formed Swans' album, The Seer (2012).
Jarboe completed a world tour in the autumn/winter of 2013 with Veil of Thorns' P. Emerson Williams on guitar.