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Songwriter's Clearly Arrived
Up-and-coming, rock-'n'-rolling Erik Janson has discovered that "Morning in Paradise" is followed by afternoons in nirvana.
After a terrific reception for his album of folk-rock that folk in all genres took to, the young and ruggedly handsome singer/ composer has found "Morning in Paradise" is the music of the night played by hundreds of stations nationwide.
Now, his sound has a hint of Hollywood to it, as his soundtrack for "The Man Who Came Back" has come out, as has the film on DVD.
The man who came back?
Clearly, the Santa Monica sensation has arrived.
"It's like sending a letter to the universe," he says of his romantic-infused lyrical approach to "Morning."
And the universe is giving a listen. And what they hear has its own rhyme and reason; indeed, there is a touch of the poet in the composer -- no surprise given that he studied under national poet laureate Robert Haas at the University of California/Berkeley. But it wasn't until he was 19 "that [he] connected the two," he says of music and the muse of poetry.
Love of music wasn't the only way he scored; Janson was on a different track -- hoping to become a professional tennis player -- and was lobbing for greatness when he realized that he was more Curtis Mayfield than John McEnroe. "I took an improv class with [legendary Chicago sax man] Steve Coleman, and suddenly, sports became a hindrance in my life."
When he decided to jump the net and network for music, he had some inspiration: "That very day I was cut from the college tennis team; and that's the day I went home and started my music career."
It's been one he can wax lyrical over, with performance dates for him and his band building, all setting the stage for his debut this past week on the rockin' Roxy stage in Los Angeles.
"Paradise" found, the poet revealed -- what would Milton say?
Doesn't matter, the critics have been kind and encouraging.
And if there's a continental drift to some of his un-punk poetry, there's a reason why: "I lived in Berlin in 2003, on a study program, and that was such an inspiring experience."
Inspiration hits home, too. The son of Carol Shapiro Janson -- a longtime beloved NBC publicity executive who recently left that post -- and Juergen Janson -- a major industrialist and business adviser born in Prague, but who grew up in Germany before moving to the United States -- he's been able to drum some soul out of his family's informal gigs.
"I come from a family full of musicians," he says of his Dad, "a drummer and singer"; and an older sis, Nicole, "a singer/songwriter -- now a psychologist."
You don't need to read minds to know that his mother gave him her own notes. "I got my ability to communicate and write from my mother -- she won poetry awards in college, and had been an actress while a student at Yale Drama School," he explains.
And from her, he picked up her ... pic: "I found her old 1963 Silvertone guitar in the garage" and got in his own licks of heavy mettle.
If there's a string of success that runs throughout the family, he gives credit to both parents helping him to achieve his "dream to be a successful recording artist and contribute to film."
Score another hit: One of his songs was picked up as part of the tracks for "The Vicious Kind," playing the Sundance Film Festival last month.
But paying a return visit ... "The Man Who Came Back" comes with its own back story: Erik's father and the film's star Eric Braeden -- a new kind of role for Victor Newman of "The Young and the Restless" -- are good buddies, and Braeden gave Erik a copy of the Western script.
Both Juergen and Braeden have scripted their own stories as well: "My father and Eric are founding members, started, the German American Cultural Society," a landmark and much-honored organization that, as part of its charter, fosters better relationships and understanding between Germans and Jews.
And, in a concerted effort, Erik, who "has been to many of their events," hopes to lend a hand -- and a voice: "There's talk of my doing a concert for them."
But, maybe, just maybe, the ultimate love match would be scoring a film about ... tennis?
He laughs out loud, a wonderful racket of a roar.
"I try to keep the two separate." But then he thinks. Point, Erik Janson!
"Yeah, that would be fun."