One-on-one with Jann Arden
The music legend plays her fictional self in a new CTV comedy series that premieres March 20. With a new sitcom and two Juno Award nominations, things are looking up for the Canadian icon
Tell me about your new show. It is biographical?
It’s not biographical at all. It’s a completely different person. The TV Jann Arden is a musician and her name is Jann Arden. Other than that, everything is fictitious. It makes for a lot of adventure and things that I’d never normally do. Honestly, I’d have to say, I’m a better version of myself than TV Jann. I think people will really like it.
And you have some well-known guest stars?
Yes, we had Rick Mercer out, as well as Leslie Feist.We are not relying too heavily on the cameo stuff, but we’ve really tried to give them fun and interesting storylines that are counterintuitive to who they are. It was so much fun.
What did you enjoy most about making the show?
I think the collaborative thing. My job, over the last 30 years, is quite solitary. You’re on the road, spend a couple hours onstage with the band, then it’s back to the hotel. It is quite isolating. This is the polar opposite. You are constantly around 80 to 90 crew people who are coming and going, and you never stop. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. The hours are godawful.
And although you’ve had small roles on TV, this is different, right?
I’ve never obviously been the number one character in practically every scene in a sitcom. So there was a lot of concern, but I feel like I did a lot better than everyone thought I would. So it was an adventure. But I like a challenge.
Your last album was also just nominated for two Juno Awards.
It has so much to do with [producer] Bob Rock. I wrote this record with him. He’s one of the consummate global producers. And to be in there with [fellow Album of the Year nominees] Mendes and The Weeknd in this category, it makes me laugh. I’ve been doing this 26 years with Universal, and I’ve never been nominated in this category before. We feel like we’ve already won.
You’ve had a challenging few years with the death of your parents.
Everybody my age is going through the same battle. It is certainly not indigenous to me. You hit 50 and all of sudden everyone starts dying. You’re dealing with problems that seem to be on top of you in a moment, and you’re never quite prepared.
But you were very open about it, sharing your feelings online. Why?
I think I was scared. The first time I wrote on Facebook, I think it was 2014. I remember posting, thinking am I crazy even posting this? I had never dealt with Alzheimer’s and didn’t know anything about it, didn’t know the catastrophic numbers. A couple days later, there was a million readers. So I just kept writing.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sitting beside someone you really love in your pyjamas watching something about archaeology. What is your greatest fear?
I don’t have a lot of greatest fears. I’m not afraid of dying, public speaking. I think [it’s] the day I sort of hang up my spurs. I’m not really looking forward to that. Hopefully I’ll die on my feet doing what I love doing (which is sitting on the couch with someone I love watching the archaeology channel).
What trait do you most deplore in others?
What is your greatest extravagance?
I love this face cream. It costs $400 a jar. I buy it maybe once a year, and I try to make it last for at least four months, then I complain about not having it for eight months, and then I break down at the Duty Free [store] and buy it again. It’s called La Mer, “the sea.” Maybe they’ll send me a case.…
What is your most treasured possession?
A ring that I have on my hand right now. It’s my grandmother’s wedding stone, her little diamond and my mom’s diamond and these little diamonds I had, and I had this amazing jeweller make me a ring that I will just treasure until the day I die.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Definitely my parents. They were very heroic. I think that word is thrown around a lot, but my mom and dad were always in the service of others and were the most non-judgmental people.