Age is not a factor in the validity of experience. If anything, our emotions tied to heartache, confusion and isolation are much more powerful when we first encounter them. We’re just embarrassed by the whole ordeal because of how poorly we are able to contextualize them within the moment. At 19 years old, the Vancouver born Jana Bahrich of the band Francis of Delirium is able to communicate these feelings better than most.
Graduating from high school in 2019 — the final class of students who were unaffected by a global pandemic — Bahrich’s parents are teachers who have both worked in an international program that moved their family all over the world. Bahrich’s high school career finished up in Luxembourg, where she still resides today.
Upon moving to the European country, Bahrich understandably felt much like a fish out of water and focused her attention to solitary pursuits like learning a variety of different musical instruments. First learning how to play the violin at five, she quickly moved to bass, then guitar, banjo and piano. She with the help of YouTube tutorials taught herself these instruments, the final one being the French horn.
At the age of 14, she befriended a few classmates who had an extracurricular activity that sparked Bahrich’s intrigue. They played in a family band with their musician father Chris Hewett, an expat from Seattle. Bahrich soon joined in on the fun, and with Hewett on drums, the group began playing “crappy covers” at the local bars around town for the next four years or so.
All the while, Bahrich was amassing her own collection before eventually deciding to flush them out with the aid of Hewett and his home studio. “I knew I wanted my own band and for my band to be playing the songs that I was writing,” said Bahrich over Zoom. “Because I had been playing with Chris for so long, it just kind of seemed natural so I asked him to join in and went from there.”
At the time they started putting Bahrich’s songs together, they were both searching for their common reference points and inspirations. After all, the two are a couple decades apart from each other so the generational differences were justified; however, as many teens do, Bahrich discovered two of the heads on the grunge Mount Rushmore: Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Those influences began to infiltrate into her writing and her style of dress, opting for flannels to accompany the sermons of Vedder and Cobain. Bahrich was thrilled to find out that Hewett went to high school with someone who worked on Pearl Jam’s Ten, an all time favorite of hers and a source of constant inspiration.
“Online, everyone kind of hates on them,” she said, defending the grunge icons. “But there is just something about the album Ten. I remember vividly the first time I watched the video for ‘Jeremy’ and it just blew my mind. It felt like their visuals, the song they were writing, and his lyrics all just made so much sense together. Once I really started getting into mainly Ten — to be honest I haven’t really listened to the other albums so much — then you watch his live performances and the stuff he is doing on stage, climbing everything. It’s insane. That’s maybe one of my favorite things about the way he performs, I feel like he puts his entire body and his emotional, spiritual body into everything he does.”
With common ground, the project the two started working on eventually became their band, Francis of Delirium.
In 2020, the two released their first EP All Change, a brief five song introduction to the band that showcased their shared love of grunge, pacific northwest guitar rock and undiluted emo. Above all, it introduced the world to Bahrich’s unique wise-beyond-her-years songwriting, ferocious guitar playing and stunning vocals. Anchored by the catchy standout, “Quit Fucking Around,” the EP showed immense promise from the young songwriter.
On April 9, the two will be releasing their followup EP Wading, which finds them improving their strengths as a collaborative creative force and delivering on their potential. Intricate guitar lines and vocal harmonies fall perfectly into place with Bahrich’s vocals raging like a storm siren over Hewitt’s thunderous work behind the kit.
While the recording process for All Change was characterized by trial and error — they tracked drums in Hewitt’s laundry room and had to re-record “Quit Fucking Around” after some unsolvable issues — Bahrich believes they are getting the hang of things. And with both of them having small families, the two have made sure to cut out any unnecessary time when tinkering on sessions.
“A lot of it is guesswork, I feel like now we’re getting into a rhythm and I think I know what works and what doesn’t work. It’s kind of a surprise everyday,” said Bahrich.
The four-song EP cuts the fat and confirms Bahrich’s upward trajectory as a songwriter.
With the opener “Lakes,” she updates the listener on her state of being as a recent graduate in a not-so-familiar surrounding with her sense of community rapidly flowing away from her. The eventual goal of a river is to find a body of water. But once you’ve become a lake you run the risk of becoming stagnant.
“I wrote these songs [after I] graduated from high school and decided to stay in Luxembourg and everyone kind of left, which is totally fine. But now I had to kind of figure out my place and try to find new friends in a space that I wasn’t so familiar with,” she explained.
“I tried to find that in music. It was like, ‘Okay, now I’m starting to find my community in the Luxembourgish music scene.’ But there’s still a disconnect there. I think it’s really hard to find really good people. I find it very hard to find people where I am like, ‘I feel 100% solid with you.’ That sense of community, especially after graduating high school, has been hard to regain for me.”
The album’s centerpiece “Let It All Go” reaches a place of understanding at a young age that even some writers in their mid-thirties, for instance, are far from attaining. It’s the action upon reflection that moves the needle towards change. “Your change never came from anger,” she sings with stark clarity. As she sees it, it’s a continuation of the emotions on display in All Change just one year prior.
“Even the lyric [‘Your change never came from anger’] is almost self-referentional to the song ‘Quit Fucking Around’ that’s on our first EP,” she explained. “The first EP is supposed to be this journey out of negative cyclical thoughts. At the end I’m singing ‘quit fucking around’ and I’m saying that as a motivation for myself to change. But that kind of talk is not helpful at all. It’s only through reflection or reflecting on stuff in that song or in my own thought process that you can make those steps forward.”
With two EPs and the world slowly opening up to the idea of band’s being able to tour, Bahrich is hopeful that she can take Francis of Delirium on the road soon. But as of right now, she is hoping to at least play to the small closely knit Luxembourgish music scene that she cut her teeth with. A scene that, given it’s small size, can come with some huge benefits.
“It just feels like a little family of you all together and everyone knows each other and we’re all very supportive,” said Bahrich. “It feels nurturing in that sense and because the place is so small. You normally can get pretty good opening spots. It never happened to us because the pandemic hit. A pretty small band opened for The 1975 in front of 10,000 people. It was crazy!”