Jan Hellriegel first came to Warner Music’s attention with her band Cassandra’s Ears, an all-girl indy pop-rock band formed at university in Dunedin, New Zealand. Cassandra’s Ears developed a strong following and toured NZ relentlessly before disbanding in 1989, after recording two self-funded EPs.
Jan signed to Warner Music NZ as a solo artist in 1990.
Significantly, she was their first local signing and at the time the first NZ female singer/songwriter to be picked up by a major for a full development deal.
Warners brought JD Souther down to Auckland twice to work on material with Hellriegel but only two tracks resulted from these sessions, and the album was eventually completed with producers Nick Morgan and Don McGlashan at Phil Rudd’s Mountain Road farmhouse studio in early 1991.
In late 1992, Hellriegel’s debut solo album was released by Warners. The single The Way I Feel reached number 2, and two more singles top 10-ed.
That year Hellriegel supported David Byrne, and also opened for The Cure on their New Zealand Tour.
Picked up by Warner Music Australia, Hellriegel moved to Melbourne in 1994, where she was given a hands-off deal to work on a second studio album.
Tremble emerged in 1995 to critical acclaim in NZ and Australia. It shifted as many units as the first, but wasn’t the blockbuster the label had hoped for. It was too directional for the public and also, it would seem, for Warners.
In 1995 she supported Jeff Buckley on his Australian tour, and the next year Buckley called again to have her on his bill for his next swing through Australasia.
Returning home to NZ, Hellriegel recorded a more poppy release, Sentimental Fool, but things weren’t working out and she left Warners in 1997.
In early 1999, Hellriegel self-released the EP Melusine through Universal distribution, but, becoming a little disillusioned with the business of the music business, took time out to have a family and figure things out a bit.
However, Hellriegel kept writing and performing occasionally and in early 2009 went into Neil Finn’s Roundhead studio with producer Wayne Bell, some of New Zealand’s best players and a healthy budget, emerging later that year with All Grown Up .
Released on her own label Blind Date, All Grown Up was a commercial and critical success, with most New Zealand music writers giving it 5 Stars and key reviewers naming it the local album of the year.
Hellriegel released Lost Songs in May 2013, a collection of previously unreleased tracks and studio demos that had literally been gathering dust in the basement.
With that cleared out of her system, she’s been working on new music with top Auckland producer Wayne Bell and her long-time band guitarist Brett Adams, bassist Mark Hughes and Nick Gaffney on drums – and Dan Denholm, the ARIA award-winning Australian composer/producer who producedTremble.
She will be releasing a series of singles which will feature co-writes with other writers ahead of a new studio album expected some time in this century.
First Up – Bottom Of My Heart a co-write with Greg Johnson
And Because You a co-write with Wayne Bell
And the latest release a co-write with Martin Brown ... For The Love Of Glory