I'm not famous, but here's my bio

In all honesty, I’ve never really understood the purpose of a bio. I doubt knowing my birthplace, musical background and all that is going to make you like my work any more or less! I’d rather let the music speak for itself. But I’d also be lying if I said I hadn’t googled many of my own musical influences, pouring over the details of their lives, hoping to crack some kind of creative code that still eludes me.  (If only I’d been born in Liverpool.) And so, since I do understand how context can be helpful, I'll share with you a few details from my life; a journey that detoured so far off the main road, I’m quite sure I’ll never find my way back again. 

but still here


The Rainbow Express, 1982

It was the summer of 1982 in Atlantic City and I'd been wandering up and down the boardwalk for hours, staring out at the ocean; searching for an answer I knew I'd never find. In a few days, I'd be 20 years old. I was in town playing drums with a touring show band called the Rainbow Express. It had been a dream of mine since childhood to become a professional musician and now here I was. It should have been the time of my life. And yet, as I watched the tourists frolicking in the sun, all I could think of was the torment in my mind and how to make it stop... 

When I was a kid, I used to stare at this little shell band in my grandmother's china hutch; a gift from my father during the Korean War. My grandfather played the trumpet in a polka band and as a child, my dad often fell asleep behind the bandstand at the local dance hall. Eventually, he became proficient himself on multiple instruments, including the clarinet, saxophone and trombone. He also had a beautiful singing voice and performed with the Lincoln Continentals, a barbershop group cleverly named after my hometown, Lincoln, Nebraska. My mom was also a wonderful singer and her high school vocal trio was asked to perform on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. I often fell asleep listening to my parents harmonize around the piano with their friends. To this day, "Moon River" can bring me to tears.


The Lincoln Continentals

The Lincoln High School Trio

Little kid, big dreams

A few years ago, I needed a fun photo for a flyer promoting a local concert  I was performing in. After rummaging through some old old albums, I quickly found this photo from 1965 when I was three years old. I was shocked by the image. I never remembered having that kind of fierce attitude. As a kid, I was usually shy and awkward. Sometimes, when I'm behind the drums, I try to channel the energy of that three year old. Sometimes I feel it. Sometimes I don't.


One evening in the fall of 1970, I heard my little sister erupt in squeals of joy over a TV show that had just debuted. Rushing into the den, I saw something miraculous: The Partridge Family. I was absolutely mesmerized and knew in that moment I had to become part of a band.  

(Eventually, I owned the entire Partridge Family catalog, which I still have in digital form in my iTunes library. What I didn't realize back then was the tremendous musical education I was getting just by listening to these songs. Although many dismiss The Partridge Family as a simple novelty act, the actual musicians who played on the records--known as The Wrecking Crew--were highly-in-demand session players who recorded for the biggest artists of their time. Although I never had the privilege of meeting the man, I consider producer/songwriter Wes Ferrell to be a mentor.)

A gift for my 10th birthday

My first band: The Tigers!

Contrasting the utter joy I felt when listening to the music of the Partridge Family, something ominous was growing in the recesses of my mind. I began to have short phases where I couldn't get certain thoughts out of my head. They were usually dark and foreboding and very scary. My fear of them and the worry they would never go away only increased their intensity. Fortunately, the phases always passed and I was able to focus again on the most important part of my life: music. A very kind grade school teacher, who gave us little impromptu concerts on his guitar, noticed my enthusiasm and showed me a few chords. He even let me stay in the school auditorium after class and practice. I was in heaven. Even though my fingers ached, I longed to learn more and soon my parents found a private instructor. I practiced diligently. Unfortunately, once I realized guitar wasn't in the lineup of the symphonic band at school, I switched to the drums. But I never forgot my first true love.

Jr. High Graduation Photo


Not long ago, I found myself once again passing by my old junior high. While I always have mixed feelings about seeing that building, this particular day was even more intense. The driver of the car was none other than my former English teacher, a woman who’d sensed my vulnerability all those years ago and reached out with kindness and compassion. We’d recently reconnected online and begun hanging out as friends. While she chatted, my mind drifted back and within moments, I felt as if I was once again walking those halls, overwhelmed by all the noise and just trying to be invisible. While I do have some great memories of school, especially stage band and learning how to play the drums, there was also a lot of pain. My lack of self esteem had begun to take its toll and socializing with the other kids had become harder and harder. I was more than likely clinically depressed, although I didn’t know what that was at the time. As my friend talked on, I looked out the window and stared up at the clouds, my eyes full of tears. I couldn’t speak. One line kept going through my head: I don’t want to fade away. And that’s how the song Fade Away, from the musical project Sensori Scope, came to be.

Teenage Blues

I often joke that the only thing that kept me in high school was marching band in the morning and stage band in the afternoon. It really wasn't an exaggeration. In fact, I often skipped many of the classes in between and soon got myself in some real trouble. If I'd been better able to express my feelings, I might have admitted to the principal and my parents the overwhelming fear and inadequacy I felt around the other kids and my need to be in a safe, quiet environment. Instead, I asked to be transferred to another high school. I figured that in a new building with different people, I could somehow reinvent myself and magically become the popular, outgoing girl I was always meant to be. It didn't quite work out that way. Even though I was asked by a local music store to join a group of kids who also played instruments, I felt more awkward and alone than ever. Unable to come up with a band name, someone pulled out a dictionary and randomly picked out two words: Spiritual Pollution. It couldn't have been more perfect for my state of mind. 


The first album I ever recorded on.

 Julie and me at Pokorny's - Summer of '79

In the summer of '79, my luck seemed to change when my parents came back from a visit to Kansas City with some exciting news. While dining at the revolving restaurant in Crown Center, they'd encountered a lounge band that featured a female drummer. Even more amazing, that same band, The Rainbow Express, was due to play an engagement in Lincoln in only a few weeks. When my parents told the band leader Lou Marek and his wife, Carla, the lead singer, that they had a daughter who played the drums, both were very interested in meeting me. Apparently, their own drummer was quitting soon and they needed a replacement. Once the Marek's arrived in Lincoln, our families became fast friends. My sister and I babysat their kids during the day and sat in with the band at Pokorny's every night. Like my parents, my sister is a wonderful singer and  natural performer. I was over the moon. Although uncomfortable around people my own age, hanging out with adults in a nightclub and getting to play drums with a professional band was everything I'd ever dreamed of. Lou was impressed enough with my skills that he offered me a job. As soon as I graduated from high school in the spring of 1980, I would join The Rainbow Express and begin touring the country. In the meantime, they'd get another drummer to fill in. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Little did I know that by the time that day finally came, I would be so ravaged with mental illness, my dream would twist and spin and devolve into a nightmare.

the darkest year

The summer of ’79 had ended on such a high note, pardon the pun. But once school started, the pressure began to build again. I’d finally made a few friends, especially in band class, but my grades—which had never been good—slipped even further. I just couldn’t concentrate. The strain of being in a new environment and trying to get on the honor roll to please my mom; something I’d never been able to do, became too much. Shortly after Thanksgiving, my mind simply cracked. The OCD I'd struggled to keep at bay came roaring back, but this time, it was different. Every time I blinked, I noticed it. Every time I took a breath, I noticed it. Every time I talked to someone, my eyes locked onto theirs and I couldn't focus on which of their eyes to look at, so I avoided eye contact as much as possible. I also noticed where my eyes were looking at any given moment, especially when speaking. It was like some demented cadence between my eyes, mouth and breathing that I couldn't escape. I lived in constant fear that someone would notice and the secret would be out. Trying to interact, which had already been hard, became almost impossible. A whole cacophony of physical sensations that most people never even notice suddenly became my whole world. My body, in effect, had become a torture chamber. I wouldn't get a proper mental health diagnosis for another 40 years. None existed in 1979. I now know that I have Sensorimotor OCD; a rare condition characterized by an extreme awareness of bodily sensations. Out of a warped sense of humor, I named my recent musical project, Sensori Scope. Just a little tip of the hat to the boogeyman inside my brain. But he doesn't get any of the royalties.

Fall of 1979


I did end up playing with The Rainbow Express on and off for about seven years. I learned so much during that time; how to sing harmony, arrange a song and practice until it was perfect, thanks to Lou's excellent tutelage. But the intensity of mental health issues made prolonged touring impossible. Eventually, I gave up performing altogether. Although I've learned coping mechanisms to deal with the Sensorimotor OCD and the paranoia, I still struggle daily. I've now turned my attention to composing and recording; two activities I can do in solitude and that help to distract from the chaos in my brain; bringing meaning and purpose to my life. Yes folks, I'm still here... 

Lynn Janese