AS the star of a brand new reality TV show The Art of Survial, Janie Price had to busk from Athens to Edinburgh with just a cello in tow, as Rob Garratt found out.
Janie Price is a cellist, singer and now reality TV star who hails south London.
A professional musician for more than a decade, she is now receiving renewed attention for her starring role in The Art of Survival. The six-part show, which debuted on Sky Art on July 21, sees Janie paired with a painter Johan Andersson and tasked with busking from Greece to Scotland with just their art to support them.
Under her stage moniker Bird, Janie’s second album Girl and Cello hit the shelves this month, as did a memoir A Real Journey, which documents her triumphant trip home.
How did you get involved in The Art of Survival?
It was advertised on a music jobs website – I rarely look at it but I was looking for something different to do that summer. I saw it and thought ‘what a fantastic challenge’. Two weeks later I was leaving forAthens.
So tell us the truth – it was all for the camera and really you got trains and slept in hotels.
Not at all! They flew us over, we were in a really nice hotel the first night, and the next day they took us to a square in Athens, took away our money and purses – we were allowed phones but only for emergencies – and we had to start playing and painting to make enough money to get our first bottle of water.
What’s the weirdest place you played?
In Dusseldorf I played on the bridge of ship, to his captain and crew, to get a free trip up the Rheine.
How long did the trip in take?
Five weeks – there were two conditions, we couldn’t take any complete flights, and we couldn’t travel more than 250 miles a day. Every time you get help from somebody it was a little relief. You never knew from one day to the next if people were going to enjoy your work, or look at you and say ‘so what’?
What was the highpoint?
Basel was really good for us – Johan Andersson, my busking partner, sold a painting to a collector for 2,000 Euros, and I played a private gig to a watch dealer for 350 Euros – we went from having nothing to be nearly home.
And the low point?
Definitely Zurich. We were out in the streets, we slept rough, it was cold, and the next day we trying to make money but were completely exhausted carrying 30kgs around with us. Awful.
What did you learn from the experience?
The point of show was to answer the question ‘what is your art worth?’ – it turns out it was worth 12,000 Euros over five weeks. The coolest part was realising how having a talent or skill can allow you to become part of other people’s lives for a small period of time. I’m really proud of having done it.