A Tribute to Jill Janus of Huntress
08 Aug. 2018

A Tribute to Jill Janus of Huntress


On August 14, 2018, the world of heavy metal lost a bright shining light as Jill Janus, the lead vocalist of Southern California metal band Huntress, took her own life outside of Portland, Oregon. Jill had suffered from severe mental illness for most of her life and was very candid about it during interviews, talking about her struggles and empowering others who were going through similar dark times to not give up and keep fighting. Sadly, Jill lost her battle after years of courageous fighting. If Jill never discussed her mental illness so candidly, to the casual observer, you would never know the inner demons that she fought on a daily basis.

Jill was not only the vocalist for Huntress, but she also had a long stint as a DJ in New York under the name Penelope Tuesdae, she was the vocalist for the all-star cover bands Chelsea Girls as well as The Starbreakers (with current Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss). Jill was also co-composer and creator of an upcoming rock opera with Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Angus Clark.

I first met Jill Janus when I was a writer for a Canadian webzine called The Metal Pit. She was selected as the “Metal Maiden” of the month for May of 2012 and I conducted a short interview with her. Later that same year, Huntress was selected as the opening act for the 2012 Paganfest tour. I traveled to Worcester, MA. to see the band and to finally meet Jill in person. Jill sent me an email with her cell phone number and asked me to call or text her when I arrived. I sent her a text letting her know I was going to the box office to purchase a ticket and she immediately called me and told me to meet her in front of the venue and she would put me on the guest list. That is the kind of person Jill was, thoughtful, kind, and generous. We hit it off right away even though she didn’t have much time to socialize since the band were preparing to go on stage. 

When Huntress took the stage that night, the band were full of energy and Jill was a force of nature. Gone was the soft spoken and shy person I spoke to just an hour earlier. Replacing her was a ravenous witch whose goal was to enthrall her audience with her voice and presence…and she did..in spades. After the set I was able to speak to Jill and the band and let her know what an amazing performance I had just witnessed. I didn’t want to take up too much of her time, as there were many fans there who wanted to meet her as well. Jill was a charismatic and magnetic personality and you couldn’t help but love her. She made you feel at ease and that you mattered to her.

 

I was able to see Huntress perform several times over the next few years as part of the Dragonforce and Arch Enemy tours. Each time we saw each other, it was like greeting an old friend. I interviewed Jill again in 2016 after the release of Huntress sophomore album Starbound Beast. We discussed the many goals Huntress had already achieved, including playing the U.S. Mayhem Fest and Sweden Rock, as well as the progression of the band. It was around this time that Jill had started opening up to the public about her struggles with mental illness as well as a bout with uterine cancer (a battle which she fought and won).

 

 

In September of 2015, Huntress released their third album, Static. Jill’s lyrics had taken a more personal turn, talking about her daily struggles, like in the song Mania, with the lyric: If you ever spent a night in my head… By the morning you’d be dead. 
It’s getting harder every time to pretend I’m getting harder to defend.

In the last couple of years, Jill and I had lost touch, she abandoned social media and retreated to private life on her family’s farm in upstate New York. She had a social media admin provide updates to her many dedicated fans and talked about a future Huntress album. Sadly, a fourth Huntress album will never see the light of day, as Jill has left this world and left many fans and friends behind to mourn her passing and to celebrate her legacy.

 

 

I do not pretend to know what Jill was going through. Like most, I wish there was something I could have said or done that would have made a difference in her life. I do know she touched my life and I am grateful to have known her. I considered her my friend although I didn’t know her as well as many others in her life. Still, it was an honor to have met her, talked with her, laughed with her, and to have seen her preform over the years. Rest in Power Jill Janus. You truly made a difference in this world in the all too brief time you were here.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

About the author

Honey Badger
I am a lifelong fan of hard rock/metal since I discovered my childhood idols KISS. Music is my passion and progressive and power metal are my favorites in the sub genres of heavy metal. I also work for the premier metal festival in the U.S. ProgPower USA as a co-admin for their official Facebook page. In my spare time (what little i have of it!) I enjoy working out

About the author


One Response

  1. Avatar DjAnubis says:

    Good write up and i agree with how you described Jill, i never got a chance to see her or her band play live but did talk with her a few times on the web as she was very engaging that way. Never knew just how deep her struggles were and it really sucks that she is gone as she was a gem of a person.

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