Jan Hellriegel

Jan Hellriegel

Jan Hellriegel performing at a concert

Jan Hellriegel, live at St James Theatre, Wellington
Background information
Birth name Janette Hellriegel
Born Waitakere, Auckland, New Zealand
Origin Auckland, New Zealand
Genres Pop/rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 1985–present
Labels Blind Date Records
Associated acts Cassandra's Ears
Website Jan Hellriegel

Jan Hellriegel is a singer/songwriter based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her first recorded appearances were in Dunedin band Working With Walt in the mid-1980s when Jan studied at the University of Otago in Dunedin. She then formed all-woman band Cassandra's Ears, moving back to Auckland and going solo in the early 90s.

Hellriegel has released three solo studio albums, "It's My Sin" in 1992, "Tremble" in 1995 and "All Grown Up" in 2009.

She has toured with and supported many international acts including The Cure, Jeff Buckley, David Byrne, Diesel, and Ron Sexsmith.

She has also performed as a guest vocalist for many bands such as Straitjacket Fits, The Verlaines and The Mutton Birds, notably on the latter's hit single Nature.



Jan Hellriegel was born and raised in West Auckland with her three brothers and attended Henderson High School. She famously worked in her father's panel beating shop, though only in the office. Nonetheless, the combination of her birthplace and early employment led to her being branded a "Westie" by the New Zealand media.

Jan took vocal training in speech and singing at St. Mary’s College, Auckland under Sister Mary Leo. She then moved to Dunedin in the 1980s to attend the University of Otago, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.

While in Dunedin, she joined her brother Rob Hellriegel's band, Working With Walt. She performed backing vocals, piano and guitar on their 1984 7" LP The Prophet and wrote and performed the song "Christina" on the band’s 1985 LP 4 Sides.

In 1988, Jan performed backing vocals on the Leonard Cohen song "So Long Marianne", performed by Straitjacket Fits.

Cassandra’s Ears

In the late 1980s Jan formed the band Cassandra's Ears with Dunedin bandmates Flick Rhind (bass), Zan Wright (backing vocals), Vanessa Anich (drums) and Leanne Ibell (guitar). Jan wrote music and lyrics and performed vocals, guitar and keyboards.

Their first release was the song "Replacements" for the National Student Radio 1986 compilation, Weird Culture Weird Custom.[1][2] The band played local gigs, toured New Zealand, wrote more material, and eventually released two EPs, Private Wasteland in 1988 and Your Estimation in 1990.

Cassandra's Ears reformed in November 2010 for a one-off show in Auckland to support the release of "The Cassandra's Ears Story".

Solo career

By 1991, Jan had signed a deal with Warner Records New Zealand to record solo material. Her first album, It’s My Sin, was recorded between December 1991 and January 1992 at Mountain Studios (Tauranga), Airforce Studios (Auckland), Mandrill Studios, Helen Young Studios and Auckland Audio (Auckland). The album was released in 1992, along with singles for the songs "The Way I Feel", "It’s My Sin" and "No Idea". There was also a promotional EP for "All the Best Thoughts", and the songs "Westy Gals" and "Wings of Steel" were released as radio-only singles.

In 1992, Jan also recorded backing vocals for the hit song "Nature" by The Mutton Birds.

In 1995, Jan recorded a television advertisement for Coca-Cola before completing her second album, Tremble, at Sing Sing (Melbourne) and Studios 301 (Sydney) in 1995. The album was released the same year along with singles for the songs "Manic (is a state of mind) ", "Geraldine" and "Pure Pleasure". In 1996 Jan was awarded Most Promising Female Vocalist at the New Zealand Music Awards, and Top Female Vocalist and Single of the Year (for Manic) at the Music and Entertainer Awards of New Zealand.

In 1997, Jan recorded a television advertisement for Ford, a cover version of the Gordon Mills song "10 Guitars" for a Television New Zealand documentary of the same name, and the song "Unravelled" for the short film "My Geraldine" by former Cassandra's Ears band mate Flick Rhind. She also recorded a new single, "Sentimental Fool", at York Street A&B Studios (Auckland) for release that year.

Jan subsequently parted ways with Warner Records, and her last single, "Melusine", recorded at Beaver Studios (Auckland) was released by Universal Records in 1998. That year, Jan was nominated for the Fox of the Year award on the Mikey Havoc show.

In 1999, Jan joined the Alan Duff Charitable Foundation Duffy Books in Homes programme as a celebrity spokesperson. She co-wrote the theme song "Read About It" with Dave Dobbyn and Toi Iti, which is still performed by 100,000 children annually. During that year she played a non-musical acting role on Shortland Street, playing Jackie, an abused wife.

In 2000, Jan appeared in the New Zealand television Street Legal and in 2001 she became involved in a collaboration with Tom Blaxland called Project Runway. In 2002, she wrote and recorded the song "Star Baby" for children’s clothing label Pumpkin Patch.

In early 2009 Jan went into Roundhead Studios in Auckland to record a third album with a line-up of musicians including producer Wayne Bell, Nick Gaffaney on drums, Brett Adams and Ben Fulton on guitars, Eddie Rayner and Michael Larsen on piano/keyboards, and Mark Hughes on bass. Special guests included Kiri Eriwata, Callie Blood and Jackie Clarke on backing vocals. The album was engineered and mixed by Neil Baldock and was mastered by Greg Calbi at Stirling Sound in New York.

Jan released the new album "All Grown Up" on her own record label, Blind Date Records, in October 2009 to critical acclaim from New Zealand music reviewers.

In May 2010 Jan joined Native Tongue Music Publishing as their New Zealand General Manager.

In June 2010 "Melusine" was re-released by Blind Date Records.

In October 2010 Jan announced she had finally signed an agreement with Warner Music Australia that would allow her to re-release her earlier albums, "It's My Sin" and "Tremble" through Blind Date Records.

The album "Lost Songs" was released in April 2013. A collection of previously unreleased material - demos, live sessions and studio work from 1990 - 2000 which Hellriegel had remastered from DAT and cassette recordings.



Year Title Details Peak chart
1992 It’s My Sin
  • Label: Warner
  • Catalogue: 90317 77192
1995 Tremble
  • Rereleased: 2010
  • Label: Warner / Blind Date Records
  • Catalogue: 4509995722
2009 All Grown Up
  • Released: 18 October 2009
  • Rereleased: 2010
  • Label: Blind Date Records
2013 Lost Songs
  • Released: 17 May 2013
  • Label: Blind Date Records
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

With Cassandra's Ears


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1992 "The Way I Feel" 4 It's My Sin
"It’s My Sin"
1993 "No Idea" 17
"Westy Gals" (Radio release only)
1994 "Wings Of Steel (Radio Edit)" (Radio release only)
1995 "Manic (Is A State Of Mind)" 5 Tremble
"Geraldine" 34
1996 "Pure Pleasure"
1997 "Sentimental Fool" 35 Non-album single
1998 "Melusine" 17 Non-album single
2010 "Melusine" (Rerelease) Non-album single
"Sentimental Fool" Non-album single
2013 "Venus Is Dead" Non-album single
2014 "Bottom of My Heart" Non-album single
"Because You" Non-album single
2015 "For The Love Of Glory" Non-album single
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Other than interview or performance appearances, Jan Hellriegel has occasionally dabbled in acting.


  1. Various – Weird Culture Weird Custom at Discogs
  2. Slevin, Dan. "Vinyl Vault – "NZ Music"". Funerals & Snakes. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  3. 1 2 "JAN HELLRIEGEL IN NEW ZEALAND CHARTS". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
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