The Real Shade (formerly Shade) was formed in 2007 when musician/songwriter Jane Gowan moved from her hometown of Vancouver to Toronto. The move landed her in the heart of the Canadian music scene, but musically adrift, having left 4 bands, and over 20 years of creative partnerships. In many ways she was starting her career over, but Jane saw this as an opportunity to re-invent and make something new. She had long been dreaming about fronting a simple lo-fi rock group a la Velvet Underground / Kinks, and in her new home she saw the opportunity to do that.
Soon after arriving in Toronto, Jane met bassist Mary Harmer (Weeping Tile). The two began rehearsing as a duo. But they needed a drummer. One night Mary introduced Jane to Cam Giroux (Oh Susanna, The Violet Archers, Holly McNarland) and convinced him to join the band. Guitarist Jonny James joined for a while, but a change of careers caused him to leave, and he was replaced by guitarist Gord Tough (Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer). Along the way, Tim Vesely (Rheostatics, Violet Archers) became an integral part of the group, playing guitar and filling in on drums, plus recording and producing the songs. Drummer Don Kerr (Ron Sexsmith, Rheostatics, Communism) was recruited as drummer / engineer for the most recent album.
The Real Shade also has a Vancouver-based contingent that toured as "Shade West" in 2011. Some of these musicians also played in Jane's "pre-Shade" group called Jane be Jane. JBJ released a 7-song EP in 2006 called Willing But Weak (produced by Chad Hunt). Past and present West Coast collaborators include guitarist Jon Wood (Flophouse Jr., Cam Penner), guitarist/singer Belinda Bruce, bassist Ryen Froggatt (Mazinaw, Rich Hope), and singer/songwriter Llynn Kellman.