Jan Hellriegel grew up in Auckland’s Te Atatu South with her parents and three brothers. This, combined with a stint working at her father’s panel beater shop (albeit, in the office) led to her being crowned the pre-eminent ‘Westie’ musician by the New Zealand media.
In the late 80’s she became involved in the Dunedin music scene when attending the University of Otago, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts.
In 1988, Jan performed backing vocals on Straitjacket Fits’ cover of the Leonard Cohen song ‘So Long Marianne’, which featured on the album, Hall.
In the late 80’s she formed Cassandra’s Ears with Dunedin band mates Flick Rhind (bass), Zan Wright(backing vocals), Vanessa Anich (drums and Leanne Ibell (guitar). Jan performed vocals, guitar and keyboards. Their first release ‘Replacements’ was included in a national student radio compilation. The band played local gigs, wrote more material and eventually releases two LPs ‘Private Wasteland’ in 1988 and ‘YourEstimation’ in 1990.
By 1991, Jan had signed a solo record deal with Warner Records New Zealand. Her first album ‘It’s My Sin’ was recorded in December 1991 to January 1992 and released in 1992 along with the singles ‘The Way I Feel, ‘It’s My Sin’ and ‘No Idea’.
1995 saw Jan touring Australia and completing her second album, ‘Tremble’ at Sing Sing, Melbourne and Studio 301 in Sydney. The album was released later that year along with the hit singles ‘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 addition, she opened for the Auckland Blues, had a sell out show with Mika, performed at the Comedy Festival and toured for 6 weeks with Jeff Buckley in Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne.
Jan subsequently parted ways with Warner Records. Her next single, ‘Melusine’ was released by Universal Records in 1998.
In 1999, Jan joined the Alan Duff charitable foundation, Books In Homes as a celebrity spokesperson. She co-wrote the theme song ‘Read About It’ with Dave Dobbyn and Toi Iti, which was performed by 60,000 children.
By 2002, Jan took a break, making time to have a family, but she continued to write songs and record demos.
In 2008, she headed back into the studio. With the help of producer, Wayne Bell and a team of guest musicians, she recorded over a 2 week period at Neil Finn’sRoundhead Studios.
The new album ‘All Grown Up’ was released on 22nd October 2009, alongside a release show at Auckland’s Civic Theatre. Fittingly, as the favourable reviews poured in, the video for her 1991 single ‘The Way I Feel’ was placed second in a New Zealand Film Archive ‘Wall Of Fame’ poll to discover New Zealand’s greatest music videos.