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LANIE LANE Thriving Out Yonder

Lanie Lane
Lanie Lane

“I’ve always made heaps of changes in terms of my appearance and had lots of different looks over the years. That’s been normal for me, it’s just that no-one’s ever seen it before – it hasn’t been a public thing.”

Touring in support of her second album, Night Shade, Lanie Lane performs at The Bakery on Friday, November 7. MEG CRAWFORD reports.

Down-to-earth and straight-talking singer/songwriter Lanie Lane had a meteoric rise to fame. Jack White invited her to record on his label before she’d even released her debut album, To The Horses, her song, Bang Bang, featured on Glee, she hung out with rockabilly regent Wanda Jackson (in fact, Lane bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Jackson), and she went touring for a solid two years around that first record.

It was mind-blowing as well as knackering.

While Lane is thoroughly grateful for the experience, the end of her tour in 2012 brought on the necessity for a pretty significant change. “It was too stressful and I didn’t want to keep living that way,” she says. “It was the first time that I’d ever been so much the centre of attention and I didn’t have the internal resources to cope with it – it was tiring. By the end of the regional tours it had got to the stage where I didn’t even have the energy anymore to do signings at the end of the show, which I’d always done previously – there was just no energy left to give.

“Since that time I’ve filled up the tank. I’m more mindful now, too – I can pull back if I look like I’m starting to run on empty.”

So exactly how has Lane changed? Well, for a start, she’s no longer a rockabilly princess – she’s gone for something much more earthy. “I am definitely more comfortable now,” she says. “This is a lot less work – that kind of look took a lot of maintenance. This wasn’t just about my physical appearance, though. I made some conscious decisions about how I operate and started working on myself from the inside out. When you make those internal changes, at some point that’s going to shine through in how you look.”

While this newfound identity may come as a surprise to her fans, for Lane it’s nothing too strange. “Yeah, I’ve always made heaps of changes in terms of my appearance and had lots of different looks over the years,” she says. “That’s been normal for me, it’s just that no-one’s ever seen it before – it hasn’t been a public thing.”

Her sound is different now, too. If To The Horses was rockabilly, new album Night Shade is more pop-country, and in terms of content it’s a celebration of change and feminine power. Lane has found the shift in sound liberating. “I can go anywhere now,” she laughs. “In the same way that I’ve always changed my look, I’ve always changed musically too – again, it’s just that this is the first time I’m doing it publicly. If I was worried about how other people would receive it, nothing would change. I’m not worried about that, though. I’m freed and no-one will be able to dictate to me creatively now.”

The importance of being honest and true to herself is a consistent theme with Lane. Get this: not that she needs the touch-up anyway, but Lane specifically stopped people from fiddling with her pictures for Night Shade’s artwork. “They weren’t totally un-retouched,” she admits. “There are always a few weird things that need to be fixed. The re-toucher was a lovely guy but I think he works mostly in the fashion industry, where the aim is perfection. The first set of pictures he gave me were completely retouched and I had to say to him, ‘It looks great, but that’s not me anymore’, and he apologised and said he’d actually had a conversation with the photographer about how I wanted the photos left as is, but he just went on autopilot.

“With retouching, an arm gets trimmed and a jawline’s made perfect. I’m not a supermodel, though, so I just asked him to take it back about 10 steps. I wanted things to be very minimal, because otherwise I felt that I’d be lying to people. This album is so from the heart, and if it had immaculate, retouched images on the cover, it just would have totally compromised my integrity.”

As part of the whole transition, Lane moved to the Victorian bush, and is on the verge of moving another 40 minutes out (taking her two hours out of the city in total). Some folk find that sea changes are not all they’re cracked up to be, but Lane is thriving out yonder. “It is so much more peaceful,” she enthuses. “You just don’t get bombarded with advertising and consumerist stuff. I’ve made a decision not to be involved in that part of our culture. When I first moved out here, I didn’t have too much in the way of a social life, but now that I’m recharged I go into the city to catch up with my friends, although I can’t do it for too long – I start looking forward to being home, surrounded by nature again.”

If that weren’t all idyllic enough, Lane is also raising four chickens. “They’re all very friendly,” she smiles fondly. “Two of them let me pick them up and cuddle them, but the other two are like, ‘No way’. They’re so sweet – they’re part of the family.”

She’s also been baking like crazy. “I do that sometimes, especially if I have people around, because it gives me a purpose to bake,” she says. “Sometimes I don’t know quite what to do with myself and baking’s good for that. Say on the day that Celeste [Night Shade’s first single] was being released, I was so nervous – I cleaned the house for a bit, but then I ended up baking and it was awesome.”

Another change has been Lane’s increasing attraction to physical and visual art. You can check out what she’s been up to in the clip for Celeste, which features beautiful mandala-like sculptures constructed from natural materials. “One of the things I like most about them is that they’re impermanent,” she explains. “You photograph them and then they’re destroyed – they blow away. That’s where I feel I am at the moment – doing something more physical and less wordy.”

Part of Lane’s skill set in this department arises from the fact she used to be a florist – something she now regards as a bit of a blessing. “It gave me a physical awareness,” she says. “In floristry you can’t force things. Something hard and spiky is not going to go with something soft and delicate – you need to have subtle layers.”

Lane is inspired in this regard by British sculptor and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy, who also makes site-specific and land-based artwork. “He’s been working with rock and shale or flat stones and building these amazing sculptures that look like pine cones. He says that he needs to listen very carefully when he’s doing it – he needs to listen to what the sculpture needs. Sometimes after working on things for five or six hours, he’ll have the whole thing tip over and he just says, ‘It’s my fault for not listening’. That’s something I think about a lot – how can I listen better.”

Rightly, Lane is pleased by her metamorphosis. “I feel more in touch with myself now and it’s given me more empathy,” she says. “I also feel like I’ve softened a bit – I’ve got softer edges now. I’m not living in such a hard way.”

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