Lanie Lane’s second album, Night Shade will surprise many. Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips caught up with Lanie to find out how it all came together.
On a brisk but sunny Melbourne morning in the courtyard of an Albert Park cafe, the amiable Lanie Lane sits in anticipation of her second interview of the day. There’s a spark in her eyes. Lanie’s about to release her second album,’Night Shade’ and knows that in collaboration with her partner Jez Mead, they have created something really special. While some artists are content to stick to a formula which has worked successfully for both themselves and their fans, others like Lanie Lane would rather explore the world of musical possibilities and grow, not only as an artist but as a person. Night Shade will surprise many, particularly those who had her pegged as that retro chick in tight jeans and vintage western shirts who’d be playing rockabilly and swing style music for the rest of her days. The new album is a blend of many styles and sounds, from trippy Doors-like psychedelia and ambient, spacious ballads, to 70s style jams, atmospheric guitar noise, jazz influenced vocal deliveries and a modicum of the Lanie Lane we already knew. It would be easy to label the album as a bold musical statement, purposely created to lay to rest any pigeon-holing from the past. However, that wasn’t Lanie’s intention and is not how she views the experience.
“At the end of the day, I chose to portray myself the way I did,” she explains. “It was my choice to go out looking how I did and sounding like I did. That was fine at the time. I was probably getting to the end of the cycle of that though. I’d been wearing that stuff and sounding like that for about seven years, so I was getting bored with it. It wasn’t like … I want to be different or I don’t want to be pigeonholed. It was just me at the tail end of all that and wanting to move on. I’m not out to make a statement, no. It’s just honest and true and not trying to do anything out there or different. It’s just what happened. I wasn’t out to prove anything, which is why I love it so much because it came so naturally.”
Lanie’s approach to Night Shade was much different to the manner in which her debut album was produced. She was able to dedicate a lot more time to all facets of its production including the writing, the playing and recording. A large chunk of To The Horses, her debut album was recorded in a single day. “I was spending more time writing each song,” she says of the process for the new album. “I’d get much more in touch with the song rather than quickly and prolifically writing. I spent days on them and the song Mother, I spent a few months on that song. I kept coming back to it, giving up on it, loving it, hating it, thinking it wasn’t good enough. The recording was spread out over 6 months. We did ten days of rehearsing and recording the band stuff and three days doing the vocals in my bedroom, three days doing backing vocals in Sydney. Then we went back in March and recorded the songs Celeste and I See You up at The Grove.”
The more time Lane spent in the studio laying down tracks, the more she grew to love the recording process. “We had a vision and could see it and hear it and feel it,” she says excitedly. “I learned so much more doing this album than the last one. Jez and I were such a team. I’d love to produce other people’s music. I think you just accumulate knowledge with each record. I am so excited about the opportunities of where to take my music after this one as well.”
Another aspect of the Night Shade journey Lanie enjoyed was her guitar playing. Inspired by hearing the sonic possibilities on the EP of fellow Melbourne-based artist Olympia (Olivia Bartley), Lane set about honing her own guitar skills and exploring new effect options. She then wrote the song Olympia for Night Shade as a response to the energy and influence of Olympia’s song Atlantis. Lane has also secured Olympia as support act for her Night Shade national tour which begins at the end of October. Lane’s thirst to further develop as a musician is evident on many of the tracks on the new album, particularly the opening track Salute, which begins with Lanie playing guitar with an EBow. “The wah, the main riff and that loop that happens on that track is me,” She says. “With that song, I definitely felt like I pushed myself with my playing. When I started to write that riff, it was with the normal tone I had been playing with … the Gibson through the (Fender) Twin. Jez came in and plugged me into the wah pedal and said try this babe. I was so excited, it was the exact, right effect we needed and it opened up this huge possibility for me. It was so perfect.”
One of the biggest surprises on the album is the six minute long jam-out called The Phantom, an epic groove which features sax, Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer organ. Despite various suggestions from Jez and her band, It’s a track Lanie was determined to record exactly how she had envisioned it. “Because we didn’t have a drummer to play along with us at the time, we were imagining the beat in our head as we were playing it,” explains Lanie. “Jez heard the beat opposite to what I did. When we got in with the band, to me they were all playing it backwards. I was like, no you are all playing it backwards, you have to put the beat on the other one! Literally the whole band heard it the way Jez heard it and I heard it the way it ended up on the album. I said it has to be like this and they were all freaking out. It took ages, it was a mind-fuck for everyone and even to this day, Jez still hears it his way. A few musicians I have played it to have gone, whoa … that’s weird the way the beats comes into the chorus. That end bit was inspired by those 70s jammy bands, the trip out kind of bands, we definitely wanted that feel of a journey”
It wasn’t just her guitar playing that Lanie had become more confident with either, she was also more open to trying different approaches with her vocal delivery. “I felt much more confident in my voice,” she says. “And it had dropped, which was interesting. It used to be at a higher frequency. Going through the process of the album, my voice just naturally began deepening and I had a freedom to express things differently. With the last album, I had been singing those songs for years before I got to record them and with this one, I wasn’t as familiar with them, so I could spend a bit more time on the vocals.
I didn’t want to feel rushed this time.”
Despite the extended studio time and her new found spirit of adventure, Lanie didn’t want any studio trickery involved. Like her debut album, it still had to sound natural and be real. “If my voice goes a little flat, I’m not going to auto tune that,” she states. “That’s just ridiculous, I am not going to do that. There’s no studio trickery, no. Sometimes … like in The Phantom, we wanted to have a delay on the girls’ voices out of the sax solo. That’s not trickery, that’s a conscious creative choice that we wanted to hear. Generally what you hear is how it was recorded and pieced together.”
Lanie Lane is looking forward to bringing her new music to life on stage when the tour begins on October 29 in Melbourne. The process of creating Night Shade has opened her mind to a brave new world of possibilities for herself and partner Jez, who is exploring an instrumental project of his own. Lane is keen to spread her musical wings and be part of his band too but for now, her new album and tour is the priority. The whole Night Shade experience has been a life-changing project for Lanie, possibly even more so than the debut album which launched her career. “At my core, I am the same person,” she begins to tell me, “but I have definitely changed massively … massive shifts in awareness … massively different outlook on life and self-awareness. I am a lot more open and sensitive and vulnerable and that’s all wonderful and I think it means I will continue to grow as an artist.”
Musicians: Lanie Lane (guitar and vocals), Jez Mead (trumpet), Sarah Belkner (keys), Tim Keegan (bass), Aidan Roberts (guitar), Paul Derricot (drums), Matt Keegan (sax), Bruce Reid (pedal steel, ban-sitar)
Night Shade is out on October 24. See tour dates below.
NIGHT SHADE TOUR
OCTOBER -NOVEMBER 2014
Tickets on sale Monday 22 October from www.lanielane.net
Wed 29 Oct Melbourne | Corner Hotel | VIC (18+)
Thu 30 Oct Sydney | Newtown Social Club | NSW (18+)
Fri 31 Oct Wollongong | Anita’s | NSW (18+)
Fri 7 Nov Perth | The Bakery | WA (18+)
Sat 8 Nov Adelaide | Jive Bar | SA (18+)
Sat 15 Nov Brisbane | The Hi Fi Bar | QLD (18+)