LANIE Lane can write songs with her eyes closed. Literally. She wrote her runaway hit Oh Well, That’s What You Get Falling In Love With A Cowboy in her sleep.
‘‘I woke up one morning and my boyfriend said, ‘You said the weirdest thing in your sleep last night.’ He told me and said you’d better write a song about it. I wrote the song and he said, ‘Well, that’s one side of the story’,’’ she said with a laugh.
LIVE caught up with Lane last week over the phone from Sydney to talk all things rockabilly, rock’n’roll and what’s next for the songstress.
Described as ‘‘an artist who could have been the love child of Betty Page and Johnny Cash’’, Lane’s sultry sound incorporating early rock’n’roll, blues and rockabilly has her labelled as a major talent.
She has gained international fans, too – former White Stripes frontman Jack White invited her to go to the US to collaborate on two songs, Ain’t Hungry and My Man.
But it’s not just the sound that fans have embraced – they’ve also fallen in love with her rockabilly-country style. Playful pin-up meets cowgirl. Lane’s debut album To The Horses was released in October, rocketing to 12 on the ARIA charts on debut, much to the singer’s amazement.
‘‘I was so surprised, I had no idea that would happen. I was asking my manager beforehand, do you think it’ll get in the charts at all? They were like, we reckon it’ll come in somewhere, they wouldn’t say,’’ Lane said.
‘‘It was my first album, I didn’t have any expectations and I didn’t know how it works – you can’t grasp it until it happens.’’
More than three months later, Lane continues to be shocked by the strong response from fans.
‘‘I played the Falls Festival and I was quite shocked at the amount of people in Tassie singing the whole album through with me,’’ she said. ‘‘They knew every word, which is just not something that I would’ve expected at all. It’s cool, I’m very happy.’’
Even though Lane’s rise seems to have been swift, it has in fact been a long journey for the singer-songwriter, who began playing music at a young age.
‘‘I think people like to say I’m an overnight success or whatever they say about people who suddenly release something and it does well,’’ she said. ‘‘But I have been playing music for most of my life and had it in my consciousness.
‘‘I’ve worked really hard trying to learn, getting myself into as many experiences as I could over the past six years in the music industry – all aspects of recording, writing, co-writing. I think it’s important you push yourself into doing as much as you can to figure out what you like and what you do best. It definitely doesn’t seem like an overnight thing to me.’’
Lane said the musical seed was planted early in her life. Her brother, 14 years her senior, had a band when he was in his early 20s and her dad played guitar and shared the basics with a young Lane.
‘‘I’ve been playing guitar since I was about 12,’’ she said. ‘‘I think maybe when I was about 14 I started writing songs and singing. When I was a really little girl – maybe four, five or six – I really wanted to be a singer but then I kind of forgot about it. In the later childhood phase singing wasn’t really in my mind because I was playing trombone and being in a school band.’’
Her brother was also influential in the music Lane listened to, thanks to mix tapes he’d make for her. But that was just the start.
‘‘I listened to quite a big variety – rock’n’roll, Brit pop [because we are British], my dad would play blues and my mum would play Motown and jazz records like Billie Holiday and Miles Davis. I listened to everything from Queen to Weezer to Frenzal Rhomb to classical music – I listened literally to every kind of music.’’
It wasn’t until about seven years ago that Lane explored rockabilly sound, culture and clothes (‘‘I have a lot of fun dressing up’’).
‘‘I’m quite a crazy, out there, eccentric person so I can jump from one thing to another,’’ she said.
Lane said her next release, which was already on her mind thanks to about ‘‘100 songs’’ she’s already written, could surprise fans who’ve only heard To The Horses.
‘‘Even though there are a lot of styles on that record, which I think are very cohesive, that’s the first big part of the journey,’’ she said. ‘‘The next album will probably be quite different and hopefully people embrace all the different styles I might go down.’’
Lanie Lane will perform at Playground Weekender, March 2 to 4. Other artists on the bill include Boy & Bear, Roots Manuva, Black Lips, The Cuban Brothers, Canyons and more. Go to facebook.com/playgroundweekender.