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Jordie Lane on moving his roots from Melbourne to Nashville

 “I was always such a closed, private creator of music, and that’s part of what I like about it, that I get to dive into this dark hole where no one else can come near me.”

“Unfortunately, I’m not hearing the types of stories over here [in America] that I expected to at this time,” says Melbourne folk-blues singer-songwriter Jordie Lane. He’s spent a large chunk of his time over the past five years living, practising and playing in the United States, initially Los Angeles, and now in Nashville, Tennessee.
 
“The bad stories that you do hear, they seem to be vocalised a lot more when I’m further away, [when I’m in] in Australia. I suppose the thing I’m worried about here is the slightly repressed vibe that I’m getting from people I’m talking to,” Lane says. “It’s not like they’re scared about talking about things, but there’s a little bit of a feeling of disbelief and feeling disheartened and out of control and being embarrassed. But people are still just going about their lives.”
 
Lane is currently in Nashville, the so-called spiritual home of country music, practising and refining his songwriting skills at a songwriters’ workshop. “People really take their songwriting seriously over here. We’ve got a songwriting session tomorrow that starts at 10am. That’s ridiculous to me, but I’m going to stick with it,” Lane laughs. The discipline, however, is very important to a songwriter. “It’s really important to get the content out, and to learn more about the songwriting process. There’s so many great bands and musicians in Nashville, so it’s great to soak all of that in.”
 
So what have you learnt about the revered craft of songwriting over the years? Lane chuckles at the question. “I think I’m learning more about songwriting, but I’m nowhere near mastering it,” he says. “I was always such a closed, private creator of music, and that’s part of what I like about it, that I get to dive into this dark hole where no one else can come near me.”
 
Through his recent collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and producer Clare Reynolds, who co-produced Lane’s last album, Glassellland, together with the experience of playing and writing with other songwriters in Nashville, Lane has realised the importance of sharing and collaboration in creating a good song. 
 
“I’m learning to be more generous, and to share the experience with other people. Two minds together might find it hard to communicate at first, but they’re always going to be stronger than one. Learning about how to navigate telling a story with someone else there, makes sense,” Lane says. “That’s the huge thing that I’ve been learning over the last few years. And it does create more depth and broadens the stories that you can tell.”
 
Lane concedes that a lot of the stories he commits to song are genuinely personal – but that’s part of the integrity of it. “I’d say about 80 or 90 percent of the stories in my songs are dangerously close to factual reality,” Lane says. “Sometimes I find it hard to believe that something’s true unless it actually happened. But you definitely can dig yourself into a bit of a corner if you make that a rule.”
 
In this context, working closely with other songwriters has provided Lane a release from only exploring his world. “One of the things I’m loving about writing with other people is that I can tell their story as well, so I don’t get tired of listening to myself,” Lane says.
 
He returns to Australia in a couple of weeks’ time. In the week before Christmas, Lane will team up with another talented Melbourne singer-songwriter, Liz Stringer, for a sold-out Christmas show at the Northcote Social Club. In January, Lane ventures south of the Yarra to play an intimate show at Chapel off Chapel.
 
At the latter show, Lane and a few guest performers will showcase a collection of new songs and stories that Lane hasn’t previously performed or told. “We’re also going to bring a bunch of new instruments that I’ve collected. If anyone has been to a folk festival, it’s almost verging on being a workshop,” Lane says.
 
Perhaps sensing that this might give the impression of an over-priced weekend retreat in the country, replete with hessian pants and sanctimonious personal journeys of enlightenment, Lane checks himself. “The gig will be a loving embrace, but not in a forceful way.”

Jordie Lane will perform as part of Chapel Off Chapel’s Summer sessions on Thursday January 25. He’ll also join Liz Stringer at Northcote Social Club on Wednesday December 20.