To me, one of the benefits of the half hour I get to spend chatting to the lovely Lanie Lane is that I can finally claim to have interviewed someone 'before they made it big'. To Lane herself, though, the experience of having complete strangers want to know all about her (I am the last in four straight days of interviews) is still a bit weird and surreal. Yet there's little doubt that this is a situation she will have to get used to; From winning the triple j Unearthed slot at the Sydney Big Day Out to recording with Jack White, 2011 has been full of signs that Lanie Lane's profile is about to rise sharply.
"I really don't take any of it for granted," says Lane, when asked for her perspective on the past year. "You kind of have to take everything as it comes and remember that every moment is special. A big part of who I am is to get as much out of a situation as possible. That's kind of my life motto, I guess. And I want to be like that when I'm 60, 70. I don't want to lose that part of me."
Although Lane is quietly spoken (particularly when speaking about herself) and has a likeable, self-effacing nature, everything she does as an artist seems to ooze confidence. From a sound that is at once hip and timeless, to strong and distinctive vocals, to a sultry (and refreshingly tasteful) '50s-inspired sense of fashion, Lane seems to tick all the boxes for winning over both industry tastemakers and fans of genuine music.
With her self-produced debut album To The Horses, Lane winds the clock back to when rock 'n' roll was still forming in a primordial soup of blues, country and swing, but takes advantage of a distinctly modern perspective on how these sounds can be combined and worked into a hook. It says a lot about Lane's confidence that the album was recorded in a mere four days. It says even more that, even had she had a bigger budget, she still would have done it this way.
"I wouldn't want to change a thing about how we made the album," Lane declares. "If anything, if I'd had more money, I would have done it all straight-to-tape... Because it's nice having a limited amount of tracks - you can't do hundreds of fucking takes. You've got to make decisions, and that's how I like to work."
Indeed, what Lane seems to be is a natural talent, whose hybridisation of classic sounds is based more on a strong intuitions than anything really calculated. She explains that part of the reason she can easily turn her ideas into well-arranged songs is her competent and versatile backing band - drummer Paul Derricott, multi-string instrumentalist Zoe Hauptman and electric guitarist Aidan Roberts. "Because we're such a unit, they usually know what I like, and just seem to read my mind," Lanie says of her trio. "They're so versatile; They play in rock bands, funk bands... every kind of music you can imagine. I might kind of tweak what they're doing a little bit, rhythmically, or some of the voice parts and things... but (most of the time) I can start playing a new song with them, and halfway through, they'll already know it."
Of the two tracks released from her time recording with Jack White, Ain't Hungry, with its raw drums and guitar treatment, sounds fairly characteristic of the producer. But the drowsy string arrangements of My Man have a compelling mystique not really heard on Lane's album. I was impressed enough thinking these were the product of a two-day recording stint, but Lanie reveals that these particular songs were done in only six hours!
"I think, in music, it's a small world," Lane says, explaining how White came to hear of her. "Like, it's a small world in Australia... and when you start to go overseas, you realise it's a small world over there as well. So it's a world of small worlds." She laughs. "It's about having people around you who understand what you do, know what other people like, and can match that up. Someone thought a guy who works at Third Man Records [White's label] would like the kind of music I'm doing, and sent him a couple of tracks from the album. And he came back saying that he was blown away, and wanted to show Jack. That wasn't the plan, it was just something amazing that happened."
Lane possesses a modesty you wouldn't expect to find in an artist who is becoming known for their fashion as well as their music. Yet she has already graced the pages of Marie Clare, and been a guest columnist on an online fashion blog. When I ask her if she would ever take a break from her '50s-inspired look and go on stage wearing 'everyday' clothes, like cargo pants and a t-shirt, I quickly discover that Lanie Lane's sense of style is no gimmick.
"I wouldn't wear that to the shops, let alone on stage," she says, somewhat repulsed. "I've always made an effort with my appearance... even if it was terrible, when I was a teenager, I always made an effort. So it's great if people think I've got style," she ponders.
"I don't have a persona, I have a personality, and that's my stage personality and my interview personality and my at-home personality... It's all the same. I've never tried to be anyone else. Some performers think it's really important to have this full-on persona, and I applaud them for that, but I could never do it, because I couldn't keep up a facade, couldn't keep up a mask."
Yep, you better believe this girl is for real.
To The Horses is out this Friday through Ivy League. Lanie Lane plays the Northcote Social Club on Friday October 21. Lanie will also be appearing at triple j's Nick Cave tribute Straight To You at The Forum on Saturday November 12, Queenscliff Music Festival on November 25-27, Falls Festival on December 28-January 1, as well as Echuca's Riverboats Music Festival on February 17-19.