I’ll admit, it’s been awhile since I’ve been truly excited about a new (or new-to-me) musician. I tend to stick to what I like, spinning a fresh album here and there, and even then, it takes a lot to blow me away. What can I say? My taste can be incredibly specific. That all changed the second I pressed ‘play’ on Nikki Lane’s sophomore album, All or Nothin’. Falling somewhere between classic Texas honky-tonk and outlaw country… with a little moody, old school punk thrown in (a dream mash-up if there ever was one), Lane’s sound is all her own and one that speaks to my soul, calling to mind Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson, and Lucinda Williams, three musicians who also paved their own roads and hold a permanent place on my record shelf.
Though her debut album Walk of Shame dropped in back 2011, I was first introduced to Lane’s music back in the fall, when she was nominated for the ‘Song Bird’ portion of our annual Blog Love Awards. So, when it came time to think of dream artists to add to our #FPFestivalDays SXSW Showcase line-up, I knew exactly who I’d recommend. And let me tell you, if given the chance, drop everything you’re doing and go see Nikki Lane live. Cramming into a tiny shed with 75 or so FP music fans as the Texas rain fell outside was nothing short of spectacular. Beneath warmly-lit string lights, Lane and her band took the stage, playing a set that vacillated between dreamy, lovelorn ballads and crucifying rock-tinged anthems, the wave of sound playing with emotions and allowing listeners a glimpse of life on the road. With her music still ringing in my ears, Nikki was kind enough to answer a few questions after the show. Read on to learn more about this outlaw country star and to see more pics from the day:
Where are you from originally? How do you feel this helped shape the music you’d eventually come to create?
I’m from Greenville, SC, which is a beautiful place, but my southern childhood must have scarred me because my favorite songs I’ve written about my time there are “Gone Gone Gone”, a song about fleeing my hometown, and “700,000 Rednecks”, a song about recruiting all the rednecks of South Carolina to be my fans.
From where do you draw inspiration for your music?
From just about anything… I like to write about what’s happening in my life, and build up the songs using influences from other artist’s songs the band and I have stumbled across. I just have to be sure to make myself take a moment to capture the idea when it comes.
Who are you musical icons? How do you feel these artists have shaped your sound?
Loretta Lynn, Neil Young, Nick Lowe. It’s partly their sound and their records, but also the respect I have for lifers… People who devoted all their time and efforts to this crazy job that is touring and making records.
You just kicked off the season in Austin, what sets SXSW apart from other festivals you’ve played?
I guess that it isn’t much of a festival at all, haha… There’s no special parking for artists and the venues are literally spread everywhere, across a 40 mile radius. We come to SXSW because it’s important to make an appearance, although I’m not sure any of us really know why! Haha, this year was year eight for me.
Any memorable on-stage moments to share from your time there?
I loved our time at the Free People showcase, it was our only stripped-down show, and something about all the inconvenience of the drizzling rain while we played made the 75 or so fans who had come out to see us and the other bands tuck all the way into the building, nearly on top of us. It created a really great energy in there.
Thank you Nikki!
Interview, live photos, and gifs by FP Julie
Portraits by FP Jana