Nikki Lane

Over a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon (only, bacon) songstress Nikki Lane, dressed in a perfect NYC fall look—no makeup, leather jacket, ripped-up tee, fitted jeans, messy but gorgeous hair—sat across from me at a diner on the west side to talk about the hype surrounding her album, her fall tour and an interesting love of boots.

After leaving her South Carolina hometown at age 17, Lane, as if out of some hipster indie film, got in a car with her best friend and decided to drive to Los Angeles. Of course, to do what people do when they move to L.A.—become something. Today, the 28-year-old is based out of Nashville, where she keeps a vintage store, but spends most of her time jetting off in promotion of her debut record, Walk of Shame. Her sound of retro-meets-soul country and catchy pop-esque melodies makes for hasty and honest material. Meaning, Lane’s songs are attractive in that cool/smart sort of way (think Connie Francis meets Jenny Lewis). Here’s what the talented, and equally as charismatic, gal had to say.

Photo: Chad Davis

FAULT: How’s it been living in Nashville?
Nikki: There’s a great scene. It’s small. Although, if I were there full time and had to have a “real” job, I would probably go nuts. Like styling? The clients would be weird a lot of time. And stores… well, there’s only a couple. Although I technically own one. It’s kind of a collection of junk. (Laughs.)

FAULT: A lot of people who listen to your music aren’t necessarily “country” listeners… But, do you consider yourself a country artist?
Nikki: Well, that’s what I was hoping for. It’s nice to have country fans, but it’s really nice to have hipster fans, too. The first time I played a show in front of some younger fans in Nashville, and then my video came out for “Gone, Gone, Gone,” and these guys came up to me at a party and were like, “We’re listening to your EP, watching you’re video, you’re sound is really cool. Do you want us to play with you?” I went home and told my husband. I was like, I just can’t believe they like me… These guys I would watch at, like, a punk show. In my mind, I was obviously going to get country fans, but to get a bunch of like 20-something dudes to think I’m cool, that was something I was unsure of.

FAULT: After moving to L.A., you decided, for a brief moment, to move to New York. Why?
Nikki: Yes, well… I met the CEO of Marc Eco and his merchandiser in L.A. and I told him, Hey, you should hire me! They were just all about mass production, and I wanted to learn about the backside of this because I want to be a denim brand owner one day. So, two weeks later I was walking back to work from lunch and this man with a turban came up to me and said, “Lady you have the snake eye. I need to tell you your fortune: A short bald man will change your life today. Now, will you give me some money?” I said, No, thank you. I was kinda’ weirded out. But when I got back into work, they said Seth [Marc Eco CEO] was on hold for me. He’s not bald, but he is a short, little guy. Anyways, he flew me to New York to interview and I got the job. Then I was living in the East Village, paying $1,500 a month for a room, thinking I was a badass.

FAULT: And you’re married? Do you write together?
Nikki: Uhm hum. Like two years, or something. We just write differently, you know what I mean? I’ve written with about twenty people over the past couple years, and I like writing with about three of them. There are a couple people where it just flows.

FAULT: Have things, like touring, been starting to get more and more intense?
Nikki: We’re playing Boston to Canada then all the way to Seattle… I’ve never done it before. I’m like playing catch up, all of my friends started touring when they were like 16. It’s like my records doing good and I have fans, and I’ve never even played a tour. It’s funny.

FAULT: Tell me about this “Boot Store” you take on tour with you.
Nikki: We take The Boot Store on the Road with us. We sell vintage boots, bags, belts, bow ties and barrettes…

FAULT: Sort of like, a “new” way to merch. It really helps you get from city to city.
Nikki: Yeah, people respond to it. Like this guy in Austin bought these boots from me and I used the money to get a tattoo. I saw him a couple hours later and he goes, “Oh my god, what happened to you?” And I go, Nothing! You just bought me this tattoo.

FAULT: Have you noticed all the blogs picking up on you?
Nikki: I have my Google alerts. I get all my notices late at night. I’ve gotten two bad reviews that I know of, and I’ve been drunk both times. (Laughs.)

FAULT: Did you always see yourself doing this?
Nikki: I think I’m delusional. I remember reading that John Lennon always thought he was going to be famous, and then, he was… I’ve always had an inkling, too. But music… Well music has changed so much, and now you can really do whatever you want. It wasn’t until the past year that I was comfortable saying that I was going to be a popular musician, because it seems like once you say it, it’s not going to happen.

FAULT: How does it feel to actually be a popular musician?
Nikki: It feels weird (laughs), but good.

FAULT: What is your FAULT?
My big mouth. While it’s landed me jobs and gotten me out of speeding tickets, it has also gotten me fired, hurt people’s feelings and  “cost me he game” once or twice. They say your best thing is your worst thing.


Interview by Rachel Eleanor Sutton