Nikki Lane and What’s Going on on the “Other Side” of Nashville

Nikki Lane is yet another lovely installment in PHILTHY’s obsession with Nashville musicians… an obsession that has come at a time when the city seems to be more on...

Nikki Lane is yet another lovely installment in PHILTHY’s obsession with Nashville musicians… an obsession that has come at a time when the city seems to be more on the cultural map than ever, but which has little-to-nothing to do with said map of the masses. Nikki Lane, who originally hails from South Carolina, is a true badass of Americana. Her tunes wrestle with all of the most gloriously crass elements of the human experience with the eloquence (and often temperament) of a swan. Her first album, Walk of Shame, saw a 2011 release and her followup, All or Nothin’, hit shelves earlier this year, boasting the best sass the music world has heard in 2014. Nikki Lane’s currently on a headlining tour with Max Gomez that will be stopping at the North Star Bar on June 26th. We recently got a chance to have a quick chat about the city she calls home, her latest album, and where she hopes 2014 will be taking her.

Izzy Cihak: So you’re based out of Nashville, which has been hyper-commodified by popular culture as of recently, so I’m curious what you think about that. Are you happy about it? Sad about it? Mad? How do these representations of the city on network television actually reflect the city?
Nikki Lane: Well, for starters I think it’s more than just the TV show that’s shining a light on our city. Every press outlet I have come across, and half the brands I see, are throwing fuel on the fire that is “The New Nashville.” But to answer your question, I’m sure that Nashville, the TV show, at least somewhat accurately represents what is going on on Nashville’s “Music Row,” but I don’t ever go over there, and neither does anyone I know really. It’s like when you have a Real Housewives from a specific city, it’s only representative of that demographic and, lucky for us, there’s an entirely other side of town doing its own thing.

Izzy: In line with that, do you have any favorite local peers? I’m a huge fan of artists like Those Darlins, Lindi Ortega, Tristen, Heavy Cream, and Caitlin Rose.
Nikki: I like your taste. Sounds like you’re into girl bands, but you should also check out Clear Plastic Masks, Fly Golden Eagle, Jonny Fritz, and Jenny O. Like the artists you named, these are all our friends. My favorite part about Nashville is you just named a bunch of east siders.

Izzy: You recently released All or Nothin’. What were the album’s most significant influences?
Nikki: Life and the topics that were coming up around me, rock and roll and the kind of records you find yourself listening to in the presence of a producer as diverse as Dan Auerbach, the sounds that come out of a room full of studio musicians as talented as we were lucky enough to have.
Izzy: Do you have a particular favorite album track? I especially dig “Good Man.”
Nikki: “Good Man” was what I was going to say as I was reading the question. I wrote it all by myself, upset one night after being disappointed by the man I loved. It wasn’t until playing it for Dan while working on songs for the record that it finally surfaced, and luckily Dan said he liked it, because otherwise it might still be just written in a notebook.

Izzy: And you’re going to be playing the North Star in Philadelphia toward the end of the month. What can be expected of the live experience?
Nikki: We’ve got a great band, Max Gomez is fantastic, and I’m going to sing my ass off and then try to sell you some things.

Izzy: And how do you plan and hope to spend the second half of 2014? What are you most excited about?
Nikki: Traveling to the UK and overseas to try and carve out a following over there. It’s been a long couple of years waiting for this record to come out and now I’m eager to play it in front of as many people as possible.


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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.