WRBB’s Paige Ardill caught up with New Zealand born/US based Neia Jane, a self proclaimed sad girl + badass, to talk about musical evolution and her latest single “Not Romantic”.
P: What first drew you to making music?
Neia Jane: I grew up around music, it was always something that was present in my life. My parents are both musicians and my dad has always been in bands, so I was always encouraged to try it and encouraged to play and learn instruments. I moved to the US when I was 11 and that’s when I started playing guitar and writing music, when I was an angsty pre-teen.
You started off producing music under the name Chloe Jane only recently making the transition to Neia Jane on Spotify and SoundCloud. Why make the switch?
I made the switch for a couple different reasons, the main one being that my music has taken a completely different path than what I was releasing under Chloe Jane. The genre change happened as I was shifting into my post-graduation life, I wanted to make a shift in my professional career as well in order to reflect that I’m taking it more seriously, and I wanted it to have a name that was more representative of the sound and the era that I’m in. It’s also my grandmother’s name which was a nice way to pay tribute to the women in my family before me.
If you could describe the different personas of Chloe and Neia Jane in 3 words each, what would they be?
I mean, the persona is the same I guess because it’s still just me, but the music is a lot different for sure. When I was releasing under Chloe Jane it was a lot more singer-songwriter, folk, acoustic guitar based stuff that was mainly due to the fact that I was writing by myself and thinking of these songs in a more acoustic setting. When I transitioned to Neia Jane it was more of an alternative rock, indie rock, full band, high energy situation; a little more punk, a little more raw and edgy and less refined. A little more experimental I guess.
What would you consider to be the biggest differences within your music between your early released ‘Thaw’ and ‘Eulogy’ to ‘Not Romantic’, your most recent single?
I think that ‘Thaw’ and ‘Eulogy’ are these ballads about being sad and not knowing how to heal from a heartbreak. ‘Not Romantic’, however, is more of a big ‘F you’ to anyone who thinks you have to be or feel a certain way after you go through something traumatic. The song is about drinking too much and calling your ex and saying ‘I don’t want to date you but I still want you to think about me’ which is an acknowledgement of the fact that, yeah, we do dumb things when we’re in spaces like this, but I’m still gonna put my arms up and do what I feel and, while it might not be the most healthy thing to do, it’s cathartic. That’s what I felt when writing this song. The older stuff is more introspective, very focused upon feeling sad whereas the newer stuff is more about circumstance and tells more of a relatable story. It’s a little more dancy, fun, you can groove around a bit more and say what you feel. It’s an evolution in the way of how I decided to portray what I was feeling in the different stages of a heartbreak.
Have your inspirations shifted as your sound has developed from softer indie more into the alternative rock genre?
Definitely, but in a very organic way in that I’ve always loved alternative rock, it’s my favorite kind of music since i was young, in high school even. Alt rock, indie rock. I’ve always been into making rock music, I was in a rock band when I was younger. I think that when I would write songs I would tap into the more folky and singer songwriter stuff cause I love writing music and for a while I thought that if I wanted to be a songwriter I had to write that kind of music. At that point in time I was listening to a lot of Americana, older folk music, Joni Mitchell and Carol King, these women who have beautiful voices and beautiful lyrics. Around then I decided I wanted to make a full length album and wanted to start working with a band again and so I took all that I had learned from my experience as a folk writer and I used that to help me create rock songs that I wanted to play with the band. I wanted to incorporate singer songwriter lyrics and melody writing and put it together with the energy of a band, the emotion you can express with a rock song that you can do with softer indie. Different genres, same influences but picking them apart in a way that can help me learn and create something new and exciting for me and hopefully others as well.
From lyrical composure to sound production, what is your songwriting process like?
The process for this album I’m doing now, Magic and Honey, which will be out later this summer was very much solo. I wrote all the songs by myself, it’s very secluded. I went through a period of a few months where I didn’t really talk to anyone or see my friends or do anything other than just sit in isolation and write songs and I wrote them all on acoustic guitar in my bedroom. Some of them were written when lyrical ideas would just pop into my head and I would keep them in mind and write a song from them, some of them were written when I picked up my guitar and just started playing and a melody came to my head… I get very immersed when I go into the songwriting process. To me, it’s very intimate and personal and I get very introspective and isolated from the outside world and just sit and write for a really long time. I then got together with my friend and partner in my musical endeavours, his name is Jacob McCaslin, he is my producer and also a very good friend of mine and we’ve spent this past year working on the album and recording, tracking, producing. The songs started out solo on acoustic guitar, then with a band, then with Jacob and eventually it became what it is now!
Your latest single “Not Romantic” is an anthem to the heartbroken that comes through as a therapeutic shout rather than a tear jerking ballad. Was this inspired from real experience?
I feel like there are enough songs out there that are like ‘you hurt me, and now I’m sad’, and there’s nothing wrong with songs like that I’ve written billions, but I wanted ‘Not Romantic’ to be an empowered statement of ‘yea I don’t really give a f#$%, yea I’m heartbroken and this sucks but I just want to yell and I don’t want to be sad about this anymore’. It totally did come from personal experience, I went through a really hard breakup with a guy I was with for almost four years, I was really sad and it took me a long time to get better and heal from it and ‘Not Romantic’ is about that, being at the point where you’re so sick and tired of being sad you just want to yell about it. ‘Not Romantic’ is the final cry, the final scream, then we get up, put on our boots and say ‘hey, I’m a badass, I’m gonna handle this shit and I’m gonna be okay’.
I’ve heard you described as both a self proclaimed ‘sad girl’ as well as a ‘dainty little badass’, which would you say is more akin to your character now, or are the two not mutually exclusive?
I think that the sad girl is in me and she will always be there, but I’m way more of a dainty little badass, nowadays, I’m feeling good. But I think it’s important to acknowledge the sadness in all of us and know its okay because sometimes were sad and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s important to talk about, but it’s also important to say being a sad girl is okay sometimes but you gotta let yourself enjoy the moments of life and not only be a sad girl. As artists sometimes we get drawn into the romance of being sad, sometimes, letting it control us, but that’s not necessary.
Your new album Magic and Honey is being released later this summer, should Neia Jane fans expect a tour in the near future?
We’re working on some stuff right now so keep your eyes peeled!