Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Blazing her own trail: Nikki Lane

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Music | May 17th, 2018

Design by Raul Gomez

Nikki Lane is a trailblazer. Her unique voice could be described as a cross between Wanda Jackson’s grit and Neko Case’s hauntingly smoky vocals. It’s classic and it’s fresh. In 2017 she won an Ameripolitan award in the category of best female outlaw country artist.Though she says this year is a slow year, on average she spends approximately nine months of the year on tour. While on the road she finds time to scour the second hand stores and antique shops. In a past life she was a fashion entrepreneur and now owns the vintage shop High Class Hillbilly in Nashville along with her music career.

High Plains Reader: Your artist bio states that “Highway Queen” was a pioneer moment for you as an artist, can you elaborate on that?

Nikki Lane: I’ve been established as a musician for a while now and I’ve been communicating with someone else’s voice and someone else’s lens by having someone else produce my stuff. For me it was using my own voice to make this record. We had made a record with someone else and we didn’t think it lived up to the standards I had for it.

It wasn’t really completed when it was handed over to me and it didn’t really reflect what my taste was. It was like someone’s interpretation of me and in my earlier recording days I had less of a vocabulary and was also less defined, so it was ok to sign off on other people’s stuff and this just wasn’t that way. Ths was something where I had to dig deeper. It didn’t turn out in the first stroke for once so I had to dig deeper and kind of decide to go out on my own in a way and kind of figure out what or how to develop my own voice.

My boyfriend Jonathan Tyler kind of gave me the reigns by encouraging me to say yes or no to things… that was my discovery of uncharted territory.

Nikki Lane

HPR: I really enjoyed the art direction for your “Highway Queen” album cover in which you’re perched on the back of a longhorn. What was that shoot like?

NL: It was really organic. A wild friend of mine from LA--I kept inviting her to come out to Austin and to come to SXSW. It wasn’t meant to be an album cover, we were just going to hang out and see what came of it. She hired two steers and we had a great time shooting it and we had a ton of fun. She was really pushing me to relax, which I look back on and laugh because I was standing on a steer and somehow I felt really serene because there was kind of a goal in place--to capture that image and I love it!

HPR: The first song I heard of yours was your 2011 single “Gone, gone, gone” on NPR a number of years ago…

NL: That’s actually another pioneer reference… I actually want to reach out to the guy that I worked with on those first recordings. The sound on “Gone, gone, gone” is like way more surf than the rest of of the stuff that’s come out since then but that was a perfect example of working with somebody who was pushing me in a direction I wasn’t very familiar with, but I thought really matched me and complimented my voice. It’s interesting to look at the growth and what I can go back to confidently and see what’s there.

Nikki Lane

HPR: So “Highway Queen” is in reference to a truck?

NL: Yeah, it was kind of a joke as I started playing music a lot. I started talking about partnerships and ways to make me be able to afford to do it all the time without “selling out.” You know people I could get in with to keep it organic. I joked a lot how if I created a song about a truck maybe they’d make a truck for me. I liked the idea of giving up my van or that the boys can drive in the van or bus and I’d just kind of follow behind in a big truck that I can antique in. So my truck would be called the “Highway Queen.”

As I joked about it, I decided that the “Highway Queen” was like a moniker for where I was at while making the record. I was pretty run down. We had played so many shows in two and a half years that I was run ragged! I was definitely questioning the whole thing.

“Highway Queen” was something I created almost like she was a character that could definitely go out and sign autographs for two hours after the show and talk to people even though I was tired. I was like--almost taking on an imaginary persona that could tough it out through every single day on tour without crying and that was the “Highway Queen.”

It gets easier or it gets more normal to tour all the time. It definitely takes that kind of headspace--it takes kind of me coaching my way through it, to really keep going and not get tired from all the miles and not being home for certain things.

HPR: Wow! How do you deal with all that? Do you have like a secret sauce to deal with the chaotic nature of touring?

NL: I take lots of baths (laughs). To me it’s just like being able to come down from it, so digging and cooking has kind of been like fishing for me. Aimlessly tossing the bobber out there--since I love to fish… That’s the secret sauce, just being able to have the time to space out and wait for something to come.Things that aren’t monetized--that aren’t talked about at interviews.

The way to turn off is to find things that are coming--even with just jamming. We moved down here to Texas because I can make a record and Jonny my boyfriend is making a record right now and it’s can we keep doing that? What’s the story we want to tell? It’s not really a contrived statement--it’s just like what kind of headspace are we going to create for ourselves to create within?

Highway Queen cover photograph

HPR: In your artist bio--you had a quote that stated that becoming a songwriter was one of the most selfish things you’ve ever done, can you elaborate on that?

NL: That’s kind of what I was saying about missing out on things… You have a team and my job supports a team, well, a good portion of it! We don’t get to go to a lot of graduations or family things--like my sister planned her wedding around my tour and it wasn’t even me putting my foot down. We talked about it.

To participate in normal things and keep up with the job--sacrifices have to be made… not just by me but by all the people that we work with and are around. To me that’s very selfish.


Nikki Lane with Carl Anderson

Wednesday, May 23, 5 p.m.

Fargo Brewing Company, 610 University Drive, North Fargo



Tracker Pixel for Entry HarborHealthClinic Tracker Pixel for Entry Think&Drink Tracker Pixel for Entry HPRONLINE

Recently in:

BISMARCK – Two bills are fighting for ethical supremacy in the North Dakota State Legislature. Senate Bill 2148, sponsored by Senator Tim Mathern, a Democrat from Fargo, received a ‘Do Pass’ from Special Ethics Committee on…


​‘Pull-Tab’ machines

by HPR Contributor

By Zach Nerpelzachnerpel@gmail.comThere is nothing more hopeless than a feeling unrequited. The obsession it brings, the doubt it stews, and the madness which erases your sense of self are crippling. You’ll give more than you are…

Best Bets

​Love Wins

by HPR Staff

Saturday, February 23, 9 p.m.-12 a.m.Fargo Elks, 3435 Broadway, FargoThe Hot Mess Harlots are at it again! Performances by Mia Starr, Fifi Nyxx, Landon McKock, Miss Kitty, Heidi Mi-Feelings, with the debut of Michelleaneous and…

Growing up, whenever Christmas or a birthday or really any time I received any sort of a gift, time and a certain level of guilt was set aside to write thank you cards. To this day, I’ll send a few out to people or organizations…


Chang and Eng

by Ed Raymond

The Monsters Of The MidwayBack in college eons ago I and a fellow footballer spent half a summer employed by a concessions company that worked county and state fairs in the region. We sold foot-long hotdogs and ice cream bars on…

Chef’s Table Catering recently converted the building that formerly housed the restaurant Barbacoa into a private dining and event space. Located just south of 32nd Avenue off 42nd street, they have kept all of the great lighting…

Over the past few years Luna has become my favorite restaurant in the FM area. The thoughtfulness of Ryan’s creations and the neighborhood environment of the locale as a whole creates a beautiful experience that can’t be found…


​Ready or Knot

by HPR Contributor

By Gary Usseryusseryg@gmail.comWhen Sabrina gets a hold of you and asks you to interview a band as unique as Fargo locals The Knotties you just yell “yes!” Only a few days later I was meeting with Channing Minnema (lead vocals,…

Documentarian Penny Lane adds another entertaining movie to her filmography with an inside look at the recent rise of the Satanic Temple. As a movie experience, “Hail Satan?” often lives deliciously. The film might even turn…


​A Fargo art two-fer

by Särah Nour

Two local art exhibitions had their opening receptions last week, the first one being at the Spirit Room last Thursday. Their current exhibition, “Wonderful Works of Whimsy,” will be displayed until April 13th, free to view…

To many people unfamiliar with the wide range of the musical genre, the word ‘opera’ conjures up stereotypical images of people in period costumes and large women in Viking garb singing in foreign languages. The truth, however,…

The first exposure I had to Maria Bamford’s work was on Adult Swim’s comedy sketch show “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job”. She was informing the audience about how to properly remove cat hair from their clothes…

The 1,290 square-foot garage that was once Main Avenue Auto has generated a lot of buzz for good reason. Harold’s on Main is Moorhead’s newest watering hole and the attention is all in the details. With its dark wood paneling,…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By Cara Cody-Brauncara.braun@wyndmereschools.orgI am not much of a science fiction fan, but I’m a sucker for a story with a portal. Who hasn’t dreamed of entering a different world? Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole in…