Bruny Island, breakup songs and BIGSOUND: we take 5 with soul-baring rocker Maddy Jane

Maddy Jane may have grown up on one of Australia’s southernmost communities, but there’s something instantly relatable to her music. Defined by a streak of sincerity and earthy reality, the Tasmanian native sets soul-baring lyricisms to hard rocking indie pop.

Live she’s no slouch either, with a string of triple j supported singles she’s won over a steady following while supporting the likes of Polish Club and Tash Sultana on national tours.

Between drinks at BIGSOUND 2017, we took five.

Maddy Jane
Photos by Dani Hansen

Catching up with Maddy Jane at BIGSOUND, the 22-year-old filled us in on breakup songs, the benefits of isolation, future plans and keeping it real on tour.

HAPPY: I liked the film clip for No Other Way, when I saw it for the first time the lyrics really hit home. For me, it carries this feeling of overfamiliarity that comes with small town living, the whole tight-knit community thing. Is it a song about living in Tasmania?

MADDY JANE: I wrote it about Tassie because it’s my home. It is about that hometown vibe, getting too overfamiliar and having that love-hate relationship with everything that you know. You know it all so well and know that it’s always going to be there.

HAPPY: So you grew up on Bruny Island with the little white kangaroos?

MADDY JANE: The white wallabies, yup!

HAPPY: It’s one of the most southern places in Australia, in the world…

MADDY JANE: My parents own a vineyard down there. It’s the most southern vineyard in Australia! Very south.

HAPPY: More than a few Tasmanian artists I’ve interviewed have talked about this sense of isolation and depression that comes through in their work. Do you feel that’s true of your own music? Are you on the same wavelength as these other artists?

MADDY JANE: I think so. I mean we all relate to in our lifestyle I guess. Sometimes my songs have a bit of irony and a little bit of negativity.

HAPPY: Is there something distinctly Tasmanian or Hobartian in there?

MADDY JANE: I’m not exactly sure what it is – I don’t think people know either. Our music scene’s been growing a heap just recently so I think we’re kind of onto something, but I don’t know what it is.

HAPPY: You’ve been touring nationally in support of Polish Club and Tash Sultana, now the BIGSOUND push. How are you feeling at this point in time? It seems like it’s been a big year…

MADDY JANE: Huge, HUGE! I’m overwhelmed. Loving every second of it. Haven’t stopped, wouldn’t stop. Loving every second of it.

HAPPY: What have been some of the highlights?

MADDY JANE: I’ve really enjoyed being a support act on tour.

HAPPY: Have the audiences been receptive to what you’ve been doing?

MADDY JANE: Yeah! It’s really cool to be in that situation where people aren’t necessarily coming for you or know you but have been completely accepting or responsive. Being a support act, you still don’t have that pressure which is on the main act. I’ve also made some very good friends along the way.

HAPPY: Out of all your material, what is it that people are reacting to the most live?

MADDY JANE: A bit of a mix. I really appreciate that people seem to be listening and getting around the words. I find that a few people come up and really appreciate the breakup songs – which are really honest!

HAPPY: Is that a bit weird for putting your relationships out there?

MADDY JANE: These specific breakup songs are old flames now (laughs). So it’s cool, it’s cool!!

HAPPY: A lot of your songs do come across as being deeply personal. Is this mainly where you find your inspiration?

MADDY JANE: I want to tell everyone what I’m thinking and see if they relate or don’t.

HAPPY: You’ve been channelling your musical talents into catchy pop vehicles, what makes a great pop song for you?

MADDY JANE: Lyrics. I’m all about the lyrics. But y’know, who knows? You can say there are certain things that make a good song but it always seems to the songs where you can’t pick what it is that makes them so awesome. Maybe there’s still some of that eerie magic to the music.

HAPPY: Is there a song or album that you wish you wrote?

MADDY JANE: Anything by Catfish and the Bottlemen. They’re just super relatable. It’s kind of angsty but surely there’s not a soul going around that’s can’t relate to that. They say it in a really kind of honest, thought process, sort of way.

HAPPY: Maybe not speaking strictly in musical terms, what’s an influence that might come at people as a bit left-of-centre?

MADDY JANE: I don’t know. Maybe the weird hippy culture that is Bruny Island.

HAPPY: Tell me a bit more about that. What sort of music is part of the Bruny Island lifestyle?

MADDY JANE: Imagine, like, community-written pantomimes. Fairy characters who look like jabberwockies mixed with Snow White. Really hippy and left-wing. That’s something that I grew up with! It’s like, “I’m just going to write this random play and like put some songs in it and we’ll sing along to a backing track hey?”

HAPPY: I think that’s great but. The best music has always come out of these communities that are a bit sheltered from ideas of hipness or acceptability…

MADDY JANE: I guess if you’re isolated it’s easier to do your own thing or at least feel like it is your own thing.

HAPPY: What’s coming next? What’s on the cards post-BIGSOUND?

MADDY JANE: Straight after BIGSOUND we’re jumping into the studio and getting the new single done as well as getting the EP finished. We’ll get the EP out by the end of the year.

HAPPY: Who are you recording with?

MADDY JANE: Jackson Barclay. He worked on No Other Way. Super happy with him and he’s super keen to do it!

HAPPY: How is the EP shaping up?

MADDY JANE: It’s these six songs I’ve been playing for the last six months plus a new one in there as well. I want to get these songs I’ve been playing out there and feel like I’ve documented it all.

HAPPY: Just to cap it off, is there another artist on the BIGSOUND line-up that you’ve been impressed by or are excited to see?

MADDY JANE:  There are so many great bands on this line-up, I could go through a list! I always love WAAX. They are just so solid and amazing. Maz’s [Marie DeVita’s] words are mad.