QSC Aspiring Interview: Maria Lane on vulnerability and upcoming second album

Brooklyn based actress and indie folk singer/songwriter Maria Lane creates music that resonates like intimate journal entries, delving deep into themes of trauma, mental health, and heartbreak. Each lyric she pens feels like a whispered secret, drawing listeners into her world of vulnerability and raw emotion.

Crafting melodies that are both hauntingly familiar yet uniquely her own, she aims to be a beacon of comfort – helping listeners navigate their own challenges and reminding them that they are never truly alone.

Headliner sits down for a chat with Lane as she continues to work on her debut album, set for a release this year…

What’s been keeping you busy recently?

I'm recording from my bedroom in Brooklyn, in Bushwick. This week I started taking a class for musical theatre and it's been great. I had a really fun callback, and I've also been trying to write songs every week. I don't think I wrote a new one this week, which is kind of sad, but I have been writing a lot!

Could you tell us about your background in music?

From the moment that I got into music, it just felt like a place where I could put my feelings and emotions, because I've always been a really sensitive person. When I was a kid I had dreams of writing and putting my own music out there. I had been writing songs since I was little, but it wasn’t until 2019 when I got my first guitar that I really honed in to learning it.

My dad also has a big music background; my family would play oldies music all around the house like Billy Joel, The Beatles. So I was very much introduced to all styles of music, along with Broadway musical theatre. Music has just always been a place where I feel like I belong, and especially as a songwriter when you're going through so many experiences in your life, it really is nice to just be able to journal about it and turn it into a song.

Your music has that ethereal, cathartic vibe going on; who would you say are your main musical influences?

There were a lot of artists that I liked when I was younger like The Beatles, but I feel like now as I've gotten older and I'm liking more mature lyrics, I really, really love Phoebe Bridgers and Lizzy McAlpine. I love how honest they are in their storytelling and the production feels so immersive. That's something that I've really gotten into recently – immersive production. I love a song to feel like you're watching a movie and you can just feel the whole story play out in front of you, sonically and lyrically. I just love intimate stuff like that.

Could you describe your creative process when it comes to songwriting?

I basically just write about what's going on in my life, so it’s often very cathartic. I have some songs about mental health and struggling and all of that, and it can be scary to just put that out there, because you're very vulnerable when you admit that you're not doing okay. Especially with these newer songs I've written; they definitely cut deeper.

I think for me, usually it starts on guitar, finding a chord progression that kind of evokes the feeling that I'm trying to have the song based around. I had piano lessons when I was a kid, but I quit, so I'm definitely stronger on guitar than piano. I just love acoustic stuff, especially for folk music – it just does so much to what's going on with the lyrics.

Usually when I'm sitting down and I'm in my feelings, or I'm processing something, I'll just start playing the guitar and see what chords come out. Then I’ll hopefully land on something that could work for the essence of the song I'm about to write.

Can you tell us about one of your recent tracks, and how it came together?

There is a song that I shared a snippet of online, that is going to be on one of my upcoming projects. I actually wrote it three years ago; I was in a really hard relationship, and I couldn't get out of it and it didn't end the way that I wanted it to end. And so to kind of take back my narrative, I wrote the song about how I would have ended it.

I was inspired by the musical, The Last Five Years; in the first scene you see the main character, Cathy, reading a letter from Jamie saying that he's leaving. And basically, they're over, so I wrote this song called On The Table, and it's literally just about how this note basically says everything and I left it on the table. And it says you don't deserve to say goodbye to me or see me or anything, because you really fucked me up. That's also the song that influenced this album that I'm putting out this year. So that song is really cathartic, and really special to me.

What have been the highlights of your career so far, and what are you most looking forward to for the future?

Last year I was featured on The Fader, which was crazy. I feel like that was a moment where people around me could really see that I make music and should start taking me more seriously. The way they headlined the article was ‘A masterclass in vulnerability’. I've always been so insecure about how emotional I am, so that meant a lot to me, because I really do shame myself for having too many emotions, and there is a song about that on the album.

And then I would just say, anytime I meet people who really like my music and are excited about it is a great moment. When I released my song carrie white last year, I had someone reach out to me who was a huge Carrie fan and was looking for songs about Carrie White for their playlist. I know that story means a lot to people, so that was really, really cool to reach someone because you never know which of your songs people are going to be excited about. I felt like I really took a risk with that song because it was very poppy and very production heavy, whereas my stuff is usually more stripped down. But it's fun to do those sometimes!

I'm really excited about the album I’m putting out this year. I'm also scared because it's very, very vulnerable. It's very dark and raw, and I feel like some people might be surprised when they hear some of the songs. But I do hope that it can be a hug for people because it's really emotional.

When I hear the words Play Out Loud, I really just think about not being afraid to be yourself and dive into your craft, and lean into what makes you an artist, and feel like an artist. I think for me, just not being afraid to release and share my songs with people is huge, because I do think that there is an audience for everyone and you never know whether someone could really be looking for a song that you’re writing. I think just leaning into your artistry is the most important thing.

Listen to the full interview with Maria Lane on Headliner Radio, here: