A LOCAL singer songwriter has won new fans across the globe after her latest single was handpicked for the season finale of a critically acclaimed US Netflix series.
‘Boys Like You’ by multitalented solo artist Jane Hanley, aka Kids at Midnight, plays over the stirring final scene and closing credits of season one of Mindy Kaling’s (The Office, The Mindy Project, Oceans Eight) new coming of age comedy/drama Never Have I Ever, which was released internationally last Monday, April 27.
With her debut album set for release later this year, we caught up with Jane on the phone from Cape Paterson last week to hear how the former Wonthaggi Secondary College student and long-time dance teacher at Studio Phoenix has found her way in the music industry…
“It was amazing. I knew it was coming – we’d signed the contracts a few months ago, so I was just waiting and waiting for it to be released – but I just thought it was going to be a little snippet, playing in the background, on the radio or something.
“To have it in a montage of this big, romantic moment, and over the credits, playing out the whole series… I flipped out; I was screaming!”
Has anything like this happened to you before?
“I had a song used in [US reality series] Jersey Shore about seven or eight years ago. I love that claim to fame because it’s such trash but so fun to watch!
“I got a little bit of exposure from that but it’s not as big of a deal as this. A Netflix show is huge. It reaches 100 times more people.”
What’s the inspiration behind ‘Boys Like You’?
“An amalgamation of all the boys I had crushes on in high school, and how you change yourself in the hopes that they’ll like you.
“There’s a line in the song about not answering questions in maths class, and, as a young girl, thinking you have to not be so smart or outspoken. That actually happened to me: a boy yelled at me because he was annoyed that I was answering too many questions.
“I never dumbed myself down, and especially as you get older, you realise you should never change yourself.
“But you can still feel like teenager sometimes; you don’t always feel older.”
How did you get into performing and making music?
“I’ve been singing and dancing since I was a kid. Growing up, my siblings [including Wonthaggi Theatrical Group stars Will and Sarah Kate Hanley] and I were always putting on little shows and making people watch. When you grow up so close in age in a small town, you naturally hang out together, so that was what we did.
“I went to the Christine Miles Dance School in Wonthaggi in the ‘80s and ‘90s and always competed in dance competitions; and I played saxophone in the school band at Wonthaggi Secondary College – that was probably the basis of my music knowledge.
“But I didn’t get into the music scene until I moved to Melbourne in the late ‘90s. You kind of had to go to Melbourne in those days. It’s so different now: the local scene’s really bustling and creative and young people are a huge part of it, even more than adults. When I was growing up, it was more adults and less kids.
“I bought a guitar and started to write, record and produce songs while I was at uni.
“I originally studied dance and music and then decided I wanted to do screenwriting, so I did a professional writing course, and then went back to music again.
“My first single [‘Survival,’ 2015] got good support from Triple J and I’ve just kept going from there.”
Jane with some of her Studio Phoenix dance students during a concert rehearsal in Wonthaggi, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown.
After starting out as a folk singer, playing acoustic guitar, where did your electro pop sound come from?
“I started to go electronic when I started to produce. As a solo act, it’s easier to make electronic music than to bring in a band of four people to record their parts. So, it was a natural progression of ‘what can I do with just me?’ and what sounds I enjoy. I love the ‘80s’ big synth sound and I had the tools to create that.
“I got [music production software] Ableton, a second-hand computer from eBay and slowly fumbled my way through.
“It took a few years before anything sounded good, but it’s like anything: you just have to log in the hours.”
Your latest success comes at a tough time for the music industry – how have you and your friends been coping with the impacts of COVID-19?
“I’ve been working in industries that have almost 100 per cent stopped, especially live music.
“I used to have two weekly residencies DJing, as well as booking events, and you do miss your normal lifestyle, especially when your job is to make a party for people. I do miss that bit. And seeing all my dance kids [at Studio Phoenix].
“But you just have to find a way to move through it. And use what you have to the best of your ability, so you can still contribute and have something to say at this time.
“Even though we can’t do things in the ‘normal’ way, I’m lucky to be able to still work on my music and online stuff. And finishing off an album is quite an isolating thing to do anyway.
“There are people that are way worse off. It’s really hard at the moment for the clubs and pubs, and lot of venues that can’t even stay open.”