Every relationship hits a fork in the road, a moment in time when both parties actively choose to walk down a path together (or not). In 2019, singer-songwriter Chloe Jane, aka Neia Jane, found herself anxiety-ridden, hoping that her boyfriend would be able to immigrate back to the U.S. from France, and worrying if the pressure of a long-distance relationship would break them. Fresh off the release of her debut album Magic & Honey, Jane attempted to mitigate that uncertainty through songwriting, and the resulting single “Break Ur Heart” is an exploration of how to work through pain and come out the other end stronger than ever before.
“Even when it feels like heaven and we’re floating baby/Love will always break your heart/We’re only human and we’re hurting and we’re trying baby/I didn’t mean to break your heart,” Jane sings, her voice fraught with tension. With “Break Ur Heart” she continues the themes from last year’s debut: love, loss, longing. However, the music moves away from girl-band ballads like “People Like You” and digs into a new, dark disco sound. It’s an exciting experimentation for an artist who already bends genre frequently, often pitting her ethereal voice against a straight rock guitar. The same voice takes a slight back seat in this single, allowing the production elements to take center stage. Synths surround, weaving in and out of the narrative of a girl wandering alone, dreaming of a lover half a world away.
Jane grew up in the “Adventure Capitol of the World,” aka Queenstown, New Zealand. Born Chloe Jane, she was raised listening to Pat Benatar and the women of classic rock. Her American parents were both artists; her father played covers in a local band and was the one who pointed out female rockers, women who Jane could respect and emulate.
In her teen years, the family moved from Queenstown to her father’s hometown of Seattle, Washington. Those first years were rough on Jane; her Kiwi accent and interest in music made her an easy target for bullies at school. “I had no idea how to cope with the emotions that I was feeling at that point. I think I shut down a lot of them,” Jane remembers. “Bullying effects people in long term ways. I think I’m still coping and still expressing those emotions – the feeling of being other, the feeling of not fitting in, and having people pick your differences apart rather than celebrate them. Obviously as a white woman, I didn’t feel that near as much as some of my peers did. But I felt outcasted enough to feel really lonely as an adolescent for sure.”
As a preteen, Jane gravitated toward singing, picking up a guitar by age 12 to find music that matched her lyrics. Jane’s dad started a business teaching rock music in Seattle, a la School of Rock; it was after she started taking classes at the school herself that Jane found bandmates, forming her first rock band at the tender age of 13. Outnumbered was the name of her first real band (complete with a legit Facebook page); they performed mostly covers, but allowed Jane the time and space to take ownership of her music. It was her first taste of leading, of forging her own path.
Cut to 2020 – Jane is now living in Boston, Massachusetts, and has been performing solo for years, though she only recently starting playing under the moniker Neia Jane. “[The name change] allowed me to create kind of a personae that felt free from my personal identity as Chloe,” she explains. “Neia Jane is a way for me to kind of go into another space and not tie my creative output to every aspect of my life. That’s been kind of invigorating for me. I feel like Neia Jane can be a bit more extreme, outgoing, do things that I wouldn’t do as Chloe.”
Initially the transition to being a solo artist felt off; Jane had always imagined herself in a band and the images she had of female solo artists didn’t fit with how she viewed herself as an artist. “I kind of felt like female solo artists weren’t representative of what I wanted to do, genre wise, sound wise. And honestly I didn’t want it to be about ‘the me show’,” she admits. She even reached out to her old bandmates, asking them if they wanted to be members of her new project, but they weren’t interested; they felt like she needed to strike out on her own. After that, Jane says, “I kind of realized: I like being a free agent. I like being in charge of what I do. I like being able to write the songs and call the shots.”
At this juncture, Jane is self-assured, happy with the creative control that comes with flying solo. Her new single “Break Ur Heart” is synth magic from the opening beats, its confidence drawn from rock legends Jane admired as a child. It is Jane’s first self-produced single, created in Ableton on her own laptop. She wrote the song the day her boyfriend left for France, beginning the long process of shaping his visa. It took him a year to get back to the U.S. full-time.
Though the song was inspired by the specific situation at hand, Jane says the whole ordeal dredged up deeper trauma, too. “It was about the feelings that I was facing within myself and the way that I responded to those feelings. My parents divorced when I was 17 and I definitely was marked by that feeling of things changing. There’s definitely an element of abandonment that I am afraid of in my life,” she explains. “I haven’t had too much luck with people treating me very well in relationships in the past. So I definitely have had fear of love in general, just fear of being with someone. Afraid that they’re gonna leave, afraid that they’re gonna change. Afraid I’m gonna let myself get close to someone and that they’re gonna hurt me and leave.”
The crossroads had been reached and she wasn’t sure about the path ahead. Should they break up? Should they do long distance? Should they get married? They decided to trust the process and kept the relationship long distance while the paperwork went through the machine. Neia Jane’s boyfriend, who is also makes music as Fytch, came in at the tail end of the songwriting process and did a first mix of the song. During one of his trips to the U.S., they put together final pieces. It was a labor of love, signifying Jane’s blossoming talent as a producer, as well as the strength of their relationship, tested over time and space – a love song in every sense.
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