Sunlight and hazy introspection: In conversation with Spacey Jane

Lead singer Caleb Harper on the band's songwriting and success.

Photo credit: Daniel Hilderbrand

After their past year of swift success, a runners up spot for Triple J’s Hottest 100, and unrelenting support from meme pages, Spacey Jane have staggered onto the scene with an entourage of sugary guitar riffs and nostalgia-drenched lyrics.

Their debut studio album, Sunlight, was a comfort album for many during the turbulence of 2020. Slouchy melodies and pensive lyrics fused to make Sunlight an easy and compelling listen, an escape from the confines of lockdown. For an album with flickers of stoicism on the cover, it boasts laudable lyrical sensitivity track after track.

“Most songs start as a short riff or progression and a vocal melody,” lead singer Caleb Harper says about their songwriting process. “When I find something that immediately grabs me it feels like that’s a good place to start.” 

“Lyrical content and inspiration usually comes from ideas I’ve written in my phone notes. I try to find a theme in there that matches the mood musically and build from that. Then, I bring something that sits between a lone chorus and a full song to the band and we start composing from there.”

Sunlight paints pictures of hazy introspection, as well as freckled recollections of the past with a coming-of-age feel echoing through each track. “I suppose there’s a level of subconscious influence from my hometown… Your environment shapes you in various ways as you grow,” Caleb says, reflecting on the band’s inspirations. “Sometimes I reference home in abstract ways, but it’s more to do with family and adolescence than a physical place.”

After a scheduled gig at Manning Bar was quashed under COVID’s clenched fist, Spacey Jane’s tour felt perpetually postponed. Now that gigs and dancefloors are back on the cards, the band feels energised and ready to get back on the road.

“There are a lot of shows in a pretty short amount of time so there’s some nervous anticipation,” he says. ”But playing live is our favourite thing to do, we can’t wait.” 

“We’ve been lucky enough to play some shows in Canberra and Adelaide over the last month… It was so nice to get on a plane again and feel like things are slowly returning to normal.”

The albums they’ll be spinning on their upcoming road trips include Stranger in the Alps and Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers, as well as the classic Graceland by Paul Simon.

After their track Booster Seat clocked in at number 2 in a highly competitive Triple J Hottest 100, Caleb said they never anticipated a response of this calibre: “…The closer it got to the day, the more we began to think: we might be at the pointy end of the countdown. But we never imagine it would actually be that high.” 

“The support is truly overwhelming, we’re so grateful for every vote we received.”

They continued their streak of Triple J notoriety with a fan favourite Like a Version, covering The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun — infusing it with their distinctive citrusy vocals and subtle nods to surf rock. “I think most people would tell you to leave [a Beatles song] alone,” Caleb laughed. “In saying that, the song writing is so good…you can kind of take it any way and something beautiful will come out of it.”

So what can listeners expect from Spacey Jane for 2021 and beyond? “We’re working hard to get the rest of our second album tracked at the moment,” Caleb said. “We’ve got a bunch of Australian touring in the pipeline after this album tour is wrapped — which we can’t wait to announce… Fingers crossed some international touring is on the cards sometime 2022!”

Sunlight is available to stream on all platforms. Spacey Jane are returning to Sydney in April to play six sold out shows at the Enmore Theatre.