Jane Badler is best known to American audiences for her portrayal of villainous alien leader Diana in the original ‘V’ series. But in recent years, she’s also launched a career as a singer. Having moved to Australia for the late 80s “Mission Impossible” TV revival, Badler remained in the country and found inspiration in the thriving Melbourne music scene. She initially teamed up with Melbourne band Sir and released her debut album, “The Devil Has My Double” in 2008. “Tears Again” followed in 2011, and in 2014 Badler put out the more electronic-oriented “Opus.” On February 26th and 27th, 2015, the singer performed her songs for the first time ever in the US as she opened for Midge Ure in New York City. In a phone interview prior to that, Badler discussed her musical career and looked back at her time on ‘V.’
Are the NYC shows a one-off, or part of a tour?
Jane Badler: “This is a one-off; I’m doing two nights with Midge Ure. They just kind of placed me there. An agent who puts a lot of acts into this venue was interested in me. We’re going to see how it goes. It’s a way for me to have an entree into New York City and also get people there to see me. It’s fantastic.”
Have you performed in America at all yet?
Jane Badler: “No. Years ago, when I was right out of school, I performed at the Playboy Club singing covers. But my own stuff, no, this is my very first gig as a mature person in America. I’ve performed in a lot of other places, but not here.”
What made you decide to focus on music now?
Jane Badler: “Growing up, I played guitar and all of that, and sang. But I kind of stopped singing for many years, and I started again in Australia. I was singing a lot of jazz. I’d never really thought about recording, and I was approached by this band called Sir. They’re kind of a cool Australian band who I fronted on my first album. Most of the music was written, so I just had to kind of find my way in it. The second album was more about us collaborating, and then the third album was just me. I decided that I was going to write, and that was a huge undertaking considering that I’d never done that before! But I really felt that I had a lot that I wanted to say, so I took about a year just writing. Then I met these two songwriters in Australia who are amazingly talented, and they teamed up with me for another year. And then I was lucky enough to meet up with Jeff Bova, an incredible producer in Los Angeles who ended up doing my album. I then got my manager, and since then I’ve performed a lot in Europe and also in Australia. We’ll see what happens. My album has been out for about five months now.”
Are there any particular ways you feel that your songs evolved during the process of making the album?
Jane Badler: “Some of the songs have had about five different versions, like ‘Stuck On You’ and ‘Dead Eyes’ and ‘Fame.” Some of the songs started with a little idea that I had, some I wrote a lot of the lyrics for, some a little. But for all of them, I got in a room with two people and brought my stuff in. They thought they were going to write for me, but I said ‘no, I’ve got a whole book of stuff.’ So it came out of mostly my songs. ‘Stuck On You’ started out as kind of a country/western thing and now it’s totally electronic. I’m so into electronic music, I just really love it. It’s where I’m heading now. I’m doing quite a few dance things now. A cover I do in my show has been picked up by an amazing DJ who is going to remix it for me. My stuff has been remixed by amazing producers for the dance clubs in the UK. I feel like you can be a mature artist, and it’s great. The gay community really embraces a lot of what I do, and you feel there is no age limit with a lot of the dance stuff. You can just be a diva.”
Who are some of the electronic artists that you like?
Jane Badler: “The very first thing that inspired me was an Australian artist named Gotye, who had a breakout hit because of a music video he did with an artist named Kimbra. He is an artist who hugely inspired me because of his immense originality and darkness. And I’m also really into electronics artists like Portishead and Goldfrapp. Those are the type of artists I’m very inspired by. I wouldn’t say that I sound like them, but I feel they’re hugely creative artists.”
Would you like to do even more yourself on your next album, or is collaboration important to you?
Jane Badler: “Oh no, I definitely [want to collaborate]. Having said that, I think it all has to start from me. Which is why right now, I’m in little bit of a lull. The album took a very long time, and was something that I was unbelievably driven to do. I think that in life nothing happens unless you have that incredible drive. For me right now, I don’t feel that drive to do another album.
“Especially with the music videos, I love to collaborate. I work with a man named Jesse Davey, who did my last two music videos. He makes me come across much better, and I feel I also add to him. The great thing about collaboration is that where you’re weak, someone else has a strength. So together, you’re bigger than apart. Some electronics artists, they do it all, and I’m not technologically proficient. I need that other person, and I need someone to come up with a good hook. I need people to sit in a room with me, because something great will always come out of it if you’re with fellow artists.”
What can we expect from your live show, in terms of material and instrumentation?
Jane Badler: “Most of it is from the album, which is called ‘Opus.’ I’ve brought in Jeff Bova, who is my musical director and producer of the album. He’s amazing, he’s played with and toured with so many incredible people. I’m just so happy that he’s with me, I don’t know how I could do it without him. We’ll have electronic backing, with him on piano and synthesizer, and then me singing. Just the two of us on stage. I am going to do a couple of covers, my own versions of a few songs, and then mostly my album. So it’s really exciting for me.”
How do you balance music and acting? Is music your focus right now?
Jane Badler: “I’ve been dedicating a lot of time to it [music] over the last past years. I’ve been doing mostly music, although I just did a film in Spain, a comedy, and I did a short film in France. So I am a bit all over the place. People approach me to do collaborations, like I recently collaborated with a French artist. Right now, that’s where I’m at, enjoying these projects and doing some more acting this year. I’m having a good time, and hoping that I meet the right people [to collaborate with] and come up with the right things that I want to say for the next big project.”
Are you still based in Australia?
Jane Badler: “Yes, I am, though sometimes I wonder. I’ve been away for three months.”
What impact do you think being in Australia had on your launching a music career?
Jane Badler: “It’s a smaller population of course, but there is an amazing, thriving music scene in Melbourne, where I live. That’s very inspiring to me. I went to see a show one night about fifteen years ago with an incredible singer name Kate Ceberano. The pianist was Paul Grabowsky, a world-renowned Jazz pianist and composer and I just thought, oh my god, I’ve got to go back to this again. That really got me motivated. She was really just doing covers, but in such an amazing way. I spent the next five years doing covers; jazz covers, cabaret, whatever, getting my chops back. I was very fortunate to work with Paul Grabowsky, this amazing composer, on my second album. He produced my second album, which was like a jazz fusion album.”
Do people there know you from “V”?
Jane Badler: “I do, but not really. It wasn’t as big there as it was in Europe and the US. People there, especially in Melbourne, all know me as a singer because I’ve performed a lot. And also in France; I’ve performed a lot in Paris. It’s kind of a slow thing, though. These things take quite a bit of time to develop, and for people to catch on.”
When you did “V” did you have any idea how popular and well-remembered it would be?
Jane Badler: “No, you don’t. I was very excited to do it. I was doing a daytime soap opera at the time and it was my very first night time show. So for me, it was huge to get a part in this major miniseries. It was a huge, exciting thing to me, but at the same time it was just another job. It wasn’t like I knew I was going into a miniseries that was going to go down in history as one of the most popular ever. So when it came out, and it was so huge, it really did take me by surprise. It was such a small moment in time, but it was an extraordinary moment for me.”
What was it like appearing in the recent revival of “V”?
Jane Badler: “Well, it was unbelievably exciting for me. I’d lived in Australia and I hadn’t been a regular on an American show for 25 years, since ‘Mission Impossible.’ It was just amazingly exciting after doing Australian television, which is very different. To be treated how American actors are treated was quite extraordinary. Having a trailer and being spoiled; it’s a beautiful feeling to be given that respect. Coming back was very exciting. But I was disappointed with the development of my character. I thought she had extraordinary potential, but just was never developed. I’m not just saying it just because I would have liked it personally. I think it was a real flaw in the second season not to develop some kind of incredible competition between myself and Morena [Baccarin, who played her on-screen daughter Anna]. That would have been incredibly exciting to have had that happen, but it never did. But it was great fun, and the special effects were incredible, the crew was amazing and so was the cast. So for me, it was a wonderful, wonderful gift.”
For more info on Jane Badler, visit her website at janebadler.com.