On Friday evening I had the pleasure of talking to Lainey Wilson. When her name first cropped up on the Country Music Week posters I'd not heard much about her but on listening to some feisty tracks on her latest EP I was impressed, and looking forward to catching up with her. The determination to succeed in this business was evident when I spoke to her on the phone and the excitement she felt about coming to the UK was uncontainable!
First of all, could you tell me about your journey so far and when you decided music was what you wanted to do with the rest of your life?
Well I sang my first song out in public when I was five years old at my kindergarten graduation and when I was nine years old I wrote my first song, when I was 11 I picked up the guitar which helped me with my songwriting. I've always had a weird sense of peace that this is what I'm supposed to do, I'm from a very very small town in North East Louisiana called Baskin, it's a town of like 300 people so when I moved to Nashville it was quite a culture shock but I've always known this is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do so I've always tried to do little things here and there that would hopefully get me to Nashville. In high school I impersonated Hannah Montana, I would do birthday parties, fairs, festivals, anything and everything that I could do I take as many opportunities as I could. Then I started playing with an 80s rock covers band, in Monroe Louisiana and eventually I bought a camper trailer and ended up here in Nashville and I lived in it for about three years just trying to make my way in this crazy town. So I've been here going on about seven years now and it's been hard for me trying to get a foot in the door I did that about a year and a half ago, that's when things really started kicking off. They always say this is a seven year town and I believe it. I haven't even had my publishing deal with Sony ATV for a year, it will be a year in November. Once it starts picking up steam, everyone thinks it happens overnight but it doesn't it's years and years of trying to perfect your craft.
As you said you're finally getting the recognition you deserve now but it's been quite a hard journey for you, has there been times where you thought is “it worth it?” and how do you overcome that?
You know that's a great question, my dad is a farmer and he farms wheat, corn, soya beans, oat and it kind of goes back to the way I was raised when you're farming, anything to do with agriculture, you have good years and you have bad years but it doesn't mean you quit and that's always been something that's been engraved in my brain. So I always look at it like that, my dad is a farmer and he doesn't have good years every year, you just have to keep working and if it's your livelihood you don't stop. I don't really know how to do anything else so it's got to work, there's definitely been moments when I’ve thought my life is crazy what am I doing, but never a moment when I’ve thought, I’m ready to pack up and move home.
You mentioned before about impersonating Hannah Montana, can you tell me what music your parents played to you when you was growing up and what music influences you now?
Yeah so I love nineties Country, I grew up listening to that, I also love Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, anything like that. I also listened to Bob Seger and some rock-kinda stuff, it’s been a mixture of a lot of things but what I really enjoyed listening to whilst growing up was LeAnn Womack, Shania Twain - that era.
When it comes to your own songwriting, where do you get your lyrical inspiration from? Does it come from personal experience or do you take influence from lots of different places?
Yes I’d say the inspiration comes from a lot of different places, what I catch myself doing a lot is listening to other people and other peoples stories and like I think “that would make a great song idea” and I jot it down real quick. A lot of my better songs though are personal experiences, the ones that are really real and the rawness, you can just tell when the singer has actually lived those moments of the song. But I do try to gather inspiration from a lot of different places.
You’re an artist yourself but you’ve written with and for other artists as well, can you tell us about how the writing process differs?
What a lot of people do is they start out with a hook or a title or an idea and that’s kind of how I always start out whether I’m writing for myself or someone else. I really enjoy writing with guys, I feel like I might be half boy haha I don’t know, I was always a little tom boy growing up but yeah it’s a completely different process writing for someone else, you listen to their story and you have to put yourself in their shoes for just a little while and it’s pretty cool because you get out of your normal thinking habit and into someone else’s which is a pretty cool thing!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?
Haha let me think! Probably the strangest thing I’ve written about is on my EP it’s a song called Middle Finger and before I sing it anywhere I always say “this is a shout out to my best friend, my middle finger” so I never thought in a million years I’d write a song about my middle finger but it happened and it’s one of the crowds favourites. We’re thinking about ordering some foam middle fingers and handing them out to the crowd.
You should definitely do that! What are your mid-gig thoughts?
I have to be somewhat completely focused so I don’t forget the words but sometimes there are songs I know by heart, I could sing them in my sleep so I just try to enjoy those moments and take it all in so I guess you could say I let my mind wander a little bit then.
You’re coming to the UK soon, it’s your first trip over here, what are you most looking forward to?
Well first of all I know you probably all get a kick out of my accent but I just can’t wait to be around y’all and here y’all talk because I love it, I think it’s the coolest thing haha!
Do you think we all sound like the Queen?
Yes I sure do!
Haha, you’ve got quite a busy schedule but will you have time to sight-see whilst you’re here?
My first show is on the Tuesday and my last show is on the Saturday so I guess between the two of those, I have some co-writes with BMG songwriters over there, but my plan is to see some things then.
Finally what’s next after your trip to the U.K.?
So I’m going to spend the rest of the Year just writing, I’ll be playing a few shows here and there but my main focus is writing for the record that will be coming out at the beginning of 2019 and we’re in the studio cutting for the record in January. So I’m prepping to do all that.