Laura Veltz tells the story behind Dan and Shay's number 1 hit Speechless!
Laura Veltz, much like Ross Copperman has crossed my radar time and time again. Her most notable work is perhaps that she has done with Maren Morris since she has had a number of cuts both on her first record including single Rich and on her second record which has just been released. At the end of last yer leading into the new year Laura had a hit song sitting comfortably atop the Billboard Hot country Songs chart in the form of Speechless performed by Dan and Shay. She mainly focuses on writing for other artists now but over the years has experienced all aspects of the music industry and I was keen to find out what she was up to now and hear more about her writing process.
First of all can you tell me about the first moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Absolutely well musicianship that dates back kind of far, I was 18 and I wanted to write songs so it was more about songwriting in the beginning even though my life took a bit of a turn, I was in a band for a long time. Music has always been a part of my life but writing is what really connected me to music and still does.
When you was growing up what did your parents make you listen to and what are you choosing to listen to now?
I feel like I was raised almost entirely on The Beatles from 0 to 14 we must have listened to other music but I don't remember it playing, there was some Steely Dan in there and The Holly's but I know The Beatles catalogue like I know my own face and I feel like that's how I learnt harmony and harmonies are so different in Beatle world to the Country world, so my harmonies are always different to other peoples because of that influence.
And you write a lot for other people, but how much of your own personal experience comes into your lyric writing?
I try to squeeze it in every time but it probably doesn't happen as often like you probably wouldn't know but I try to put my life or something I'm feeling into songs pretty often. I don't ever want to be the one selling the song, I really like to be the one making it but I do that all the time and I feel like I always want to make sure the characters are really empowered people so I feel like that's how I influence my music, I want to make sure that what I'm writing is something I stand behind.
Who are your favourite people to collaborate with?
I think it's easy to just say Maren, we've written so much together and it's effortless and simple but I do have so many people in town that I'm just loving writing with and collaborating with. Her husband Ryan Hurd has a song out right now called To a T which I wrote with him and we've been writing a lot together and he's a fun guy to work with. I just started working with the Runaway June girls, I like them a lot and there's a new girl called Rachel Wammack who is so good I'm sure she'll find her way over to y'all she is so wonderful, she's a new artist.
You mentioned Maren there and she has a new album out and you've got quite a few songs that you co-wrote on there, can you tell us about any of those?
Yeah I'm happy to! I have five on there which is so crazy, the one that came out called The Bones we wrote, and another song called To Hell and Back which we actually wrote before her first album came out, it was right before it came out because we wondered if she would cut it real quick and put it on her first album but it didn't make it which you wonder then if that song will just collect dust and the fact that it came back around on the second record is so fulfilling because we loved that song, she loved and me and Jessi Jo Dillon who we co-wrote it with we all wrote Rich together and I'm so proud of it and it's so Ryan and Maren's story and it's also mine too, I really connect with that song as we mentioned I tried to squeeze myself in that song as well.
You've had a very successful song recently in the form of Speechless, can you tell me a bit about the process behind that song?
The boys and Jordan Reynolds and I were writing together and we threw out a catrillion and one ideas before that one and I think it started with Shay singing that one part at the start of the chorus, that signature melody. Then speechless fell out of someones mouth and then it was written really quickly and I think we all knew we had a big one on our hands so it was a special day.
You write every day but do you ever doubt yourself and wonder where the next song is going to come from?
I feel like I don't get scared anymore, I'm 39 years old, it might have something to do with being on the planet long enough so I don't get nervous about running out of ideas. I think when I have nothing left to say I'll stop writing songs but I feel like I have so much to say, there's such a craftsmanship and style of writing in Nashville that you spend ten years getting to know those rules and once you know them you can write an ok song pretty much every day but when you feel like you actually have something to say, that combined with the blueprint of a commercial country song the combination is like... I don't know. When I've run out of things to say I'll stop.
A couple of silly questions for you now, what's the strangest thing you've ever written a song about?
Oh God, I wrote a song called Little Dipper, it's about a woman who dips tobacco, it's like she's my Little Dipper, it's a terrible song!
Is it not going to get cut?
No in fact I'm doing an event called the first and the worst in Nashville and it's the first song you ever wrote and the worst song you ever wrote and I'm going to play that one but I'm not offending my co-writer, she didn't want to write it and I said we're writing it, I don't know what I was thinking it's terrible.
When you're playing writers rounds and you're performing a song, do you let your mind wander or are you completely focused, we call it your mid-gig thoughts?
I feel like I'm making sure I don't run out of saliva because I always feel like I'm going to cough, I'm terrified I'm just going to start coughing and have to run off so I keep thinking drink lots of water and don't choke. That's the primary thought. Nights like this, like a lot of nights in Nashville I'm going to get to hear all these people play their music so I'm going to be very interested in all of these lovely people.
Myself and a lot of my readers are aspiring songwriters so what advice do you have for people like me who want to one day be where you are?
That's wonderful! The only advice I can give is the Nashville version so I don't know what it's like here or in LA it's probably totally different but in Nashville I always say, show up, start waiting tables or get a bar tending job and write with whoever will write with you. Do that and you'll learn more from the people that suck, you learn from everyone as a writer, someone who is harsh with you or who has a bad bedside manner will tell you how to be someone who doesn't have a bad bedside manner. People who aren't good songwriters has use in the beginning because you're really just learning the craftsmanship of writing and then when you have a friend who you write with has a little bit of luck all of a sudden you're like oh is my instincts the same as this person's and you stay in your generation and evolve and evolve. Maren, Ryan, Dan and Shay and I are all in the same generation, Jessie Jo Dillon we're all coming up at the same time because we all wrote with each other before we had anything going on. The reason why Nashville is so friendly is because people stick with their group but you don't know who that group's going to be when you show up, you just show up like everyone else. So write until your fingers are bleeding and your voice is shot and someone will eventually find you if you have something worth finding.
What's next for you after playing in London?
Well, I'm going to write with John Green who is a brit and one of my favourite co-writers we wrote Live Forever together by Kane Brown. I'm going to eat a lot of Indian food, you guys have the best Indian food. I'm going to just drink and enjoy the night, the fact you're such excellent listeners, I keep hearing this and those are my favourite shows when people listen and love songwriters. I'm already having the time of my life.