Lainey Wilson made her UK live debut during Country Music Week at the end of October and she was without a doubt the week’s most-talked about artist.
Supporting Chase Rice at Bush Hall and performing at the Country Music Week Daytime Hub, Wilson won over a legion of new fans with her honest songwriting, memorable songs and stunning voice. She also has a personality that’s impossible not to warm to.
I caught up with Lainey backstage at Borderline to talk about the reception she’s received in the UK, discuss her songwriting, and to find out all about her forthcoming album.
The UK has been treating you really well during Country Music Week. What’s your experience been like?
It has been crazy to even think about coming from a town of 300 people to a place like London… it’s pretty wild. Everybody has truly made me feel so welcome and just opened their arms up, and even learned the words to my music. It’s made me want to come back as quick as I possibly can.
It feels like you’ve been getting a really good reaction. Did you hear about how engaged and attentive UK crowds are before you came here?
It’s been great. Yeah I did. It’s pretty crazy because I thought (UK fans) probably wouldn’t know my stuff then I get over here and they were telling nothing but the truth. This is the farthest I’ve ever been away from home period and just to see people really care, and listen to the story behind my songs is endearing. I just want to keep doing it. I just can’t wait to come back and I haven’t even left.
When you hit that high note during Dreamcatcher the room fell completely silent. That just never happens at gigs…
Well. I guess you could explain it like this. What I’ve noticed is sometimes back in the States, when when you’re an up-and-coming artist sometimes the artist goes to the bar to play and people are there for the drinks and you’re just there playing. Here it’s pretty wild, it feels like the people come here to watch the artist and have a drink not to have a drink and watch the artist. Do you know what I’m saying? it’s really nice!
It’s interesting that you mentioned people knew the words because I think that’s a very British thing. As soon as the Country Music Week line-up was announced, people will have researched your music in preparation. Is there any song you’ve sung that’s had a reaction that’s surprised you?
Yeah. I have a song that’s not even on my EP but it is one of my most favourite songs and hopefully it will be my record that’s coming out next year. It’s a song called Two Storey House that I wrote about my sister. It’s crazy to be able to write such a personal song about my sister and the experiences that we had and have, and to see people be able to relate to it on some kind of level. If there’s one song that people keep talking about it’s that one. I guess that song would be the one that I feel like is getting the most love.
People have really, really loved that song! When can we hear new music?
We’re spending the rest of the year just getting ready for a record. I’m getting in the studio with a guy named Jay Joyce next year, towards the beginning of the year and we’re just trying to keep our head down and make sure that we prepare for this thing as well as we possibly can and create the best music for y’all. We’re excited to do that. We’re just gonna keep writing and playing a few shows here and there, and hopefully I’ll be back in London towards the beginning of the year too, if y’all let me come back.
That will be the first question on everyone’s lips after this week. You have to come back…
I’m hoping for that. It’s been crazy. Everybody’s been tweeting me and just showing me so much love. I can’t get over it for real. It’s given me another push.
We’re very passionate for female artists here, which I know is a bit different to America and the commercial radio format. Is that refreshing for you?
It is very refreshing. I feel like even in Nashville it is starting to make a little bit of a turn. For a long time now it has been like that. We are so far away from Nashville but being here and seeing y’all really love female Country music gives me a little bit of hope. It makes me feel like even if I don’t ever get really truly accepted and played on radio over there, over here y’all are just going to embrace it and love me.
We don’t tend to see gender here. Good music is just good music…
You are absolutely right. You’re right. It’s pretty wild isn’t it?
It blows my mind to be honest just how different it is in different places…
I know… I know. There’s a place for everybody. I feel like all we truly need to do as artists, as female and male artists, is just support each other and love each other. I mean if it’s good music it’s good music and just like you said that’s it!
Let’s talk about your songwriting because that’s one of the things that caught my attention about you. It’s relatable, very personal and incredibly honest. How do you approach a song and get those ideas and feelings out?
In my phone I keep a list of ideas, I call them hooks, and a lot of the songs that I write and some of the songs that stick around are the ones that are the most personal to me and the experiences that I go through. There are times when I sit around and listen to what other people have to say. I just really listen to what people have to say and write it down in my phone and I’m like, ‘that would be a good song idea’. I don’t have to technically experience everything that I’m writing about but I will say you can tell when it is real to me and genuine. It comes across like that and you can tell.
Your voice is incredible. When did you know you had that big, big voice?
Thank you. I appreciate that. I was about 4 years old and I was singing in my grandma’s backseat. She ended up going home and she told my mom, ‘Lainey can sing’. It just kind of started there. I sang at my kindergarten graduation and I have not stopped singing since.
It can be hard for some artists to find their own voice as they can try to mimic the artist that have inspired them. Was it a natural process for you to discover your own voice and sound?
I think it just takes years and years and years of figuring out what the most natural thing to you is and that’s what ends up working. It’s pretty wild. I’ve tried a lot of different things… I’ve always been country. Like with anything in life, not just music, I think you have to do something over and over and over and over again for a very long time in order for you to figure out what works the best. I feel like you have to try a little bit of everything before you really truly do figure out what is the most natural to you. That was a little bit of a struggle but you put your time in and I think it just kind of happens.
Your voice reminds me of Dolly Parton with a little bit of Jaida Dreyer in there but you sound completely different to anyone else out there. Does that make it easier or harder for you to get traction with your music?
I think it’s going to make it a little bit easier. I’m not trying to mimic anybody and sometimes you can’t help your influences. Dolly is one of my big influences. It’s not technically that you’re trying to sound like them it just kind of comes out because that’s what you’re drawn to. I think people really do enjoy hearing a voice that isn’t completely like somebody else’s but also has little things of people like Dolly or whoever that they are fans of. I think they sometimes hear those little notes that remind them of that. I think it it’ll be beneficial for me.
Aside from planning your next visit to the UK, what else do you have coming up?
We are going into the studio towards the beginning of the year. I’m getting ready to out out a record for y’all. It’s going to be good I hope. I guess I’m just trying to keep my head down and write as much as I possibly can between now and the end of the year. I’m getting to do the record with Jay Joyce and he’s always been my dream producer and now he’s a great friend of mine. It’s pretty crazy considering a year ago I couldn’t get anybody’s attention. I didn’t even have a publishing deal and it’s just crazy how this past year has just completely changed for me. I hope the next year is just as good.
Are you going to get any time to enjoy Christmas and enjoy some down time?
I’m sure I’ll go back to Louisiana for a week or two but it’s just how I am. I like my down time but I also like to work. I love what I do and I love writing. I like to go home and have family time but I also can’t wait to get back and write more songs and keep this thing rolling.
Lainey Wilson’s self-titled EP is available to download and stream now. Take a listen below: