It was the Monday after the craziness of the Country2Country Festival in London and I got the chance to head back up to London to meet and interview Lauren Alaina. I have to say it was one of the most fun interviews I have had the pleasure to conduct. Lauren is such a talent and so down to earth it was great to get the chance to chat with her.
Welcome to the UK!
I was just speaking to your manager and she was telling me you have been here since Thursday?
Yeh we have only been here a minute!
But crazy busy it seem!
My head is spinning but it’s been such a great trip. We feel so good about everything and we’re pleasantly surprised by the reaction of the crowds I mean, we sold out of all of our music and it just went so well! We’re so excited! I can’t put it into words, you know, I’ve been doing interviews all day and I feel like I have said the word ‘excited’ about a thousand times because that’s how I feel! I feel like i need to switch it out for ecstatic or something!
The reaction actually doesn’t surprise me.
I had no clue!
We had American Idol aired over here when you were on so you already have the exposure here from that show. Everyone who comes over is always taken aback by the reaction.
It. Was. Amazing!
Right, people over here won’t just listen to a single they will have seeked out your music because we don’t have a mainstream country radio here that you can just tune into in your car.
We feel so good about it. We had no clue what to expect, I’ve never been here I didn; t know if anyone knew who we were or not and it just it was such a nice surprise. We are already talking about coming back! We were so impressed and so excited that we are trying to find time to come back. Soon! So that we can see these people. We have all these new fans that we need to make sure we are serving them!
We would love to have ya!
We’ll do our best! Thanks for liking the music!
So, I have to ask you about last night. I wasn’t at the show unfortunately but I hear there was a bit of an uproar when you were asked to cut your set short ?
Well, I think The Shires were worried because I think the tube closes earlier on a Sunday so they were worried but I didn’t get the information until I had already announced the song! So I was like “we are gonna do one more guys and it’s called Georgia Peaches!”. Everybody was like “yeeeeah!”. Then they came over and were like, “no, we have to go”. So I was like “Oh I’m so sorry I have to go they are saying I have run out of time!”. The whole place went BOO! Then they started chanting my name, like literally chanting – Lauren! Lauren! Lauren!. Of course I didn’t know what to do but then I ended up doing one more song but for me for people to chant my name!? I was like “what is going on right now!?”. I mean these people are chanting my name! It was amazing. I felt so bad though, they were just worried about time. I didn’t go over or anything but I think they were just a little bit panicked; but it worked out!
That seems to be the British way! We like to worry! 9 times out of 10 it’s usually completely unnecessary!
Well the Shires were so good! I had never seen them before and I was so impressed I thought they were really great.
They are doing a lot for the UK country scene over here is great. They have even been over [to Nashville] and played the Opry.
That’s awesome. That’s a great honor. It’s one of my favorite places to play. I have been lucky enough to play there almost 25 times now I think! Which is awesome but for someone so far away to be invited. It’s a pretty big deal. No, it’s not a pretty big deal, it’s an extremely big deal! It’s beautiful it has so much history.
So generally how have you found the experience of performing over here, obviously you had the show last night but you also played the day before as well?
I didn’t know what to expect so I didn’t know if it was going to be different but it felt the same. the environments different because the venues look a little bit different and things just look different here to what they do in America but for the most part it was just like it is in America. People came to hear music and that’s what we did and we all had a good time and I am so glad that we came. I can’t wait to come back. I wanna come back next month but we are going to have to a bit more planning than that! I am also on the road right now with Alan Jackson!
Wow, that’s great! I love Alan Jackson!
Yeh me too! It’s a really big honor that he has asked us to go on the tour with him. We are with him from now. We do our first date in like 4 days. Then we are on tour until November.
How many dates is that?
I don’t know exactly how many dates that is, they are really spread out so it isn’t like we are consistently gone that whole time. My calendar is full but it is not just with him.
I guess now that he is older and established he can pick and choose!
Yeh he can just do what he wants! That must be nice… TO just get to make your own schedule!
You’ll get there!
I’m like… “Where are we going today Trisha!?….”. My poor manager!
So, I also wanted to ask you about American Idol. Obviously you came from that show on Season 10 which was 5 years ago!
It’s crazy! It has gone by so fast.
And now it’s the last season! You went back on as a mentor. What was that like?
It was really cool because I have been there and I know how they feel and I know what’s going on. I wanted to be that person…. like I really flirted with Mackenzie and was like super funny with him! Then I was also funny with Emily then she got eliminated which was sad, to see her go. But!… I wanted to be positive, exciting and fun. Not so serious and whatever else because those people that are there at that point are meant to be there and it is such a great platform and this is the last year and I just want them to really enjoy it. I’m really glad that I got to go back and be a part of that and I think I am going to go back for the finale as well so that will be good. It’s bittersweet, they have done so many great things and the show will live on through all of our careers forever. It is sad to see it go… Maybe they will eventually do it again at some point, who knows?
I’m sure it won’t be the end of talent shows. There is an incredible roster of artists to come from Idol it is sad to know it won’t be on anymore.
It’s such an incredible group… Hopefully I can make it proud!
Look where you are right now! You already are!
Aw thank you!
So tell us a little bit about the music that you have out right now.
I have an EP out, it is 5 songs. It’s like a preview of what’s gonna be on the album. The only one that is on there that won’t be on the album is History. It’s and extremely ‘pop’ song, it’s not what I would normally do it was a special promotion that I did for a program in America so it was totally random but it just ended up being on the EP because we wanted to have it out there so people could buy it. The other four are a really good representation of what’s to come and I am so excited to have this new stuff out. I wrote all of it and I spent 2 hours… Ha! 2 hours! No! 2 years writing a little over 200 songs for it and there are going to be 12 on the album. So I am really proud of it and a lot has changed since the first album and I am excited for people to see where I’ve been and what’s been going on with me.
Right, it has been a long time and you have clearly grown since then as a person and as an artist and you live in Nashville now?
Yeh, I live in Nashville and my parents went through a divorce, my dad’s an alcoholic and he went to rehab so all these super personal things happened but they were perfect for a country album. So I wrote about that and hopefully other people who are going through that can relate to it and see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was a horrible thing to go through and my parents ended up getting divorced which is sad but they are both happily married to someone else now and my dad is going to be 3 years sober so… it all worked out and I want to share that message. I have songs like Next Boyfriend which is my single right now that is super fun and it really showcases my personality so I feel like as a whole this album is really going to represent me well as a person and people will get to really know me through the music… And hopefully like it!
I am really looking forward to hearing it. I was also going to ask about the songwriting and whether or not you wrote a lot for the album… Clearly you have! In terms of when you are sitting down to write songs, it sounds like a lot have been drawn from personal experiences but do you have a particular process that you go through?
It’s always different. People ask me that a lot. Sometimes I sit in my room and I will be reading a book or I will be watching a movie and I hear a melody pop into my head and I just constantly make sure I have my phone and make sure I can record it because I will think of things and then just forget them! All the time! I am like the weird girl in the room who is like “hey, hold on one second” and then I run over to the corner and I am singing into my phone and then I come back and finish the conversation! Then sometimes I don’t have an idea and I go into a writing session with other songwriters and they have an idea or we will just talk until an idea comes up. It’s all a little bit different but you have to draw your inspiration from somewhere, whether it be who you are talking to in a conversation or a book you are reading, movie you are watching, your parents, your boyfriend, your ex boyfriend, or the person you are writing with that day! I have written things that were about other people and the song ended up meaning just as much to me and I wrote it about them so it’s all a little bit different but that’s the good thing about music is it can come from all different places and it’s still genuine if you make it genuine.
So C2C, you played Sweden and Oslo too right?
I did, I opened up for Carrie Underwood which was awesome. She is like a big sister to me and has really been super helpful and given advice to me and been someone that I can go to if I have any questions. I mean I don’t call her all the time and say “hey, I’m gonna do this, what do you think about that?” but when I see her she is really nice.She is a good person and she is a good reminder of how to act and that all of this stuff doesn’t have to take away who you are and to stay true to who you are and I think she has done that really well so it is really cool that i get to look up to someone like her. Also it’s not often that… There is this picture on my Instagram of me holding her CD when I am about 8 years old, there are about 6 or 7, I posted it for her birthday. It’s so funny to see that little girl in that picture and then they are in order of time. Me when I was 16 at the finale, I got to sing with her. Then I can’t remember where the other ones are but they are like at award shows and places that we have been together and then the last picture is the other day when we did the shows together. It’s not every day that you look up to someone so much and I loved her music and I loved who she was and what she represented and now she is a friend to me and someone that I can ask for advice and talk about things that I can’t talk about with anyone else because they don’t understand. Anything I could pretty much ask her about. She has been there, done it. It’s really nice to have someone like that and I hope I can be that someone for somebody else.
That‘s so nice. You have both been through the exact same experience so to have that relationship is great.
Our careers are obviously very different and she is a superstar and I am trying to be one but it’s crazy. We are both from small towns, we both tried out for our favorite TV show and it worked out. She won, I got second. Our music has very different sounds but as far as the path that we took to get there it’s very similar so it’s cool to have someone to talk to that gets it. She is a great singer and she has taught me about how to take care of your voice and how important it is. Just things that she doesn’t even know probably that she has taught me, It is really nice and actually on my last album I cut a song that she wrote; Eighteen Inches.It is crazy, I am from Rossville, Georgia which is a really small town. It has like 3000 people in it which isn’t as small as some towns but it’s pretty small! I always dreamed of this life, of doing this stuff and sometimes I think “holy cow! How is this my life? How am I in the UK right now? Doing an interview, talking about Carrie Underwood being my friend?”. You know what I mean!? I hit the lottery somehow!
It is not all down to luck, you have worked hard to get where you are. You know, Carrie is a superstar for a reason and that isn’t luck. She has worked her butt off to get where she is and the same goes for you. Someone didn’t out of the blue hand you a chance to come to the UK. They did that because they saw the potential not only in your talent but in your work ethic.
Yeh, it is down to how hard you are willing to work and how much you want it. I feel like when you are on a show like American Idol you gain so much success overnight. Not success, fame. Being famous doesn’t mean you are successful they are two different things. They usually go hand in hand but that is one special case where that is not the truth. You are famous but you are not successful. It’s a very different thing and I think people confuse the two and they think because they are famous that they are successful and they don’t put the work in. I think the best thing that ever happened to me was not winning. It gave me that drive to overcome that, to say I have to work 10 times harder because I didn’t win and I think even the winners don’t work hard enough and I think Carrie has worked her butt off from the beginning. She does everything that she can. She works out, she takes care of her voice, she is just unbelievable and she has what she has because she was willing to do those things. I am working really hard as well and I am willing to do it. You can’t be above anything. I am just so glad to be here and I really hope that we can build something out here because I feel like, after doing those shows, this is something that could really work out for me over here. We are going to try and come back and do more.
Also this just popped into my head! Country radio. There has been a lot of talk about women on radio over the past year. Do you feel like as a female in country music you are automatically at a disadvantage?
I think that was the case for a long time but I think when you come back you will feel that it is getting so much better. The fact that there is Kelsea Ballerini, Maddie & Tae, Maren Morris. I just feel like girls are finally doing better.
I was there in November for the CMA’s and there still seemed to be a distinct lack of airplay for these artists though.
When I say you will notice, it has been very recent that it is feeling better. Kelsea ust had her second #1, Maddie & Tae have had two top 10 hits and working on their third. I mean it is happening but it is going to be a gradual process but at least now people are open to it and are more likely to play women which is nice. I can’t say to you, it’s gone, they are totally playing the girls all the time! But I think it’s better and I think we can all be hopeful that thing are going to turn around… They have to! Or we can just be popular in the UK!
You can find Lauren’s music on Spotify, Itunes, Youtube and for more social media fun check out her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!
Head over to www.laurenalainaofficial.com and you can watch the audio video for her current single ‘Next Boyfriend’.