It was great to get a chance to catch up with Louisiana native and “bell-bottom country” artist Lainey Wilson in the run up to the release of her hotly anticipated debut album ” Sayin’ What I’m Thinking” ( check out our album review here https://thinkcountrymusic.com/whats-new/lainey-wilson-sayin-what-im-thinkin/ ) .
As always her passion for her craft shone through, and I’m sure the week long celebrations she has planned for the release will be a blast, starting off with her stepping back onto the Opry stage this Saturday which is surely the best way to begin?
I hope you enjoy out chat…..and maybe try to imagine her fabulous Southern accent in her replies!
1. LH Hi Lainey!
LW Hey, what’s going on girl? You look warm and cosy!
LH Ha, my boiler broke down in our recent freezing weather and only got repaired a few hours ago so my house is like an igloo! And I gather Nashville now has a cold snap…
LW Oh my goodness, bless your heart!! Yeah we’re iced up here and won’t be moving for days!
LH But come Friday we can all warm up by dancing around to your album!
LW I’m good with that, I can do that!
LH It’s been a long time coming, what’s your overriding feeling right now in the run up to release day?
LW I am SO PROUD of this thing and the work we have put into this. We spent years on it, it’s definitely not something we threw together overnight. I’ve been writing these songs for years, it’s all coming together and I’m just so excited to put it out there and see what the reaction is. This is me, who I am, what I want to sing and how I want to say it. It’s so cool that I can make music and continue being me throughout the whole process..and people are latching onto it. That’s pretty cool!
2. LH Following on from that, like so many of my favourite female country artists putting out great music lately your drive, tenacity and determination has been a big part of your journey…… are you actually grateful nothing was handed to you on a plate earlier in your career?
LW Absolutely! I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Deep down I knew it was going to be ok, that I’d figure it out. I’ve had a weird sense of peace about knowing this is what I’m supposed to do but I knew it was going to be a journey. I’m so hard headed I don’t care how long it takes, I’ll do the dang thing! It’s been hard at times but I will tell you this Lesley, never have I ever thought I need to pack my bags and move home. EVER. I grew up riding horses and my Daddy would put me on a bucking horse and I was crying saying ” I want down!” but he’d tell me to hang on…and I have carried that right there with me throughout my journey with music and life in general….when you feel you’re going to fall off, you’d better hang on!
LH A great philosophy!
3. LH Both the album and your previous EP have Jay Joyce at the helm as producer….I’ve heard artists liken him to a mad professor in the studio….so creative but also someone who ultimately listens to what the artist wants . What was your experience of working with him like?
LW I could talk about Jay Joyce all day! The cool thing about him was before we got into the studio he took the time to get to know ME and my personality, my vibe, my heart…all of it. His studio is an old renovated church, I walked through the doors and he’s literally smoking a cigarette and I’m like ” this man is so cool, he don’t care, he’s just doing his thing “. I love people who are unapologetically themselves and that’s where I feel I fit in. We felt like kindred spirits….a lot of people tell me he’s terrifying, he wears a black trench coat and lights cigarettes on toasters … I don’t know about that but he really IS a mad scientist Lesley! He truly does just love music. He does not have a plaque hanging on his wall, he does it just because he loves it, and I appreciate that.
4. LH So when you write a song do you have a clear idea of how you want the studio version to sound?
LW Of course you know I have all these ideas in my head as to what it should sound like, and I could tell Jay in my own words how I think it should be. But he always does something just a little different …he still takes my thoughts and ideas but makes it that on steroids! It’s like he sprinkles his Jay Joyce fairy dust on it and it comes to life in this beautiful, crazy type of way. He really is a mad scientist…he’d untune people’s guitars while we were recording because he didn’t want it to sound perfect…and I’m not trying to be perfect either, I think that’s why it ended up working in my favour, it just made sense.
5. LH Which part of the creative process, from initial song idea, through to the writing and then laying down the track in the studio and making a video do you enjoy the most ?
LW It’s so crazy because of course this job is extremely hard work, I eat, sleep and breath it, but thank God I love it. And when people ask me that question I normally say honestly, and this sounds so cheesy, but it’s whatever i’m doing at that moment! Like right now, my favourite part of this job is talking to you and hanging out with you and answering these cool questions. When I’m in a writing room, that’s my favourite part, when I’m on stage, that’s my favourite part, when I’m meeting my fans, that’s my favourite part. I truly do love every small and big part of this.
6. LH. Talking of being in a writing room, you’ve co-written every track on the album, but had you done much cowriting before your move to Nashville, and what have you learnt from the collaborative process?
LW I had never co-written a day in my life before I moved to Nashville. It was just me and my parent’s bathroom where the acoustics were good, and every now and then my Mum would come in and say ” Oooh this is kinda good” and I’d keep going….so I had her ears to tell me if I was on the right track! But in Nashville I realised kinda quickly that co-writing was a huge thing around here and it really is a way to get your foot in the door. And at the end of the day, you know although it’s still important to write by yourself, two brains are better than one! Two people coming from two different angles …it really is cool the stuff you can get, and make sure you cover every base. It brings all the thoughts together in a beautiful way so I have learned SO much from co-wtiting. Not just about songwriting but about life in general just listening to people’s stories and thoughts about things. You have to go in and be super open minded so it’s taught me that!
7 .LH “Saying What I’m Thinkin’ ” is an appropriate title track as that is what you are renown for doing in your writing as you touched on earlier ……as you say in its opening lines ” I haven’t got a filter” . Has anyone ever tried to discourage you from being so honest and outspoken, and if they did how would you react?
LW I’d probably just laugh at ’em! I’ve truly always been this way, even as a little girl, the things that would come out of my mouth!! My parents of course were like ” oh my gosh, we need to put a muzzle on this little girl!” but they realised very quickly that there ain’t no changing me! I’m a firm believer in thinking before you speak, I’m definitely not trying to hurt people’s feelings but at the end of the day that’s the kind of thing that makes me, me. And if anybody told me I couldn’t be me, we’d have a big problem !
8.LH Several of the album’s tracks have been released already, but of the remaining ones which are you most excited for people to hear on release day and why?
LW That’s hard because they’re all my babies, but I am excited for people to hear ” Pipe”, it’s my redneck rule book! It’s a fun song, it kinda has that live feel to it that we’ve all been missing for a year and a half now, or a year, I can’t keep up with the times! When I listen to it I’m so proud of it I sometimes forget it’s me and go ” Oooh! this girl’s kinda cool! I like her!!” .
9.LH I’m so happy that the album will be available in vinyl format shortly, red vinyl too I gather, very appropriately. It’s my favourite way to listen to albums, no shuffling or skipping of tracks ‘cos in my mind artists decide the order of the track listing for a reason….do you agree?
LW Oh yes, absolutely. we do take a whole lot of time and dive into that. I love putting on an album, listening to it from top to bottom, and trying to figure out ” I wonder why they put that there?” and then it all makes sense and tells a story, and that’s the cool part about it. I have my record player over there. It’s a body of work and we took a lot of time on ” Saying’ What I’m Thinking” wondering where it was going to go and tie it all together.
LH Yeah, to me the opening and closing tracks in particular couldn’t go anywhere else …the opening bars on ” Neon Diamonds ” heralds the entire album ….
LW Thank you, that was the goal! That introduction , the drums at the beginning, kind of feels like a show opener, it just worked, like ” Let’s get everyone to enjoy a live show!
10.LH And talking of live shows, I’ve been fortunate enough to catch you performing here in the UK several times….what’s your overriding memory of your visits here and how surprised are you that your music resonates with country music fans outside the US?
LW You know, i would never in a million years dreamed that that first of all country music would be a thing over there, you know? That’s a long ways away from where I grew up . But that’s the cool thing about it , we’re all a little more alike than we think! No matter where you grew up, really and truly we’re all pretty much somewhat raised the same. Country music is my heart and my soul, the only thing I’ve ever known, and it’s so cool to see people latching on to it and loving it. I tell you every single time I get to go over there it just gets better and better! The first time I went it was for Country Music Week 2018, and I was like ” no one’s going to know me from Adam” and they probably didn’t ’til they saw my name on the flyer, and they went and learned every single song! It means so much to me that somebody would take the time to look my stuff up and be prepared for the show. It blew me away …honestly, people over there on the other side of the world were singing my music back at me before people over here! I will never ever forget that and as long as y’all keep on having me back I’ll be there because it does my heart some good!
LH We’d have you back here tomorrow if we could! Hopefully at some point in the near future anyway, fingers crossed!
11.LH In the meantime, how’s the rest of 2021 shaping up for you …as much as plans can be made at the moment!
LW It’s looking good right now you know. We’ve got some shows on the books, hopefully they do happen, I’m sure they’ll be socially distanced and all of that, June is looking like we might be getting back on the road with a few shows . And I’m also getting back into the studio, cutting more songs, i feel that now more than ever people need music so I’m just going to keep cranking them out! And really taking this time I’m NOT super crazy busy on the road to really dive into my songwriting because there will probably be a time in my life that i’m so busy on the road I don’t have time to focus on that. So it’s gonna be good. We’ll figure it out…I’m ready of some live shows man I’m telling you right now!
LH Yes I know we all are…..Thanks for your time today, keep warm and I can’t wait see you back over here again!
Hi there ( or should I say Howdy Y'all??)
So excited to be part of the Think Country team, I am a massive music fan with Country and Americana being my particular passions! Great to see their rise in popularity here in the UK. Just love great lyrics, vocal harmonies and a song with a story! Throw in some steel and I am in heaven.....
I have a serious gig-going and cowboy boot collecting habit, which I am sure some of you can relate to! Occasionally I pick up a guitar and try my hand at songwriting. I am also passionate about animal welfare, and have recently left the London rat race behind to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle in Buckinghamshire with my rescue dogs and cats. Cowgirl Lesley. xx