Lainey Wilson is an up-and-coming singer-songwriter in Nashville who certainly is not afraid to make a fashion statement. She is carving out her own niche in the country music community, mostly while wearing her signature bell bottom pants, but don’t be fooled; Lainey’s appeal is much deeper than her image. Her songwriting abilities are striking along with her genuine personality, and appealing vocal style. We recently had the chance to chat with Lainey and she explained in her authentic Louisiana drawl, “I never had a plan B. I felt like if I do, this won’t work.” With a recently signed publishing deal with Sony/ATV, a newly released EP, and a video premiere on CMT it seems that her plan A is working.
Lainey Wilson has had quite the journey to where she is now from when her passion for music began forming. At 9 years old she started writing songs and at 11 she began adding in guitar. She casually brought up that her high school job was performing as a Hannah Montana impersonator, only acknowledging the job’s noteworthiness after being asked. She started with children’s birthday parties, got her own portable sound system and the gig quickly picked up steam. Every weekend for four years she was performing as Hannah Montana. Crowds everywhere from fairs and festivals to birthday parties and nursing homes enjoyed the act. Looking back, Lainey told us, “It taught me how to adjust to my audience and to always be on your toes.”
The influence of Lainey’s childhood became clear as it was repeatedly brought up throughout the interview. Reflecting on the origins of her signature look, she giggled before mentioning that her favorite pair of pants when she was five years old was a pair of bell bottoms. With some regret she mentioned, “I don’t know where those pants are now.” Bell bottoms became the answer for her when trying to standout, “I thought, what I could do that is different” and they accomplish her goal of wanting “to get on stage and everybody to feel love and free-spirited.” That free-spiritedness is encompassed in her song ‘Dreamcatcher,’ which was also inspired by the experiences of 5-year-old Lainey. At a sleepover Lainey’s friend had a dream catcher hanging over her bed and Lainey told us her friend’s mom explained ‘It takes all your bad nightmares away.’ Pondering on this memory, of course adult Lainey wrote a song. Wishing she could take others pain away regardless of the source, Lainey told us this was the most personal song for her on this EP.
Full of stories and a life of experiences that only pointed her compass toward Nashville, She moved five and a half years ago. Being from the small town of Baskin Louisiana, population 300, she experienced some culture shock becoming one of Music City’s 1.9 million residents and credits her “extremely supportive family” for helping her to “find a way to get here and stay here.” Determined to show everyone she really wanted it, she moved into a bumper-pull Flagstaff camper. Through a connection her dad had, she was able to park it in the parking lot of a Nashville recording studio. Lainey recalled “good times and hard dark times” in the trailer, including a time that she flooded it. Although Lainey remembers tons of fun writing sessions in the camper, she explained “I had an extremely hard time having the opportunity to write down on Music Row. They want you to pay your dues.”
Her years in the studio parking lot behind her, Lainey is looking to the future and cannot wait to release new music. With a sense of introspection Lainey told us, “My Momma has always told me ‘Lainey just be yourself.’ Where I’m at right now, I’m doing more than I ever have and I’m more myself than I’ve ever been.” She couldn’t begin to express how thankful she was for the opportunities her new publishing deal is opening for her and shocked us when she claimed “I always want to be the worst writer in the room.” She quickly backed up the quote explaining that she hopes for the opportunity to learn and grow from other talented songwriters. Judging by the lyrics that she has already produced, that may be a tough goal to consistently accomplish. Her entire 6 track self-titled EP is packed with creative and thought provoking lyrics.
When asked how she would describe her music to someone who isn’t familiar with her work, she responded, “country, honest, and fun.” This is exactly what you get from Lainey’s new self-titled EP along with stellar storytelling and thoughtful lyrical design. Citing Lee Ann Womack as one of her main influences, she told us, “I listened to her everyday growing up, if you listen so much it becomes a part of your own music.” All six songs on the EP were co-written by Lainey and showcase a variety of topics. She explained “I’ve written over 1,000 songs now and I feel that these are 6 of my best.” She easily admitted “It’s second nature to me; it’s a form of therapy,” when discussing her writing process.
She has an ear for budding talent too. She told us how she scored an early writing session with Luke Combs; “Funny, Luke hadn’t even moved to Nashville. I was at a performance of his and I had a gut feeling. I walked up to him and said, ‘You don’t know me, but I want to write with you.” Among her other recent successes, CMT premiered her video for ‘Workin’ Overtime.’ With excitement in her voice, she explained that she was “So excited. I woke up at 5 am to stare and watch it.” She shared stories of sitting and watching CMT music videos all day with her sister as a kid. When her own video came on it was truly a full circle moment.