The rising country music star talks finding her sound and new single “Neon Diamonds”.
Grab your nearest Fender guitar and pick, cause we’re heading down the old town road for rising country star Lainey Wilson’s latest single “Neon Diamonds”. Leading us in with honeyed vocals and a country twang, the Nashville powerhouse effortlessly blends country sensibilities with rootsy rock to create a single that echos the likes of Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks. Bringing her old soul perspective to an ever-growing scene, the singer unravels her vulnerabilities throughout the song, while channelling a warm and organic sound.
“I feel strongly about saying what you think, saying what’s on your heart, but also thinking before you speak,” she says as she opens up on the song. “Sometimes it’s hard, to be honest, but at the end of the day, it ain’t doing anybody any good to not be. Every song we put on the record we basically asked, ‘Is this song saying what I’m thinking?’ If it’s not, it didn’t make the list.”
Starting her career at just nine-years-old, the singer pulled on inspiration from her farmer father who dreamed of a career in country music himself. With “Neon Diamonds” serving as a teaser from her upcoming album Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, we caught up with the rising star talking the evolution of country music, finding her sound and writing about cigarettes and tequila at just nine-years-old.
Check out the interview below…
Hi Lainey – how have you been during this uncertain time?
These uncertain times have been hard, but I have been bound and determined to not let this time go to waste. It’s crazy how much ground I have truly covered without being able to go anywhere. At the end of the day, I believe it’s important to embrace the uncertainty and live life in the moment.
How has it impacted your music and creativity?
This crazy time has impacted my music and creativity in an interesting kind of perspective-shifting way. I normally find inspiration through living life at a hundred miles an hour, having conversations with people, or just listening to what somebody has to say. It is extremely hard to reach for inspiration when you can’t leave the house. But on the flip side, it has made me reach down deep and search for what I really want to say.
How did growing up in Nashville – home of country music – influence you sonically?
I grew up in the village of Baskin in northeast Louisiana where we lived out every line to a country song – my Daddy is a farmer, we’ve got horses, and we’ve got a lot of wide-open space. I was surrounded by mostly country but always good music every single day. My Daddy would play Buck Owens on the guitar, we’d listen to Bob Seger on the tractor, my mama would dance to Dolly Parton in the living room, and my sister and I learned all the words to “Goodbye Earl” by The Chicks. I was raised on country, it’s who I am, so my music couldn’t really be anything but that.
Who were your musical heroes?
Dolly Parton has always been my hero. Aside from her genuine spirit and unforgettable presence, Dolly’s music has always spoke to my soul. She has a heart made of gold and you can feel it in her delivery. I’d say if we were all a little more like Dolly Parton, the world would be a much brighter place.. and we’d be walking around with big boobs and a good personality.
You were just nine when you started songwriting – and about cigarettes and tequila – where did you get this love of grit and music from at a young age?
I think it’s in my DNA. My Daddy is a farmer and traded horses when I was growing up. He was working sun up to sun down if not more so I had a good example of what it meant to work hard. I think the grit came from the life lessons I’d learn when my Daddy put me on an unbroke horse and told me to hold on. So I did – I held on real tight and I’ve carries that lesson throughout my journey so far. Just holding on keeps me going. As for the cigarettes and tequila, well that’s just things I would hear in all the good country songs. We didn’t have any alcohol in the house growing up. Or cigarettes.
Congratulations on your new track “Neon Diamonds” – what was it inspired by?
“Neon Diamonds” was inspired by living in the moment and not taking yourself too seriously. Everybody needs a good reminder to be present and just let loose.
And the music video has this rollicking, fun, feel-good vibe – what did you want to evoke with it?
The visualizer for “Neon Diamonds” was influenced by one of my favourite shows, That 70s Show. The intro always put me in a good mood and got me excited to watch the show. I wanted people to feel the same way and get excited about going out and having a good time when listening to the song and watching the video. So me and my girls made our own version of the intro singing along to “Neon Diamonds” and driving around Broadway.
The single is taken from your upcoming album Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin – what were the inspirations behind it? And why that name?
The title track, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’, is about being brutally honest with yourself and with the people around you. It’s not always easy saying what’s on your mind, but the truth will always set you free. I named the record Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ because we chose every other song on the record by how well it fit with the theme. If it wasn’t sayin’ what I was thinkin’, it didn’t make the record.
How does it feel releasing new music when most of the world is in lockdown/everything feels so uncertain – what do you hope your music will bring?
I hope people can listen to this record front to back and feel understood, accepted, and unapologetically themselves. I hope it brings a sense of peace, an escape, and joy. The power of music is insane and the way it brings people together is beautiful. I can only hope my music does that for people.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2021?
2021 has already been a great year for me. It truly feels like all the hard work is starting to pay off and things are coming to fruition. I plan on spending the rest of this year writing more songs and continuing to connect with my people and share music however I’m able, whether that be through a livestream, or hopefully in person. I am looking forward to getting back on the road, hugging necks, and making some noise!