HomeEF CountryInterview: Laci Kaye Booth reflects on a tumultuous year & looks ahead...

Interview: Laci Kaye Booth reflects on a tumultuous year & looks ahead to all the music yet to come

Texas native Laci Kaye Booth first came to the world’s attention when she auditioned for ‘American Idol’ back in 2019. Highlights included a duet with Brett Young on his hit song ‘Mercy’ as she made it all the way to the Top 5 of the competition.

After signing a deal with Big Machine Label Group she released her debut self-titled EP in August 2021. It featured eight tracks all co-written by Booth. Stand-out songs like ‘Shuffle’ and ‘Treasure’ were particularly well received when she played the C2C festival in London this year too, building a buzz on our side of the Atlantic and winning over international fans. Since then she has parted ways with Big Machine and also exited from a personal relationship of five years too. What a tumultuous 2022 for this talented and original artist! Booth has just released ‘Damn Good in a Dive Bar’, her first release since becoming independent and we were thrilled to grab some time with her to talk all about it.

Thanks for giving us your time today, it’s lovely to speak to you and touch base about this next phase of your career.

Absolutely! Thank you for taking time to talk to me.

We last spoke when you were over here in England for the C2C festival last March. What memories did you take back home from that trip?

Mainly that I want to be back there as soon as possible! (laughing) I loved every second of being in London. People just really seemed to enjoy the music. I had so many songs that I played that people hadn’t heard and yet they were just so excited to hear them and to be listening to Country music.

I got to see a little bit of London. It was a pretty short stop-over but I got to walk around some nice parts of London and do a little shopping, which was really cool.

You’ve had something of a rollercoaster year in both your personal and professional life. As we come to the end of 2022 are you in a better place emotionally now than when you were in the summer? (Laci parted ways with record label Big Machine in the summer and left a five year relationship in October)

Absolutely! Oh my gosh, I was just thinking about this last night. Looking at what life was like in June and what it’s like now is like looking at two completely different worlds for me. I am in such a better place now, I really am.

Did you see the split with Big Machine coming or was it something of a surprise?

You know, it was a surprise at the beginning of the year when I found out it was going to happen. I’d known for a couple of months that it was possibly going to happen and I did see it coming in the way that I knew it had to come, you know? I wanted to have more creative control over my work and that was the only way that was going to happen.

I guess you now have a freedom in what music you release and when you release it too instead of having to work around label schedules and resources?

Yes, I do! I’m still with ’19 Records’ from American Idol but they give me all the freedom to do what I want to with my music.

Coming from Idol into Nashville did you have to learn to co-write with other writers and artists or was that something you were already doing?

I had only ever written by myself before I moved to Nashville so co-writing was definitely something I had to learn how to do! Honestly, it is way easier writing a song with other people, you have multiple brains to bounce ideas off and I can see why it is so beneficial in Nashville.

One downside of not being on a major label, maybe, is that they can get you into rooms with the best writers. Is that something you’ll need to work out now you’re independent or have you already built up some strong relationships?

When I signed with Big Machine there was a definite change in the names I was getting to work and write with, for sure. Before I was on that label, though, I was already writing with some incredible people that were sweet enough to reach out to me which I was very grateful for, so I have made some lovely connections in town which I hope to always be able to call on.

If there is one writer that you could sit down with and write your next song that you haven’t worked with yet, who would you ask?

Oh my gosh. I would love to write with Dean Dillon, he’s incredible! I love his songs.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists coming out of shows like American Idol or The Voice as they moved to Nashville looking for a Country music career?

I would say, especially to female artists, that they need to learn how to say no and how to stand up for their own vision. You need to be very clear about your vision and your sound and you need to really know who you are as a person and as an artist before you ever go into any meeting with a label.

I had to find that out as I went along (laughing) so I would encourage other artists to work it out upfront, beforehand! I now have a good team around me that I’m thankful for and my family has always been very supportive of me too.

You’ve also come out of a five year relationship with your partner. You’re not doing things by half this year are you? Did the split with Big Machine give you the strength to be able to make tough decisions in your personal life as well?

You know what, I think so! There was just a lot that happened but it did give me strength. I had to look at toxic situations and work out what I needed from it to thrive and move on, in both ways, right? It was easier for me to make the decisions and stand up for myself because I hadn’t been doing that. It’s an empowering feeling, for sure, when you can look back on situations and know that you’ve made the right decisions.

You released a snippet of ‘Overnight’ on TikTok as a response to your leaving your ex-partner but you’ve released ‘Damn Good in a Dive Bar’ as your new song on Spotify. Why that song first? They say hurt people create better music, so we can’t wait to hear everything coming down the line from you in 2023!

The month after I left Big Machine I went up to Michigan and recorded a whole bunch of songs. ‘Overnight’ hadn’t been written yet at that point as I hadn’t gone through the break up. ‘Damn Good in a Dive Bar’ was written then and I knew right away that I wanted that to be my next single.

I have been writing a bunch of really hurt songs! (laughing) I do like to put some of them out on TikTok just to see the reaction to them because I am so excited about them. I do agree that ‘Overnight’ needs to be out sooner rather than later!

If you could see my notebook right now you would see that it is full of ideas and I’ve written a whole load of heartbreak songs in the last few months!

I love the dreamy, original vibe of ‘Damn Good in a Dive Bar’. It occupies a whole new, unique space. Is that something you are purposefully trying to do?

Absolutely. This is what I wanted to do from the very beginning. Sonically, I wanted to be very dreamy. I, unfortunately, didn’t get the chance to show everybody who I wanted to be. Some of that was because of opinions that were being fed to me and some of it was me doubting myself and asking whether I needed to be super-Country when I first came out of the gate, so that Country music would like me. I was just flip-flopping backwards and forwards.

Now I get to show people my vision and what I always wanted to do.

How are you finding juggling the business side of things, like being your own tour manager, with the creative side?

Being on the road with Blanco Brown, I’ve just been driving me and my guitar player around the country! (laughing) Yeah, being my own tour manager has been great for me, it’s given me a lot of strength finding out I can do things like that and be in charge of my own arrangements. Its been hard, being out on the road, as a woman, by yourself, but it’s also very addictive!

You’ve lived a large part of your life, from Idol, to Big Machine to TikTok, very much in the public eye. Do you find that intrusive or is it a comfort and a support to you and how do you deal with negativity online?

You know, at the beginning it was quite tiring and I struggled to show a lot of my personal life but now that I’m sharing the difficulties, I’ve been getting some incredible support from fans that has meant everything to me.

I got the majority of my negative comments when I was on Idol. I learned to turn off the notifications on my phone. It was better for me to experience it that year and learn how to get used to it because it then gives you a thick skin and the strength to carry that forward into your main career.

What’s coming down the line for you in 2023 in terms of more new music and shows?

We’re in talks regarding some tours for next year right now, so I am crossing my fingers for that. When it comes to new music I have so many songs to choose from – I’m possibly teasing too many new songs on TikTok right now (laughing) which might make people frustrated that they can’t go somewhere and listen to them!

I’m not sure whether to release the new songs as singles, an EP or even an album right now. I haven’t made that decision yet but I’d love to do something long form, like an EP or album, because the songs are there and they are ready!

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