Songwriter Spotlight: Lila Rose
THIS SPOTLIGHT IS DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS. WE DID AN ONLINE INTERVIEW WITH OUTLAW COUNTRY ARTIST LILA ROSE SINCE SHE IS NOW BASED IN WASHINGTON
Never feel at home no matter where I go // Say it’s this world but maybe there’s something wrong with my soul
1. Describe yourself, your music
and your artistry. What sets you
apart from other songwriters? Who
I am an Outlaw Country artist with a focus on storytelling and western sound. I have always loved the western lifestyle and western music, and try to incorporate western ideals into my songs. My main goal as a songwriter is to write and share stories of my life and experiences in a way that allows others to connect their own lives and experiences. Most of my songs tell a true story, though I do have a few songs that are, for the most part, made up stories. Songs that aren’t about my own life story typically stem from some feelings or emotions that I have towards something, and then I just find a way to turn those emotions into a western tale. I think the thing that really sets me apart from other songwriters is my focus on writing songs that are true to myself. I did not become a songwriter or artist to make money, I do it because I genuinely love music and love what music is capable of doing. My goal has always been to share pieces of myself and what I have gone through in life in hopes that my words reach and help someone who may feel like they have no one to turn to. Music saved my life at one point, and I want to spend the rest of my life making music that may save someone else. My biggest inspirations and influences are Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson, Tyler Childers, Colter Wall, and Ryan Bingham. Townes Van Zandt is definitely my biggest influence as a songwriter. He was so raw and real with his songs, even the ones that were made up. I aspire to be able to take a completely fictional song and make it feel 100% real just with emotion like he was able to do. Artistry wise, Colter Wall and Ryan Bingham are probably my two biggest influences. They are both a part of the western lifestyle and really translate that over into their music and brands.
2. Have you always been an Outlaw
Short answer: No. When I first started writing songs and performing, I didn’t really know what genre I fell into, so eventually, I just considered myself a country artist. But, the more I listened to what was considered to be “popular country,” the more I realized that was not at all what I was writing. I have always loved and been inspired by artists/songwriters such as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Townes Van Zandt, and once people started to mention that my music resembled those artists’ music, I decided to brand myself as an Outlaw Country artist.
3.What is the music industry like in
Washington compared to Nashville,
There isn’t much of a music industry in the part of Washington that I live in. I am from Eastern Washington, near the Idaho border, and this area is completely different than Seattle, which is what most people immediately think of when they think of Washinton. Seattle is known for its grunge music industry, but over here near Spokane, country music is definitely the popular genre as this whole side of the state is pretty much just rural, farm communities. But, the lack of music industry here does not mean people don’t appreciate music. In fact, I think people here honestly appreciate good music more than Nashville. It didn’t take long living in Nashville to realize that that city only cares about music that makes money (and let's be honest, music that makes money isn’t always good music), but here in Washington, people don’t care how much money a song makes or how many streams it has, they care about the song itself and how it makes them feel. The rural parts of Washington, especially, are really big on supporting independent artists.
4. Do you travel outside of
Washington for shows or planning
to go on the road for a tour?
I would absolutely LOVE to go on tour. It has always been a dream of mine to tour because I love to travel and playing music along the way would only make that better. However, I have a full time job with a booking agency in Austin, TX (I work remotely right now), so I just don’t have the time to do a full tour. I also don’t have a band yet. Right now, I am just playing shows in Washington, but I am working on maybe getting some shows booked in Idaho and Montana! I have had some terrestrial radio play in Idaho and a pretty decent following in Montana, so now it's just about finding some venues!
5. How do you feel the payouts
compare from Washington to
Nashville? Are you playing more
now than you were in Tennessee?
I am definitely playing a lot more shows here in Washington than I was in Tennessee, and I’m actually getting paid for these shows (like I said before, independent artists are much more appreciated up here). In Nashville, the feel was definitely more along the lines of the venue doing you (the artist) a favor by allowing you to play a song to a few people at the bar who won’t even pay attention. Here in Washington, most of the time, venues are reaching out to me asking me to play and genuinely wanting me to be there, and then people come out specifically to enjoy some live music. Everyone pays attention and interacts with artists here, and that truly makes such a difference when you are performing.
6. Would you rather be an artist and
promote yourself as such, or stay
behind the scenes as a songwriter
I definitely want to be an artist. When I first moved to Nashville, I tried to tell myself that I just wanted to be a songwriter, but there was no way I could do that. Songwriting is an outlet for myself, not a job. Once I turned it into a job and tried writing for other artists, all of my passion was lost. So, now I just write songs for myself as an artist, songs that are true to me and who I am. I truly love performing so much. There is no better feeling than being on stage and interacting with a crowd. When I was younger, I was bullied a lot and I was super insecure, and I definitely still battle with those same insecurities, but when I am on stage, I feel like I can be unapologetically 100% myself. All of my insecurities just vanish and I become the best version of myself.
7. How can people support you and
FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND STREAM MY SONG My artistry honestly lives on Instagram and Facebook, so when people follow me and like my page, it truly means the world to me. It feels like I’m adding another person to my family every time I get a new follower. It also completely makes my day when I see someone comment on my posts or better yet, SHARE my posts. Listening to my single, “Life Lived Wrong,” also helps immensely. I check my streams hourly (a bit obsessive, I know), but I love being able to see when people are listening to my song because it makes me feel so connected with people, which is why I got into music in the first place. Commenting on or sharing my social media posts and sharing my song with people, or even just telling friends about me and my music helps me as an artist SO MUCH. It costs absolutely nothing to press a share button or say my name to a friend, but it means the world to me.
8. What was the inspiration behind
LIFE LIVED WRONG?
I have always struggled with my mental health, and unfortunately, we live in a society that does not like to talk about or acknowledge mental health. I have battled with severe depression pretty much my entire life, but I never really wanted to admit that fact to myself or anyone else for fear that I would be told it wasn’t real or that I was just saying that for attention. So, for as long as I can remember, I have been absolutely miserable and I always tried to find some outside reason to blame my misery on. It started out with me blaming my hometown and the people I grew up with. That place and those people were the reason I was so unhappy, and moving to Nashville was going to solve all of my problems. But then I moved to Nashville and my feelings didn’t change, so I blamed Nashville and the music industry for my unhappiness and said that I would be happy once I left there and moved somewhere where my music would be appreciated. I was home for summer break last year during COVID and was sitting in my room feeling really mad and upset about everything and just wrote this song in like 30 minutes. I realized in that moment that my unhappiness had nothing to do with my surroundings or the people in my life, and everything to do with myself not allowing myself to be happy. “Life Lived Wrong” was my personal therapy session where I really came to terms with my depression and admitted to myself that I was never going to be happy unless I allowed myself to be. This song shows the deepest parts of myself that I never let anyone else ever see, parts that I never really let myself see. It is my heart and soul set to some music, and I knew as soon as I wrote it that it was going to be the first song I ever released.
9. Describe the production and release process. How many hours
did you spend and how many people
did you work with to get this single
This song release honestly came from my Demo Production class at Belmont University. One of our assignments was to produce an original song and I got paired up with Jackson Badgley, an incredibly talented producer, which was a godsend because I am horrible at producing music. Jackson knew I was a songwriter and asked if I had any songs I wanted recorded/would be okay with using for the assignment, and of course, I took that opportunity to get a demo of “Life Lived Wrong” put together. The demo for class was fairly simple and acoustic but turned out amazing, and our classmates and professor really seemed to like the song, so Jackson and I decided to keep working on it so that I could eventually release it. We recorded the original demo in Fall of 2020 and, with the help of Griffin Raco (mix assistant) and Morgan Bland (fiddler), had the finished master track in Spring of 2021. I have no idea how many hours actually went into the production of this song. Jackson is awesome and did most of it on his own (he also played the accordion track in the song and did all of the percussion which was literally him hitting a cardboard box and the back of a guitar). I had obviously never released music before but I had helped with a lot of music releases during my internships in Nashville, so I felt pretty comfortable dealing with the release on my own. I got married this summer, so the song release kind of got put on the back burner while I focused on wedding planning. I picked a random friday in July to release the song, promoted it for a few weeks before the release trying to get people to pre-save, and then really felt like I let myself down when release day came around. I beat myself up over the fact that I didn’t promote the release as much as I had originally planned and was convinced that I would get maybe a total of 1,000 streams total from my family and friends before the song completely died out. But then the streams kept coming and my song was being added to more and more playlists and people were sharing it. I was blown away by the amount of love and attention it was receiving. It gained over 10,000 streams on Spotify alone in less than a month of its release, and now, three months in, it’s been listened to over 20,000 times on Spotify. These numbers may seem small or insignificant to a lot of artists, but to me, they mean the world. That tells me that people have connected to my song, to my words, more than 20,000 times. I come from a town of 800 people, a county of 10,000 people, 20,000 streams is an insane number to me and I am still in disbelief.
10. How do you feel about streams
today in the music industry?
Does anyone other than the owners of Spotify actually like streams? Because I can’t think of a single songwriter who prefers them over downloads. From a consumer perspective, I get it, and I am guilty of feeding into it. Of course it makes more sense to pay $10 a month and have unlimited access to every song ever released versus paying $1 for every single song you want to add to your library, but from a songwriter/artist perspective, streaming isn’t the greatest thing that has ever happened. Now, that is really only when it comes to money, because we all know you practically have to have over a million streams before you see any significant payout. Today, the music industry revolves around online presence and following. The amount of followers you have and likes you receive on social media determine your success as an artist, and to me, streams fall into that same exact category. If you don’t have the streams or the followers, no one is going to take you seriously as an artist, and that absolutely sucks. I do however, fall into the streaming trap. I get caught up in how many streams I am receiving a day and get upset when I see a low stream day. I feel as if my worth as an artist/songwriter revolves around how many streams I receive, not around the actual quality of content I put out. Long story short, from a financial standpoint, I hate streaming, but from a societal standpoint, and knowing how the music industry works now, I get why streaming is so popular. More streams equals more followers which equals more attention from labels and therefore, more success.
LIFE LIVED WRONG is a beautifully written and composed song that everyone is going to relate to. There are important elements in this that brings you back to an old country song like the viola and acoustic guitar. There is a great and simple drum pattern behind her guitar and vocals. The production on this song is near perfection and I can’t stress that enough. Lila Rose’s voice captivates the listener and leaves them in a trance like state while listening to this song.
LISTEN TO “LIFE LIVED WRONG” HERE: