During the past five years, Laura Veltz has emerged as a top tier songwriter in Nashville. She has co-written three, Top 5 country hit singles, including the recent #1 hit “I Could Use a Love Song” by Maren Morris. Her other hit songs are “Lonely Eyes” by Chris Young and “Drunk Last Night” by Eli Young Band.
Impressively, Veltz wrote four songs with Morris that were released on her acclaimed album, Hero. This includes “I Could Use a Love Song” and the song “Rich,” which will be Morris’ next single.
It was in 2008 that Veltz moved to Nashville from New York. Interestingly, she was in a pop-rock band called Cecilia (with her sister, brother and parents) that was signed to Atlantic Records. When the band eventually broke up, she settled in Nashville and decided to write songs for other artists. Veltz is signed to a publishing deal with Big Machine Music.
Besides writing songs for the artists listed above, Veltz has also had cuts with Reba McEntire, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, Jana Kramer, Carly Pearce, Little Big Town, The Cadillac Three, Maddie & Tae, and Devin Dawson. Veltz also enjoys performing her songs live in Songwriter Round events.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Laura Veltz. She tells how she got started, and how she co-wrote hits for Maren Morris, Chris Young and Eli Young Band.
DK: Where are you from originally?
Laura Veltz: Well, I moved a lot around as a kid, so I’ve never had a home base kind of feeling. However, I lived in New York City for 10 years before I moved to Nashville in 2008. So I say I’m from New York.
DK: How did you get started as songwriter & musician?
Veltz: I was in a band called Cecilia with my family for 10 years, starting in 1998, and we were signed to Atlantic Records. It was me, my sister, my brother and my parents. I played guitar, accordion [and other instruments]. We toured through the United States and all that fun stuff. We did it independently and with a label at different times.
Then in 2008 when I was 28, I discovered that I wasn’t enjoying being in a band or being a front-person. And the part of the job that I liked best was the songwriting. So I called a family friend named Kye Fleming, who’s an incredible hit songwriter in Nashville, and I asked her about co-writing. Our band had toured through Nashville, and I’d never seen that kind of music before…the storytelling. I remember the first Songwriter Round I went to was at the Broken Spoke Saloon. I saw a Songwriter Round for the first time, and I think I cried the entire time (laughs), because I loved the stories everyone was telling. They were just tugging at my heartstrings. I just loved the way the music was coming out, and I fell in love with songwriting then. I was drawn to the storytelling style of songwriting. So I feel really lucky…I moved to Nashville and it’s been amazing ever since.
Here’s the video of Maren Morris’ hit, “I Could Use a Love Song,”
which was co-written by Laura Veltz.
DK: What was your first big break as a songwriter in Nashville?
Veltz: Well, one of the reasons I moved to Nashville, was that I met this girl, Hannah Blaylock, who was the lead singer of this band, Edens Edge. They weren’t signed, and I wasn’t signed, and we just clicked…we were writing like crazy. At the time, I was bartending and waiting tables, and writing with them pretty much exclusively. But then they ended up getting signed to Big Machine Records, and I ended up getting signed (to a publishing deal). So it was a big break, when they put four songs of mine on their album. It was a huge moment in my career…for anybody to cut my songs was thrilling.
DK: In 2013, you had your first hit with Eli Young Band’s “Drunk Last Night.” How did you collaborate with hit songwriter Josh Osborne and place it with Eli Young Band?
Veltz: Well, Josh Osborne was one of the first really revered songwriters that I wrote with. His achievements at that point were incredible, and his songwriting was amazing. So I walked in, and I had this big idea that I presented to him. Then we started working on it, and in the middle of it I just said, “Oh Josh, I’m not gonna lie to you, I got a little drunk last night and my brain is a little fuzzy.” And he just launched right into the first line of the song, and we totally switched gears from this other idea. Up to that point, I had never been in a room where something felt so easy and natural. It was just like a cheerleading fest and we really enjoyed unfolding the song. It was so fun—the song was written in probably an hour.
It took a while to record the vocal and finish the demo. I felt the song was a hit, and I presented it to my publisher Mike Molinar at Big Machine Music. Mike had an office at Big Machine’s A&R building, next to Allison Jones’ office (Senior VP of A&R). And through the walls Allison Jones heard it, and just popped her head in and said, “Can I put this song on hold for Eli Young Band?” And it was one of those magical Nashville moments, where everything just lit up. I think it was cut within two weeks. When it later became a hit, it was a huge moment in my career.
DK: A year later, you had another hit with “Lonely Eyes” for Chris Young. How did that song come together?
Veltz: That one was written with Jason Matthews and Johnny Bulford. At the time, I was really falling in love with my now-husband, Wesley, and my heart was just exploding (laughs). I don’t remember the details, but the idea of talking about “eyes” had come up. We hadn’t landed yet on the word “lonely,” but we definitely had the word “eyes” and the melody. I got really fixated on the feeling you have when you’re falling in love, and where someone’s eyes go…it’s just the most interesting thing (laughs). If they dart across the room, you’re noticing. And if they’re looking at their watch, you notice it. And falling in love with my husband was definitely an integral part of what I contributed to that song.
Here’s the video of Chris Young’s hit “Lonely Eyes,” which was
co-written by Laura Veltz.
DK: How was the song placed with Chris Young?
Veltz: Johnny Bulford is really close with Chris Young, and Chris heard it pretty quickly. He said, “Oh, I’m cutting that song.” And of course, you hear that all the time, and you learn not to believe it (laughs). As much as an artist might like a song, the truth is they’re going to be thrown 55 more songs in the next month. But Chris ended up cutting it, and the record was released and I was super proud.
“Lonely Eyes” was the third or fourth single released from Chris’ album. I have twin babies—a boy and a girl—with my husband. At the time, I was pregnant, and we were just getting off the high of “Drunk Last Night” being a hit and I had given birth to my babies. Then two weeks later, I learned that “Lonely Eyes” would be Chris’ next single. It was just perfect and beautiful timing, because when you have children, nothing should distract you from the thing you’re trying to do…parenthood. Having a single on the radio just literally sent me into such a place of ease with becoming a mom and learning how to do that. So it was a miracle…it was such a timely thing.
DK: More recently, you have four songs on Maren Morris’ hit album, Hero, including her hit “I Could Use a Love Song.” How did you hook up with Maren?
Veltz: This happened considerably later. I don’t remember who hooked us up, but I do remember seeing her at a Songwriter Round about a week before my writing session with Maren was scheduled. I was just completely blown away by her vocals and her song prowess. So I was really happy about writing with her.
The first song we wrote (with Brett Tyler) was called “Sugar.” We all instantly knew that it was special, but this is another song that required two sessions. We had written the song and we liked it, but I think over a Christmas break we were thinking that the song might need a little tune-up. So we came back to the session and finished it, and we knew it was so good. I think it’s been the opening song for her concerts, and it’s also the first song on her album.
DK: Congratulations on “I Could Use A Love Song” becoming a #1 country hit. How did you, Maren and (hit songwriter) Jimmy Robbins write this song?
Veltz: We had all been good friends at this point. Jimmy is also a dear friend of mine. Here’s the story: I was on my way to the session, and I got pulled over by a cop for an expired tag or something. And I was just in a grumpy mood (laughs). So I was running 30 or 40 minutes late. When I arrived at the session, it turned out that Maren had an equally crappy morning, and so did Jimmy. And we were all just commiserating over about it. Then someone said, “Well [screw] this…let’s go drink.” So we ended up at Losers, this bar in Nashville. So we went there and we’re sitting outside and we’re just chatting, and it was pretty much, “We’re gonna drink and get stupid today.”
Here’s the video of Eli Young Band’s hit “Drunk Last Night,”
which was co-written by Laura Veltz.
At some point Jimmy asked Maren, “What does your record need?” And Maren, who talks in titles, says “Well you know, I could use a love song.” And we were like, “Oh my gosh, that’s something.” And by the time we got back to the studio, the title melody was pretty much done…we were just singing it on the way. It was just so fast…the song wrote itself quickly, and we were all buzzed on something. The melody is so rangy, and I think it’s because we were so uninhibited (laughs). And I’ll never forget Maren singing that demo vocal, and she had this rasp in her voice, and it was like Oh my god, it was the most awesome thing. And I think Maren was like, “I’d like to keep this one.”
DK: Thank you Laura for doing this interview. Do you have other cuts and singles coming out that you can talk about?
Veltz: Yes. I just found out that “Rich,” another song I wrote with Maren (and Jessie Jo Dillon), will be Maren’s next single. I also have a song called “We Went to the Beach” that’s on Little Big Town’s Grammy-nominated album (The Breaker). And I’m also excited to have cuts with Carly Pearce, Brothers Osborne, Devin Dawson, and Maddie & Tae.