During the past three years, Nashville songwriter Laura Veltz has become one of the hottest songwriters in country music. In just the past 18 months, she’s co-written three number one hits: “The Bones” (Maren Morris), “Speechless” (Dan + Shay) and “What If I Never Get Over You” (Lady Antebellum). These singles have kept Veltz’s name on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and on the Hot 100 pop chart throughout this period.
These three big hits are the culmination of a seven-year period, where Veltz has co-written four #1 country hits plus three more Top 10 hits. On top of this, she has co-written multiple songs on Maren Morris’ two best-selling albums, Hero and Girl, and she’s had multiple cuts with Dan + Shay, Lady Antebellum and other artists.
Veltz, who is originally from New York, first made her mark in 2013, when she co-wrote the #1 hit “Drunk Last Night” for Eli Young Band. Then a year later, she co-wrote the #2 hit “Lonely Eyes” for Chris Young.
Notwithstanding these fine credits with Eli Young Band and Chris Young, it’s been her hit songwriting collaborations with Maren Morris that have elevated Veltz to a top tier level. Impressively, she wrote four songs with Morris for her breakthrough album, Hero, and two of the songs (“I Could Use a Love Song” and “Rich”) became hits. Here’s the link to our 2018 interview with Veltz, where she tells how she got started and how she co-wrote these hit songs.
For Morris’ latest album, Girl, Veltz co-wrote five more songs: “The Bones,” “To Hell & Back,” “The Feels,” “A Song for Everything” and “Flavor”. Notably, Girl was named Album of the Year at the 2019 CMA Awards.
Currently, Veltz appears likely to continue her hit streak on the charts. Morris has selected “To Hell & Back” to be the single that follows up “The Bones.” And Lady Antebellum has just released “What I’m Leaving For” (co-written by Veltz) as their new single.
Veltz has also co-written songs for Kane Brown, the Highwomen, Ryan Hurd (the single “To a T”), Reba McEntire, Little Big Town, Carly Pearce, Cassadee Pope, Jana Kramer, the Cadillac Three, RaeLynn and other artists. She is signed with Big Machine Music & Warner/Chappell Music Publishing.
Here’s the video of Maren Morris’ hit “The Bones,” which was
co-written by Laura Veltz.
In addition to her songwriting projects, Veltz is nearly finished writing a book about songwriting (with Tracy Hackney, who is her financial advisor). The book will be a handbook for songwriters, and focuses on both the creative and business sides of songwriting.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Laura Veltz. She discusses her songwriting process, and she tells how she co-wrote her recent hits “The Bones,” “Speechless” and “What If I Never Get Over You.”
DK: We last spoke two years ago, for your first article with us. Besides writing your new hits, can you talk about your life and career since then?
Laura Veltz: Oh my goodness, so many things. It feels like it’s been a slow and fast explosion…just one thing after the other. It’s been an honor and a shock to see things happen so quickly, but then also be so resonant…things have just hung around. [“Speechless” and “The Bones”] have hung around longer than they normally do (on the charts), so it’s been a very interesting thing to witness. I’m so proud of me and my team, and my co-writers and the artists that sing these songs.
DK: Currently, your song “The Bones” has been number one on the country chart for four weeks. How did you, Maren Morris and Jimmy Robbins write this song?
Veltz: That was one of the writes we had after Maren’s album, Hero, was coming to a close. She was starting her next project, and wanted to zero in on what she wanted to say. I know Maren pretty well, and especially as a songwriter, I feel like the weirder the idea, the better with her. So I throw out my strangest, most left-footed (laughs) ideas to her, and she’s always a “yes” in a situation like that. So I threw out the idea of “The Bones.” At that point, my husband and I had been looking for a new house, and the phrase “Oh, well the bones are good” was said so many times. And I thought…what a cool way to look at love and a cool way to look at a lot of things. As much as it’s a love song, I feel that the song can be applied to anything that’s like …if it was built right, it’s going to stand at the end of the day.
Here’s the video of Dan + Shay’s hit “Speechless,” which was
co-written by Laura Veltz.
So it was such a neat thing…it’s a wonderful thing to add a layer of love to an idea that seems unrelated. That’s one of my favorite things to do in songwriting. And I was so grateful that Maren and Jimmy wanted to write it with me. I’m proud of the way it fell out, and how honest and transparent it is, especially with regards to what real love looks like, which is that it’s challenging but it’s worth it.
DK: You wrote five songs with Maren for her Girl album, and you wrote four songs for her Hero album. Can you talk about your collaboration and friendship with Maren?
Veltz: Maren is one of those people that a songwriter dreams of finding. She’s a magnificent songwriter, and a ridiculously talented vocalist, and one of the coolest people you’ve ever met. I’m just a fan; as soon as I saw her play, I was like…I have to be a part ot this. Then we wrote a song which was “Sugar,” and it all fell out from there. So I feel so lucky to have found her. I think that songwriters are really lucky, when you can find an artist to collaborate with, where you speak the same language, and you know how the other one thinks. Maren and I are close friends, but at the end of the day, the easiest part of my relationship with her is writing songs.
DK: Last year, you co-wrote the big hit “Speechless” by Dan + Shay, which is a very romantic, positive song. How did you write “Speechless” with Dan + Shay, and Jordan Reynolds?
Veltz: I was writing with the boys and Jordan, who’s a frequent collaborator.
Man, it was one of those days where Dan (Smyers), who is a very picky co-writer, wanted to make sure that whatever we start is going to be fantastic at the end of the day. So I think we threw out like 50,000 ideas (laughs), and at some point during the day, my daughter got sick, and I had to take her to my mother-in-law’s house. So I left for about 15 minutes, and by the time I got back, they had (the hook)…“Oh-oh-oh, Speechless.” So we started there, and I feel like Shay (Mooney) probably sang that out, because his gift is melodies. He’s so magnificent at writing melodies. And then Dan just aimed for the most perfect wedding dance song ever, and we wrote it as honestly as we could. [I think it was fate] that I was in the room, because I feel there’s a hundred ways to write a song about how a woman is perceived on that special day. But we wrote about her insides and her outsides, and all of her, and how much they know each other. We went into some great detail that resonates with people, and it makes me proud to know I’m a part of such a song.
Here’s the video of Lady Antebellum’s hit “What If I Never Get
Over You,” which was co-written by Laura Veltz.
DK: Besides “The Bones” and “Speechless,” you also co-wrote Lady Antebellum’s hit, “What If I Never Get Over You.” How did you co-write that song?
Veltz: I wrote it with three of my dearest friends, which was so much fun: Maren’s husband Ryan Hurd, who’s a close friend of mine, and Sam Ellis who’s a friend and neighbor of mine, and John Green, who I’ve been collaborating with for about six years. On that day, I had a write with Sam and John. Then Ryan called me and said, “Hey are you writing today? Do you mind if I crash the party?” So we were like, “Oh yeah, come on in.” And it ended up being his idea (for the song). So it turned out really well that Ryan invited himself at the last minute (laughs).
DK: You also wrote with Ryan Hurd, his single “To a T.” Do you write as much with Ryan as you do with Maren?
Veltz: I think I do. Actually, I’ve probably written more songs with Ryan because I’ve known him longer. Me and Ryan and Jimmy Robbins, we used to have this tradition where we would get together on a Sunday. We’d go out to breakfast, and then we’d write as many songs as we could in one day. And our record is four, and we wrote hundreds a songs back then. So I’ve written even more songs with Ryan, and he’s one of my favorite people.
DK: Do you ever write songs together with both Maren and Ryan?
Veltz: Yes, we’ve done that a handful of times. One of the first songs we wrote together was before they were a couple, which I find really fun. I remember thinking to myself…Man, these people sure are adorable (laughs).
DK: Besides the songs we’ve discussed, do you have other cuts or singles that have been recently released, or are coming out soon?
Veltz: Yes. Maren’s next single is called “To Hell & Back,” which I wrote with Maren and Jessie Jo Dillon. So that’s exciting. And Lady Antebellum’s new single is “What I’m Leaving For,” which I wrote with Sam Ellis, who I wrote “What If I Never Get Over You” with, and Micah Premnath, who is from L.A. And I’m tickled to have some more songs coming out, and there are a few things coming out on pop radio that I’m excited about.
Here’s the video of Ryan Hurd’s hit “To a T,” which was co-written
by Laura Veltz.
DK: Laura, what do you feel is your strength as a writer? When you’re in a writing session, do you mostly write lyrics, or music?
Veltz: You know, I’ve thought about this a lot. I’ve been called The Navigator. I love writing melodies and I love writing lyrics, and I’ll do anything that I can…I will do the instruments, I can sing. But my favorite thing about writing is being the director of traffic, and making sure that the bar is always high and letting other people’s talent shine, and making sure that we’re getting the very best out of the talent in the room. That’s my favorite role, and if I can keep doing that, that when the next generation of talented, young, fresh songwriters come in, I’m going to be able to help them learn the craft while they show me all the newfangled toys. So I feel that my favorite part of songwriting is just letting the room shine, and making sure that the true north of the room is the song.
DK: Thank you Laura for doing this new interview. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet, that you’d like to mention for this article?
Veltz: Yes, I’m writing a book about songwriting, and we’re now finishing it up. I’m writing it with my financial advisor, Tracy Hackney. He talks about how to manage your money as a songwriter, and I talk about how to manage your mind and your expectations. We’re trying to give people a soup-to-nuts approach to what it’s like to move to town, and how to start from scratch. Then when you have a hit, we tell what it’s like to have those challenges and growing pains, and walking people through that. And it’s all done with a sense of humor, so the book is kind of funny. I think it’s going to be wonderful, and it’s really meant to help people. I get so many questions on Instagram and Twitter, and it seems like they’re very similar questions. So I thought it would be fun to have something like a handbook. And it was my financial advisor’s idea. (At first) he wanted the book to be just about the money side, but we started talking about it and we immediately knew that we were supposed to write it together. So we’re excited about this new book.