INTERVIEW: Singer and Songwriter Lawnie Wallace
It’s not often I get to do an interview with someone who is truly open and candid about their life and their personal journey. Country music singer and songwriter Lawnie Wallace was gracious enough to take to time to talk to me about her new album, The Lost Years (available now to purchase), and to share the bittersweet journey that transpired and led to the creation of her most recent music.
In this interview Lawnie talks about her ten year hiatus, how she came back to writing music, and her love for phone apps and Macs. She even shared with us her favorite superhero! She is an absolute gem and it was a pleasure to speak with her. Check it out!
What is it like to be back in the music scene after your ten year hiatus?
For me it’s actually very surreal because it’s been such a long time since I’ve been in the music scene. I’m so overwhelmed with it all because I’m so close to the music and it’s my first time writing a full album all on my own and producing it along with the help of Ruben Huizenga, my other producer and help me bring out the music that was living in my head for so long. Coming back from the dark and back into the light again, it just makes me so grateful. If there was one word to describe how I feel it would be gratitude. I’ve had this chance again to bring my music to the forefront, so that people can hear me and hear the struggles that I have been through over the last ten years.
I was in the business at a young age and had success with the first album I did, but after that I felt that I had to find my way and after ten years of taking a step back from the music industry I had some time to go through some of the stuff that life has to offer. Not all was peaches and cream. I’ve been through some struggles, I’ve had some incredible tragedies, and some incredible and beautiful things that happened along the way as well. The essence of getting back in the industry after a ten year hiatus, for me, I am just totally enthralled. I am so grateful and blessed to have this chance to be speaking with you and to be getting my story out there.
I just want my fans and listeners to hear the Lawnie Wallace now, the music I produced way back in the day is a lot different than the music I make now. The Lost Years album is the first album I have written completely on my own, so I want my listeners to really listen to the lyrics and hear my take on life. This album is a journey through life with lyrics and melody and I want my listeners to be touched and walk away knowing so much more about me through my music.
You experimented with a sound that you called “Southern Fried Techno”. What was it like discovering this new sound?
When that sound came about it was in a stage of my life where I was just entering into my twenties and I felt like there was a little bit of a rebellious side of me. I had taken a break after leaving my recording deal and I wanted to experiment with the other sides of my personality as an artist. Ookee was the album where I experimented with “Southern Fried Techno” and it was my second album, and it never really got released to the public. So no one really knows what Ookee is about because they never got the chance to listen to it. I did reach out to a record company in New York and they absolutely freaked out over it. They were like, “What is this, it is so unique.” I met with them in New York and we were talking back and forth because that album, the Ookee album, that is a side of my personality that may not be let out again and it never really had the chance to release itself.
We were so close to signing the papers to release the album when 9/11 happened and that was a major turning point that set me, and everyone, off track. It’s sad because that album is really a unique album. People listen to it and they’re like, “Wow, I love it,” or, “What is that?” I think at the time with that Ookee album I was trying to take music to another level and open our ears up and try to cross over from the dance and techno sound with country. It’s a hard genre to break because country music is so honest. Writing that album was awesome. It’s a side of my personality that I hope one day is able to be released again. I’m glad you mentioned this because a lot of people don’t even realize that Ookee exists!
We need to get the word out about it!
Yeah, it needs to get out! There is so much to talk about in those ten years, I’ve had some real struggles. Four years into my relationship with my partner he became very ill and became paralyzed from the waist down because of it. He is still in a wheelchair. So you can imagine, me, just finishing up the Ookee project, ready to launch this into a whole other country, and then my partner becomes ill and paralyzed. I was faced with this new thing because I had this other human being’s life hanging in the balance and this career as a singer and songwriter. At the age of thirty I was faced with the fact that he could no longer walk. That took me off my track a bit, but there was never any question for me that I would help him through this struggle. Through that it helped me to the creation of my third album, The Lost Years. I’ve made three albums in my life and I want the world to hear this one and hopefully down the line Ookee will come out too.
It sounds like you’ve gone through quite the journey in your life and with your music.
I have. This is the thing, people don’t even know where I went! My first album which made the top eight here in Canada and top ten with the first single, it was crazy. I had some points of success in my teenage years and then of course I started living life. I became a little bit older and then I got this curveball thrown at me and then, “Whoa, my life has changed in the blink of an eye.” So these lost years which shares the title of the third album have been very true to my heart and who I am now as an artist. I just think that the world needs to know more about the music. I want to get the word out there so that people can hear it. Doing interviews like this, I’m just so grateful to be getting the word out there, and knowing that when you believe you can achieve.
I call my fans the “Lawnie Bugs” because of the symbolism behind the ladybug. It’s even incorporated into my name on my website! I really want people to see that to represent who I am because the definition of a ladybug is the protector of the crop. Years before the fruition of the ladybug I had gotten a tattoo on my foot with my mom, my cousin, and my nan. We had taken a ladies road trip together to Brunswick and on our way back we had all gotten ladybug tattoos on the same foot and on the exact same side.
It’s interesting that now, fifteen years later, the ladybug is so true to who I am. Like with my partner I feel like it’s my job to protect him and help him find who he is now on his journey. There was a lot of emotional turmoil and sadness that came out through that journey. The Lost Years album kind of started writing itself. Believing is achieving is my campaign and part of who I am. Going through the struggles that I have gone through and seeing my boyfriend go what he had to go through hurt. He’s trying to find out who he is and along with that I’m trying to find out who I am! The Lost Years is very true to who I am, I mean there were some low points and felt like I was lost. I didn’t know where I was going, how I was feeling, what I was doing, and it got to the point where I asked myself who am I? Who is Lawnie Wallace and what makes me tick?
Shortly after my grandfather passed away. I was asked to come to the funeral and sing. Here am I, helping my boyfriend through his struggle, and the music had never really left me, but I had stepped away from me for a while, and then my grandfather whom I was very close with passed away and I was asked to sing. I stepped up to sing and I remember it was a miserable day, it was raining and there was thunder, and I start singing ‘Amazing Grace’ and all of a sudden the sun comes out and it is shining on the back of my head. I felt the warmth on the back of my neck and the sunlight made the casket glow. This didn’t happen the one time, it happened again at a funeral that happened six months later for my grandmother. Again I sang and again the sun shone and warmed my face. The priest came over to me and the end and said, “Lawnie, you have a God given gift, you must use it. You MUST use it.” The chills came over my body because this wasn’t the first time this had happened, it was the second time! Unfortunately a year later my uncle passed away whom I was very close with. Once again it’s the same story, I was asked to sing, it was a miserable day and I start singing. It’s funny when I tell the story because people are like, “Pfft, I don’t believe that!” Three times the sun came out, as God as my judge it was a sign that came from the Lord when I sang at my family member’s funerals.
If it wasn’t enough that my boyfriend was just put in a wheelchair, I had all of these emotional struggles, and it was crazy feeling so lost, but then at the end of it all writing this beautiful album saying that even though I had all of these lost years I really found myself in them. It brought me back to my music and helped me get through struggles that probably most women my age would probably not know what to do with.
This stage of my life right now is so special to me. You go through these lost years, you can make those years and find out who you really are and never stop believing in who you are, follow in your passion, and just know that you’re being guided and you just have to look for the signs. For me I’m all about the signs, and energy, and how I feel, and karma, and all that stuff. That’s my story!
Wow, thank you so much for sharing that!
Yeah, that’s pretty much me in a nutshell (laughs).
Thank you again so much for sharing that. On top of your music, what are some things that you like to “geek out” over, or things that you are really passionate about?
I love the recording process of music. The way that I do it, I don’t know if you’d consider it “geeky”, but I find the whole process intellectual, yet easy to do. Oh, I love the apps, especially the one on the iPhone. I love the iPhone, by the way, I’m a total Mac person. I love how easy it is.
I downloaded this studio mini app which I absolutely love. For me being an artist I needed something that I could use on the go. The studio mini has all these different tracks and one of the tracks is just basic loops and it has different genres. Like there are five different heavy metal loops, and then there’s country, pop, R & B, and what have you. This app basically helped me write my album. I used to write all of my music on a piano, but then I got this techy mini app. I was in such heaven knowing that I didn’t have to spend all this money just to try to capture onto tape the music how I wanted to hear it. I’ll sit there for hours playing with this app, putting down some melodies, and then on the second track I’ll put some harmonies, and then on the third track some bass lines. I would sing all the lines because I heard it in my head, I didn’t have the instruments to play them to, but I’d hear it in my head. The studio mini app may have run it’s course though because I want to increase my creativity, so I’m going to start looking for a new app! I’m an app girl!
I’m a Mac person too, so I totally get it with the Mac love.
Once you go Mac, you never go back.
Totally! Alright, for my last question, what is your favorite comic book movie and why?
Ooo, my favorite comic book movie. Hmmm… I would have to say if I were being absolutely candid with you there is just something about Batman. I mean there’s Spiderman, and Superman, and Wonder Woman, but Batman, ooo! I’ve always been enthralled with that dark side. I mean I think everybody has a dark side and I love how Batman can hide away, and change his car to make it bullet proof, I don’t know he’s just a rock star! He is the rock star of all the different comic book characters.
You’re a woman after my own heart because he’s my absolute favorite!
Woo! That’s awesome!
Make sure to check out Lawnie Wallace at: