2021 Song Contest Winner Q&A: “Walk” by Lauryn Marie

Written by Lauryn Marie

Interview by American Songwriter

American Songwriter: What made you decide to enter American Songwriter’s Song Contest?

Lauryn Marie: I had an assignment in my songwriting class with Victoria Banks at Belmont University to enter a song contest. I actually entered the first American Songwriter Song Contest in 2020 and got an honorable mention for my song “Party,” so I thought I’d try again for my assignment!

AS: How did you feel when you learned you won?

LM: I couldn’t believe it was real! I got the call in a hotel on my last day in Nashville for the semester. My mom had just come down to help me move out of my dorm; I was so glad that she was there to celebrate with me. It was just so validating and meaningful to me to receive this kind of recognition from a publication I’ve seen so many of my favorite songwriters featured in.

AS: What was your inspiration for “Walk”; Why did you want to write it?

LM: I wanted to share how I feel when walking alone at night because I know a lot of women experience the same thing. For the people who have felt it, I wanted them to know that they’re not alone in it, and for the people who haven’t, I wanted to show them how it feels so they can understand.

AS: What’s the story behind the song “Walk”?

LM: I went out for a walk one evening last year as the sun was going down. I was having a great time listening to music and getting fresh air when I suddenly became aware of the possible dangers of being a young woman walking alone at night. I typed a note on my phone that said: “I walk alone with my headphones on at night. Am I just pure and trusting, or flirting with death?” It’s dramatic, but it’s how I felt. That eventually became the lyric Call it trust/call it denial/Flirting with death and dust/teasing the fire in “Walk.”

AS: When writing a song, what comes first the music or lyrics?

LM: It depends. Sometimes I’ll start with a little lyric idea or a melody I’ve hummed into the voice memos on my phone. Usually, once I’ve gotten started with a chord progression or a few lines of lyrics, I like to write the music and lyrics together.

AS: What keeps you motivated as a songwriter?

LM: Songwriting is very therapeutic for me, so a lot of times I’m motivated to write because I need to get out my feelings somehow. Getting my thoughts written out helps me take a step back and almost distance myself from situations to get a clearer view. Consuming other art is motivating for me too; when I watch a movie, read a book, or listen to a song that I can tell has a lot of heart put into it, it motivates me to want to create something meaningful too. That happened to me recently when watching the movie Tick, Tick, Boom. Now I want to write a musical!

Ready to Enter the 2022 Song Contest?

American Songwriter’s 2022 Song Contest is now accepting entries! Get your songs in front of top artists and A&R executives and your chance to win $10,000

AS: How long have you been writing songs, and what are your songwriting goals?

LM: I have been writing songs since I was eleven years old, and I started teaching myself how to record and produce them when I was thirteen. My goal as a songwriter is to tell honest stories that either people can relate to or that will make them see things in a new light. I want to spread a message of hope with my songs and let people know that they aren’t alone, because I know that’s something I always need to hear. I’d love to continue writing, producing, and releasing songs that I’m excited about, and hopefully touring in the near future so I can share them with more people.

AS: Are there any songwriters, artists, or events that have especially inspired you lately?

LM: Maisie Peters is a songwriter who’s been really inspiring to me lately. Her lyrics are so fast-paced, witty, and catchy, and I admire her vulnerability in her songs. She inspires me to be open and honest in my songwriting while also not taking myself too seriously all the time. 

I’m also currently studying abroad in Northern Ireland for a semester, and that experience has been very inspiring. My life here has been so different from anything it’s been like before; I’m acclimating to a new place and culture while also experiencing a new level of independence and adulthood. I’m so grateful to get to be in this beautiful place and write about this new stage of life.

AS: What is your idea of the perfect song?

LM: A perfect song makes me feel something strongly, whether that’s joy or sadness or comfort or anything else. A perfect song is one that makes me stop whatever I’m doing and just listen; when a song can hold my attention and make me feel like I’ve escaped from the world for a few minutes, it’s done its job. I’ve made a playlist called “That Feeling” of songs that provide that escapism for me. They’re all very different, ranging from movie scores to pop-punk to acoustic indie-folk, but each one of them can take me back to a specific moment or feeling I’ve had, and that’s what makes them perfect to me.

AS: What’s the best piece of advice another songwriter has ever given you?

LM: One of the things my songwriting professor, Victoria Banks, said on our first day of class was to treat your songwriting/creative self as you would treat a child. When it’s not working, and your songwriting self just wants to throw a temper tantrum and quit, you have to take her by the hand and let her know that it’s okay; we’ll try again tomorrow. This has helped me to be kinder to myself during times I’m not able to write as much as I want. During the times when my writing is going well, it’s helped me to fully experience the childlike joy of creating something that I love.

AS: Who are your all-time favorite songwriters and why?

LM: My all-time favorite songwriters are Taylor Swift and Ben Folds. Both of them are incredible storytellers in different ways. I love how Taylor Swift can write a meaningful song in any genre; she has such a way with words and you can tell how carefully crafted every lyric of hers is. Ben Folds is an amazing musician and I admire his chord progressions and orchestral arrangements. I also love his conversational writing style and the unique topics he chooses to write about. Rockin’ the Suburbs is one of my favorite albums ever because it takes everyday stories of suburban life and turns them into heartwrenching works of art.

AS: What’s next for you?

LM: I don’t know exactly what is in store for me but I do have lots of dreams. I’m going to use the rest of this semester studying abroad to soak in lots of experiences to write about and work on my skills as a songwriter. I’d love to make a full album in the next couple of years, and I definitely want to tour. I’m just going to keep sharing my story through music and I’m excited to see who joins me on that journey.

Ready to Enter the 2022 Song Contest?

American Songwriter’s 2022 Song Contest is now accepting entries! Get your songs in front of top artists and A&R executives and your chance to win $10,000

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