Interview: Laura White

Laura White
Laura White

Laura White: “You’ve got to always tell your story”

The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Atherton, Lancashire, on her upcoming debut album ‘Woman To Woman’ which is now available for pre-order

Laura White is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter based in London. Originally from Atherton, Lancashire, she first rose to fame back in 2008 while appearing on The X Factor. Since then, she has built a successful career as a songwriter, writing for artists such as Bugzy Malone, Beverley Knight, and Rita Ora, as well as gaining a loyal fanbase as a solo artist. Notably, her composition New York Raining, performed by Charles Hamilton and Rita Ora, gained prominence when it appeared on the soundtrack of the hit US television series, Empire, and earned a Grammy nomination in 2015.

In 2016, White signed her first publishing deal with Peer Publishing UK and released her second EP, No. 95. The same year, she wrote and was a featured vocalist on the Galantis hit single, Love On Me. Now in 2024, White has recently announced that her highly anticipated debut album, Woman To Woman, is available for pre-order.

In our chat with White, she opens up about the inspiration behind the album’s title track Woman To Woman, the tips she’s received that influenced her writing, and what her Grammy nomination meant to her…

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First off, you’re working on your album right now, what can you tell us about your writing process?

“I’ve literally been writing the album for years. You know that’s how I started. So every song I’ve written for others or myself… sometimes I go in and think this could be a me song or another artist. So I’ve been doing the album for years and just collected my songs over the years. The album is now done and written.

“The album has songs on it from Cathy Dennis and Toby Gad and so many incredible writers and dear friends: Eddie Jenkins, Danny Jones… so many talents I love. There’s so many greats that I’ve written with. It’s a real soul-pop album, but all my true stories. The album is called Woman To Woman. They’re all really organic songs. It’s literally my passion project with songs that I’m just so proud of.”

Have you gotten any feedback or tips on your songwriting that has changed your process?

“You know, reading all the songwriter books like Shelly Peiken’s Confessions Of A Serial Songwriter. I love books like The Secret Letters Of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari [by Robin Sharma]. I love books like that keep your mind focused and remind you that you can attract anything in your life. And I love podcasts. I used to listen to Sodajerker for so long and And The Writer Is… So all these really helped me for a long time.

“I think the other tips are to just keep working with better people. Someone said to me once, ‘Try not to try never to be the best in a room,’ because then you aren’t constantly learning and listening to great songs. The more you listen and study the lyrics, and study the melodies, you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s amazing.’ Then it sort of rubs off.”

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And when you listen to a song, what is one aspect of the lyrics or the structure that you really keep an ear out for? 

“Every songwriter has their own thing that they naturally do more. My thing has always been melodies. I’m just such a melody person. I remember when I heard the Jessie J song Bang Bang, I was like, ‘Why did I not write that?’ I was so annoyed, haha. Because it was so incredible as a pop song, I just loved it so much and the melodies…

“Sometimes, I’ll be in a room and I’ll say, ‘We can rewrite again. We can rewrite and make the lyrics stronger and stronger.’ But every song I write, I definitely access my heart and tell a true story. Then, it feels real. I think you can tell if you write a song for someone and say, ‘Let’s write what they’d write.’ It never works out. You’ve got to always tell your story.”

You’ve worked with a bunch of different collaborators in your career and on your upcoming album. Is there any trait that you look for in a collaborator? Or is there any trait that helps you work best with people?

“I love a producer who is specifically a really great vocal producer. I think a great vocal can change the life of a song. For songwriters, just someone who’s very much unafraid to throw everything in. Someone like Cathy Dennis is such a genius of lyrics – and odd lyrics. Things like that are incredible. I love working with people that I like.”

If you could get any songwriter in the room tomorrow who would you have?

“Oh, my gosh, I’ve never written with Diane Warren. Just because she’s the one I’ve not yet written with and I would just die. I love her so much. I love the stories of Diane. I just love that she writes the songs and she doesn’t really sing. She sort of sketches a bit of a crazy vocal, and it’s always on a piano, which I love.”

Laura White

Laura White: “No one can stop you other than yourself”

Are there any specific themes as a songwriter or for your upcoming album that you have found yourself drawn to in your writing?

“My album is literally based on the stories of my life. So there have been stories of falling in love and stories of feeling let down; stories of missing home and keeping hope. It’s the journey of woman to woman; everything I’d want to say to someone that I wish someone had told me. That’s what it’s all about.”

Can you speak more about the title?

“Yeah. So the Woman To Woman track is a song on the album. I worked on it with Toby Gad. It’s a crazy story, but there was a boy that I liked and I saw him after we’d sort of stopped talking. I saw him when I was out walking one day and he was with another girl.  I think I actually jumped into a doorway at this point because I didn’t want him to see me.

“To this day, I never knew if he was actually seeing this girl or if they were friends. But it was the story me and Toby wanted to write – the story of when I met this guy, it was all so perfect at the beginning. Then, what I would tell her like, ‘I know now all these things he’s saying to you are perfect today, but you need to know this.’ That’s what the song was about and it’s actually like a country song on the album.”

Is that the song you’re most excited for people to hear on the album?

“I love that song, but there’s a song that I’ve wanted to release for about 12 years and it’s called Somebody Loves You. It’s a real classic pop song, feel-good song. I did another song with a couple of producers called Future Cut, which is called Not Today, which is a beautiful ballad. I just honestly love every song on the album, which I think is a lovely place to be in it. You know, if you are proud of it, it’s lovely.”

Once you put the album out what does success look like for you? And what’s your plan?

“It’s independent, so this year is literally going to be tours, to do shows. and I’m going to play it in as many places as possible. I’m going to do as much as I can and get all the fans supporting it. It’s going to be a real year’s labour of love, taking it to as many places as possible. I really believe in it and I love the process of driving it all year.”

How did it feel to get nominated for a Grammy for Rain In New York or just nominated for awards in general?

“Yeah, it’s still my dream, I’d love to win a Grammy or an Ivors Academy award. It’s so incredible to have dreams. I think the most wonderful thing about that story was writing songs for a good few years at this point. What happened was one of the producers heard by chance one of my own songs, To Be Loved.  They said, ‘I think she could write for Rita. Let’s bring her in.’

“I just thought, ‘I’ve got this one shot. I’m just going to go for it.’ Then I started writing the title before I went in, and I loved it. I thought about the story in my head and then I wrote the full song when I got in. Within about 10 minutes I had it all and then they came back and he was like, ‘She’s great just put it down.’

“It was so wonderful, because it was seven years of total focus and hard work to get an opportunity like that, and it was such a quick turnover. Then, when it got cut, I couldn’t believe it.”

You’re not from a musical family, is it extra special when you’re the first person doing it in your circle?

“Yeah. It was such a small tiny town called Atherton where I was from in Bolton. The people are so lovely, but they’d say things like, ‘You’re amazing, but these things don’t happen for people where we live.’ It’s harder for people to dream when you’re from a working class town I guess.’

“I felt like I was so inspired for everyone that had watched me gig – I feel for them as well as my music, I want to win for them and with them, and show all of us dreams can come true and no matter what, no one can stop you other than yourself.”

To find out more about Laura White and pre-order debut album, go to officiallaurawhite.com

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