Nashville Songwriter Luke Laird Talks Kacey Musgraves, Eric Church, and Kendrick Lamar

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Since contributing to Carrie Underwood's 2007 "Last Name," 2012 BMI Country Songwriter of the Year Luke Laird has netted almost a dozen chart-toppers, penning hits for everyone from Eric Church to Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert. This year, on top of work with Tim McGraw and Little Big Town, he'll have a handful of tunes on Kacey Musgraves's Nashville debut, Same Trailer Different Park. We talked to Laird about his songwriting process, his love of hip-hop, and what it's like to work with Kacey.

See also: With "Merry Go 'Round," Kacey Musgraves Starts Writing the Future of Country

First of all, where are you from and when did you first start writing songs?
Okay, I'm originally from a little town called Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania, and I honestly started writing songs probably when I was in like first grade. Just as soon as I learned how to play an instrument.

And how did you get to write songs professionally? When did that happen?
Well I came down to Nashville...I graduated high school in 1997 and I moved down here to go to Middle Tennessee State for college. And I was doing their music business program but I picked that school just 'cause it was close to Nashville. And just started playing like open mic writer nights and all that in Nashville until I started to get some interest from publishers and all that stuff.

Did you have a moment that you might call like a big break or did it more slowly, over time happen?
I think it just kind of happened slowly over time. When I signed my first publishing deal I guess that felt like a big break, and then I realized that really doesn't guarantee anything. But I think there's just different moments over time.

I know you've written a lot of songs for Carrie Underwood. How did that happen? How did you guys link up?
I had written a lot with a girl named Hillary Lindsey who had written some of Carrie's, like, some of her biggest hits on her first album. Hillary and I were friends and we had written a lot together. So Carrie's management put Hillary and I, you know, together with Carrie. They thought, 'Okay, this'll be a good combo.' So that's kind of how that came about. I had worked a lot with Hillary and Carrie obviously had known Hillary and recorded her songs, so they put the three of us together to write, and, uh, it worked out.

What is it like writing songs for someone like Eric Church who's also a great songwriter in his own right? Do you approach it differently?
I mean every artist is different, but it's fun working with Eric, or Kacey Musgraves. They're both... I definitely feel like they know who they are for sure as artists, and they're great songwriters. I mean they both started out as songwriters before they had record deals. And so it's fun because when you get in a room with an artist like that, they already know what they want to say or what they're not gonna say. It helps when you're with an artist who has a vision, and then I just kind of try to help them do what they already do. Just try to make it as best I can. Or best that they can make it. So it's a lot of fun.

See also: The Ten Best Country Albums of 2012

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