UT student artist Lainey Gonzales adds unique twist to alt-pop country genre

Lindsey Ferris

The stress that accompanies the arrival of a new semester may have students looking for some new, soothing music. Look no further than fellow Longhorn, singer-songwriter Lainey Gonzales. 

Public relations senior Lainey Gonzales decided upon graduation she will try her luck as an artist beginning with her newest single. As a songwriter, Gonzales uses her everyday experiences with friends, school and life to create music. “Calm Down” is one song inspired by the stressful life of a college student.

“I’ve always performed, whether it was (in) my bathtub or outside in my front yard for neighbors,” Gonzales said. “I really didn’t start writing (songs) I was proud of until I was 19, my freshman year of college.”

Gonzales describes her music as alt-pop country and attributes her inspiration to singers such as Kacey Musgraves and Phoebe Bridgers. 

“I want fans to connect with (my music) emotionally, to take anything from it, good or bad,” Gonzales said. “I want them to feel something.” 

She admits she writes sad lyrics at times but said she wants to stress the importance of the underlying hope through it.

“I would be so honored if my lyrics helped people say something they wanted to say or feel something they needed to feel,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales doesn’t always work alone. Ryan Thiele, a producer from Sleepy Room Music, said he enjoys working with Gonzales because of the freedom he has to be creative while crafting her musical direction.

“Lainey’s music is special because it is both personal and universal,” Thiele said. “It is just as much her story as it is yours and mine.”

Nick Fisher, a biochemistry freshman and fan of Gonzales, said her music is light and fun to listen to. 

“I like her lyrics and general message behind her music,” Fisher said. “It’s a breath of fresh air but for your ears.”

Gonzales’s favorite song is “Calm Down.” The single is yet to be released but has already become one of Gonzales’s favorites. It was inspired by a phone call with her mom where she was told she didn’t need to have her life figured out yet.

Thiele loves the song for its unique musical flavors that combine indie rock with sparkly, smooth vocals and a solid rhythm section. He said it is an anthem for those who are struggling to find their way.

Gonzales has performed at a “Voices Against Violence” event and a rally for Beto O’Rourke, who ran for Senate in 2018. She said being a student performer has perks, such as performance opportunities from other Longhorns. 

“It was really cool to be a part of something so much bigger than myself,” Gonzales said.

The biggest challenge that Gonzales feels she is up against as a student performer is prioritizing class, work and music. But she said she is ready to take the next step in her career.

“People only take you as seriously as you take yourself,” Gonzales said.

“Calm Down” is set to be released mid-February on all music-listening platforms. Gonzales will be performing at the KVRX Music Festival on May 11 and 12.