After a year of both personal and professional hardships, Laci Kaye Booth is back and better than ever. The country artist releases her new track, “Damn Good In A Dive Bar” today (November 30), marking her first independent release since parting ways with her record label, Big Machine Records.
“This past year has been a rollercoaster for me,” Laci says to Celeb Secrets reporter Ilana Epstein over the phone.
The Livingston, TX native captured America’s hearts each week when competing on American Idol in 2019. After finishing in the Top 5, the 27-year-old signed a record deal with Scott Borchetta and Big Machine Records, ultimately releasing buzzworthy songs like “Shuffle,” “Treasure,” “Don’t Call Me,” and “Heart of Texas.”
In recent months, Booth and the label — who houses artists like Thomas Rhett, Lady A, Riley Green, Brantley Gilbert, Danielle Bradbery, Brett Young, Carly Pearce, Conner Smith, Jackson Dean and Callista Clark — unexpectedly parted ways. While the split might come to a shock for many, Laci is embracing the positives of being an independent artist.
“[Being an independent artist], I feel more creative than I’ve ever have,” she shared. “There were hardships that came with being on a major label, and now, I have full control on what I create. It’s been really liberating.”
The shift in her professional career did not bring her down, as she immediately hit the writers’ room to write more songs, with “Damn Good In A Dive Bar” being one of them.
When asked how the song came to be, she said, “I was getting ready to go out with my ex-boyfriend this past summer and he was like, ‘where do you wanna go?’ And I said, ‘you know, I wanna go to the local dive bar…’ And I, jokingly, said, ‘because I look damn good in that bar.’ But as soon as I said it, I was like… ‘that sounds like a song.’”
A few weeks later, Laci posted a video on TikTok at the local dive bar she always goes to, teasing the song playing in the background and the lyrics on the screen. Since its release, the clip has over 250K views, prompting a release sooner rather than later.
Although Laci was going to release the song no matter what, she admitted to Celeb Secrets that if it wasn’t for the rapid engagement on the video sharing platform, it probably wouldn’t have been the her first release post-label.
TikTok has played an integral role in Booth’s latest musical ventures and she is forever grateful for the support. Getting vulnerable is never an easy task, however, the 27-year-old says that “the more vulnerable [she] is online, the better it feels,” as she finds that there are so many people that feel the same feelings she has had this past year.
“I’ve realized that the more vulnerable I am online, the better it feels. You know, ’cause there’s so many people out there that are feeling the same feelings that you are, and there’s so much support online that you can get,” she said.
Keep scrolling to read our full interview with Laci and let us know what you think of “Damn Good In A Dive Bar” by either leaving a reaction at the bottom of the post or by sending us a tweet at @celebsecrets.
Celeb Secrets: A lot has happened with the record label and you have a new song coming out. Tell me a little bit about how this past year has been for you.
Laci Kaye Booth: “This past year has been a rollercoaster for me, honestly. I have been getting to tour more than ever. I’ve had a lot of hardships and a lot of changes happen personally and professionally. But, now I feel more creative than I’ve ever been because of all those hardships. And now I have creative control to create. I know what I want when it comes to music and say what I want. So it’s been really liberating, honestly.”
Celeb Secrets: Amazing, that’s great to hear. I want to dive deeper into parting from the old record label. Tell me a little bit about that process what it’s been like for you and how you feel about being able to have more freedom.
LKB: “I parted ways with my label this past summer and it was really hard. I took a while to mourn it. There’s a lot of people over at that label that I love so much and still have great relationships with, but the visions didn’t align. That’s more common than you think in this industry. I took a month off after that happened and I went up to Michigan where my producer Ben lives and we created way too many songs then we thought we would. It was just the most incredible week of my life just getting to say what I want. We brought up a lot of old songs that I never thought would see the light of day. It’s just been so cool getting to hear and see my vision that I’ve always wanted to bring to light, you know.”
Celeb Secrets: That’s incredible Laci! So, your career and life in general has definitely been pretty public, especially since you got your start on American Idol. So what has it been like to be vulnerable online and have a lot of your life in the public? Do you enjoy it?
LKB: “It has been kind of wild these past three years just thinking about how it went from being a small town girl that just sits in the corner of bars and restaurants to having a public life. But with this new Tik Tok day and age, I’ve realized that the more vulnerable I am online, the better it feels. There’s so many people out there that are feeling the same feelings that you are, and there’s so much support online that you can get. I know online can sometimes be hate. But when you’re vulnerable, I feel like a lot of people step up and support you and show you how much they care, especially fans. It’s just been really good for me the last few months to have that support.”
Celeb Secrets: Going along with that, while being online can be great and you can definitely connect with people, sometimes it can be tough. How do you make time for yourself with mental health and all of that?
LKB: “I guess with social media, it’s really important for me to put the phone down and sometimes I put it down a little too much. But I realized during Idol that I had to turn my notifications off on my social media apps because I would sit there and look and sometimes see things that I wasn’t meant to see about myself. You want to hear what everybody thinks of you but I grew thick skin because of that. The positive comments mean more than the negative comments do, and there’s so many more positive comments than there are negative, but sometimes those negative ones can stick to your brain. So you just have to filter it out and just have support from your friends and family and fans.”
Celeb Secrets: Just one more question regarding social media. You shared a Tik Tok being super vulnerable talking about no longer being with your previous record label. And that TikTok gained a lot of traction. You said that a lot of people in the industry could connect with it, so can you just tell me a little bit more about that and talk about what it was like for you to put those kinds of videos out there?
LKB: “Absolutely. I think it was really important for me to record that and post it because a lot of people are about to hear a whole new version of me and I wanted it to make sense. I wanted people to realize that this is the real version of me. This is my vision. This is what I want to do. So it was important for me to be clear and also want my fans to know what’s going on and why I haven’t been able to release music in the last year. So I posted it and before I posted it, I’d sent it to my mom and manager and a bunch of other people like. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so nervous.’ It was a really good feeling reading some of those comments that were really supportive.”
Celeb Secrets: It was definitely great to watch and it must have felt awesome to put that out there. So I wanted to talk about your song, “Damn Good in a Dive Bar” which is coming out on November 30th. This is what you could say is your first release post parting from the label. So tell me a little bit more about this song and why is this the song that you wanted to put out first?
LKB: “I was actually getting ready to go out with my ex-boyfriend this past summer and he was like, ‘where do you want to go?’ And I said, ‘I want to go to the local dive bar that we always go to’ and he was like “Why, but you always want to go to a dive bar.” And I jokingly said “because I look damn good in that bar.” But as soon as I said it, I was like, that sounds like a song. And it’s very relatable. You know the lights are eliminated and just the atmosphere and the people are nonjudgmental in a dive bar. That’s what I crave when I go out and want to have a good time. I was like let me get a song about this and so a couple days later I had a zoom session with my producer, Ben W, who was in Michigan. I was in Texas. Our co-writer Melissa was in Florida. I don’t know why I always say that, but I think it’s interesting that we wrote it in three different states. I brought that idea into the zoom and they agreed to write it. I wanted it to all be completely true about my local dive bar. There really is a guy named David who does karaoke. My bartender, Brittany, always knows my order. I don’t even have to tell her what I want. She puts it down and she hands me it. It’s all very true and organic, and I wanted to make a homemade video in the dive bar that I like to go to. I did that and it was a stupid video. I posted it on Tik Tok, not expecting much, and it kind of blew up. It was really cool to see how all these other girls and guys really related to the song and I wanted it to be more than anything an anthem for girls.”
Celeb Secrets: You posting that on TikTok — was that before you decided that you were going to be putting this song out on that date, or did it blowing up on TikTok have anything to do with it?
LKB: “Yeah, that was the main thing. I put it up but it kind of blew up and I was like “Oh, I have to release this” and more than anything I was like it has to be released soon. It took a bit longer than we expected because of what had been going on in my career lately, but, Tik Tok kind of chose this one to be the one to release the next, not me. But it was going to be released no matter what.”
Celeb Secrets: It’s such a good song. I’m so excited for everyone to hear it. You said you wrote it together on the Zoom. It’s amazing that you have Zoom now to be able to connect to people, even when you’re all across three states, so can you just tell me a little bit more about the writing and recording process with that song?
LKB: “I came up with the idea and and and my producer asked me what I wanted it to sound like tonically and I knew it was going to be an anthem but in my own way. Shania Twain has this powerhouse that I don’t have; Nora Jones has a soft voice and and I listen to a lot of Nora and Stevie and Lana Del Rey. That was really the influence when we got into the Zoom. We just went with it and I think the vibe of the song is completely 100% right. The next music is very much in the same lane and I’m just really excited that it’s me. It’s what I want to put out in the world.”
Celeb Secrets: Laci, you said that you made so much new music this past year. So what can fans expect moving forward? Maybe a new album, a new EP, anything like that, that you want to share?
LKB: “I’m hoping for an album for sure. It’s going to be more than just the song ’cause we’ve recorded quite a bit of songs. I was just so in the zone creatively. When I got dropped from my record label, I took a month off and went up to Michigan with my producer and just created so many songs and a whole project basically. I don’t know what that’s going to be yet. Whether it be an album, EP or just a bunch of singles. But I’m so happy that I have Tik Tok and a lot of people on social media that are helping me out with what I should release next and what people want to hear from me.”
Celeb Secrets: You’ve been on tour with Blanco Brown, so what has that been like? What’s your favorite part about touring with him? What’s your favorite part about being on tour and getting to see fans and play your music?
LKB: “Oh my gosh, Blanco and his team have been so great to me and my guitar player. It’s just me and my female guitar player out on the road and we’ve been treated so great. I’ve gotten to witness how he can take a crowd and just have everybody up on their feet dancing. He’s just such a great performer and a great human. And I feel really lucky to be on the road with them. It’s been a grind, but it’s been such a blessing and I get to see why people get so addicted to being on the road ’cause it’s just so fulfilling.”
Celeb Secrets: What’s been your proudest moment that you’ve had this year?
LKB: “Oh gosh. More than anything, you know there’s been a lot of hardships this year, but my proudest moment has probably been getting to create this music in the way I want it and have full creative control over it. I’m getting to make a lot of new friendships and relationships within this industry and show everybody exactly who I am. That’s what’s been the most fulfilling.”
Celeb Secrets: Since we are Celeb Secrets, do you have a secret or something from the tour or about your music or yourself or behind the scenes that we wouldn’t know from just listening to your music or looking at your Tik Toks or Instagram? Something behind the scenes that you want to share?
LKB: “I guess the secret would be that I do have a couple more songs lined up, but one of them is a song that is more of my life story and it touches on what happened this past year. It includes everything with all of my hardships and me parting ways with my label. It’s a very honest song and I haven’t got to share it with many people. I can’t wait for people to hear it and see what everybody thinks.”