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Five Fast Facts: Laini and the Wildfire 'Hold On To Your Soul'

From New Haven, Connecticut, emerges as a soul-stirring piano rock quartet, Laini and the Wildfire. Infused with melodic alchemy that draws inspiration from retro pop, their sonic tapestry transcends traditional genres, crafting a unique amalgamation of introspective rock, roots, and soul. The culmination of over three years of artistic evolution, their latest release, Hold On To Your Soul, is a testament to the band's sonic expedition and a jubilation of unapologetic individuality. Lead singer, songwriter, and keys virtuoso, Laini Marenick, weaves the record with a therapeutic touch, delving into the depths of her own struggles with self-love and acceptance. Building on the acclaim of their 2017 debut album 'Wandering,' recognized as the "Best Pop Band" by Indie Voice blog, the band continues to garner accolades for their dynamic live performances in venues and festivals across the northeast. Stef caught up with Laini to discuss the band's latest release and musical journey for our latest Five Fast Facts!

Laini and The Wildfire: Matt Branscombe at BSC Photo

Photo Credit: Matt Branscombe at BSC Photo

1. SJ: Laini and the Wildfire have been releasing music since your debut album, Wandering back in 2017. Can you tell us how the band started and how you feel your musical style has evolved since its inception?

LM:  Music, especially playing piano, has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve been teaching piano since age 16, started singing more seriously in college, and then eventually started dabbling in songwriting, but never really had the courage to make it more than just a hobby until later. In my twenties, most of my friends were musicians, and I spent a lot of time going to their shows and rooting them on from the sidelines. As I got closer to 30, I started to really feel the creative pull to do more with my music, and I started writing a lot more. Eventually, an opportunity presented itself to me with some of my close friends who were also musicians looking to start a new project. They really liked the songs, and the rest was history!

Musically, a lot has changed since Wandering. That album was definitely more of me writing pretty much everything on keys, and the band working their parts out around what I was doing. The style of music that I was influenced by was a bit different than the rest of the band — they were strongly influenced by rock music — so it was definitely experimental in terms of finding our sound and making our differences work together.

On our new record, Hold On To Your Soul, the title says it all in terms of my goal with the sound. I wanted to make sure that my love for old-school soul music came through loud and clear, while still leaning into our foundation as a roots rock band. We also had been previously writing songs as a trio, and for this record, our fourth member (bassist) joined the band, which really shifted the songwriting process in the best way. Writing as a complete band allowed us to understand and explore the songs fully in the rehearsal room, instead of having to add in parts later during production like we had in the past.  

2. SJ: Now, in 2023, you just released your highly anticipated sophomore record titled Hold On To Your Soul. What was the purpose behind this release? What does the album title mean to the group?

LM: The title, Hold On To Your Soul, is a double entendre. On the one hand, it represents our sonic journey as a band. We really strived to amp up the soulfulness in our sound that maybe wasn’t as clear in our previous release. But it’s also a reference to my own journey with self-love, acceptance, and authenticity. A lot of the songs on the record are the messages I needed to hear as I was coming to terms with some hard truths about my life and navigating the ups and downs of how to show more compassion to myself. I felt it was an important piece of work for me as an artist in terms of my own personal growth and I wanted to share that with others.

Laini and The Wildire-Hold On To Your Soul Album Art: Matt Branscombe at BSC Photo

Photo Credit: Matt Branscombe at BSC Photo

3. SJ: Laini, you’re the lead singer, songwriter, and keys player. But, you’re also a therapist! How do you feel your background as a therapist inspires your work as a songwriter? Are there also any challenges that come with that background?

LM: I think because of my background as a therapist, I understand human behavior in a very in-depth way, which I think shows up in my songwriting. I didn’t realize this until afterward, but when I was writing some of the songs on Hold On To Your Soul, it was almost like they were coming from the perspective of the therapist side of me – “therapist me” guiding “emotional songwriter me” through this healing and empowerment journey, if that makes sense.

As far as challenges go, the most difficult thing is how emotionally draining the work as a therapist can be some days. I do my best to put boundaries in place and have a healthy work-life balance that works for me, but it’s an emotionally taxing job at times.

4. SJ: What was the creative process like for this record? How was it written and recorded? Was it more collaborative or an individual approach?

LM: Typically, I would come to the rehearsal space with a couple rough verse and chorus ideas to try with the band, and then we would work them out together over the span of a couple of weeks, sometimes a month or longer. There are a few songs on the record where we collaborated with another songwriter, but generally, I tend to be the main songwriter, and then the band helps bring the songs to life. So it was definitely a collaborative approach on this record.

Our guitar player, Mark Marenick, is also our producer/mixing engineer, so we recorded at his studio, Ruby Recordings. Mark and I are also married and the studio is at our home, so it gave us a lot of time (maybe too much time!) to explore the recording process.

5. SJ: What is one song you wish Laini and the Wildfire wrote?

LM: Oh this one is easy. I say this all the time. "Dog Days" by Florence and the Machine. I’m a huge of fan of FATM in general, but it’s one of our go-to cover songs in our live show, and every time we play it, people just absolutely love it. We’ve done lots of covers over the years, but that one just has something special about it. It’s so fun and high energy, and everyone ends up dancing and having a great time.

SJ: What’s next for Laini and the Wildfire?

LM: Well, we’re hoping to play some shows in Spring/Summer 2024 to support the record. We’re also working on creating some more video content for the album, and I know the band is definitely ready to write some new songs, so I’m sure that will be in the works soon as well.

SJ:  Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Looking forward to seeing what’s next for you guys!

LM: Absolutely! It was great getting to talk about the new album with you!


Listen to Hold On To Your Soul below!


Songwriting: Laini and the Wildfire: Laini Marenick, Mark Marenick, Rob Siraco, Will Talamelli

Production, Engineering: Mark Marenick at Ruby Recordings

Tracks 1, 2: Mastered by Emily Lazar

Tracks 3-11: Mastered by Justin Colletti

Additional Musicians:

Coley O’Toole: cowriter on “Where the Wind Blows”; bassist and cowriter on “DeLorean”

Joe Pullo: guitar on “Big Ben”


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