10 Questions with ... Maddie & Tae
February 22, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Maddie & Tae (Madison "Maddie" Marlow & Taylor "Tae" Dye) are Nashville's newest "overnight success" story. The young duo penned "Girl In A Country Song" just under a year ago, on St. Patrick's Day 2014. Less before the song was completely mastered, they had been signed as the inaugural act to the rebirthed Dot Records under BMLG, and before the end of 2014, they took "Girl In A Country Song" to #1. The duo was introduced by their mutual vocal coach when they were fifteen years old. In 2013, the pair completed high school and moved to Nashville to pursue their dreams of becoming successful in the singer-songwriter domain. Citing influences of Shania Twain and The Dixie Chicks, Maddie & Tae share their unique views on life and the world around them with powerful harmonies and expert musicianship.
1. Ladies, thank you so much for taking time to speak with All Access. You've been voted in to the "New Faces" showcase for CRS 2015, and while you've played to most of this cast of characters before during your radio tour, this setting will be a bit different. Can you tell us what it means to you to be chosen to play this show, and how you will prepare for the performance?
TAE: To me, it means the people at radio believe in us... as performers as much as singers/songwriters. Yes, we've played for a lot of them this fall and winter, and now they're telling us: "We think you guys are the best of the new." What a compliment.
MADDIE: We're doing a lot of rehearsals to get ready! We want to have not just the best set we can deliver, but something that gives people a sense of who we are - beyond even the singles. We want the radio people to know there's more there: it's about the playing, the music, what the songs stand on - and this is a big chance for us! We're really excited to be part of this.
2. Growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, it's obvious you came from a hotbed of Country music. We know you've previously cited Shania Twain and The Dixie Chicks as musical influences, but were there any other genres or artists you drew from growing up, and if so, who?
TAE: We do love all of those artists you mentioned, and we really just love Country music.
MADDIE: Gene Watson rules!
3. You met via an introduction from a shared vocal coach at the age of 15. Before meeting and forming this powerhouse of harmony, were you each thinking of pursuing individual solo careers, and if not, what were your career aspirations?
TAE: I loved singing, and writing. I didn't know where it was going to take me, just that it was all I wanted to do. When I met Maddie and started talking to her, her outlook was so much like mine - and unlike most of the girls we'd met - that it gave me a focus for what I was dreaming.
MADDIE: Tae just had such a different way of looking at music, like she said. When we started talking about artists we loved and writing songs about things that really mattered to us, suddenly it was like the strength in numbers.
4. To those outside our industry, a lot of your success seems to have come overnight. You wrote "Girl In A Country Song," were signed to Dot Records, and had a #1 hit all within less than one year's time. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got your start in Nashville and some of the gigs you had before that benchmark date of St. Patrick's Day 2014 when you penned the track?
MADDIE: We were coming to Nashville, doing what was basically a "Songwriters Camp" for a couple years.
TAE: It grew out of that. From the songwriting camp, we were offered a publishing deal at Big Machine, because they heard something in the songs Maddie and I were writing.
MADDIE: And every chance we got, we'd leave home and drive to Nashville to write with people. From the time we were 16 that was all we wanted to do: get in the car and come have writing appointments!
TAE: Writing appointments like that really teach you how to write at a different level, new ways to look at the world around you. Most of our time was spent, honestly, working on our writing.
5. Your first hit was a very tongue-in-cheek look at the industry, with a whimsical feel. But with your second release, "Fly," you're showing the world your more serious side. Can you tell us about the message behind "Fly" and the process behind writing the song?
TAE: I don't think it's about sides, so much as what's the right tone for what we're trying to say. "Girl In A Country Song" came from a very real place - and we didn't want to be mean about what we were saying. "Fly" is true; it's vulnerable and scared, but knowing the only way to make it is to jump. I hope that comes through.
MADDIE: We left our homes and moved to Nashville as teenagers, and suddenly we were on our own. We knew all we wanted to do in the world was write and sing... and the only way that would happen would be to jump, but you still get scared or sure you've done a dumb thing. Since we write what we're feeling, this song was a natural.
TAE: And it doesn't matter where you are in your life, everyone's felt that way. Whether it's medical school, having a baby, getting married or a big competition, the part where you're scared I think is the same. But I think when you're brave, when you let go, if you will, that is when the good things happen. But it's hard to remember when you need it.
6. As songwriters, you seem to gravitate to penning lyrics that deliver a message. Where do you draw inspiration for your lyrics, and can you walk us through your typical songwriting process?
MADDIE: We write what we're feeling. I'm not sure if it's a message, but it is our lives or things we see.
TAE: It's different. One of us will have a lyric idea... Maybe a title and a verse, or a chorus, or more. Or else there will be a melody floating around, and we'll start to shape it.
MADDIE: We try to be open to what's out there. Then we try to do the right thing by whatever you've found. With "Sierra," this mean girl had all these kids bullying me - and I wrote the first verse and chorus the night before Tae and I came to Nashville. She really liked it, so when we showed it to the co-writer, he did, too. It's like that.
7. Much has been made about the absence of females on Country radio in recent years. In your opinion, what is the key to getting more women integrated back in to Country radio, and how do you think you are playing or will play a role in that?
MADDIE: I don't know what the solution is. For Tae and I, we're gonna make the best music we can. We're going to write songs that feel real to who we are - and who the people listening are.
TAE: And musically, we want to have our own sound. Something that stands out when you hear it! We like acoustic instruments, and country instruments. Dan Huff, our producer, gets that - and maybe that will help/
MADDIE: We'd love to help! But we want it to be because our music is good, not just because someone says "We need to play more girls."
8. Last year was a huge year of firsts for you ladies - you were the inaugural act signed to Dot Records, you went #1 with "Girl In A Country Song," you released your self-titled debut EP, and even made your Grand Ole Opry debut! What firsts or milestones can we expect from you in 2015?
TAE: Well, our first record, which we're finally finishing now. Our first real tour with Dierks Bentley.
MADDIE: Hopefully, our first nominations... and our first second #1 record with "Fly."
TAE: And lots of interesting chances to play! We'd love to do CMA Music Festival at the Stadium, to be part of group things!
9. We love hearing about the first time you heard your single on the radio. Where were you the first time you heard "Girl In A Country Song" on air, and can you share with us the story about how you felt and what you thought at that moment?
TAE: Everything just stopped. It doesn't feel real, but you know it is.
MADDIE: I screamed and screamed and started to cry.
TAE: It all happened so fast, it was hard to catch up with what was happening as it was happening. For us, it was where do we have to go next.
MADDIE: Radio was so friendly and welcoming, we just kept moving.
10. You're both young with a long, bright future ahead of you in the industry. If you were to look in to a crystal ball, where would you hope to be - both personally and professionally - by CRS 2020?
MADDIE: I'd love for us to be on our way to having a career like Reba McEntire or Shania Twain; to be Entertainer of the Year, to have headlined big tours, and really be women when we're doing it. Especially for our music to mean as much as theirs does to their fans!
TAE: And I'd like see us win Album of the Year, as well as Single or Song of the Year! We went to the ASCAP Awards this year, and when you realize how important a song is, I want Maddie and I to write the kind of songs that last like that. I want our records to be records people are still playing then.
1. After countless radio visits and radio shows, is there anything that radio does NOT know about you that you can - or would like to - share here?
TAE: We take making music and the fans very seriously. We like to have fun. We write funny songs, but there is never a time when the music isn't the most important thing to us.
MADDIE: Leaving your home the way we did, we did it for the music - and we did it because we wanted to write songs that could mean as much to people as "I Hope You Dance" did when I was a little girl. Music can change everything for you, if it's honest and strikes a note inside. It's easy to miss that, so maybe this lets all the great people we've met at radio know that.