Maddie & Tae crashed onto the Country music scene with their feisty debut single Girl in a Country Song back in 2014, which topped the US Country Airplay Chart.
The duo achieved success with follow-up singles Fly and Shut Up and Fish, and their debut album Start Here hit number 2 on Top Country Albums chart. Earlier this year Maddie & Tae made their UK live debut as part of C2C: Country to Country where they wowed the packed O2 Arena audience.
In October the ladies will be heading over to the UK for their first headline tour. I caught up with them to find out what we can expect from the tour, discuss the progress of their new album, and to discuss their experience at C2C.
You’re coming over to the UK in October for a headline tour. Is that off the back of your success at C2C?
Maddie: Yes, completely. The reason we are coming back is because of C2C. We could feel the love from the UK when we started but we didn’t really understand it until we actually went and played that beautiful arena with so many people there. There were people singing songs that aren’t singles and probably will never be singles. They were singing every single word so we thought about how passionate people were for us in the UK, scrapped our schedule for October and we were like ‘nope, we’re going to the UK. We’re going to figure it out!’ (laughs)
Your C2C set was one of the highlights of the weekend for me. Did you expect the reaction you received?
Tae: First of all thank you for saying that our set was one of your favourites. We were pretty nervous because before even going to the UK with the release of our singles and album, we had seen a lot of support from the fans; these fans we had never even met are loving our music, buying it and making it go really high on the iTunes chart. That love all across the world is pretty overwhelming. I think we just wanted to do it justice. We wanted the fans we have supporting us to keep supporting us and to see us live. It was really neat that we could make that connection with them. Our love for them definitely grew after seeing them, getting to meet all of them and hearing their stories of how they connected with our music.
What kind of show can we expect when you visit in October for your tour?
Maddie: We’re going to do a full band show we’re trying to put a really cool acoustic moment together in the set. It’ll be more full band than anything. We’re going to create some brand new covers when we come over and we’re actually demoing, which is what you do before you go cut an album, a bunch of songs for the new record so we’re going to come to the UK and test some of those songs out to see how the fans react. We want to see which ones are their favourites so the UK is probably going to get to be one of the first to hear our new songs. We’re really excited about that.
Do you get nervous when debuting new songs during a live show?
Tae: It definitely can go either way. We pretty much respect the audience’s opinions a lot because ultimately when our music is released, we’re doing it for them. I think when we love a song so much, hopefully the reaction is positive but if some people don’t like it, then that’s just going to come with the music. We’ve definitely had people not really understand what we’re trying to say and that’s OK because more people than not loved it. We want to go out there, play them our music and have them love it but there’s always going to be doubters and that’s alright as long as we believe in what we’re doing.
What can you tell me about the direction that the new album is going in?
Maddie: We’re actually testing that our right now. I think the one thing that’s not going to change too much is the acoustic-driven, leaning a little more traditional, sound. Last night we went and recorded all these new songs and I think we’ve gotten really inspired by a lot of the new Country albums – Chris Stapleton, Maren Morris, David Nail, Brothers Osborne – and one of the things we loved about all those records is how loose the drums were. We’re experimenting with different sounds and different feels for the percussive part of the record. Lyrically we’re in a totally different place in our lives now where we’re getting settled down in Nashville, we got our first houses and we’re coming into this new chapter in our lives. It’s this new time of adulthood really and we always call it adulting. Sometimes it kinda sucks but sometimes it’s fun! (laughs). The second record is definitely going to have some of that in there, just what it’s like to find out who you are, your place is in the world, where you stand and who you really want to be.
Your debut album Start Here was loved by fans and critics. Did you anticipate that you’d have the success you’ve had with the record?
Tae: I definitely don’t think we anticipated the love that we got for this album. We just hoped people would like it but just to hear how much people are connecting with it…whenever you write a song that’s so specific to your situation, there comes a little bit of ‘oh I hope other people can feel what I’m feeling’. That’s the cool thing about Country music, no matter how specific you’re writing the situation at the end of the day we’re all experiencing the same emotions. That’s life and we’re just grateful that we get to write about it and put it into an album that people go out of their way to buy it. We have definitely felt the love and we’re very appreciative for it.
With the release of Girl in a Country Song, and your debut album, it feels like you’re leading the charge for women in modern Country music. Do you feel pressure to be female role models?
Maddie: Not really. There’s not really any pressure. It’s more of an honour for us that people enjoy our music and relate to it, and represent women very well. That’s a huge compliment so we try to really focus on that and make sure that if we are representing women, not just in Country, that we’re representing young women very well and giving them a voice; that what they want to say is being said on Country radio. We do get that question about being a role model a lot but we just try to incorporate positivity in our music and also the way that we treat people.
One of the things I love about you guys is the variety within your music. You have the feistier Your Side of Town kind of songs then the slower ballad moments like Fly. Do you have a preference in terms of style or do you just like to mix it up?
Tae: It’s a lot of fun to play with different grooves and different sounds. We love the acoustic-driven Country songs because that’s the kind of music that we grew up loving and it inspired us to do what we’re doing. I think we’ve got a lot better on being open minded about different instruments because it is fun to switch it up and I think our fans have a lot of fun too whenever they hear a song that’s different for us.
I’m so glad that Sierra is your new single in the UK. It’s like the sweetest revenge song. How did you manage to convey such an important message in such a fun way?
Maddie: We’ve always really gravitated towards tongue-in-cheek music. We think that Kacey Musgraves does that really well and we’ve admired what she does. We were really digging into her record when we wrote that song. It was really a very vulnerable experience for me having someone tell me I wasn’t good enough or that I was the next wannabe Taylor Swift or that I wasn’t pretty enough, or whatever that was. She would get girls to gang up against you and spread rumours, and she did this to so many people in school. I went home bawling for like the thirteenth time because of this girl. We were going to Nashville the next day and I wrote that first verse but I didn’t know if it was any good. Tae loved it and was like ‘you need to put her name in the song and we need to make this super honest!’ I was a little afraid because I planned on no one hearing this song and of course it gets cut on the record and turned into a single. The beautiful part of the song is the fact that people relate to it and they’re able to say ‘I went through something like this and it gave me the strength and courage to get through it.’ The whole message of loving yourself no matter what people say and there’s going to be mean people – that’s just how it is – but if you know that you’re good enough, you’re confident and you love yourself then those people aren’t going to matter.
Will we get a fifth single from the album or is Sierra the final single from Start Here?
Tae: A fifth single – that’s awesome! I don’t think so; I think we’re going to end it with Sierra. We’re just so excited to bring new music out and our fans are a little bit anxious as well because I think they want to hear what the next chapter is. For us getting to make a second album and having started it has made it all a little bit more exciting. We’re so excited about Sierra and seeing where that goes so it’s going to be fun but this next chapter is going to be more exciting.
You’re on tour for pretty much the rest of the year. How do you cope with a relentless tour schedule while trying to get a new album together at the same time?
Maddie: Honestly I don’t really know how we cope. We still get very stressed out. We’ve had a lot of anxiety and freaking out a little bit but I think there’s some good parts in that because we hold a very high standard for ourselves and want to make sure that our shows are great and our second record is great for our fans. There’s a lot of pressure but I think it’s a healthy amount that we put on ourselves just to make sure we’re doing the best that we can. For us sleep is a huge thing (laughs). We haven’t had much recently but today we’re home so we’re going to write some songs. It’s really trying to rest when you can whether it’s taking a nap on an airplane or taking a nap at a venue, and making sure you eat healthy and have three meals a day. Sometimes you get so busy that you forget to eat and that’s what really messes us up because we get hangry (hungry and angry). We try to make sure that enjoy it rather than getting so stressed out about the next step. We try to be in the moment but stay aware of all the other things we need to take care of.
Maddie & Tae’s album Start Here and the single Sierra is available now. Listen to Sierra below:
You can catch the duo on tour in the UK this October at the following dates:
Sat Oct 22nd – Manchester Academy 3
Sun Oct 23rd – Glasgow Oran Mor
Tues Oct 25th – Birmingham O2 Institute 2
Wed Oct 26th – London Islington Assembly Hall
Thurs Oct 27th – Bristol Bierkeller