We were lucky enough to be front and centre during the press conferences at the recent C2C Festival in London. Maddie & Tae stopped by to talk to the media about visiting the UK for the first time, the legacy of ‘Girl In A Country Song’, women on country radio, being role models, songwriting, Blake Shelton, working on their second record, whatever happened to Sierra, and their great band. You can read what went down below.
RW Publicity: I thought it would be quite good if they start by giving you a little introduction about where they’re from.
Maddie: So I’m Maddie Marlow from Sugarland, Texas.
Tae: Yes, and I’m Tae Dye from Ada, Oklahoma.
Maddie: And we met… five years? Well six this December. So we’ve been together since we were 15 – it’s kind of a long story, I won’t bore you! But we basically just really really clicked with how both of us were influenced growing up, and has very similar taste in country music and writing styles. The songwriting is really what brought us together and I think the big reason why we’re here today is because of the songwriting and how we clicked there.
Tae: And I’ll never forget the moment that we met we were just playing the same showcase, and I think I had performed and she walked up to me and we just sparked a conversation. Cause at that time we were both 15 years old, and it’s kinda rare to be that young and already know exactly what you want and be so driven at such a young age, so that was definitely something that we bonded over very quickly. Like Maddie said, we started on the conversation of songwriting, and that’s something that’s very near and dear to our hearts because through songwriting we feel like we were able to obviously use our voices, but give people a voice along with that.
Maddie: And find our own voice.
Tae: Exactly! And that’s exactly what we’ve done over the past five years. If you would have told us five years ago that we would be in the UK singing our music across the world, I don’t think we would have believed you. But I think through songwriting we really gained confidence as individuals and as a duo, so therefore we’re able to be here with you guys.
Think Country: ‘Girl In A Country Song’ was such a big song, but especially to me, for young girls. I have a 15-year-old daughter, she absolutely loves you, but to me you’re real role models for them. How important is that to you to be role models to those 15-year-old girls that you were?
Maddie: Well, growing up we had role models, we had Shania Twain, Lee Ann Womack… you know, Martina McBride. We had all these strong women to look up to. Growing up we had that, we so wanna be that for young girls. ‘Girl In A Country Song’, it was like a three month process of going into writing sessions saying “What in the world is wrong? Why are women being described as like a piece of meat? This is ridiculous!” We were just so sick of all the objectifying and all that kind of stuff, so finally we just wrote a song about that. And we didn’t realise that writing our truth was gonna affect as many people as it did, and there were so many girls that would come up and – this was the most rewarding part of the whole job here – is hearing a little girl say, “I don’t feel like I have to look a certain way to be beautiful,” and that was the whole goal there. To be like “Hey, everyone’s different, we all come in different shapes and sizes, we all have different hair, different everything – but we’re all beautiful in our own ways.” We felt like there was this stereotype that everyone was supposed to be, and we don’t meet the stereotype, we’re tiny little – we don’t have long tan legs, we don’t meet that either! So it was really important for us to just kinda make that statement, make every woman feel beautiful for who they are.
RW Publicity: And you made quite an impression – was it the David Letterman show you did?
Tae: Yeah! We got to play that show before he left which was a bucket list item for sure. Did we play the Today Show first or that show first?
Maddie: Today Show and then Letterman.
Tae: Yes, so we played the Today Show, our first morning show, and then the Letterman show. It was so much fun.
For The Country Record: Two years after ‘Girl In A Country Song’ was released, do you think women are being represented on country radio now, or is it about the same?
Tae: I definitely think it’s more of a conscious thing, I guess when people are writing songs and hopefully recording songs, but for us – we could have gone the route of been so worried about “Are we gonna change country music? Are we gonna make guys respect women?” But really the only thing we can do is make sure we live in such a way that we demand respect, and just hope that guys get that. We definitely think that the playing field’s been evened out with girls on country radio, but yeah I definitely think that in guy’s minds, hopefully when they’re writing songs and recording songs, they treat women a little better.
Maddie: Cause we love all the guys that we – really we were poking fun at the trend and more of the songs – but we love all the guys in country music, they’re all so talented, everyone is talented in the genre and we respect everyone. But we really just had something to say that wasn’t being said, like Tae said just hopefully it’s a thing, like “Oh wait, maybe I shouldn’t tell my person to slide on over, and treat ‘em like an object!” (laughs)
2Country Radio: We were at CRS when you performed there. Just how important is it to make a performance like that early in your career and really connect with everybody there?
Maddie: Let’s be honest, this is a huge deal. To be on the New Faces show is like the biggest honour ever, the fact that country radio loves you that much to put you on that show is incredible. So we were very nervous, and we were in rehearsals for days just – I mean it’s only four songs guys! We were doing rehearsals like crazy, we wanted to make sure it was perfect because you guys have done so much for us. We were very nervous but we kinda just thought, “You know what? Let’s just sing the songs that have come straight from our hearts, and just be ourselves.” We definitely got choked up at one moment because there’s a song that we have that’s a very very vulnerable song on the record, it’s called ‘After The Storm Blows Through’. We kind of both had this moment like, “Wow, we’re really here!” And those moments they’re rare because you don’t really have time to soak it all in, but that was one of those moments where we did, and it was really special, and it was really special to get to share that with you guys that night.
Sounds Like Nashville: Did you have a chance to take in the sights and sounds of London and did you have a favourite thing that you got to see?
Tae: So yesterday was definitely – we were like, touring everything we could. We went on the tube, which – I guess we thought you would call it a subway, but the way to pronounce it actually is the tube. But the first thing we did, we went and saw the castle, which was beautiful, we took selfies and videos in front of it.
Maddie: The guards were like freaking us out, cause they just stand there for like 24 hours, and you’re like “When do you pee, when do you eat?!”
Tae: And the sign said like “Next shift change is at 11:30,” so I guess they have to stand there for 24 hours. I don’t know! But we felt for those guards! (laughs) And then we went to see the Eye and Big Ben, we even took a little taxi – the classic taxis, like the real taxis that y’all have here that look really cool! We’re used to just like regular old cars.
Maddie: Stinky old taxis!
Tae: Yeah! We took a taxi to the London tower, we didn’t actually get to go in because they said it was gonna take three hours to tour, and we only had like 45 minutes. But! I feel like we did pretty good. We saw like four things in one day, we had tea, we had pastries…
Tae: We were your typical tourists. It was fun for sure.
Maddie: I’m a coffee person, and she loves tea –
Tae: I love tea.
Maddie: But I figured out the whole milk in the tea trick. So I was like “Okay, so it kinda looks like coffee. I can do that!” I can totally do that.
Chris Country Radio: I feel like I should call you Maddie and Tea now. (laughter)
Maddie: Maddie and Tea! Yes!
Tae: That’s what people were tweeting me yesterday, like “Tea for Tae”. I kinda like that.
Chris Country Radio: Just going back to ‘Girl In A Country Song’, which I know we could talk about for hours on end. There’s the “Red red red red red red red red redneck” line that you used in the song – I was just wondering if Blake Shelton ever referenced the way that that was sort of turned on its head, and how it was actually used in the song?
Tae: No, we’ve never met him, so we’ve never actually heard if he heard the song, or even liked that line. But we would love to meet him and maybe see if he’s heard the song – I think he’d appreciate it. Blake’s all about that humour, that kind of witty, sarcastic humour, so I bet he appreciated that line.
Think Country: So what’s next for you? We’ve had ‘Shut Up And Fish’, so what’s next coming out? Do you have a new song coming out for us?
Maddie: You know what, I don’t know, because we’re just really focused on ‘Shut Up And Fish’. When we have a single out we’re just you know, lazer-focused on that. We’re thinking maybe one more single from this record, but right now we’re over here and having our first experience in the UK, which is so exciting. We’re also writing the second record, so we’ve got I think six songs that we know 100% are going on the second record. But we’re still trying to tighten it up a little bit, and we’re getting to write when we go back home. So we’re really trying to dig in creatively, because there’s so many different aspects to this career, and so many different hats that you wear, and it’s incredible, but sometimes you forget about the creative side. So that’s what we’re really trying to focus on, so we give you guys an incredible second record.
RW Publicity: So you’re on stage tonight at 5:30, and who have you got with you? Have you got a band?
Maddie: Oh yeah. A really awesome, crazy talented, handsome band. (laughs) They just happen to be handsome! But they’re crazy talented. We’ve got us, we play guitar and I play mandolin, we’ve got a bass player, an electric and acoustic player, a fiddle – you gotta have fiddle – and then we have our drummer.
Tae: It’s pretty normal. But, we do like to have high energy on stage. We don’t have any choreographed dance moves, or anything crazy on stage.
Maddie: No Beyonce hair-flippin’! (laughs)
Tae: Well we try, but it doesn’t work!
Maddie: Yeah, exactly!
RW Publicity: And one of the things you’ll find here is that people don’t just go for singles, they like all the different songs.
Maddie: Yeah! They like deep album cuts.
RW Publicity: So do you think you’ll do most of the songs on the record?
Tae: Well we just had a little meet-up – I guess that’s what they call ‘em out here – at the CMA booth, and a lot of the fans were asking if we would play a song called ‘No Place Like You’, which is an album cut, not a single. A lot of them were asking if we were gonna play songs from the album, so I think they definitely are the type of fans that listen to the full album and really understand it.
RW Publicity: Singing back, as well.
Maddie: Oh yeah, I’m so excited about that.
W21 Music: Has Sierra contacted you since you released that song?
Maddie: (laughs) Okay. So basically we wrote that song my senior year of high school. I had grown up with this girl since like the seventh grade, and so years and years of this awful girl. Sierra is this beautiful pageant girl, to just paint the picture for you guys, but treated everyone horribly, and including myself. And would just belittle everyone, and steal your boyfriend – that person. I think all of us have that person.
Tae: I met her once, and I was like “I have no idea how you’ve gone through your whole school life with this person!” (laughs)
Maddie: So this girl was horrible, and I finally just – she had sent me home bawling crying one day, and I wrote that first verse and chorus. I told Tae, we went up to Nashville like the day after, I was like “We have to write this song.” More for my sanity. So we finished the song, and I sent it to this other girl that she had bullied really really badly – like she had transferred high schools because of her. I’m like “Don’t send it to anyone!” And what did she do? She sends it everybody, and everybody has this song by graduation! I’m going and getting my diploma and Sierra’s giving me this awful look, and I’m like “Oh brother!” But – she hated it, she did not like being called out – but there were so many people that loved the song, because she had tortured so many people and got away with it, and so that song was just justice a little bit. But she’s still doing pageants in Texas, still doing her thing, still mean as can be. I just pray for that girl! (laughs)