Interview : Chatting to Maddie and Tae about their first UK headline tour, new music, Sierra and bowling.

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By Hannah Compton

Maddie and Tae are one of the most unique, fun and multi-talented artists in country music today. Storming into the industry with their daring track Girl In A Country Song – calling out all those male artists in the Bro-Country category who don’t always sing about women respecfully – Maddie and Tae have truly made their mark and intend to keep it that way.

Maddie and Tae released their debut album Start Here through Dot Records, a division of Big Machine Label Group and have proven time and time again that they are so much more than their first single (Girl In A Country Song). Maddie and Tae write from the heart and soul and know exactly how to translate truth into a song and make it relatable, moving and truly inpiring. Their melodies and lyrics are of the highest talent, setting the bar for any artist who follow in their footsteps.

Maddie and Tae returned to the UK in October following a very successful set during this years Country 2 Country Festival. I caught up with the girls just before their last show of the tour in Bristol.

Upon arrival, Maddie and Tae were two of the most welcoming, warming and gracious young ladies I have ever met. Both leaping up from their seat with a wide embrace, the girls made me feel comfortable, got me a drink and were chatty, funny, excited about being back in the UK and eager to share their experiences.

I hope you enjoy our chat.

Firstly, welcome back to the UK.

Maddie and Tae – Thank you.

It is so great to have you back and on your own headline tour. The first time you were here was for C2C Festival -how was that experience for you? Did you know what to expect audience- wise and were you excited? Nervous? Did you have any expectations?

Maddie – Basically, this whole tour was created because of C2C, because the reaction was so great. At first, we weren’t really sure our music would make it over here but it did and it really, really resonated here, too. The welcome that we felt was so great and we were super excited. The one thing that we have been noticing over here, is you listen to lyrics and, as songwriters, that is the biggest compliment you can give to us. We really love it here and we are coming back next year for sure, probably two times.

Tae – Yeah, we are going to try and make it a double thing.

imageWell, that would be amazing, I hope you do.
So, you said this is the last night of your tour – how have you enjoyed it so far? Are you going to take back any lasting memories any stand out moments? Fan experiences?

Tae – well the trip hasn’t been long enough, I’ll tell you that! I wish we could have been able to stay a couple of days more but it’s been really fun and we got to go to a couple of places we didn’t get to go to the last time we were here. This time we got to go to Birmingham, Glasgow and other places, so that was new for us and to meet the fans over there. I love how each audience is different. All the shows have been basically 18 and up but in the States, it’s usually a lot of young girls for us, so we weren’t sure how that was going to work out here. It’s been awesome though, and everyone from 18 year old girls to 60 year old men have been there enjoying the show. I think that’s cool for us to know that it is resonating with not just our demographic, so we will definitely be taking that back with us.

Well, that’s cool – and it’s so true because we do not fall under a typical demographic here. With this job I do a lot of research and I will look up what the fans are into and read their comments and one thing I have noticed is the number of older people saying how excited they were for your shows. The same goes for artists such as Dan and Shay, who were just over here and it’s a nice thing to see. I have been to shows in America, for example, where I have felt like the oldest person there, so we are a more diverse crowd here.

Maddie – Sometimes we feel like that, too – but we always have grown men at our shows which means our lyrics are connecting with all different genders, all different ages and that’s our goal, to reach as many different people as we can. It’s cool that it’s reaching young girls and then older people too.

Well, we are all about the lyrics and song writing here.

Maddie – it’s so refreshing.

Many artists have said how they can sing anything they want here, any track off the album and we will know it, we will know the words, we will sing along and we will respect that song.

imageTae – exactly, and that’s another thing we will take back with us – that you appreciate all the songs like the other artists were saying. When we were trying to plan our set we kind of wanted to do what we do in the States, which is perform our album and then put in a few covers here and there. Here we found that’s not what the audience want – they would rather you play a song you have written, even though they don’t know it at all, than a cover, which is so neat.

We will have it all, covers and new songs and we will learn the words to the new songs by the second chorus.

Tae – yes, ha-ha, you learn real fast!

Girl In A Country Song was a great introduction to you as a duo with it being a fun, quirky, tongue-in -cheek song. However, it’s not the only song on the album that is like that – I am a massive fan of Shut Up And Fish.

Maddie – Yeah, oh good, thank you – that is awesome.

Could you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind that song?

Tae – It’s actually a true story, unfortunately. We love to fish; we love being outdoors. Maddie’s a big hunter and I love to fish; we both love to fish. So, it was only right that we were to write a song about fishing after an experience we had. It was one of the first summers that we met and we went fishing with two of our guy friends and they had no idea what they were doing at first. Then they kept talking and tried to make some moves, like putting their arms over our shoulders and we weren’t having it. We’re serious when it comes to fishing, so we just got irritated – and our release is through music – so we wrote a fun song. The music video was my favourite to shoot too, as I got to have my brother in there and it was a lot of fun.

We don’t do a lot of fishing here, well in terms of going fishing as a day out or a date. Many people fish here, just no one I know – so I was trying to relate to this song in the best way possible and the only thing I could come up with was Bowling.

Maddie – Shut Up and Bowl!

Yeah ha, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Tae– Shut Up and Bike, ha-ha!

Yeah or, just tell them to Shut Up, ha-ha!

Tae- yeah just Shut Up, ha-ha!

Your song Sierra has such an important message to young people and is something that I feel very strongly about as it helps anyone who has suffered at the hands of a bully. How did it feel releasing such an important and personal song? Did you have any idea that this song would be so important to so many people and that it would inspire people to have more confidence and stick up for themselves?

Maddie – I was honestly very afraid, because it was such a personal story of mine and about this girl who was just awful to me. I didn’t want to re-live that whole experience, but I think that it is just so much bigger that just my story – it’s bigger than both of us. The fact that there is a song that we were inspired to write and that the song is resonating with people is amazing. It’s cool in ‘meet and greets’ when people say ‘That song helped me stand up to the person that’s been hurting me’. Hopefully everyone who listens to that song just realises that they are good enough and that people don’t define who you are and your self-worth. Don’t allow people to push you around and always try to be the bigger person – but being the bigger person doesn’t always mean being a doormat and letting people walk all over you. You’ve got to stand up for yourself and keep your confidence and don’t let someone steal your joy.

I think there is no age limit to who that song can reach. At any age, you can have someone try to make your life a little harder and this song, it’s such a great release and with it being so upbeat, it helps you get up and get out and face it head on.

Maddie – I hope it gives people strength, that’s the whole purpose of it, you know.

Would you say that music is a healer, whether you’re writing it, listening to it, seeing it live? Do you feel that in a song, those 3 to 4 minutes can make a difference?

Maddie – absolutely!

Tae – Oh, my gosh, yes!

Maddie – I said it in my show last night actually, because there is a song on our record called After The Storm Blows Through, which we wrote for one of my friends back home. She lost her dad right when we graduated high school – it was really fast and unexpected. It was one of those situations when someone was going through something so tough – and both of us have been through our own struggles, too – but at that point, at that moment, that is what inspired it. We sent it to my friend Jessie and she had so much to say about how one song can carry you through a tough time. Another one of my best friends recently just lost her mum this year, so that song is her strength right now and it’s so cool that literally 3 minutes and 30 seconds can change someone’s day

Tae – even for us, I mean, I don’t want to speak for both of us but I think being able to go on stage and sing songs that are so true and have so many stories that can tag along to that is kind of healing. For us to sing those songs and to kind of re- live those stories, and talk about them, is kind of our way of healing,

Maddie – believe it or not, Tae and I struggle with confidence, we struggle with self-worth, we struggle with all those things that all of us do – especially performing Fly. Whenever the crowd sings that one back, I am almost in tears because it’s like I find my confidence in that crowd. You know sometimes in this industry and this job, it can just get really, really grilling and discouraging. In the States, everything is so single- based and our last two songs on our record didn’t do great. We weren’t too discouraged but it’s still like, ‘what did we do wrong’? You’re wondering, ‘Oh, my gosh, did we mess up? Then we are like,’ No, everything happens for a reason and everyone’s journey is different’ and it just feeds our souls whenever we hear people singing the words

Has ‘Sierra’ heard the song?

Both – oh yeah.

Maddie – She didn’t like it, ha-ha! I reached out to her before we released it as a single like three years later. I text saying ‘Heads up, this is going to be a single, I hope you’re doing good’. She was super understanding and very kind and I think that when someone writes a song about how hurtful you are to someone, I think they realise, maybe I should be nicer to people, ha-ha!

Did she get knocked up or knocked down?

Maddie – she got knocked down but not knocked up, ha-ha!

Tae – not that we know of ha-ha!

You were just talking about After The Storm Blows Through, which is a song that I love. I heard your Opry version and that’s the first time that I was like WOW! These girls can really sing.

Both – Thank you.

What was that experience like for you at The Opry and was it your Opry debut?

Tae – That was our Opry debut.

Maddie – I bawled like a baby.

Tae – The Opry is something that is just so historical and legendary and so many people have performed there, like our idols. It’s crazy to think that we actually stood in the same circle and got to sing a song like After The Storm Blows Through to an audience who really appreciates Country music. The fact that they made a whole video around it and it was on YouTube and everything, was a really cool moment for us – also to showcase what we can do at the Opry.

Maddie – I think some people thought we were like a one trick pony, with Girl In A Country Song. We actually have a new song called One Trick Pony ha-ha! But I am glad that video of us at The Opry went everywhere, I was like ‘Oh, thank God; they don’t think that we are just one way and that there is another side’. We wrote that song, too (After The Storm Blows Through), so you know it comes from a real place.

So, we know about Maddie and Tae the duo, but who are you individually? What do you like to do in your spare time?

Tae – I like to bowl ha-ha! You were saying bowl earlier and I love to bowl, I like to fish; I like to knit; I like to hang around with the cats and drink tea.

Maddie – I would say I love gardening, so at home I do that a lot. We are like 60-year-old women ha-ha! We just like to do random things. I also like being outdoors, and exercise sometimes if I’m not exhausted. I like to just hang out and read. I’m a big journal person so I’m about to start a little video blog. I am still trying to make everything work, because it’s pretty intense, but one of my passions is writing and journaling and stuff like that.

Brilliant, I look forward to the video blog.
What’s next for Maddie and Tae – can we expect new music?

Both – yes!

Maddie – our second record will be out next year, for sure!

Tae – we have been testing out some of the new music here, trying to see if the fans like it and if it should go on the second record. It has had a good response so far.

Excellent, I can’t wait to hear it. Well, thanks so much for chatting to me today and I look forward to the show tonight.

Both – Thank you and thanks so much for coming.

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