Maddie and Tae talk 'Girl In a Country Song,' strong female songwriters and more
How do you follow a huge hit? By touring relentlessly to support it, as Maddie and Tae found out with Girl In a Country Song.
Ever since that stereotype-busting single hit country airwaves in 2014 — and especially since it rose to No. 1 that same year — the duo has spread its feminist gospel at gigs across America, including several in the past year in Tampa Bay. They’re here again on Friday, opening for Brad Paisley at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre (click here for details).
Girl In a Country Song —which takes aim at down male-oriented songwriting cliches about pickups and cutoff-clad cuties — has made Maddie Marlow and Taylor “Tae” Dye new stars in Nashville, fresh and outspoken voices frequently compared to the Dixie Chicks. Follow-up singles like Shut Up and Fish and the new Sierra are equally feisty, making fans curious about how their careers will evolve from here.
“This next record is a mix of just a little bit of everything that’s been inspiring us lately,” Dye said in a phone call from a tour stop in Alpharetta, Ga. “But we’re still in the writing process, still in the creative process. We’ve got most of the album right now, but we’re still experimenting and trying different melodies and all kind of crazy stuff."
Before hitting Tampa, Maddie and Tae talked about crossing over, taking new musical chances and Nashville’s current crop of strong female songwriters. Here are excerpts.
You played a Pulse nightclub shooting benefit in Orlando a week or so after that tragedy. What did you take away from that experience?
Maddie: That was a really cool thing to get to do. We’re busy, we’re on the road, we’re doing all this stuff, but to give back for a minute and realize how important it is to be involved and know what’s going on in our country, just to try and bring some joy to a really sad situation was really special.
That night was all about victims, so there wasn’t a whole lot of talk about guns and politics. But did you get any sort of pushback or negativity from the show on social media?
Tae: No, not at all, actually. Country music is so authentic, and everyone in the country industry, they really do have good hearts. At the end of the day, we all want to be able to give back. We’re always going to go on stage and say things that we believe.
A lot of the best and most forward-thinking music that’s come out of country music in the past couple of years has come from women — you guys, Cam, Maren Morris, Margo Price. Is there some reason why more women are making these albums as opposed to men? Are men just more willing to stick to a formula?
Tae: It is kind of true for women: We’re emotional beings, and we have a lot going on in our brains, and a lot of emotions, and I think that goes into play in what kind of songs we write. Men choose to write about their significant other and partying, and sometimes they bring some cool life stories into that too. But for women, there’s so much that we want to say, so many thoughts in our brain that we want to get out.
Maddie: As women, it’s been way harder for us in country music, but Tae and I are all about taking on a challenge. I think there’s a lot of men that have put out some really great stuff lately, but there’s something about the fact that it’s so hard to break a female act that they come with a little more punch whenever they do break.
Does having a hit like Girl in a Country Song enable you to take chances that you wouldn’t before?
Tae: Yeah, I definitely think so. With that being our first single, people pretty much knew what we were about — although we do have so many other aspects to us that we hopefully showed in Fly. We do have that side of us where we’re just going to tell the truth unapologetically. It was pretty cool for us to be able to start with that right out of the gate and show people, All right, this is us, and then not shy away from it.
Have you been urged or nudged to do something that’s a little more crossover-friendly? Or not yet?
Maddie: We’re experimenting with a whole bunch of different stuff, but we don’t have a big desire to go pop. Our hearts are always going to be in country. We love this genre, and we love the storytelling, and musically, that’s that’s our niche. Country music can truly tell any kind of crazy story that you want it to, and people love it. If anything, we would probably go more country as we evolve.
-- Jay Cridlin