The statistics on paper (the third female duo in Billboard‘s history to have a No. 1 single debut, 28 million music video views, ACM and CMT nominations) don’t tell the real story of country duo Maddie & Tae. Hugely successful in a very short amount of time (less than two years to be exact), the singer-songwriters are more than just dollar signs for their label—they’re that rare combination of total unpretentiousness, business smarts, and hearts as big as the fans they’ve won over. They jump out of their waiting car to greet you, take an invested interest in how you’re doing, and are unabashedly themselves even as the spotlight gets brighter. Now with their debut album (Start Here) about to be released this Friday and a fall tour on the books, Maddie & Tae talk about their year in review and what’s to come. Listen in.
(from left) Tae and Maddie joined us for an early (and clearly delicious!) dinner at Olive & Thyme in Burbank.
Glamour: First of all, congratulations on “Girl in a Country Song” going platinum!
Maddie Marlow: Thank you! We got the plaques, and they are huge! Our apartments are pretty small. I don’t have a lot of wall space for it!
Tae Dye: And it’s really heavy! So I don’t think I can even pick it up!
Glamour: So many females look up to you, especially with this bro-country movement that’s been happening for so long. Do you feel pressure to create girl-power anthems especially after “Girl in a Country Song?”
Maddie: At first, I did have that thought like, “Oh crap, what are we going to do after?” Then I realized “Girl in a Country Song” was an honest, truthful song, and we were telling our truth and that’s all we have to do—write songs that are true and tell our stories. That is where the money is—not the physical money, but where you get the fans and where they connect. You make that personal connection one-on-one with people because it’s not filtered.
Tae: I feel like speaking up for people is just in our blood, whether it be men or women. I just feel like giving people a voice to something.
Maddie: We just feel so blessed, like God picked us two goobers to do this crazy thing and speak up for people that don’t have a voice and give them something to hang onto. If we’ve done that for one person, I think we’ve done our job.
Glamour: You’ve been on the road opening for Dierks Bentley’s Sounds of Summer tour. What has that experience been like?
Tae: We love him. He is such a good person. Obviously our whole lives we’ve dreamed about the perfect tour and what it would be like, and this tour has honestly exceeded all of our expectations. We have Dierks to thank for that. He’s just such an amazing, humble person, and the way he interacts with his fans, family, is really something special. We have a month left [on tour], so whenever we finish we’re going to be so sad, but we’ve learned a lot. We’ll take everything we’ve learned towards our Start Here tour in the fall.
Glamour: Is it harder performing in more intimate venues instead of massive stadiums?
Maddie: Yes, it’s so much harder. I love being vulnerable and all that, but direct eye contact…no matter what, you can’t scan the audience. You are basically singing to one person and hoping you connect with them and making an impact. It’s so much harder when it’s one-on-one. For our radio tour, we basically played in a room for one person, and that taught us how to get used to that situation and be more confident, but it is tough. If you don’t do it for a while, it takes getting used to.
Glamour: Tae, when we did our last interview in October 2014, you told me you were “single as a pringle!” Now you’re dating this dreamy country artist named Jackie Lee. Do tell!
Tae: He opened a show for us in San Jose, California, out of all the places! He’s lived in Nashville for five years, and I’ve lived there for the past two years and yet we never ran into each other or knew each other. So October 10 in San Jose, he walks into our sound check and…
Maddie: Oh, and I watched this all go down. They locked eyes like BAM!
Tae: I’m never one to introduce myself to someone randomly, but I walk in and met him at the end of the stage and was like, “Hi, my name’s Tae.” He said, “Hi, I’m Jackie,” and that was it. After the show, he just so happened to be staying at the same hotel, and we stayed up in the lobby till 4 A.M. just talking. The rest is history!
A photo posted by Taylor Tae Dye (@_taylordye) on Aug 11, 2015 at 6:10pm PDT
Glamour: Maddie, how did you meet your boyfriend, Jonah?
Maddie: We met in high school. We were together my sophomore year, and then broke up for a year and did not talk to each other. It was so hard when we broke up because we were both still into each other but had to pretend like we weren’t. Then our senior year, [we] started to talk again. He was my person. He was a completely different guy, so grown up and knew what he wanted to do [in life]. I was like, “This is the person I want to invest time in!” I could not ask for a more perfect person to do life with.
A photo posted by Maddie Marlow (@maddiemarlow) on Aug 4, 2015 at 4:35pm PDT
Glamour: How often do you guys all get together?
Maddie: All the time, actually! Jackie and Jonah have a bromance!
Tae: They are our biggest supporters and biggest fans. It’s so cute.
Maddie: It’s good to have people that are really grounded like that in your life.
Glamour: Your first major studio album, Start Here, will be released this Friday. What does this moment feel like?
Maddie: We got to hold the physical CD [of Start Here] and that made it real for us.
Tae: To read Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye on every song as a co-writer…
Maddie: That’s what really made it real. We have worked our butts off and this is a dream come true. This is what we’ve always wanted to do, and we just feel so grateful for the team that’s around us and helping to adjust us to the changes around us. The fact that we have our first record coming out—the whole spiel—is finally revealed!
Glamour: Are you still writing songs right now?
Maddie: Yes, I actually was writing a song on the airplane. I was bored!
Glamour: How have you both changed over the last year?
Maddie: I’ve gotten a lot better with accepting change because I used to want a consistent schedule. With this business you have to learn to go with the flow. Not being able to grow in comfort is a beautiful thing when you’re uncomfortable so just embrace it and roll with it and you’ll come out stronger.
Tae: I think I’ve gotten more confident because the more you do it and the more shows you play, you just feel more confident. You feel more confident about everything.
Glamour: What about the first time you felt famous?
Maddie: I got recognized twice at the airport today, and I never get recognized, but you know what the difference was? I was wearing makeup this time! [Laughs] This one guy was like, “Hey, Maddie!” and I thought, Oh gosh, I have no idea who you are, but, “Hi, nice to see you!” And then another girl was with her friend coming to L.A. for the Taylor Swift concert and said, “Hi Maddie!” and I said, “Hi,” thinking, Do I know her? After, I went to the bathroom and I come back and she asked for a picture and then I got it! I was like, “OK, I wasn’t supposed to know this person, but now I do and she’s great!” When I go home to Texas and get recognized a lot, that can be weird. We just don’t feel like famous people. We feel like normal people that just like to watch Netflix.
Tae: I actually have never had an “I feel famous” moment. I don’t think I’ve gotten recognized by myself. I’m still waiting on that moment, but when it happens I’ll let you know!
Maddie: It’s only because I had makeup on! Usually I wear a ball cap and PJs. Well, not PJs. I’m not that shameful. [Laughs] But that’s totally fine too! I usually am in workout clothes and nobody knows!
Start Here will be released Friday, August 28. Stay tuned soon for more from Maddie & Tae, including the meaning and story behind each track on their new album!