Maddie & Tae's star is on the rise
Country music fans fascinated by ascending stars have a chance to check out Maddie and Tae on Nov. 10 at the Silver Legacy's Grande Exposition Hall. The young duo, with its polished, hook-filled pop country, is about to begin recording a pivotal second record, which in the music industry is often a make or break moment. But instead of worrying about all that, Maddie and Tae is chomping at the bit and brimming with confidence.
“We’ve just really figured out who we are and what we stand for,” said Madison Marlow, known to fans as Maddie.
That valuable lesson came from an unlikely source, one that would appear on the outside to be a setback: the duo’s former record label, Dot Records, shut its doors in February 2017, causing the follow up to the band's 2015 debut, “Start Here,” to be delayed. After a few months of uncertainty, he hardworking country duo signed with Universal Music Group Nashville in June.
“We kind of had to start over on this new record, but it’s been so exciting because we’ve had so much time,” Marlow said. “Most artists aren’t given the gift of time for their second record. They have to rush and just get something out there to get it out there. But we just feel super grateful that we had the time to really dive in and figure out what we want this next record to say.”
UMG Nashville hasn’t yet set a release date for the album, but the first single will be issued in the first quarter of 2018, Marlow said. The duo is scheduled to head into the studio in November to select which tune to record first.
“The tricky part is there’s like four songs we want to be the new single,” Marlow said. “So, that’s going to be the hard part, figuring out which bullet we shoot first.”
In the beginning
Marlow hails from Sugar Land, Texas. Her musical partner, Tae, born Taylor Dye, was born in Ada, Oklahoma. The two met in 2010, when the then 15-year-olds shared the same vocal coach. They realized early on their voices had a natural blend, and began a long-distance working relationship.
After graduating from high school, the pair moved to Nashville. Word about the young duo quickly spread around town, and they were soon being developed by Dot Records. Dot essentially sent the kids to music business boot camp, helping them hone their singing, songwriting, performance and interview skills.
By the time Maddie and Tae’s debut single, “Girl in a Country Song,” which the artists co-wrote with Aaron Scherz, was released in July 2014, they were 19 and 18, respectively, their brand was established, and they were packaged and ready. By December, the gently subversive “Girl in a Country Song,” which pokes fun at “bro country” and the stereotypes of women in modern country music, had made its way to No. 1 on the Country Airplay charts. The band followed it up with another hit, “Fly,” which climbed to No. 9. Its full-length debut, “Start Here,” came out in August 2015.
Marlow and Dye are both songwriters, and share credit on each of their debut’s 11 tracks with a variety of co-writers. For songwriters, time changes everything; People grow older, lives and circumstances change, and if you’re lucky, your songwriting toolkit grows deeper as a result of these lived experiences. Maddie and Tae, though still quite young, are poised to make good on this axiom.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that we’re 22-year-old women now, so our stories different from the first record,” Marlow said. “There’s just so much vulnerability there, and we’re just not afraid to say what we want to say at this point. It’s very unapologetic and very honest.”
Building their brand
Along with sharpening their writing over the three years since “Girl in a Country Song,” they’ve also worked to build their brand, touring relentlessly and sharing stages with some of their heroes along the way.
“Our biggest influence is Lee Ann Womack,” Marlow said. “And I think one the coolest things ever was there was a song of hers that we used to sing when we were just starting, ‘A Little Past Little Rock,’ and she came to our album release party and we sang that, all three of us together. It was so cool.”
Getting a foothold in the music business is a grind for any young artist, but Marlow and Dye seem to be enjoying it all, from the mundane hours spent on the tour bus to the reward of the show.
“I think a lot of people get caught up in the status of your success, and a lot of people are like, ‘We want to sell out stadiums,’ and ‘We want to be a headliner.’” Marlow said. “And, of course we want to do those things, but the most important thing to us is that we are making an impact on people’s lives through music. We’re just two random girls that had the same dream as millions of other people do, and we’ve been given this gift and this opportunity to stand on a stage with a microphone every night. And that’s something that we really don’t take for granted. I think we will feel like we are successful and happy and fulfilled as long as people show up and they’re impacted by what we’re doing. I think that’s the goal at the end of the day. Whether that’s in a small club or in a stadium, we are totally happy.”
Maddie and Tae perform at 8 p.m. Nov. 10 at Silver Legacy's Grande Exposition Hall. Tickets cost $45.50 to $50.50, and are available at silverlegacyreno.com, by phone at 775-325-7401, or at the box office at 407 N. Virginia St.