Maddie & Tae on Their New Music and the Unconventional Release Strategy Behind It: 'This Is Such a Big Redemption Story For Us'
The five-song set is the first of three installments of new music from the country duo.
Maddie & Tae’s new five-song EP One Heart To Another, released April 26 on Mercury Nashville, is the country duo’s first set of new music in nearly four years. Following the shuttering of their former record label, Dot Records, in 2017, Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye channeled all the emotions and uncertainty they were feeling about their career into new single “Die From a Broken Heart.”
Seated on a couch while sipping red wine at a local studio in Nashville, the duo vividly recalls penning the tune with Jonathan Singleton and Deric Ruttan two years ago. Singleton came in with the phrase, “Momma, can you die from a broken heart?” after reading it in an article.
“We were going through a rough time,” Maddie admits. “We were both going through professional heartbreak. Our careers felt like they were collapsing after our record company shut down. We were both going through our own personal heartbreaks, so [we] were pulling from so many different places in our lives.”
The two women wrote the song as if it was a conversation with their own parents. They hope listeners can relate to at least one of the many characters in the song -- whether it’s the girl with the broken heart, the mom, the dad, or even the guy doing the heartbreaking.
“I remember getting in my car after writing that song. Jonathan had sent us a little demo of it and [the] floodgates opened up, because it was so real in that moment,” Maddie says. “When you’re going through heartbreak, whatever that looks like -- professionally, personally -- it feels like forever, and you’re never going to get through it. This song is a reminder that everyone goes through it, and you’re not alone, and I promise it’s going to get better.”
“We are living proof that it gets better,” Tae adds. “The bigger message with the song is that it’s OK to let yourself feel those things. It’s OK to let yourself be dramatic and literally say, ‘Can my knees give out for praying so hard? Can I go blind when I’m crying in the dark?’ The quicker you feel those things, the sooner you can move on from it and learn from it.”
“Die From a Broken Heart” is the second single from Maddie & Tae’s upcoming album. The song began playing on SiriusXM at the request of J.R. Schumann, SiriusXM senior director of programming, while terrestrial radio was already spinning lead single “Friends Don’t.” At first Maddie & Tae thought it was taboo to have two different focus tracks, before realizing that “the more songs out there, the better,” Maddie explains. The song has since amassed over 36 million streams.
The rollout of the duo’s sophomore album will be unconventional, too. Maddie & Tae will release the project in three installments, each providing a glimpse of the album’s ongoing theme of love, loss and redemption. Cindy Mabe, president at Universal Music Group, explains that this decision was reached due to the way music fans are discovering and consuming music.
“There’s no longer just one way to market an album,” Mabe notes. “As Maddie & Tae started creating this album, we started looking at how they were connecting and the opportunities that were ahead of them. We had one song at country radio (‘Friends Don’t’), two more at SiriusXM (‘Die From a Broken Heart’ and now ‘Tourist in this Town’), another on a soundtrack for the film Breakthrough (‘People Need People’), an engaged fan base that was really wanting to hear more music, and a major tour with Carrie Underwood starting in May. It made sense for us to give the fans more music to get excited about.”
Mabe says they settled on three installments to keep fans engaged and give every song a chance to connect with listeners. “This album is so strong that I didn’t want to waste one song. This is a strategy that made a lot of sense for Maddie & Tae, with all they have going on and a fanbase that is so eager for more,” she adds. “It’s a fun time to be in music, because artists can expose their music to the fans in any way they dream up. There’s more freedom than ever to break the rules.”
Maddie & Tae also broke their own preconceived songwriting rules while recording this new set of music. Instead of chasing trends or wondering what radio would play, they simply focused on writing songs they loved. The first song they penned while having this breakthrough was the EP’s poignant title track.
“If we don't have to think about what a label would think, if we don't have to think about what radio would say or what the critics would say, what does that sound like? So that's what we did,” Tae explains of writing “One Heart To Another,” before they signed their second label deal with UMG.
Maddie chimes in, adding, “That’s how we approached every song on this project. Once we had the freedom on ‘One Heart to Another,’ we [realized] we get the best art when we’re not thinking about what everyone else wants and we’re thinking about just telling our story.”
Maddie & Tae rose to fame in 2014 after releasing the tongue-in-cheek “Girl In a Country Song” when they were both 19. Their first full-band performance was shortly after on the TODAY Show. A whirlwind journey that included the reveal of their 2015 debut album, Start Here, Maddie & Tae now have a very different perspective going in to record their sophomore album.
“We appreciate things differently and we run our business very differently now that we know what it's like to be on the highest of highs and the lowest of low… It feels very different from the first time putting out a record, and it's way more special,” Maddie concedes, pausing to look at Tae. “This [album] means so much more. This is such a big redemption story for us.”