Pop newcomer Maggie Miles was introduced to music at an early age. As a young child, her father played bass in a Celtic rock band, and the Virginia native recalls knowing at six-years-old that she wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“I got older and had terrible stage fright of singing in front of people, so I never did it until my senior year,” the 20-year-old tells Billboard from the studio of her management and publishing company, Warehouse West Entertainment, in Nashville. “I started singing in church and I would hide behind the keyboard and lightly sing harmonies with someone. Then eventually they asked me to lead and around the same time I started writing music.”
While Miles didn’t actively pursue music until she was 17, she grew up writing poems and songs. After graduating high school, the singer wrote three songs she was proud of and while at a local festival she entered a raffle for the chance to spend eight hours in a recording studio. She won the free studio time and the experience lit a spark in Miles. A few months later she played her first show in June 2018. By this time, her stage fright was long gone. “As soon as I started playing it just went away, and I felt like I belonged there,” she says with a smile.
Her father filmed part of the concert and urged her to post the videos on YouTube. After she uploaded one song to her YouTube channel, Austin Bello, a producer in the D.C. area, stumbled upon it and reached out, saying he wanted to record an EP with her. She released that project earlier this year before signing with Warehouse West Entertainment and moving to Nashville.
The three-song EP features deeply confessional songs and Miles says she’s not afraid to reveal too much within her music. “I try and write from a really real place. I started writing songs because I was going through things and I would be in a situation or part of my life that I just didn’t understand,” she says. “So, when I went into that space and created something that I did understand and didn’t have to suck, I knew that it helped me and I knew that I understood what I was doing. And I think that idea can bring people together.”
New single “Shiver,” out today (Nov. 8) and which Billboard premieres the video for below, has Miles sharing her insecurities. While the song is sung from the standpoint of talking to someone else, she wrote it from the perspective of someone else talking to her.
“That’s what I wanted to hear: ‘Your mouth is smiling, but your eyes beg to differ.’ I wanted someone to notice that I wasn’t OK,” she says. “I was hiding behind [my vulnerability] and painting a persona that I was talking to somebody else. I think creating [music] and being real about it, people appreciate authenticity.”
Miles says the song’s second verse is deeply personal to her. In it she sings, “Through your teeth you disguise/ A portrait of idolized versions of yourself in this life.” Fittingly, in the video she plays the role of two characters.
“You’re basically speaking into existence what you want to be. It’s not the reality of who you are,” she says. “I wanted someone in that moment to notice that I was trying so hard to be something I wasn’t, because I hated who I was for whatever reason.”
“When you go through different seasons, I go up and down with my ability to cry,” she admits. “At that point, I was crying all the time. So I felt like my eyes were literally going to rust over because they were just wet all the time. That verse sticks with me a lot; trying to fight against being something I’m not. Everybody deals with that because we can shape shift into something and the group we’re with or the place we’re in.”
The song “Shiver” itself is a message to listeners to not be anything but themselves. Fittingly, the video concept Miles came up with was to have two versions of herself in the clip. In one scene, she’s surrounded by mannequins as she sings the song. She says she wanted it to be ambiguous and that it’s more of the realization that the person she wanted to be wasn’t real at all.
“Shiver” is Miles’ debut music video and serves as an introduction to the pop community. She says she aims to write from a real place and hopes her listeners are able to connect and feel safe with the songs she releases.
“I want to create good music. I want to make music that I’m happy with and proud of and that I could show my grandma, or I could show the random little dude riding his bike down the street, that anybody can listen to it,” she says. “My ultimate goal is playing live because I love playing live, but then also creating those connections in that setting.”
The video for “Shiver” is below.