In November I had the chance to sit down with Maggie McClure and discuss her inspirations, musical styles, and her latest album Time Moves On. Check out the interview below and get Time Moves On now.
E: When did you first become interested in writing and making music?
Maggie McClure: Well, I started piano lessons when I was five years old and so I've been involved in music pretty much my entire life. I actually wrote my first song when I was eight years old and it just came really naturally and was something that I did for fun. I started singing and playing piano at the same time when I was in middle school and started writing songs at the piano when I was about twelve or thirteen and so, honestly, it was just really fun, to me, and that's how I got interested in doing it. [I was] just so inspired by listening to other artists and wanted to do it myself.
E: Which artists inspired you?
MM: When I was younger, my first few inspirations were Amy Grant and Bonnie Raitt. I remember just being so impressed with them, so they've had a big impact on my musical influences and then, later on, Carole King; I started listening to her [Carole King] and got to see her live in concert and Sarah McLachlan, I'm a huge fan of hers, and Norah Jones. So, just, a lot of these piano driven pop artists, females in particular, really inspired me, and especially when I got to see them live, you know, there's nothing like a live concert experience and seeing someone do, ultimately, what you want to do when you're older. So, they've all had an impact on my music, in some way, over the years.
E: Speaking of live concerts, do you have a favorite song that you like to perform live?
MM: Oh, man, I mean, it's hard to pick one song that I like to perform more than others because I write all my own music and so they all, all the songs have a special meaning to me and they're all, you know, basically excerpts from my journal put to song so they all mean so much to me. I think, now that I'm releasing this new record, it is really fun to perform the brand new songs and, in particular, I really like playing "Reset", which is actually the first song on the album.
E: Personally, that's my favorite track, both the lyrics and composition are so great; what's the inspiration behind the song?
MM: Thank you, I appreciate that. Basically, that song came about after I had run into an old friend from high school that I hadn't seen in a couple years and we ran into each other at a CVS and we were just talking. We had a heart to heart conversation in the middle of the pharmacy section and he was going through some personal stuff and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do, us being the age we are, trying to figure out what we're going to do with our careers and lives; I think we all feel like that throughout our lives, no matter what our ages.
We were having this conversation and he said something to me that just really spoke to me and he said "sometimes in life we just need to hit the reset button" and I was just so inspired by that and immediately went home and wrote this song in, like, thirty minutes and basically just took that conversation and wrote this song based upon taking the time to really regroup and reset and gain perspective on what to do next. That's what the song is about and it really does mean a lot to me and I even emailed him and told him about it and he was just so excited. Our short little ten minute conversation inspired the song: it's pretty cool how everyday life experiences can turn into these songs.
E: Generally, what is your inspiration when you're coming up with a new song? Do they [the songs] mostly stem from those everyday experiences?
MM: Honestly, I just try to be aware of what's going on around me and what people are going through and a lot of these songs are straight from my heart about stuff that I'm going through. I just moved a year and a half ago from Oklahoma to Los Angeles and so this whole record is about dealing with change and trying to make the most of the time that we've been given and adapting to new environments and, just, staying on the path. A lot of things have inspired this album but the whole theme of it all is adapting to change and making the most of every day. A lot of these songs are literally taken from my journal and then I just sit at the piano and turn them into songs.
E: You did a lot of experimenting with this album; which parts did you most experiment with and how has your style changed from your last album to this new one?
MM: I was just more open to doing things a little bit differently than I have before. Maybe not so much in the song-writing as in the production of the record, just trying new sounds and being completely open to what the producer and musicians brought to the table and letting the songs develop like they needed to instead of putting them in a box and saying 'this is what it needs to sound like': just letting it come to life, whatever that specific song needed, and letting that happen instead of trying to make it a certain way. That's where we really experimented, was in the production.
In the song-writing, like I said, being more open to maybe not doing such a cookie cutter pop song. Like, in "Uncertainty", the chorus is just "ooh", like a bunch of "ooh"'s which is just, you know, normally there are words in a chorus. So, some things like that where I was just like 'you know, this is what the song needs, this is how I want it to be, and this is what feels right so let's do it'. Definitely, now that I think about it, there was experimenting in all areas.
E: Reflecting on your move from the Midwest to the West Coast, would you say that this album more personally reflects your current lifestyle than that of your previous albums?
MM: All the songs talk about specific issues, I guess you would say, with moving, but a lot of the songs have just been about dealing with all of the changes because, obviously, life in general is just so much more different in L.A. than it is in Norman, Oklahoma. Time Moves On is just about pursuing the dream even though it's not exactly easy: making my own path and creating opportunities for myself. A lot of people will not come out here because they don't have anything going on: they need a reason. You just have to take that leap of faith and start creating opportunities for yourself and so that's what I've been doing and it has been completely unpredictable and crazy and scary, all at the same time, but so exciting; all these songs reflect that in one way or another.
"Uncertainty" [is about] not knowing what to do or where to go and just feeling helpless when you think you have an idea of what to do next, then the next day something happens and that gets completely changed and doesn't happen; just having faith and not being so vulnerable that you get knocked down and can't keep going.
"Closer Than Before" is a song about moving here [to Los Angeles] and it's a love song. My husband and I both are musicians and he's from Oklahoma, as well, so we made that move together. It's really cool that we have each other to lean on because there are so many things in our lives that are unpredictable and inconsistent in every way, so it's really nice to have each other to remind ourselves that we are getting closer to what our goals are even though, on a daily basis, it's hard to see that. But, when you take a step back and look at it all it's like 'oh, okay, we're doing something. Coming here was a good idea'.
E: You are your own booking agent and manager. How do you blend the creative talents with business management and balance those two diverse roles?
MM: Thankfully, I went to college and got a music business degree and so I was a music major with a business minor and I am so thankful that I did that [because] now it's, unfortunately, almost seventy-five percent business. I always want to be doing more of the creative but, right now, I don't have management or booking so I'm doing all of that as well as creating the music and everything else that comes with being an artist so it's pretty crazy. I try to find a good balance but my husband, Shane, can tell you I spend way too much time on the computer trying to make stuff happen and create opportunities: booking shows and making calls and interviewing publicists and all kinds of stuff. I've had management before and I would definitely be open to having it again; things are starting to get kind of crazy and I would like to have more time to focus on just the art itself but, right now, I'm just doing as much as I can and working as hard as I can and trying to not go crazy at the same time.
E: Which song from the new album are you most excited for your fans to hear?
MM: I honestly think every single song on [Times Moves On] has a purpose. I had about forty, fifty songs to choose from so when I chose these nine songs I chose them because they were the strongest, in my opinion, and in the producers opinion. I don't think any of them are just what you would call 'filler songs', but each one of them really has a purpose, so I'm excited for my fans to hear the entire record and I hope that they listen to it all, because every song is so different and people will connect to different songs. I definitely think "Reset" is one of my favorites and "Time Moves On" also; "Daydream at Midnight" I really like and I'm really into "Liar, Liar", as well. All of them are pretty different but they're still all covering the same theme; I'm excited.
E: Do you plan on bringing any of the cut songs back on a later album?
MM: I don't know.. Right now I would definitely be open to that, it just depends on what happens later down the road but, yeah, definitely. There are so many [songs] that I really like and I think would be great but I can't record fifty songs right now. Even on this batch of songs, I wrote "Troubled Heart" back when I was writing for my last record and it actually ended up on this record, even though it didn't make it for my last album, so there's definitely a chance that some of the songs I wrote for this one that didn't make it will make it onto future projects.
E: Is there anything else you want to add or say to your fans that I haven't asked yet?
MM: Just that my whole philosophy behind what I do is to encourage people and bring substance to my music, and music in general. I hope that my songs and music speak to people and bring encouragement to them and I really feel like that's what I meant to do [with this album] and so I hope that these songs reflect that. They have a lot of meaning and I hope people will think the same.
Get your copy of Time Moves On now for a refreshing take on female pop songs which is sure to be your newest addiction.